Arguably, social media marketing for B2B companies is one of the most difficult campaigns to run. On the surface it seems there are more successful B2C social media examples than B2B, but online seems to be where it's at if you're looking to market to those B2B decision makers.
Nearly 85 percent of B2B decision makers are online and using social media to help in their decision making, according to Forrester Research estimates. That's quite a large number considering offline avenues you have at your disposal can often cost more than social media marketing, and offer fewer success metrics to prove return on investment.
The big question here is, however, does a B2B social media marketing campaign actually work? What better way to examine whether it does than with examples?
A Few Successful B2B Campaigns
IBM, the technology and IT consulting giant, started using social media for B2B marketing before many were even on social networks. Several years ago they developed some hilarious YouTube videos targeted to business decision makers, and most recently have opened up their arms to Twitter.
IBM employees are encouraged to become Twitter-holics. Why? Because IBM understands that their prospects are using Twitter and looking to connect with experts.
These experts are their own IBM employees. By putting a face to their brand, encouraging employees to interact in the realm of social media in a non-salesy way, they've been able to use Twitter to market to their target audience.
Launching their official Twitter and Facebook pages not long ago, UPS is determined to use social media as a platform for their business minded customers to connect. Their hope is their branded accounts will become a place where small businesses can interact and discuss business growth opportunities instead of customer service failures.
In messaging you'll find they are more concerned with addressing logistics of helping small businesses, with messaging strategies "designed to facilitate sharing core content such as customer case studies and tools that bring the benefits of logistics to life [after” other marketing materials drive consumers to the site."
Are you following @kodakidigprint on Twitter? Almost 4,000 people are following the dedicated Twitter account of Kodak's commercial digital printing solutions.
Kodak also utilizes GrowYourBiz.Kodak.com, their blog where employees share their insights about products and services important to businesses of all sizes.
In addition, they have a dedicated YouTube Channel for Kodak B2B. Similar to IBM, they are putting a face to their brand and connecting directly with businesses across the globe on social media platforms. They started using this tactic as a reputation crisis management solution, when an ex-employee spread rumors that Kodak was getting out of the digital printing solutions industry.
Social Media Platforms
Not only big brands are using social media B2B marketing techniques. Small business professionals can too.
Many social media platforms can be utilized for B2B marketing such as the ones mentioned before, Twitter/YouTube/Facebook, as well as LinkedIn, American Express OPEN forum, and SlideShare.
With more than 5 million monthly global visitors, LinkedIn might not be as big a player in the social media game as Facebook but certainly competes in the niche market of B2B social media sites. LinkedIn has recently made quite a few changes to their social media platform, benefiting businesses and users alike.
Businesses have always had the ability to market to other businesses on the site through many ways including interacting on the sites question and answer sections, connecting and networking with other business professionals, and for quite some time have been able to have their businesses profiles featured on the site as well.
In April, the company launched Company Follow, which allowed LinkedIn users to follow companies as job seekers, employees, partners, suppliers, or just followers. Now businesses are able to connect with job seekers easily, by showcasing what their employees are saying about working for their brand. Business pages have a new customized look allowing members to stay in touch with your brand, including your blog posts, Twitter feeds, and much more.
The OPEN Forum is a place for professionals and business owners to learn, connect, and use their skills to collaborate with other small business owners and professionals. Utilize discussion boards, watch videos, and view the insights of other industry professionals to help you connect in ways you never thought possible.
Trade ideas with others and showcase your expertise as a B2B social media marketing strategy. With roughly 2.3 million visitors per month, rest assured you'll have quite a few people to discuss industry related topics with.
Not only is the OPEN Forum a place to get social with your B2B marketing, the forum itself is an example of a successfully run B2B social media marketing campaign. American Express developed the OPEN Forum to bring businesses together, and by providing a place to do so they've brought their prospective customers under one virtual roof.
Yes, there are ads on the site, and you're reminded that indeed this is an American Express site, but the platform was a way for American Express to help out the community they market to and do a bit of B2B marketing themselves.
If you've ever been to a conference, speaking event, or association meeting then you know these places are great for networking and doing a bit of B2B marketing. As an expert in your field you've likely been asked to speak at any of these events, and have prepared great slides to accompany your presentation.
Uploading those slides to a site like SlideShare opens up the opportunity to showcase your expertise to more than 45 million people using SlideShare on a monthly basis.
These examples and sites are just barely scratching the surface of what B2B social media marketing has to offer.
How have you seen B2B social media marketing in use? Share with us, in the comments below.