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May 23, 2014

Can Social Media Be Effective for B2B?

Social media was created to enhance communication, building on existing relationships and crafting new ones. It's evolved into a powerful tool, largely used by B2C companies who have a direct line to their customer base. But can social media be effectively harnessed the same way by B2B companies?

B2C and B2B marketing are not as dissimilar as you may think. In B2C, consumers need only to justify the purchase to themselves. In B2B, the element of impulse buying is removed; several people can be involved in the decision making process rather than an individual, and services and products often require customisation. The tools are the same, just tweaked for your audience. Well-managed content marketing drives engagement and trust from other businesses, a key element to eventual sales. Think of the phrase 'Be there before the sale'; awareness is a vital function for trade. Using social media enhances your business as a whole, bumping your SEO and the essential Google rankings. When managed effectively, it can greatly increase your engagement from other businesses, a crucial part of business development.

B2B marketers are using social media more frequently than ever, with 'The Big 3' still topping the list. 81% of B2B uses Facebook, 85% use Twitter and a whopping 91% use LinkedIn. Other platforms such as Pinterest and Google+ are creeping up the ranks, offering a visually creative element. SlideShare has proved to be inordinately flexible in regards to B2B promotion; you can upload both artistic infographics and informative presentations, making it appeal to a wide scope of businesses.

If you're looking to increase analytics, YouTube is an increasingly popular way to encourage engagement. Video clips can generate a huge amount of traffic to your website, and offer the opportunity to demonstrate products, or give a face to the brand, which in turn incites trust from other businesses. Make sure that your videos are short, to the point, well made and engaging. Poor quality videos, or single shots of long-winded technical jargon, can lose customers rather than securing them.

Blogging is a great way to speak directly to your clients, and strengthens organic SEO for your website. There are a few key points to consider when blogging; SEO, relevant content, and writing style/ tone. Make sure you have a clear outline of the direction you want to take with your blog, and write for your audience. Posts should be engaging, informative and well-structured.

Commitment is important, as a half-hearted approach will damage your company image rather than enhance it. Blogs left stagnant for months, badly produced videos and an empty twitter feed indicate a lack of planning and interest in your topic- not a look you want to promote to your customers and clients. Plan, research and invest time in your social media platforms, and you will reap the rewards. In this respect, B2B and B2C follow the same strategy. Create strong brand awareness, supported with effective content marketing, and capitalise on every channel to reach your customer base. Increased engagement leads to increased awareness, increased trust, and eventually increased sales.

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