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B2B Social Media Marketing: When to Risk Promoting the Competition

b2b social media marketing

It would be wonderful if all we had to do to sell our products was tell our customers how incredibly great they are.

"This is the top-rated widget of its kind," we'd say, showing them results of competitive rankings. "None of the other widgets can match this one for performance."

But, as you know, the decision maker's response is often, "Oh, well, we aren't really using widgets these days." Or, "Our plants are still using gadgets, and we aren't ready to make the jump to widgets yet."

That's when you have to back up. Stop marketing your widget and start promoting the category of widgets in general. Give the customer a complete education in why widgets are the best investment they can make.

Using social media to educate the customer

Social media tools are ideal for doing broad marketing of a product category. That's because people are always looking for valuable information to share or re-tweet.

Sure, by writing about the latest research on cloud servers, or blood pressure monitors, or web hosting software, you risk sending a buyer to a competitor in your field. But if your company's name is the one attached to the blog post or tweet, whose website do you think they are going to visit first? Which company will be remembered as an authority on the field?

Successful product-category promotion

Here are a few tips for minimizing the risks and maximizing the gains of social media marketing for a product category:

  • Focus on a favorable feature. When citing research or news about your category, make sure it focuses on the right feature or benefit. If you sell a high-end medical diagnostic device with all the bells and whistles, you'd want to write about how diagnostic devices with a particular new feature are saving lives. On the other hand, if your product is aimed at the lower end of the market, you'd want to focus on news about how medical offices are economizing on equipment.
  • Choose your words carefully. For blog posts, use keyword phrases that are associated with your company. Avoid using keyword phrases that lead to a competitor. If you don't already have information on which phrases are which, ask an SEO analyst, or do some searching on Google.
  • Use hashtags. On Twitter, look to see what existing hashtags are appropriate for your tweet. This can vastly expand your audience. Or create a hashtag for your product category and associate that with your expertise. Use hashtags regularly — they will lead searchers interested in the topic directly to your tweets.
  • Drop names. Cite experts in your field. People searching for their recommendations in a social media channel will find your company, as well.
  • Manage the conversations you start! This is an important part of all B2B social media marketing, but even more critical when you are taking the risk of promoting the category (and the competition). Follow your information as it is shared. Contact sharers, "like" and follow them, and make sure that someone in your organization is evaluating them as prospective customers or brand advocates.

Join The Conversation

  • Scott Case's picture
    Mar 29 Posted 4 years ago Scott Case

    You raise a great and thorny point because everyone looks at the competition as if they're hands-off.  There is a way to engage and leverage some of what your competition is using and talking about to do at least two things.

    First, you can legitimately say that there is a conversation taking place about that service / industry / topic and if your own client is reticent to wade in with a social media strategy, you can point to the fact the competition has beachheaded themselves there already.

    Second, it's a great differentiator to say, "Sure, we've got that and that, BUT we've also got THIS which makes our product a better choice for your needs."

    B2B marketing where the competition is concerned sometimes feels like it's a strange game of dipolmacy meets and gentleman's duel.  Ignoring them and taking a silo approach is one way, but for most industries, it's perfectly acceptable.  People are willing to do it with printed materials, why not social campaigns as well?

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