Let’s pretend that you’re the marketing director for Starbucks, and your latest task is to develop a social media campaign to promote your company’s fair trade practices. You have a product millions of people have a cult-like attachment to and will “like” and “follow” just for the privilege of being associated with you. Throw into the mix that you’re doing something good for the world, and that’s even better!
Now let’s say that you’re the marketing director for a B2B contractor who manufactures aeronautics widgets that are sold to private engineering companies to be used as one part of about a thousand others in order to make hovercrafts (my ignorance about this industry might be showing through right about now…). Sounds a little tougher to position your company now, doesn’t it?
“But social media doesn’t work for my industry.”
As an ad agency, we talk to a lot of people in our workshops, meetings, discussions etc. about social media marketing techniques, especially for B2B companies. And one of the most common rebuttals is that social media marketing doesn’t work for [fill in the blank] industry. Everyone assumes that they’re the exception. But how can they all be an exception?
“But social media DOES work for your industry.”
They can’t. That’s because the model – “using social media to promote my business” – works for everyone. Even business to business. Even niche business to business. The reason it works is because social media marketing is based on the idea that your potential customers (whether they be private consumers or another business) want to interact with you in different ways, based on their particular needs.
Different Industries = Different Social Strategies
Sometimes this will mean that they need the hard facts about your products and sales channels on your website. But other times they want a blog post with insight from a company employee about your processes or people. Or they want to see Tweets from your company about the latest industry news. And, even further, sometimes they might be looking to have a conversation with you, or your community, on Facebook.
This information will all be conveyed through different channels, based on the needs of the customer. And it’s the company’s responsibility to have those channels in place when they are needed. While it’s true that some B2B companies might have a more complex sales structure than others, this doesn’t rule out the need of having a well-developed social media strategy and the importance of social media and traditional media integration.
Layton Construction – Social Media for B2B
Jibe Media works with Layton Construction, a Utah-based construction company who manages large-scale commercial construction projects. Their traditional model has been to acquire new business with a response to an RFP (request for proposal) and a pitch on their company’s capabilities to handle the project. This process works for them, but they decided to see if there was a use for social media in that process.
Since adopting a social visibility strategy, Layton has figured out how to use their social assets in a way that works for their particular business. For instance, rather than just sending out press releases or posting announcements to their website, they now blog about those same topics and promote these posts through their social channels, like Facebook and Twitter. Topics range from new projects and the progress of current projects to company values and employee spotlights.
Layton Construction feels that their activity on social media has given them credibility within their specific B2B industry, showing that they are forward thinking and ahead of the curve – just like the work they provide for their clients. And while their social media strategy doesn’t function as a direct sales channel, it gives them a new age voice for branding and positioning so that they can stay top of mind for their clients when they need them.
So just because you aren’t marketing cool fair trade practices or even the ever-popular pumpkin spice latte, it doesn’t mean you can’t stay on the cutting edge of social media. Remember that you and your company aren’t the exception—find a way!