If businesses were personality types, the B2B sector would possibly be clubbed the introvert. While they do have deep and meaningful connections with their customers, conventionally it has been behind the scenes. However, in today’s digital world where everyone and everything is hyperconnected through social media, we find that the ‘introverts’ are breaking down the barriers of traditional modes of B2B communication – physical meetings, print media, and large networking events – to meet their customers on their social network.
The UN’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that about 4.9 billion people went online in 2021, up from 4.1 billion in 2019. Therefore, including social media in the B2B marketing mix will be important going forward. And as per a survey, 75% of B2B buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions and 78% of consumers are willing to buy from a company after having a positive experience with them on social media.
Getting closer to customers
In addition to being the virtual bridge between people and communities, social media is also helping brands come closer to their customers. They get a real time pulse of the likes, dislikes, wants and needs of not only their existing customers but also their potential customers. The availability of information and data enables better decision making.
Building a community through thought leadership
Another very important consideration in favour of having a strong social media presence is the opportunity to build a community. Be it Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook, the two-way dialogue with community members and the discussions that take place help in establishing thought leadership, which in turn builds trust. With the transparency and accessibility, social media offers businesses an opportunity to showcase metrics beyond numbers – their values, ethics and the human side of their business. These allow authentic connections and conversations to take place, that enable one to carve a community of like-minded followers – such as how Allcargo Logistics, ECU Worldwide and Gati-KWE have created in spite of being B2B businesses, thanks to their thrust on customer centricity and digital first approach. In fact, Allcargo Logistics, India’s largest integrated end-to-end logistics provider, recently became a 100,000 strong community on LinkedIn, the social media platform for professionals.
IBM is another great example where the company uses social media to showcase its history and legacy. From sharing employee and customer experience videos to delving into complex technologies such as quantum computing, IBM’s social media content reinforces the brand’s values including innovation, trust, and personal responsibility.
Moreover, digitalization has changed the way information is consumed. With more and more people reading news on the phone, and with the pandemic teaching us to meet digitally, there is a higher chance of customers learning about your brand online than from a print advertisement or a physical meeting. Plus digital metrics such as social listening, engagement, impressions etc. help to understand the audience better, thereby giving valuable customer insights, which can be swiftly accessed and used to inform the marketing strategy. With these benefits it comes as no surprise then that studies estimate 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur on digital channels by 2025.
The fact that social media engagement typically costs less than traditional advertising while being even more impactful is of course another compelling factor in favour of social media.
Getting closer to customers, building a community through thought leadership, and the use of digital tools are strong enough advantages for B2B businesses to embrace social media, the way Allcargo Logistics, ECU Worldwide and Gati-KWE have done.