I have been asked a few times this last week: “Is doing effective Social Media engagement for B2B harder than for B2C?”
My answer is overall “Yes” because with B2B:
- audiences motivations are usually very functional & require a specialist understanding (which can sometimes seem stifling when thinking how to truly resonate with them)
- the audience is less homogenous & more complex -could be employees, stakeholders, channel partners, third party vendors, customers and prospects
- resistance from those in charge of B2B budgets to invest in the longer-term work required to build social media presences before ROI can be seen – customer engagement often not a priority for those in charge of B2B
- The “we can’t talk about that approach” is prevailent in B2B, but in social media openess is a fundamental
So, B2B social media strategy is tougher to concept and to activate – a tougher nut to crack if you like-but to quote Jerry Saveriano of Sanda Communications:
” … it is, none-the-less inevitable and market leaders will gain the high ground first. Customers will talk about your company online anyway, isn’t it better that you provided them with a friendly venue to engage in positive conversations? Professional networks will be a game changer for customer and partner relationship building and competitors will find it difficult to attract members from a successful professional community. Do it sooner than later”.
And in certain industries B2B social media engagement is de rigeur. For example, in the IT industry blogging is now a mainstream business communications tool. One of the most popular blogs, Slashdot, serves principally a professional audience.
Also, just because it doesn’t look like B2B social media engagement is occuring, doesn’t mean it isn’t. Businesses are getting more and more comfortable using social media tools to interact with channel partners and customers in private communities.
Currently the best use of social media engagement is in pro tech forums where product managers jump in to discussion about working with their product. Dell is a market leader with Ideastorm– and I take my hat off to them for the bravery and the execution.
In B2B, in conclusion, you need to be smarter obver time to keep users engaged and as an agency be able to be especially clear about expected and actual ROI. But can it be done? And if done well is it of value? Hell, yes.
If in doubt watch one of those now rather cliche in style, but nevertheless eye-opening videos, created by Earnest Agency, below: