‘B2B Marketing isn’t like B2C’ – except most of the time

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B2B Social media

I spend a lot of my time coaching, training and supplying social media services to senior executives in B2B companies – so I hear all too often the refrain ‘we’re not like B2Cs’. Their argument is that different rules apply.

 I want to demonstrate that the same rules do in fact apply – it is just a matter of degree in the case of each rule.

The things B2B managers say

“We don’t have many visitors”

More so than B2Cs, you must value quality of conversation over quantity. That is why in social media terms the biggest (Facebook) is unlikely to be the most influential for your business. Which is not to say you should ignore any declining trends in your reach, like the band in the film ‘This is Spinal Tap’:

Interviewer: ‘Does this mean the popularity of the group is waning?’

Spinal Tap’s Manager: ‘Oh, no, not at all. I just think that their appeal is becoming more selective.’

“Buyers don’t rate social media”

Are you kidding? Research data published in September 2012 on B2B tech buyers proves otherwise. Overall, more than 80% of web-connected adults are using social media – and B2B buyers walk among us, eat, drink and sleep the same as us. They are not some breed apart. In fact these buyers now say, as I have reported before, that they prefer to watch internet video information to reading text. Are you responding in kind to their preferences?

“We are using our Facebook page rather than updating our website”

This is absolutely not OK, yet I am seeing it all too often. People think that because they have set up a corporate page on Facebook it will be a more whizzy, happening medium that will impress their audience.

The fact is that people continue to expect a professional, continually updated website presentation from your company, not a half-baked attempt to be ‘down with the kids’. Your Facebook (and LinkedIn, and Twitter) presence needs to be tailored to those very different media, and the content you create should be distinct from your website and even your blogs. The ideal is to craft articles, posts, tweets, retweets etc. differently, picking up on the nuances of the conversations that you are having with people in different forums.

“My competitors’ CEOs don’t write articles”

Oh yes they do. Ever since LinkedIn began to encourage posting, without the need for a premium account, and it publicised the best posts actively, we at Hannon Digital have monitored an upsurge in senior executive articles. This communication channel is an easy one to adopt, given its built-in business friendly audience appeal. People feel at home with it and can more easily strike the right note than in most other social media.

As with any game, ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’…

Social Media

“People who complain on social media are just nasty trolls”

No they are (usually) not. They may cause you trouble, but that doesn’t make them troublemakers. Take what they say at face value, and act positively and rapidly when criticism (or praise) comes your way. And if you and your team are far too busy to be monitoring social network traffic that might affect you, consider strongly an outsourced social media management service like ours – it might just save your reputation.

 The availability of social media encourages people to respond where in former times they had to overcome the inertia of posting a letter or waiting in a queue for your call centre. That does not devalue the quality of the feedback – even if it is perhaps more nakedly honest and shot from the hip.

 And on a final note, remember that trade buyers are likely to be more informed, repeat purchasers – and their opinion probably counts for more than most. Think of a businessperson who has a bad experience on your airline, rail franchise or car hire firm – that person is a high-spending B2B buyer, with a network of people who will get to hear about any bad experiences they suffer.

 Conversely, Dimensional Research’s 2013 US study showed that when B2B buyers had a positive customer service experience, 62% purchased more from that suppier: while only 42% of B2C buyers responded in this way. So here is a final example where the question of degree favours you, not the consumer suppliers…