Back in January, eMarketer predicted that businesses would invest a total of $118.4 billion in content, video and social media marketing in 2013. It’s no surprise when you consider just how many people are visiting the major social networks. Facebook is now racking up around 750 million unique visits a month and Twitter is seeing 250 million unique visits.
But the split of this spend is heavily weighted towards B2C brands. And while social networks have traditionally been seen as the preserve of B2C businesses, there are untold opportunities for social media in B2B. Businesses which are themselves trying to influence business decision-makers.
Go where the people are and give them a reason to engage
The marketing mantra – go where your audience is – isn’t just for B2C brands. Business leaders are people too. They use social networks, comment on posts and share interesting content. And really, that is the key. B2B brands can use (and have used) social media to attract people’s attention. Maybe they’ve told a story, or set a challenge to overcome.
With social media, a whole world of engaging content is open to B2B companies. It’s not just about cold calling and promotional leaflets anymore. There are dozens of B2B businesses, large and small, that are excelling at social media marketing. To be successful, each one has had to plan every campaign thoroughly. What would a win look like? Did they have the resources to create and run the best campaign possible, and to deal with a spike in site traffic or new business?
These are just some of the questions that need answers before a business launches a social campaign, because if it strikes a chord, the results can be mind-blowing.
Using social media for product launches
Cisco has been using social media to launch products since around 2007, but it was only in 2010, when it launched a new router via social media channels alone, that it had the stats to back up its instincts.It held the main launch event in Second Life, even holding a pre-event Second Life concert featuring eight bands.
More than 20,000 network engineers played a specially designed 3D game, the winner receiving $10,000 and – of course – a Cisco router. Cisco also used Facebook, YouTube and video conferencing as part of the integrated launch campaign. Nine thousand people attended the launch events, and the company generated more than 1000 blog posts.
Using social media to build a community
American Express uses its OPEN Forum to communicate with business owners. Its Ideas hub offers people a way to share insight and to network – like its own mini business social network. Its CEO BootCamp for women is promoted through the site, with a hashtag for people to follow who can’t make the event, or to use to discuss experiences during it.
With OPEN Forum, American Express is creating a community around its brand and facilitating networking opportunities – tying the brand even closer to the business community.
Using social media to show what you can do
UberFlip creates content creation tools for marketers. It needs to show what the product could do, what it looked like in action, rather than simply tell its prospective clients. With this in mind, UberFlip created a short video infographic on how video is being used for marketing in 2013.
It’s had just over 4,500 views, and driven an 800% increase in traffic to the business’ blog.
Using social media to complement offline campaigns
Back in 2012, Adobe created a scavenger hunt around San Francisco to promote the launch of its Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6. It used Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram to share hints and provide clues to help in the hunt.
Adobe’s hunt resulted in 83,000 conversations on social media in the first five days of the hunt and more than 3,800 Twitter conversations tagged #CreateNow.
Using social gaming to drive sales
When network security provider, SonicWALL, wanted to reach C-level executives, it listened to the research. An independent report discovered that the higher your status in an organisation, the more likely you are to play online games during office hours.
The higher your status in an organisation, the more likely you are to play online games during office hours.
SonicWALL developed a branded game for executives to play, which challenged them to defend their computer network against attack. Eventually, the game would simply become too hard and the player would fail.
Players were able to share their high scores, encouraging others to play the game. The clever campaign ended up generating more than $1 million in sales. Whether it’s social media, or social gaming, anything that encourages people to share your content with their network will be a boost to your brand.
Using social media to drive site visitors
Supply chain management company, Kinaxis, launch a social video campaign to double traffic to its site and new business leads. It created a story, a comedy series called Suitemates, and posted episodes of the tale throughout 2010.
By developing an entertaining campaign, the brand exceeded its goal. Traffic to the website almost tripled and new business leads more than tripled. B2B brands can achieve a significant return on investment when they use social media to promote products and services. Just know what your goals are before you launch that campaign, or start that Facebook page. Then you can figure out the best way to achieve them.