Building Sticky Brands through
B2B Social Media Marketing
By Lida Citroën
Principal of LIDA360
Branding is about creating stickiness—a relationship—with an audience that must find you (and your product, service, or value proposition) relevant. Can a company create brand loyalty and traction with other companies through social media in a B2B marketing strategy? Yes! Social media is a great tool to use to create sticky brands.
Companies, like people, have brands. They have reputations, based on behavior, action, consistency, visibility, people, and place. Most companies design their brands with carefully plotted strategies, audience segmentation studies, and eye-catching logos. Some companies leave their reputation to chance and let the market drive their perceived value and relevance on their own.
A company's brand sets a promise of an experience with target audiences. We leverage brands to tell target audiences what they can expect to feel about a specific company/product/service/staff. Will I feel valued and respected by your medical practice? Will I feel safe putting my money with your company? Will my children be treated differently in your private school? These are branding questions, answered through targeted, strategic marketing.
So we should market the same in a B2B environment as in a consumer-driven market where buying decisions are highly personalized and often emotionally based. Businesses buy in the same way consumers do. Businesses are motivated by emotional expectations, value, results, and experience.
Businesses are made up of people with real needs, expectations, and goals. They can be influenced and impacted by emotion. The notion of impact investing and corporate social responsibility are gaining momentum because the opportunity makes both good business sense and fulfills an emotional need of the company and its people.
Social Media Helps Build Brands
Social media provides a real-time platform to build relationships in a B2B environment. The online space creates opportunities to display and demonstrate a company's values and beliefs as well as highlight product features and benefits. Web 2.0 tools like blogs, interactive online communities, and social networking plug-ins allow companies to humanize and personalize the viewer experience, all the while creating a perception about the company and its value to a target market.
Leveraging available and accessible tools such as Facebook Fan Pages and LinkedIn Groups helps engage B2B customers in the company. Smart companies are running polls, campaigns, special offers, and inside research through their social media tools to engage stakeholders at their business partner agencies.
The world of B2B marketing is supported by resources, information, best practices, and targeted communication. How does your company do it better, faster, and smarter than your competition? Social media offers opportunities not only to make these bold statements, but also to demonstrate how the company walks the talk in its behavior, hiring, transparency with shareholders, and community social responsibility.
Social media tools are often used by companies to perform due diligence, conduct research, and gather insight on competitors, prospective customers, and partners. How a company promotes itself on its blog and on its Web site through the engagement it has with clients and audiences online either supports or dispels the premise they might promote about their values. Social media audiences demand a high level of transparency and authenticity and will publicly expose imposters relentlessly. Reading reviews and feedback on a company, visual testimonials offered by current clients, and media recognition of companies can help new B2B relationships start off on the right foot.
People do business with people they like. The same is true about companies doing business with companies. Companies whose values, objectives, goals, and brands align make better and more sustainable (and sticky) business partners.