A couple of things people forget when they make the argument that social media is just for consumers:
- businesses are made up of people and people are social
- consumers may have a personal attachment to brands, but businesses and employees have a financial attachment to their vendors and partners
- Google and Bing not only include social content in their results, social links improve their rankings.
- businesses communicate on social and expect the same
Examples of how B2B communicators can take advantage of social media and social networks:
- Social CRM listening. You’re probably familiar with the idea of social CRM, basically tracking who you’re engaging with. By synching your social CRM with traditional CRM records, you can track discussions and comments and engage in a way that is relevant to the greater relationship. For example if someone posts a complaint to a discussion board or Twitter the support team can check the CRM to understand the bigger picture, alert the sales person or relationship manager and then respond appropriately, all in a a few seconds.
- Customer evidence. Every business relies on case studies and testimonials to help the sales cycle. When those testimonials come directly from the customer’s own blogs and profiles, they carry a lot more weight. Encourage your customers to capture and share their experience using your product or service, worts and all.
- Transparency equals trust. Transparency removes fear, uncertainty and doubt. Posts that demonstrate thought leadership, points-of-view and indicate direction inspire trust with customers and the industry.
- Recruiting. Potential customers may judge you on your products, but business partners and job candidates judge you by what you say and who you are in places like LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and forums and blogs.
- Quality lead generation. Advertising might result in more leads and traffic, but leads generated through social media tend to be better qualified and self-selected.
- Lower support costs. customer to customer forums and collaboration tools can not only lower support costs, but they often are a source of inspiration for customers to find new ways to use your products.
- Product development. Inspiration comes from many places, especially customers. Mining your customer’s feedback, discussions and posts can help guide the direction of future products and services.
- SEO. One of the most important criteria use in search rankings is inbound links. Social media is one of the most efficient ways to build links and improve search engine results.