Mounting research in the last year suggests that more employees want their CEOs to really start twiddling their thumbs - on Twitter, that is.
IBM, KRC Research and Forbes have conducted further studies that prove an overwhelming urge for leaders to use more social media to connect with consumers and stakeholders. Not only is social media a platform for information sharing, but it's becoming an indelible mark of relevance in today's hyper-connected world.
Three overarching themes have bubbled to the surface of these studies:
- Employees feel empowered and more connected to their corporation's values when they can share in their social networks.
- Consumers, yes, even in the B2B world, are more attracted to a brand with social relevance.
- Strategic business partnerships can be strengthened on the conversational platforms of social media.
Social media, in the pop-y, contest-y, game-y sense, isn't for every business. However, as search mechanisms begin to blur the lines between traditional engines like Google and Facebook Graph, brand appeal on these networks will be ever more important.
Let's take a look at three different B2B organizations which have made successful use of social media.
Insight: Creatively display intelligence and hard data
Networks: Facebook and Twitter
What they did: During the launch of their "We Love Logistics" campaign, UPS used humorous and creative explanations of their statistical insights to appeal to their B2B market. By using videos to describe their logistics process and posting them on social media platforms, they created a buzz around content that might otherwise live in a sleepy PDF whitepaper within their sitemap. Now the brand also uses their established social presence to share the human voice behind the numbers - discussing charity and fundraising initiatives, donations, and events.
Insight: Employees first
What they did: This Copenhagen-based shipping company took an intelligent approach at solving their largest social problem: drumming up followers. By leveraging the size of their workforce - a diverse body of individuals, many of whom use social media - they were able to create a sizeable base of social followers. By increasing their social media presence, Maersk Line was able to gain stronger appeal to consumers and strengthen weaker business ties.
Insight: Turn a noun into a verb
Networks: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn
What they did: Instead of keeping the conversation on the company website, SAP created mass awareness across all relevant social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn) with a cohesive campaign to advertise a new B2B reporting product. The tagline "Run Like Never Before," was used on all advertising collateral in different iterations, bringing movement and excitement to an otherwise stagnant product. Instead of telling potential consumers about the product alone, they were able to tell them a story. Additionally, by using social media to distribute awareness, they were likely able to advertise cost effectively.
Takeaways and Tips
Even though B2B organizations can't necessarily use social media for giveaways and contests, they can use it as a tool to relay brand ethic, product and intelligence in a personable way.
Some takeaways you'll want to keep in mind if you're a B2B wanting to make a foray into Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and beyond:
Be Not Led into Temptation:
If you don't have a tangible consumer product, you can still use social media for product launches and consumer support. Don't worry about giving away makeup samples, t-shirts or movie tickets.
Preach Humanity, not Insanity:
Social media can be used to warm B2B brand personality, particularly when it is coupled with a strong B2B website design. Do use it to tell stories of employee experience and dedication to service. Don't use it to post Instagram photos of people going crazy at Sunday brunch.
Keep at It!:
If you're going to create social media profiles at all, be sure you have a content calendar to fall back on. Some easy items to share:
- Press mentions and press releases
- Webinars, seminars and white papers
- Inspirational employee stories
- Industry developments
Do you know any other B2B companies that are effectively leveraging social media? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @BFMweb.