With the season for holiday marketing campaigns fast approaching, recent research from digital marketing platform Offerpop reveals that 67 percent of marketers plan to increase their social media budgets this holiday season in comparison to last year. But for business-to-business marketers, these statistics don’t apply, right?
Wrong. Many B-to-B clients often question the value of social and assume that social engagement is better suited for companies that sell mobile phones, athletic apparel or pizza. In actuality, being active on social media is just as important, if not more so, for B-to-B companies. This is where turning customers into brand advocates for that $3,000 ice machine or $35,000 tractor truly matters. A smaller potential customer base means there is a better chance of reaching the buyers who matter most.
There is certainly a difference in B-to-B and B-to-C social media campaigns, but at the heart of each campaign is the same desire to drive action. To inspire the human at the other end of the computer or mobile screen is to feel more brand affinity, to share a piece of content, and perhaps, most important, even click the “buy” button.
As B-to-B companies think about their holiday social media campaigns, remember that “selling” is secondary to elevated brand awareness, thought leadership and trust. An effective social media campaign must always strive to meet these four objectives:
- Encourage engagement
- Reach targets in a variety of ways
- Help decision-makers improve their businesses
- Humanize the brand
Let’s start with engagement. Fans are excited to engage with their favorite brands online. Oftentimes a brand can ignite this positive, two-way conversation through soliciting feedback via an informal poll, asking for customer video reviews, and even working with brand evangelists to co-host a Google+ hangout session.
People use social media in a variety of ways, and, as such, a social media campaign should leverage a multi-modal approach. A social media audit is one way to uncover which platforms influencers are engaging with and what they’re discussing when they’re online. Conducting an initial audit can also help to determine what type of content targets want to see and the format they’re most receptive to.
American Express OPEN is a great example of how B-to-B social marketing can establish thought leadership through audience education. With OPEN, articles, quizzes, photos and blog posts offer insights and tips to help businesses do business better.
According to research by IDG Connect, 87 percent of B-to-B decision-makers say content has either a moderate or major role in vendor selection. So why not make this content relevant to this audience by arming them with the tips and tools they’re craving?
The most important thing a brand can do online is act human. Use an approachable tone. Cut down on the jargon. Respond to comments or questions in a timely manner. Listen to feedback and actively solicit it. Have a personality. Showcasing volunteering efforts or those weekly Friday foosball tournaments in the break room will remind the audience there are genuine people behind the products and services being sold.
By being human, offering helpful insights, interacting with audiences on their preferred platforms and keeping the dialogue a two-way conversation, marketers will be able to push their holiday campaigns beyond “likes” and simple conversations. They will be able to truly engage with their audience and prospects in a meaningful way that will result in effective lead generation and, most important, conversions.
Kiki Nichols – Engagement Supervisor, PR and Social Media
Kiki Nichols is a PR and Social Media Engagement Supervisor based in Denver. With more than 10 years of combined journalism, public relations, social media, communications and event planning experience, Kiki has led successful communications programs for dozens of b2b and b2c clients across a variety of industries. A former print and broadcast journalist, Kiki’s specialty is harnessing the power of brand storytelling to drive awareness and engagement within target audiences. She holds an MS In journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a BA in politics and government from the University of Puget Sound.
Follow her at @kiknic