So much of what we professionals read and share about the use of social for marketing and public relations purposes focuses on the consumer-based brand.
How many cookie-based content examples must we endure? Do we really need to read story after story on how Brand X set up a “real-time” social center to engage with consumers during the Super Bowl?
While there are amazing examples of the use of social on the business-to-business side, websites and newsletters don’t do a great job of capturing it. The argument goes this way: social business to the consumer is richer, bigger and more interesting. Readers identify more with them since they, themselves, are also consumers.
But where that view is wrong is the direction B2B social is taking. The reality is: B2B social is no different than B2C. It’s still about utility (our “Youtility” as my friend Jay Baer so well coined the term), engagement, value and connecting to humans via the use of technology.
More and more we’re starting to see great B2B social do what it should: connect with its consumers.
There is no difference in the way a B2B brand needs to connect to its customer. Everyone now is a consumer and requires the same attention. They want utility, they want value before, during and after the purchase, and they’re only loyal if you do so.
Here’s three things a B2B marketer can learn from a B2C marketer when it comes to using social effectively:
Publish Interesting, Valuable Content: Selling things like servers didn’t derail Cisco from connecting by using humorous videos to reach its customers. The company connected to IT professionals by using – of all things – romance to grab some laughs but more importantly to break through clutter. Although its product is highly technical, it appeals to the person on the other end, not the techie.
Provide Value & Utility in Unique Ways: Help your customer succeed by connecting them via an online customer community. Not a place to support or sell your product, but instead a place where they can develop strong peer-to-peer relationships. A place where you can provide them content to create discussion amongst your customers that give them knowledge and experience they’re not getting elsewhere. Moderate, but get out of the way and let it become what they want it to be.
Listen, Listen, Listen: Many B2B brands fail to do the detailed listening and analytics many of their consumer counterparts invest so heavily in. Even if you’re business is in a more of a narrow channel, you should be listening daily and analyzing the conversation. Learn what’s not being delivered and then provide it for them. Many B2B companies are not participating because they’re thinking of their customers as technicians, not consumers.
The age of utility means all people are consumers. Whether they’re buying the latest television for their home, the newest “it” car of the year, or buying a piece of heavy equipment for a manufacturing role, technology means we’re all reachable in new ways – enabled by technology.
If B2B social marketers want to cut through the clutter, and reach their audience and develop loyalty, they need to be more human – like our B2C counterparts.