Not so long ago every company rushed to publish its own website, then sat back and waited for potential customers to visit it. Most even installed counters to keep up with the number of visits/viewings. With the exponential explosion of social media over the past decade, though, these same companies have increasingly felt the need to find new ways to “point” customers, both other businesses and consumers, to their website. It was an easy leap in logic to use the new phenomena of social media.
It’s become generally accepted that social media channels provide an excellent path for businesses to reach out to consumers. What’s becoming even more clear is that the lines between B2C and B2B are being continually blurred. What works for B2C markets often works for B2B markets, and vice versa.
The truth is that as businesses have become more present and active on social media, the utility of those networks for B2B and B2C marketing has grown in parallel. Three of the largest media channels are Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Taken at face value, Facebook appears to be much more suited for consumer communications than for B2B or B2C. But almost every consumer is in some way connected to a business, and Facebook has over 900 million active users. Somewhere in that crowd you will find your target customer.
Many of the large companies whose names or symbols are household words have their own page or pages on Facebook. Don’t make the mistake of thinking only the GE’s and Intel’s of the business world have figured out that Facebook is the way to get the word out about their company, though. Companies like Blue Coat use Facebook to reach out to those consumers and other businesses that would ordinarily never find them. This is an example of a business whose product is increasingly in demand by both other business entities and individual consumers as well.
The power of Twitter shouldn’t be discounted as a B2B and B2C communication platform. Just because it’s a fast-paced, character-limited communication channel should not prevent you from making consistent, repeated impressions on your business’s followers. Plus, the power of re-tweeting multiplies engagement of potential clients geometrically.
A business that has already included Twitter as one of its growth engines is Constant Contact. Their customer base is made up of small businesses looking to build their own brands using email newsletters, surveys, events, promotions, online listings, and more. Constant Contact’s Twitter page clearly defines its brand, points users back to its website and Facebook page, and publishes helpful information for its small business customers. In addition, Constant Contact has a separate, dedicated Twitter page for customer questions and support.
Instagram is barely 5 years. It already has over 300 million monthly active users. Don’t think of it as an amateur photo gallery, either. Instagram is full of short videos, and 40% of the most shared videos are posted by brands. Videos are a great way of showcasing what your company does. You’re already using YouTube, right? Just post snippets of content you already have and point viewers followers to the longer versions.
One of the best Instagram examples to emulate is MailChimp. Their posts are always fun, maybe even frivolous. They use bright colors to make their branding stick, and they work to convince you that they’re a cool company. They manage to stretch their new product launches over a string of updates, using splashy color to make their brand stand out. They come across as fun and helpful. Getting your email marketing right while having fun doing it is their message.
Businesses are populated by employees who are themselves consumers. Impressions made on employees while at work are necessarily delivered to consumers simultaneously. B2B is not, then, limited to businesses; it’s already B2C, whether intentionally so or not. Using social media platforms leverages both.