Last summer, I had a conversation with my mentor and uncle who is the vice president of public affairs for a national insurance association, about the value of social media. While he didn’t really agree with all the hype surrounding social media, I found myself defending likes, tweets and shares. I remember thinking, “How can he not understand the value it provides a company?” We agreed to disagree and I just chalked up our conversation as a difference in generational opinions.
When that conversation took place, I was working for Super Moms 360 and managed their social media and public relations. For that company, whose target is “simply super moms” (and super dads), investing in social media was a no brainer. It allowed the company, which is more of a business-to-consumer-based business, to help build the brand, raise awareness and share all of the “simply super” ideas with parents across the country. Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter helped the company start conversations and engage with a national audience on a level that wasn’t quite done before. We loved social media.
Fast-forward 7 months…
I’m now at a different company working with tech start-ups who are mostly business-to-business-based companies. I find myself having the same conversation I had with my uncle with some of my clients about the value of social media, only this time, I understand the push back. What’s changed? I quickly realized that social media is a totally different game when it’s business to business. I find myself not necessarily defending social media but describing it as a necessary evil in which a company should participate. While there are several reasons to be present, I’ve highlighted my top five reasons below:
5 Reasons Business-to-Business Companies Should be on Social Media
1. Build Brand Awareness
This is an obvious one. By having a presence on social media, you can personalize your brand in a way your website or sales materials might not be able to do. Even products that might seem dry can have a personality on social media…sometimes those create the most buzz.
2. Establish Company as Thought Leader
By simply sharing articles, tips and interesting facts about your industry, you create trust and establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. People want to buy from those they can trust. Sharing educational and valuable information about your industry through social media can help create that trust and set you apart from your competitors.
Whether you like it or not, social media has an impact on organic search. Gone are the days of when only your website’s content had an impact. A Google+ company profile can help boost your organic search rankings.
4. Connect with Officials/Press
Social media allows you to start conversations with those you might not otherwise reach. My favorite thing about Twitter is it allows me to reach out to reporters and officials and start a conversation. For example, last week, I tweeted Francis Collins, the director of the National Institute of Health (NIH) about my client’s product that uses real-time data capture to help alleviate the $5 billion cost of bringing a drug to market. I highly doubt I would have picked up the phone and called him…but send him a 140-character tweet? No problem. In my experience, people like to get called out on Twitter and are more likely to respond.
5. Product Development & Launches
It’s expensive to launch and market a new product. But, with social media, a company can reach out to a targeted audience (who, by the way, have chosen to follow them) and talk about their new products, features, services, etc…OR…take it one step back….get the opinion of their targeted market about future product ideas. Within minutes, you can literally let the entire world know about your new product (or idea for one) and receive instant feedback! Best. Focus. Group. Ever.
There are several reasons why social media is important to both business-to-business companies and business-to-consumer companies. Share your ideas. Why do you think social media is important for a business?