There are some commonly-held ideas in B2B companies about social media not being all that important. These are holding companies back from developing strong and effective social media strategies. We unpick some of the most common to show you why you really need a good social media strategy.
My customers aren’t using social media. It’s only worthwhile for B2C.
Are your customers people? Then they’re almost certainly using social media. Research using Forrester’s Social Technographics suggests that fewer than one fifth of adults in the USA are not using social media in any way. The two largest groups identified were ‘Spectators’, at 68%, those who consume online material including social media, but don’t contribute, and ‘Joiners’, at 59%, who maintain a profile, but don’t actively contribute. But even they are consuming social media. In B2B, if anything, there’s more social media activity, with only 5% being completely inactive. A massive 91% of companies maintain some kind of watching brief over social media. Patterns of use of the ‘Big Four’ (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube) are almost identical in B2B and B2C.
With the time taken to explore before purchase being so much longer in B2B, customers are clearly doing a lot more research in this market. They’re likely to be doing so via social media. You need to be there to answer their questions and become their go-to person for solutions.
Nobody’s talking about us on social media, so we don’t need to be there to respond
This myth may arise from the idea that social media is only for complaints. It isn’t. Most people don’t use social media primarily for complaints, but for research and conversations. In which case, you want people talking about you and the quality of your product. You won’t get word of mouth recommendations otherwise.
In fact, the less anyone is talking about you, the more you need to be on social media to start up conversations, and to draw attention to your content. Research has found that customers exposed to a company on social media are 2.8 times more likely to search for that company’s products. Not being talked about is bad.
We’ve got a Facebook page, what more do you want?
The simple answer to this question is found in the very funny ‘It’s not us, it’s you’ letter to Facebook from Eat24, a US-based restaurant. Yes, it’s designed to make you laugh, but there’s an important message behind it. Facebook’s news feed algorithm has changed the way things work. People who ‘like’ your Facebook page won’t necessarily get to see your posts automatically. You could try using paid-for posts, but that may not work either. The algorithm has complicated things, and it’s not clear how it works. You could be spending a lot of time and money without anyone seeing your posts. Facebook is no longer enough. You need a co-ordinated social media strategy which is based where your customers are looking, and, preferably, where the majority of your content is on your platform, so that nobody can take it out from under your feet.
Social media isn’t efficient for customer service
It’s true that most people aren’t on Twitter or Facebook to complain. But on the other hand, when they really want a company to listen, those are the default options. So you need to be there to respond quickly, effectively and personally when someone has a big complaint.
You can’t measure social media, so it’s not worth doing
There is a philosophy that ‘what matters is what’s counted’, but it’s not really true: sometimes it’s just harder to measure what matters. But even if it were true, there are so many good ways of measuring social media out there now, that there’s just no excuse. We’ve written before about effective ways to measure ROI on thought leadership, and elsewhere about how your social presence can improve your line of sight with customers, including ways to measure social media impact. These are getting more and more meaningful all the time.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that lack of social media strategy in B2B could seriously affect your bottom line. You need to be out there, entering into conversations with your customers as much, if not more, than on B2C. In a B2C business, there are far more consumers to chip in with answers to problems. In B2B, it’s far more likely to be your competitors, and that could end up costing you.
Image credit: Primary colours by Kevin Teichroeb