B2B or B2C – 7 Reasons to Consider Social Media

Having a social media presence is no longer an option for most businesses. In today’s online environment, having a social media presence is as important as having a website. Savvy customers will look your business up not just on a general internet search but also on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook to see how often you update your pages and how responsive you are to customer comments and questions.

Although, social media is generally thought to be a business-to-consumer marketing channel, there is growing evidence that social media benefits B2B. A Hubspot 2010 State of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Report states that B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not. In a BtoB 2012 B2B Social Media Marketing Report, B2B marketers were asked to choose the most important method used for their social media efforts. LinkedIn was chosen by 30% of respondents, followed by   Facebook (20%), blogging (19%), Twitter (16%) and YouTube (8%).

An IBM survey of marketers found that 79 percent of marketers plan to use social media marketing by the end of 2012. In a survey by the Duke University Fuqua School of Business,  CMOs plan to allocate 7.4% of their overall budget to social media this year.  More businesses are investing in ads in social networks as well. According to eMarketer, socialnetwork ad spending is projected to reach $7.7 billion this year and grow to $11.9 billion by 2014.

If you’re still not sold on the idea that social media could benefit your business, we’ve put together our top 7 reasons why social media is a marketing channel worth considering.

1. Engage with Customers

Customers are certainly web savvy and well connected. Recent research indicates 97% of consumers research products online before making a purchase. An engaging social media presence helps customers see your brand as one that is reputable, engaged and trustworthy. Even B2B companies can benefit from the value social media brings to search and lead generation.

2. Gives Your Brand Personality

Social media provides businesses with a unique opportunity to actually connect with customers in new ways. Forget stuffy form letters or scripted phone conversations, social media allows you to have real one to one relationships and give your brand a personality that your customers can relate to.  The social media channel is ideal for sharing stories behind your company history, positive customer experiences with your product or company and any charity or community work your business is involved in. It really gives customers a chance to get to know your company better.

3. Grow Your Influence

Social media allows your brand to interact with more individuals from across the globe. It provides a unique opportunity to get to know your key brand advocates and discover how they regularly engage their audience.  Your brand can enhance your credibility online by engaging with these key influencers.

4. Beat the Competition

No matter what niche your business is in, it’s likely your competitors have a social media presence. A Social Media Examiner 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, found over 93% of the B2B and 95% of B2C respondents use social media to market their business. If your competitors have yet to embrace social media, starting a social media presence can help you become a thought leader in your area of expertise.  Social media also provides a way to monitor the conversations happening around your competitors, use this to your advantage.  If you discover a common complaint about a competitor’s product, use social media to communicate how your product has overcome this particular product shortfall.

5. Social Helps Your Rankings

Another benefit of embracing social media is it can also improve your website page ranking. Publishing informative and engaging content drives people to your site and the more individuals on social sites that link back to your website, blog postings or videos, the better your site will rank in search engines.

Social media efforts can also help drive traffic to your site. The same search engine optimization approach used on your website can also work for social media. To enhance traffic to your site be sure to include keywords in your social profiles. Sites like Topsy can also provide a snapshot of the keywords people are using on the social web.

6. Exposure for Your Brand

If your brand makes a strong effort to engage and interact with individuals through social media, then your brand will get new exposure. By targeting key influencers and engaging with them in meaningful ways, the greater chance you’ll have of turning leads into customers and even some of your strongest brand advocates.

7. Provides Transparency

Social media is like a window into your business. It provides a platform for anyone to share what they like or dislike about your brand. It also provides you with a unique opportunity to respond and join the conversation about your brand. The way you respond to a negative comment can show others that you value their opinion and you know how to quickly and effectively deal with issues when they do arise.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to social media marketing. A good rule of thumb to follow is to be where your customers and prospects are. If you work in an industry where customers barely use e-mail, let alone social media, then focusing on social media marketing may not make sense, yet.  Although, social media marketing is one of the fastest growing marketing channels, we understand it might not be the best marketing tactic for everyone and always strive to follow the smartest tactics available to help our clients meet their objectives.

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