I have spent years of my career leading B2B technology reviews on behalf of Fortune 100 clients. I have used many tools and strategies to get an objective view of their performance – live demos, feature comparisons, review panels, trial implementations, Forrester Wave reports. And while each of these methods has its strengths, there is one question that they still struggle to answer: will this company be there for my clients when I need them, both now and in the future? To answer this question, I have often explored an unlikely source – their social media. Though sometimes an afterthought for B2B companies, there are several compelling reasons for them to maintain a high-quality, active social media presence:
1) It shows a brand that is committed to its values
Uber, Dollar Shave Club, and Betterment are just three of the companies striking fear into the hearts of established companies with modern ideas that threaten to disrupt traditional practices. As a result, many brands are on the back foot and responding emotionally to market conditions. While I firmly believe that companies need to be adaptable (see point 3), they shouldn’t sacrifice their brand to do so. I choose to invest in B2B companies whose business model will be intact 12, 24, and 48 months from now, and a lack of consistency in branding casts doubt upon that company’s future. Are they spending an increasing amount of their time chasing a millennial audience at the expense of my interests? Are they biasing content toward a B2C audience? By contrast, a brand that has a consistent, resonant identity throughout their social media campaigns inspires confidence in their direction, particularly when coupled with messaging that indicates their commitment to my business.
2) It shows a brand that is able to respond in real time to needs and events
A brand that is able to address current events in near real-time demonstrates that they have not only the thinking, but the organizational structure to act quickly. That response needs to go beyond superficial and show an understanding of how events are affecting customers at that moment. Can I expect this to have a negative impact on my business? Is there an action I should be taking? This kind of feedback assures me that someone is managing my account at a strategic level and they are equipped to handle the real-time fluctuations in data that drive my company. Social media is the best real-time medium to promote these insights, and it is a valuable way for brands to look proactive to their customers.
3) It shows a brand that has enough thought leadership to stay relevant over time
B2B platforms move at the speed of technology, which is to say exponentially. The market leaders of now can easily become the laughing stock of next year, and much of this is attributable to a complacency about the future of their sector. I don’t necessarily expect the companies of today to have an offering that addresses emerging technology – like virtual reality, augmented reality, or even Bitcoin – today, but I do expect them to explore the impacts of these technologies on their company and their customers. Social media provides a forum for them to promote their status as innovators with an awareness of the future in a way that a static roadmap cannot. This can be done explicitly through thought leadership pieces, but also implicitly through the intelligent use of emerging social media platforms. This is the difference between a brand that has a Snapchat account versus a brand that understands how to use Snapchat to engage its customers. I am not impressed by the former – in fact I would argue it is a detractor – while the latter demonstrates a company that knows how to invest in emerging technology in a meaningful way and is actively exploring its potential.
Of course, none of this matters if your social media isn’t reaching its intended audience. For that, you need well-structure campaigns using best-in-class technologies to drive qualified traffic toward meaningful conversions. Read here about how to structure your social media campaigns for success so that you can focus on getting the right message out to your prospective buyers.
Michael Dowd is the Executive Director of Digital Strategy at Maark, where he coordinates new product development and execution for our clients. Mike brings with him eleven years of experience in agency-side digital marketing, during which he provided guidance on marketing technologies, platforms, and strategies for more than a dozen Fortune 100 companies across the B2B, retail, and automotive industries.
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