What should a billing software company do differently to a clothing retailer on social media?
Most of us are aware that B2B and B2C marketing require different approaches. The problem is that, previously, in the ‘offline world’ it was very obvious, whereas the lines are more blurred with social media.
No B2B marketer of yore would have stood out in the street, handing out flyers to passers-by; much better off focusing on distributing the company brochure to prospects, advertising in the trade magazines, attending conferences, arranging meetings, and other targeted marketing methods.
But how do these accepted strategies translate to social media, where the boundaries are not quite so clear?
TRENDY clothing retailer
TRENDY is a clothing retailer. Facebook and Twitter lie at the heart of its online marketing strategy, building a large following on its Facebook fan page, and placing targeted ads on the platform.
It uses its page to post eye-catching shots of its latest lines with high quality photography and encourages comment on the posts by asking questions. It often shows pictures of famous people wearing its clothing.
TRENDY runs imaginative competitions to capture attention and engage its customer base – including a design competition with some valuable cash prizes.
To boost in-store sales it runs promotions designed especially for its social media followers and sends push notifications out when the promotions change. These are broadcast over Twitter as well as on Facebook.
Being a very ‘visual’ type of product, the image-based networks like Instagram also play an important role in marketing the clothing.
The retailer also encourages user-generated content, asking customers to tweet or Instagram pictures with products brought at their stores, in return for a gift voucher. This starts a conversation and allows the customers to feel they are contributing to a community of like-minded individuals.
TRENDY also sponsors local events for charity and posts these pictures on its Facebook page and Twitter feeds.
The retailer also has an active reputation management and online customer service strategy that closely monitors and responds to the comments made about it across the social media platforms; this allows it to detect and resolve problems with products, service or delivery before they get blown out of proportion; it is even able to respond in real time to queries and complaints.
ZEUS billing software
ZEUS is a medium-sized billing software company that provides businesses with a smarter way of subscription billing their customers. At the heart of its B2B social media strategy is content marketing on LinkedIn and Twitter.
This includes a weekly blog, where high quality articles are written by various staff members, answering some of the key questions that their customers ask and demonstrating how businesses can be smarter with their billing processes. Sometimes guest bloggers write an article and ‘curated’ content is also published, where writers give their own opinions on the work of others in the billing, finance, and process automation fields.
These posts are shared across the social networks using a combination of Hootsuite and Social Oomph, meaning that Facebook and Google Plus followers get to read them, as well as LinkedIn and Twitter followers.
Occasionally a white paper is published and made available for download, as a lead capture tool; informative videos are also posted on the YouTube channel.
All the key ZEUS staff are active on LinkedIn. They post relevant content that from around the web, as well as their own content, and they participate actively in a number of LinkedIn groups relating to billing and finance. Here they share information and ideas, and offer support, advice and best practice tips whenever requested.
ZEUS executives even set up their own LinkedIn group for local input, because some of the other groups were too US-based and influenced. The CEO often participates and connects with other CEOs, as well as thought leaders and influencers in this space.
Salespeople are active too – prospecting and building their funnels on LinkedIn. They all have professionally-written profiles that speak to their target audience. But they don’t sell on social media – they make the connections there and arrange meetings.
ZEUS measures its social media success in meetings rather than sales; it does not expect to directly sell on social media. Instead it expects to increase its number of prospects, leads, and offline sales calls in the long term. This is its true ‘return on investment’.
Your B2B social media strategy
The two approaches described above are clearly very different, though there are some important similarities: customer engagement and ‘starting the conversation’ are key to both.
Social media is flooded with success stories from large corporations like Apple or Nike; yet most of these stories don’t apply to B2B and you have to search much harder for success stories in B2B, though they are out there.
The lines between B2B and B2C have become blurred because personal and professional lives have increasingly become intermingled on social media.
In order to realise the potential for B2B on social media we need to think back to what all those trade meetings, conferences, and other networking events offline were all about: connecting with prospects and building relationships. The best place to do that nowadays is clearly on the growing professional social networks.
Interested in Social Media Marketing? Learn more about it here…
Cheers, Toby [C624]
Toby leads a team of young and international B2B Marketers at Lead Creation