How B2B Social Media Can Enhance Digital Marketing Strategies
Enterprises that are heading into the still largely uncharted waters of B2B social media are quickly coming to an uncomfortable conclusion: There are only a few ways to get it right, and a whole lot of ways to get it wrong.
B2B communications have long relied on social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to foster relationships with partners and customers. The challenge today, however, is to integrate these services with the multiple processes and productivity tools that permeate the work environment so that they not only work in tandem, but can be mashed-up to drive entirely new revenue streams and market opportunities.
But how, exactly, are all these disparate pieces of the data-driven enterprise supposed to fit together, and how can IT bring its newfound capabilities in analytics and abstract infrastructure to bear in ways that enhance their value?
Missed Opportunities in B2B Social Media
According to a recent study cited by PYMNTS.com, today’s enterprises have collectively missed out on more than $36 billion in revenue because they are not leveraging social media to its fullest extent. Most programs to date attempt to mirror the successes of business-to-consumer (B2C) platforms in building brand awareness, performing rudimentary outreach and various after-sale support functions.
In the B2B sphere, the opportunities go much deeper. New platforms like Keyconex are targeting everything from peer-to-peer workflow management to payments processing, while at the same time looking beyond mere sales activities to joint product development, investor relations, human resources and a host of other functions.
But given that B2B marketing has long prided itself on leveraging cutting-edge technology, why the lag in integrating social media as a core competency? From the CIO perspective, the challenge isn’t so much mastering the technology behind B2B social media, but in making sure it is in alignment with both emerging and legacy business tools.
As 451 Research Senior Analyst Raúl Castañón-Martínez recently noted to CIO.com, IT can make it easy for customers to reach out on Facebook, but it then needs to connect to customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other systems to turn that connection into an opportunity. Failure to do this simply builds another isolated communications channel that, while effective, provides only limited support to an otherwise integrated and automated digital business model.
As part of the broader process of digital transformation, the integration of social media and B2B communications must take place on both a technological and business level. While marketing becomes more attuned to the technologies that are driving advanced forms of outreach, IT needs to become better-versed in the business processes they support. Together, they will be able to devise the collaborative workflows that lead to new sales channels and new opportunities that are only possible in a digitally connected economy.
B2B social media, then, is about more than just tweets, likes and finding your high school sweetheart. It’s about building communities and leveraging their collective power to achieve desirable goals. Organizations that recognize the unique advantages that these two disciplines bring to the table will find that they are not only better at selling goods and services, but also better at building positive relationships that only grow stronger over the years.