B2B business owners tend to be an unsentimental, pragmatic lot. Few see their products or services as particularly sexy and even fewer harbour illusions that their company is the stuff of social media interest. Consequently, some B2B business owners have been reluctant to view social media marketing as a useful tool in their marketing armoury.
However, those views are missing the point. The casting vote on whether social media marketing in Dubai works should be left to the audience and there is little doubt Dubai is voting for social media marketing. Regardless of what industry you are active in; there is an audience out there to engage. It is simply a matter of locating them and identifying what content engages them!
Why B2B Social Media Marketing Works
Ahmed El Dabaja – Traditionally, B2B operators used personal sales to build commercial relationships, distribute product information, and guide prospects through the sales conversion funnel.
Now, with the pervasiveness of the Internet, and the explosion of digital content, customers enjoy unprecedented access to information. Previously, customers had to visit the company’s office or talk to a sales representative. Migrating this background information online fundamentally changing the balance of power between a business and its customer base.
These days, customers complete 90 percent of the buying process before they contact a sales representative and social media has emerged as an integral part of the new buying process. According to research, some 55 percent of B2B customers search for information on a brand’s social media channels prior to making a purchase.
This makes a compelling case for B2B business owners to adopt there is no social media as a fundamental part of their business operations.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of A Social Media-Led B2B Strategy
Embracing social media for your B2B brand has five clear advantages. Social media:
1. Connects you directly with your customers making your business customer-centric.
2. Streamlines the prospecting and closing phases of the buying cycle.
3. Brings your brand proposition and brand personality to life.
4. Provides access to a wealth of information and diagnostics on your customers and your broader audience.
5. Is very affordable.
These advantages are pronounced and are producing winners for those B2Bs, which adopt social media marketing in Dubai as well as losers amongst those, which don’t adapt fast or effectively enough to the changed conditions.
As with any shift in business social media brings with it disadvantages. Social media:
1. Requires specialist B2B social media marketing expertise not always found in-house
2. Exposes the brand to the vicissitudes of public sentiment and commentary
3. Needs compelling and attractive content to reach audiences effectively.
These requirements can eventually require internal processes to be re-engineered and the go-to-market model to be substantially changed from traditional B2B approaches.
Revenue And Cost Implications Of B2B Social Media
The emergence of social media as a marketing and sales distribution tool is reshaping B2B revenue streams and cost base. Firstly, from a cost perspective, social media is a comparatively cheap advertising and distribution channel. It is also certainly cheaper to run social media than to maintain a large sales force.
Similarly, for B2B entities that have embraced social media, the role of their sales force is less about prospecting and more focused on closing sales and doing deals. This is significantly lowering traditional customer acquisition costs.
From a revenue perspective, the ready availability of information on the Internet, coupled with the ability of prospective customers to freely price compare has put margins under the microscope. However, a lower cost base propelled by a more streamlined social media-driven sales processcan offset this margin-shrinkage.
Moreover the ability to use techniques such as remarketing and up selling offers opportunities to recapture lost revenue, as does the ability to test new products and services at different price points.
Putting Social Media To Work
There is a strong case that almost every business can benefit from social media marketing. To harness the power of social media, however, business owners need three ingredients:
1. The right resource mix.
2. Compelling content.
3. An audience.
Get these three elements right and you will find social media can be a revenue driver for your brand.
Resourcing Social Media
Don’t just dump this on someone on staff or an intern. The two criteria to look for are real technical social media expertise coupled with the ability to master the inner mysteries of your brand and your business.
Compelling Content Wins
One of the key precursors to creating compelling, cut-through content for your B2B social media channels is to establish three simple frameworks to guide your social media content development.
1. Content Strategy
2. SEO Strategy
3. Publishing Calendar
These documents don’t have to be lengthy and you can evolve them as you gain experience, however, at a minimum they should contain your social media strategic goals, key metrics you will use to monitor your social media performance together with your key competitors.
There has never been more content on tap on the Internet than there is today. Every minute, 350,000 tweets are sent, 290,000 Facebook pages are updated, and 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. Expect these statistics to keep growing in the future. So, to cut through this noise, you need your content to be disciplined, laser-focused on your audience and configured to make it easy for search engines to find.To compete in this congested environment, be sure to map out exactly who your target audience is, what type of content attracts them and which social media platforms they hang out on when they are online.
Winning Over An Audience
One common mistake B2B companies make is failing to understand that social media is audience-centric. Social media is about community, about sharing not just selling and about conversations not one-way monologues aimed at shameless self-promotion.
Take the time to understand your audience’s broader interests and wrap your content in topics that will appeal to them. Do you go down the Infographic path or should you be posting engaging blog posts that position your B2B brand as a thought leader?