When I was in school, my teachers taught me math by always breaking things down to their lowest common denominator. It made things simpler. If you’re using social media in a B2B environment, like I am, then you need to take the same approach with your social media content.
I work in the professional dental market. That means that patients really don’t know us, but dentists and hygienists sure do. With our long history and size, it would be tough to find a dental office that doesn’t have at least a few products from us. However, with over 180,000 dentists in the U.S., there is no way that our 30 reps can reach even 1% of them annually. We rely on the more than 3,000 retail reps to help spread the word.
This brings up the question that all B2B companies must ask: Who are their customers? Are they the people that buy their products or the consumers that buy from them? The obvious answer is that they need to consider both groups as their customers. However, the consumer is the lowest common denominator involved here. So how does social media come into play here?
It is our B2B customers that have a better relationship with those shared customers than we ever could hope to have. A retail sales rep will have less than 200 offices in his/her territory. The offices know them and they trust them. By providing content that will be interesting to their accounts, we make them out to be the hero.
We target every bit of our content to the end user – the dental office. Some of it may be more geared towards dentists and others at hygienists, but the approach is the same. We have dental offices that follow us on Facebook and Twitter, but more importantly, we have lots of retail reps that follow us. They want to be able to be knowledgeable and also share content on their own accounts that will interest their followers.
The same is true of really any B2B market. Consider an electronics store. Most people don’t know as much about the products as they’d like to know, so while they might look online for reviews, they still want to interact with a person, either online or at the store. If the company that makes the equipment shares valuable content on their social media sites and the employees of the store read it, they’re in a better position to direct a customer towards that manufacturer’s products.
Back when I worked at Macy’s, my customers trusted me to help them and I had many loyal customers that would only shop at the store with me. That was because I got to know them and helped them get what they wanted. If only Facebook had been around in the late ’80s! I would have created a page to help my loyal customers, who would have likely shared my content with their friends!
It all comes down to this: In a B2B environment, your distributors NEED to know what their customers WANT to know.
Joe Yeager is a marketing analyst and social media administrator for a leading B2B manufacturer in the professional dental market. He is also a freelance writer and adjunct faculty member. Please follow him at @JosephMYeager.