B2C enterprises have embraced Social Media Marketing (SMM). Even small businesses now have social media presence on multiple channels. And with good reason – SMM is an easy, quick, and efficient way to reach customers. Furthermore, unlike traditional marketing, SMM is a two-way dialogue. However, despite these benefits, a large proportion of B2B enterprises are still reluctant to add SMM to their marketing toolbox. Myths and misconceptions about SMM are keeping B2B enterprises from reaping the benefits of this excellent business tools.
Myth 1: SEM is sufficient for B2B organisations. SMM is unnecessary.
B2B enterprises have adopted digital marketing practices – most companies have a website, and carry out at least rudimentary search engine marketing (SEM). However, these organizations (wrongly) believe that SMM is irrelevant for their marketing activities.
SMM compliments SEM. Presence on social media channels remarkably improves page ranking. Actually, I’ll correct that statement – Active presence on social media channels remarkably improves page ranking. And increased page ranking brings more traffic to your website, which in turn translates to more leads. But SMM is not important just for lead generation; it also helps increase brand awareness, build business reputation, and service customers.
Myth 2: B2B is selling to business, not people.
B2B selling is without a doubt different from B2C selling – the sales process is a lot longer, it involves multiple decision makers, and the purchase decision is complex and process-driven. However, it’s easy to lose sight of the people involved in this process. Clients are people too, and these people are on social media. A 2016 survey of 1,000 decision-makers by Hotwire and Vanson Bourne found that 24% of them used Facebook as their preferred social channel for information when making a purchase decision – LinkedIn had a lower percentage. SMM helps reach these decision makers.
Myth 3: SMM needs large budgets and dedicated teams.
SMM constitutes a very small part of marketing budgets of companies. An important reason for this is that it provides the largest bang for the buck. According to EY’s ‘Social Media Marketing India Trends Study 2016,’ which surveyed 100 companies in India, the SMM budgets for 60% of the organisations was less than 5% of the total marketing budget. On the other hand, the digital marketing budgets for 56% of these organisations were between 1% and 30%. SMM is more cost-efficient than digital marketing.
Though SMM is a lot less technical than SEO and digital marketing, it’s important not to overstate its ease of use. Content creation and audience engagement are two of the most resource-intensive processes of SMM. However, these processes can be easily dissociated from the marketing process and outsourced to SMM firms and freelance content developers.
Myth 4: SMM for B2B is only blogging.
The B2B sales process has evolved from the outward directed ‘cold calls-sales demos-leads’ model to an inward directed ‘educate-engage-coach’ model. Social selling is a critical tool to help potential clients in their purchase decision.
Blogging on the company website is an important way to educate and engage customers (and direct traffic to your website). However, customer engagement (shares, likes, comments, downloads) is higher for rich content like infographics, whitepapers, explainer videos, podcasts, and webinars. In SMM, content is king.
Myth 5: Having social media pages is sufficient.
In many ways, dead social media pages are worse than no social media pages. Organisations that ignore their social media properties signal a systemic apathy – this can be a red flag for prospective clients. Furthermore, no activity on social media channels completely defeats the purpose of investing in SMM – search algorithms penalise inactivity on social media channels.
Active presence on social media channels helps in generating inbound leads and in customer servicing. However, social listening – an often overlooked component of all good SMM strategies – also helps in competitor tracking and in outbound sales activities. Tools like Hootsuite, Everypost, Socialoomph, and Sproutsocial help manage activities on multiple social channels.
When analyzing the return on investment of SMM for B2B organisation, companies often end up focusing on the sales outcomes. However, the value of SMM goes beyond lead generation and sales conversions. SMM is rapidly emerging as a critical component of corporate brand communication strategy for B2B organisation. Social media helps organisation tell their brand story. Active brand building activities help organisations communicate their value proposition to customers, collaborators, and prospective employees.
And strong brands lead to strong businesses.