Can business and consumer brands swap social media strategies? What can these two distinct environments learn from one another? Greentarget’s founding partner, Aaron Schoenherr, moderated a Social Media Week Chicago panel consisting of leaders in both B2B and B2C who sought to unpack this question: Jim Jacoby, owner of Manifest Digital; Patrick Rooney, chief executive officer of QUEsocial; Mike Nabasny, Midwest director of sales at Wildfire Interactive; and Jennifer Kedinger, social media marketing manager at Hyatt Regency Chicago.
The key insight was that in both the B2B and B2C realms, companies are expanding the scope of social media beyond traditional marketing. The roles of specific social networks remain distinct for each group when generating sales leads – for example, a HubSpot report notes that 77 percent of B2C marketers say they’ve acquired a customer through Facebook, while 65 percent of B2B marketers have acquired a customer through LinkedIn. However, both camps are embracing social networks as a way to build relationships and measure a return on investment – particularly on the recruitment front.
Key takeaways from the panel include:
Recruiting is the new marketing: From a recruitment perspective, companies are increasingly using social media to find the right candidates and tap into talent pools, regardless of whether those organizations are B2B or B2C oriented. Moreover, recruiting departments are becoming more strategic in their communication, focusing on building relationships and carving out career resources in social media channels. Whereas those who post a constant feed of job listings will likely be tuned out by jobseekers, recruiters who weave in industry and professional resources will garner more long-term interest. Companies are also becoming increasingly sophisticated in conveying a workplace culture through these channels, said Jennifer, adding that Hyatt maintains a Twitter page for ongoing interaction with jobseekers and a Facebook page showcasing various job fairs.
B-to-Fan vs. Business-to-Sales Lead: Different social networks lend themselves more readily to the distinct purposes of B2B and B2C, but relationship development is at the heart of each strategy. Specifically, a WebMarketing123 report revealed that B2B marketers cite lead generation as their top priority, while B2C considers brand awareness their top goal. Panelists noted that B2C marketers use social media as a broadcast model by leveraging the ability to target a fan base or group on Facebook and develop deeper relationships with those potential customers – a strategy Jim dubbed ‘B-to-Fan.’ B2B marketers, meanwhile, are encouraged to deepen their use of LinkedIn and Twitter, where they’re likely to forge industry connections and sales leads.
Training increasingly part of social media strategy: Though companies are expanding their social media channels and the strategies behind them, most are lacking training programs, which makes it difficult to unify employees on the relationship-building potential of these networks. According to a January report by the Altimeter Group, the average midsize or large company (consisting of 1000 employees or more) has 178 “social media assets” (including Twitter handles, employee blogs, etc.) – yet only 25 percent of companies offer social business training to their employees. Panelists felt that companies can get ahead of the curve by articulating best practices for employees, including highlighting positive and negative examples of social media use and discussing what can be learned from each.
Though B2B and B2C marketers each have distinct audiences and gravitate toward the social networks that serve them, the importance of cultivating relationships remains a common thread in the strategies for both. Ultimately, this Social Media Week panel got us thinking about the three key takeaways above and we plan to explore some of these concepts further, so stay tuned.