Saturday, March 26, 2011

How Should B2B Businesses Use Facebook?

For the longest time, social media marketers said that B2B businesses will not benefit from being on Facebook. In a short period of time, the tides have turned and Facebook can be profitable for B2B businesses when utilized properly. How should B2B businesses utilize Facebook to get the maximum benefit?

The most common approach is to provide valuable information to your target market. Post research, benefits, updates, articles or general information about the products/services, but ‘Do not sell’ was the main message. That can be very boring. You can try to spice it up, but anyway you put it –it gets old and boring.

Another approach was to treat it just like B2C and offer deals and sale, sale, sale!! This does not work in B2B marketing. You will not keep very many true customers as fans on Facebook if you approach it this way. B2B customers are looking for answers to their problems – not deals and pushy sales pitches.

Just ‘socialize’ and have conversations with your B2B customers. The B2B customers don’t want to be your buddy and discuss weekend plans with you on Facebook. It is a business relationship that has a very clear line that most customers do not want to cross.

I have found the most effective way for B2B businesses to utilize Facebook is to create a personality and help center. What do you mean personality and help center?

Personality – depending on if you are a sole proprietor or a larger company – you will start conversations about current events in areas of interest to the owner or company. For example – the owner of the company is a big sports fan – start conversations about his favorite team that is in season. Ask questions and make it fun, not competitive. The company supports a certain charity - keep people up to date on the charity and things related to the charity.

Help Center – I stated earlier that B2B customers are wanting answers/solutions to their problems – provide the answer/solution. Post the most current news about the products and services you offer. Report how a customer used your products and services to solve a problem. Ask the question of how they would solve a specific problem. Keep it industry related, however, not always about your products and services.

By providing personality and a help center – you make your B2B business fan page both valuable and fun!!

Do you have any other ideas of how to be successful with a B2B business page?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Types of Businesses Benefit From Social Media Marketing?

The debate on the internet about what type of businesses will benefit from social media marketing is plentiful. Both sides of the argument have some good points – the problem is that social media is always changing and growing. New social media sites are being developed daily and the established sites are constantly changing and adding features. What worked yesterday may not work today.

When debating the social media marketing questions they are usually discussing 2 types of businesses – business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C). The old school or traditional way of thinking in B2B must be face to face and salesperson driven and B2C is getting your name out to the masses.

I believe that everyone can agree that B2C companies will benefit from social media marketing. If you believe that there is a B2C company that exists that cannot benefit from social media – you are in a very very small minority. You have to realize that there are so many different types of social media today, that there is definitely at least one that will benefit all B2C businesses.

The obvious social media networks for B2C are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace. It seems like new social media networks and social media types are popping up daily. Not literally, however, new social media ideas are being developed rapidly. FourSquare and QR codes are a couple of new tools in social media. Mobile loyalty/reward programs and coding online messages for your customers – just a few years ago who would have thought these would be in existence and successful.

Each of these social media outlets offers different benefits for businesses. It is important for business owners to understand the benefit, identify which one or ones will benefit their business and develop a plan. Do not just sign up and go – you will waste a lot of time and money and more than likely fail.

The traditional B2B marketing is still successful in many industries, however, is that the only way to do business? Are the customers in B2B starting to look for providers instead of waiting for them to come to their door? This is where the internet has changed B2B the most. First it was having a website to provide information about the company and that was sufficient 10 years ago. Now, the B2B customer is wanting to know more about the B2B provider. This is where social media is changing the landscape of B2B marketing. It is not the daily Facebook and Twitter posts that work in B2B, but the over 100 million member LinkedIn network.

Just having a profile and business listing on LinkedIn is just like having a website. Participating in groups, Q&A, recommendations and growing you network will give your potential clients the information they are looking for that will set you apart from the competition. Your potential clients want to know more about you and your business and they don’t want to ask you – so make it available to them and others.

So, ALL businesses can benefit from some type of social media marketing!!  Social Media is an ever changing market and the top site in 2015 probably is not even active today. I just read a blog today that used A.B.L. (Always Be Listening) as one of the ways to build a social selling machine. I agree ALWAYS BE LISTENING!!

Where do you listen?