Social Media: The Fundamental B2B Customer Engagement Tool

One of the most powerful ways I use social media in my personal life is to stay engaged with my nieces and nephews by following the updates and snapshots of them that my siblings post to Facebook, Instagram and the like. In between the more occasion-driven communications like Christmas cards and phone calls on my birthday, social media helps me keep my family top of mind and stay connected with them even though we are separated by hundreds of miles.

I do have to ponder this, however: If I received these frequent updates on my family’s everyday lives in any other way than social media (say a sibling texted or called me every few hours, or mailed me daily letters), would I begin to feel barraged?

>> Social media is the day-to-day, digestible medium for millions who want to stay in touch in a way that’s personal but not overwhelming.

I share this personal example when I discuss B2B marketers’ use of social media, because I find it reflective of how important social media is in continuously connecting companies with their audiences. Whether you’re nurturing new prospects or keeping current customers loyal for the long-term, social media is the preeminent engagement tool available to all brands – B2Bs included.

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>> The key benefits of social media are its on-demand availability to users, and its ability to help keep B2B marketers top of mind without going so overboard they end up being tuned out by their audiences.

Many B2B companies – even the smallest of start-ups – are savvy when it comes to creating a branded presence on social media via official company accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and in some cases, peer-to-peer industry LinkedIn groups or forums on private community platforms. There’s usually at least one person – be it an intern or the CMO – who knows how to use social media to further the company’s brand.

>> To truly engage audiences for long-term relationship success, companies must empower their employees to connect on the brand’s behalf.

At the end of the day, people do business with people. So, it’s the company’s public-facing staff (sales, marketing, customer service and others) that need to start using social media to engage with audiences. These audiences are comprised of people they otherwise communicate with less frequently in traditional mediums such as trade shows, or through phone calls or email.

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To illustrate how B2Bs can use social media to engage with their audiences on a day-to- day frequency that’s not only appropriate but welcomed (since they voluntarily follow your branded social pages and accounts), I return to my own personal experience. For example, it’s really special for me to receive a family member’s Christmas card photo – featuring their kids all dressed up and posing perfectly – because it’s delivered once a year. However, if I got a daily email blast of photos, or my family sent tons of photos of their daily routine with no particular occasion in mind, it would definitely feel like overload. Similarly, while social media is designed to be much more frequent by nature, it must always feel meaningful and should never be construed as spam.

While B2Bs’ traditional marketing has depended on direct mail, email, or conference and events that are few and far between, social media is the only tool that gives you a direct communications channel into your audiences’ daily lives. They choose to engage you by going online and seeing your updates on Twitter or reading your latest blog post. For as long as they stay connected to you, you have a direct portal to stay in touch with them in a respectful and regular manner. And, since your audience has to consent to connect with you to receive these updates and participate in digital conversation, your marketing is all the more impactful.

Watch for our next post on B2B social media as we dive into everyday, quick and easy steps you can take to build better long-term relationships with your company’s targeted audiences. In the meantime, what social media platforms does your company use regularly or most successfully? Leave a comment below.

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