“B2B relationships are fundamentally not about companies but about people” (Gillin and Schwartzman, 2013)
Social media provides a great tool for marketers from companies of all sizes to interact with their customers and can be used to:
- promote the name of your brand and business
- tell customers about your goods and services
- find out what customers think of your business
- attract new customers
- build stronger relationships with existing customers.
As with any type of marketing there are advantages and disadvantages to using Social Media to advertise your business, no matter the network that you use.
Advantages of Social Media Marketing
- broad reach – social media can reach millions of people all around the world quickly
- ability to target particular groups – social media allows companies to apply filters to their posts, many forms of social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) allow businesses to target specific groups by a number of demographic factors dependant on their needs
- free or low-cost – most social media formats are free and will only require a device connected to the internet, paid advertising formats are usually low-cost
- personal – social networks allow for a personal response to customer queries showing that there is more to the brand than just the product but after purchase care is there as well
- fast – you can quickly distribute information to many people within the filters that are set whole populations can be targeted within a relatively short period of time
- easy – the average person with even basic knowledge and a computer should have no problem operating a presence on social media
Disadvantages of Social Media
As with anything there are always risks that need to be weighed against the advantages, this is no different when you operate a presence online
- wasted time and money the return on investment can be difficult to measure for the time that is needed to cultivate a business presence
- The rapid spread of the wrong kind of information about your business (e.g. a typo that changes the entire context of the message you’re trying to put out)
- Similarities in name online – like the point above, business names can be similar but operate in different countries with no link to each other, a negative review by a customer of a different company that has a similar name to you can have bigger consequences than first thought.
These risks are important to understand and have strategies in place that will allow you to counteract or avoid them.
Key Social Media Platforms
Different platforms will allow you to focus on different types of marketing activity depending on the needs of your company and the audience you are targeting.
- Facebook – allows you to have conversations with customers, post photos and videos, promote special offers, get reviews from customers, and more
- Twitter – allows you to send and receive short messages from customers and potential customers that include images and video through ‘tweets’
- Youtube – lets companies and individuals to share to the online video-hosting service
- Blogs – websites where the user can write entries/posts to provide a news stream of developments that are of interest to them and their industry
- Online photo sharing sites – websites that allow users to increase awareness of their products by storing, organising and sharing their photo collections with followers and other users.
- Customer review sites – allow past customers to review the company and their products and services (eg. Yell.com, Google My Business), even the way you respond to positive and negative reviews can stand you in better stead than just simply having a customer review system in place
Choosing the right social networks to develop a presence can greatly increase the interactions between your company and your customers. Most social media sites allow you to interact with your customers in a quick and low cost manner if used in the right way. Obviously this is by no means a comprehensive list of sites that can be used but is a basic overview of some networks that are out there to keep in touch and promote your brand to your target market.