With the prevalence in the usage of social networking, more and more businesses are jumping onto the social media bandwagon by building a presence on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
One might think that building a presence on social media might make sense for Business-to-Consumer (B2C) companies, but why do Business-to-Business (B2B) companies and especially Small Medium Enterprises (SME) need to be on social media?
A common stigma among many B2B SME companies is that social media would only be relevant when businesses target young people, and for business set-ups such as theirs, social media is probably irrelevant to their business strategies, thus they would think that investing the additional time and resources to develop marketing strategies based on social media is unnecessary.
A simple logic that would appeal to B2B SMEs is that when social networking sites like Friendster and Facebook started becoming popular in 2003, it was mainly the young people varying from students to young working adults that were active in social networking.
Seven years on, many of these students have already graduated and started working and most of the young working adults have either climbed higher up the corporate ladder to become important decision-makers. Some have even started their own businesses.
The point is, most of them remained active in social networking despite advancements in their life, thus we can perceive that many of today’s professionals and major business decision holders are active users of social media. Thus what better ways are there to reach out to them other than through social media?
Below are some practical ways in which B2B SMEs can effectively utilize Social Media to enhance their business strategies.
Using of Facebook and LinkedIn Targeted ad options
Businesses could leverage on ad options available on Facebook and LinkedIn to target specific age groups, genders and industries. Options like this suit B2B companies as their target clients are usually more specific as compared to B2C businesses.
Using of LinkedIn to search and connect with prospective clients
Let’s say your company is offering a new service and you need to consolidate contacts from various industries to promote the service, what you need to do on LinkedIn is simply key the specific industry into the search term and you will have a list of professionals which you can connect with and eventually touch base.
Instead of making phone calls to prospects which at times might not be appropriate as they could be busy and also risk the chance of intimidating them, why not send a private message to their inbox on LinkedIn? By doing this, you allow your prospects to have time to think about your message and eventually if the need for your services arise, they could revisit that message and make the contact with you. Moreover, you could potentially reach out to much more prospects in a shorter amount of time using LinkedIn than other traditional methods such as cold calling.
Searching for prospects from your own friend list
On a more casual note, you can also explore your own friends on Facebook; generally most people would have an average of 200 – 300 friends on their Facebook friend list and a fraction of them are probably acquaintances which they rarely keep in touch with.
So here comes the opportunity; one of the best tools that Facebook has implemented is the live chat function which allows a real-time live chat experience. You could use it to engage with your acquaintances in casual and yet fruitful conversations when you see them online; you will be surprised that some of your acquaintance might require services that your business offers and vice-versa, some of them might even turn out to be viable candidates that your company is searching for to fill up a particular job position.
The right time to go on social media
Some B2B companies are still wondering when is the right time to jump on the social media bandwagon. The best time is now, considering the potential opportunities that it could bring to their businesses.