People used to consider B2B to be the “red-headed stepchild” of social media. Well, okay… many people still think of B2B this way.
In the past couple of years, some of the largest companies have broken through their traditional stereotypes.
For example, IBM has a well-maintained and current Facebook page. Only 248K people “Like” their page (as of 8/16/2013), but take a closer look at their Talking About This (TAT) number and the number of “likes” for most of the page’s posts.
The numbers reflect a very loyal and engaged fan base.
I glanced at Twitter numbers for another large and recognizable B2B name, Xerox Corporation.
In my opinion, Xerox seemed to embrace social media a touch earlier than its competition.
Xerox on Twitter reflects a hearty international following with a whopping 48,590 (as of 8/16/2013), affirming my notion that they are using social very well.
Most of the 218,158 B2B companies in the United States are much smaller than the two giants I named above. Some of these B2B companies use social media; whether they do it well is debatable.
I have a background and business interest, so your B2B company may entice me into following you on social media for one reason or another. But rub me the wrong way and I have no qualms for no longer following you.
Unfortunately, the reasons other people and I stop following your B2B are common, but fixable.
Your B2B posts are always about you!
I find your business online and I like you.
When I really like you, I follow you on social media.
Maybe your B2B has a well-known name and reputation, but that does not matter to me. I follow you because I like your content.
Maybe your B2B posts appeal to me because of my own business, but not necessarily.
Perhaps your B2B tells stories which resonate with me on some level, or inspire me to try your suggestions within my own business.
Maybe, just maybe, you share my content, and I really like that.
If you only blast out your own content and never acknowledge or engage with me, you can forget about keeping me as your social media follower.
Your B2B only wants to sell me something!
Let me tell you something you probably already know: most people do not follow your B2B on social media to hear your sales pitch.
Chances are, that is the last reason they follow you – and the first reason they unfollow you on social media platforms.
As I inferred above, we want to hear your stories and learn about the products or solutions your B2B offers; savvy B2B buyers already know about your company through online research. Hard selling and pushiness end up being turnoffs for most people. Your B2B should establish and build relationships with potential clients though social media. When the time is right, buyers trust you and feel comfortable in choosing you for their business needs.
In my opinion, a B2B company is just as capable of achieving success as any B2C brand with social media. I see many B2B companies that communicate as “humans” while still being professional. These are who I like to follow and who I choose to model after on my own B2B social media platforms.
What are your experiences with or perceptions of B2B companies on social media?
Jennifer G. Hanford is the owner and managing director of j+ Media Solutions, which offers social and data services to small B2B companies. You can tweet her at @jennghanford.