Social media is, without question, the epitome of how digital has transformed the way we communicate. With broad reach and instant effect, social networks have grown to afford their users a tremendous amount of power. This can be seen in how social media users can influence, both positively and negatively, the public perception of a brand. In an attempt to shape the narrative, companies across all industries were quick to embrace social networking, with one glaring exception—businesses whose customers are other businesses.
Save for business-oriented social networks such as LinkedIn, many B2B companies hold the misconception that social media isn’t an appropriate or necessary space they need to occupy. But the truth is, the impact of social media reaches wide and deep for every organization, no matter of the customers. Social media provides its users instant and free access to some of the largest audiences in the world. As such, it’s a key instrument in any marketer’s toolkit.
Still not convinced that your organization should move beyond LinkedIn? Here are four more reasons why your B2B brand should embrace social.
1. Social media can boost your B2B brand awareness
Commercial real estate giant CBRE is a great example of a B2B company taking full advantage of Instagram as a photo-sharing site. Filled with images of commercial buildings and photographs of urban skylines, the CBRE Instagram account was slow to attract a following. But in the two years it’s been online, CBRE has managed to amass over 5,100 followers. With an average of 150 likes per posting, it’s a following that also shows regular engagement.
CBRE isn’t the only B2B business to leverage the social to build awareness. Global shipping giant Maersk Line also maintains a healthy Instagram following, using photos of container ships and transport vehicles to illustrate how the goods we purchase traverse the oceans before they reach our stores. Beyond Instagram, General Electric uses Pinterest—wrongly perceived as a network for sharing recipes and fashion—to highlight how their company’s innovations “move, power, build and cure the world.”
By bringing your B2B brand to the attention of your audience, you increase your B2B brand exposure and draw sustained attention to it in a unique and interesting way.
2. Social serves as an avenue to promote thought leadership
Social media gives you a public stage from which you can share knowledge with a broader public. For businesses, this represents an avenue to distribute an organization’s latest thoughts or ideas, important company updates and positive press.
For example, Cisco, the company known for its networking devices, is networking with hundreds of thousands on their Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Using hashtags such as #InsideInnovation and #InternetOfEverything, Cisco distributes thought leadership pieces, website content and videos to an audience that—through likes and follows—they know are receptive to their brand and the messages they promote.
With the exception of Facebook, the organic social reach of these promotions are only as limited as the number of people interested in your message, and how often they log into the network of their choice. And not to be minimized, we need to look at the potential to extend your reach through social sharing and paid promotion.
3. Social provides an opportunity for brand engagement
B2B marketers must remember that they’re not just targeting a faceless business entity with their communications. Rather, what they’re looking to do is to engage with people who are, in some way, attached to a business. These are human beings with emotions, looking for the partner who will make their jobs easier and will set them up for success. Companies that offer business services, such as logistics or software as a service, are well positioned to use social media for brand engagement in this manner.
One such example is Salesforce, whose Twitter account also doubles as a platform for customers and employees to engage with the brand. When an individual tweets using the @salesforce handle, it’s likely to receive a response from the marketers supporting the Salesforce corporate account. Positive or negative, there is an open dialog between the brand and its clients.
This type of two-way relationship represents the quintessential B2B brand engagement that social media offers to businesses.
4. Social may have an effect on your SEO
There is still some debate on this, but many search marketers believe that social signals—likes, retweets, follows or other audience interactions with your social posts—are a ranking factor in search engine optimization. Google representatives have denied that they use social signals as a ranking factor, but webmasters are quick to point out that data curated by social networks remains too rich to ignore. Social signals have the potential to illustrate the popularity and trustworthiness in a particular social media user or piece of content. Thus, it’s somewhat unbelievable that the world’s largest search engine has said they place no special value towards this data—and I myself remain a skeptic.
Every brand has, at one point, struggled when taking the leap into social media. It takes time and effort to build an audience, craft compelling content, and find a voice in a wider community made up of millions. But the B2B brands that I’ve mentioned as examples above prove that, done right, social media can make up a rewarding part of your marketing toolkit. If you’re still not convinced, or unsure where to start, I’d invite you to learn more about Tenet’s digital marketing capabilities and our thoughts on the connected customer. After all, your business isn’t just marketing to other businesses—you’re marketing to human beings like yourself, all hustling to connect with one another in an ever-changing digital landscape.