B2B or B2C, Is it a question? The role of social media in B2B

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B2B companies are by nature focused on their customers’ needs. I have discussed recently with several professionals about the pertinence of social media marketing in this sector. It is not yet a natural behavior, especially for those commercializing industrial equipment. The most frequent comments are: “It is not for us“, “We know our clients“, “It is not a common practice“.
I think differently. If it is not a common practice, Let’s do it. There is probably an opportunity to build a competitive advantage.

In a recent report on B2B, Forester Research highlighted some interesting shift in marketing budget allocation in the US:
1-
Companies are aiming to be more visible in sharing information or fostering interactivity (more spending on pro-active information vehicles: online videos, podcasts, webminars…).
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B2B decision makers planned to limit investment on ATL media contributing to the overall awareness (much less spending on traditional media: outdoor, print TV ads)

Let’s hope that they will go more on pertinent, rich content and interactivity with clients through blogs or other Web 2.0 tools.

Forrester Research

I would say that differentiating B2B or B2C is not relevant as such. It is critical to build the appropriate momentum in order to acquire new customers and keep them loyal whilst improving their satisfaction whatever the product or service.

The main differences between B2C and B2B about social media usage stem from:
– Nature of content
– Targeting
– Selection of the most efficient tools for each type of business and client (Twitter is perhaps not the most pertinent selection to promote industrial equipment).

Let’s have a look on some interesting initiatives to keep in mind: Product development & personalization Community of Dell‘s users is helping the company to develop new ideas of products and services through votes on line. Dell IdeaStorm

Personalization is not a privilege for Tee Shirt fans only. Companies can design their mobile merchandising unit online as well with Bboxx. Bboxx mobile unit

Client acquisition Expanding its customer base is always a major step for small businesses. Bizual is helping these companies to acquire new clients through a dedicated community platform. Bizual

Orange Business TV is most probably a very effective mean to reinforce the brand’s credibility and expertise amongs TelCo professionals.

Webminars, webcats and podcasts are already largely available, especially coming from consultancy and services companies.

Client retention and Customer service Sharing information through Blogs is a good way to build credibility and supporting customer loyalty:The Safe Workplace, Industrial Technology Today.

Comcast is using Twitter as a Customer Service helpline: Comcastcares has 19 781 followers. Comcastcares on Twitter

A lot of initiatives have been launched already and some Key success factors might be identified (at least to start properly):
Be the first in your sector (in order to set standards)
– Relevant and targeted content rather than 15 000 new initiatives all over the place. – Maintain what you have started (so it means step by step). – Internet and social media are not free but you could measure, track, monitor and get feedback.
Consistency and synergy with other tools 😉 It is better if the left hand knows what the right hand is doing!

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