For those who are using social media for business-to-business marketing, there are some other specific dos and don’ts. Chief among them is don’t spam. Blasting out blatant sales pitches or automated friend requests are a guaranteed turnoff and just plain bad manners. The converse is to offer information of value instead of talking just about yourself or your company. The object is to build relationships.
B2B and B2C
There are two main kinds of marketing that use social media, business-to-business and business-to-consumer. Most printers are caught somewhere in the middle. They are marketing to other businesses but they are also marketing to consumers of their products. Thus it is interesting to see how these two approaches use social media.
According to a study by business.com, B2B marketers and B2C marketer prefer to hang out in different places. Some 77% of B2B marketers use Facebook compared to 83% of B2C marketers. B2C also uses MySpace (23%) more than B2B (14%). However, B2B leads on Twitter (73% to 49%), LinkedIn (56% to 27%), and YouTube (43% to 30%).
That same study found that B2B more often maintained company profiles on social networks (81% to 67%). They also more often hosted blogs (74% to 55%), monitored brand mentions (73% to 55%), engaged in discussions (66% to 43%), participated in Q&A sessions (59% to 44%), uploaded content (50% to 32%), and produced webinars or podcasts (46% to 22%).
Just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should do it. This holds just as true with social media as it does n the rest of your life. So before you jump into this social networking world, determine what you want to accomplish.
There are several advantages that can be gained through the use of social media. You can increase your brand awareness. You can grow your network and sphere of influence. You can build and nurture relationships. You can provide value to your customer. You can become a “thought leader.” You can drive people to your website. You can monitor what is being said about you and your company. And finally, you can increase sales. So pick one or pick them all, just be sure that you pick what your really want to accomplish.
It is instructive to look at who all is playing in the Internet and social media space. According to a 2009 Pew study, 95% of people between 18 and 29 are online. So are 87% of those between 30 and 49 and 78% of those between 50 and 64. The only age group with less than half participating online is the over 65 group with 42%. That said, more than three quarters of the population of North America use the Internet. Worldwide, an estimated 1.97 billion of the world’s 6.86 billion people are online.
In other words, online is where it’s at and where it will be, and social media is a major online component. It is becoming ubiquitous and is changing the way we communicate. Companies of all sizes are including social media in their marketing plans. According to a study by the American Marketing Association, marketing budgets for social media grew from 1% to 9% between 2009 and 2010 and are predicted to rise to 17% by 2015.
As the authors of the Field Guide point out: “Social media as a marketing platform is growing, becoming not just viable but also an essential part of reaching out to customers and, ultimately, selling our products and services.” (The “Social Media Field Guide” can be ordered from Printing Industries of America. More information at www.myprintresource.com/10013918.)