Social selling will be one of the biggest trends in B2B marketing in 2014. We’ve all seen how well it can work for the B2C marketplace, but it’s not as obvious a tactic to use for B2B.
Or is it?
Not surprisingly, social selling can work for B2B brands because, well, the people that work for, and purchase for B2B companies are people that are already on social media. They’re already connecting with others online through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Pinterest, and their potential audience increases with each new network that pops up. Harnessing those connections for B2B purposes can be daunting, but is worth it if you’re looking to grow your business connections. This is especially true for B2B Technology companies. Tech employees are usually the first adopters of the new networks, so tapping into your employees for company brand purposes is easy.
Set up some ground rules
Your employees may already be talking about you, so create and implement a social media policy. They need to know what’s appropriate to be shared on social media, and what’s not allowed on there. A clear and well-shared social media policy ensures they know the rules of sharing, and everyone stays on-side with brand-related communications.
Listen in to what they’re saying
Employee advocacy platforms can help centralize social sharing for your B2B brand. Through it your employees can easily view, create, and share content—and you can monitor it easily. Example platforms include: VoiceStorm, Addvocate, SmarpShare, or Socialook.
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- Your brand/company name or product names
- Your brand or products + support related words like help, assistance, not working, broken, problem, #fail, etc.
Now you’ll be ready to handle any issues that arise, or to praise the efforts of your employees.
Just like you encourage it with outside shares, encourage your employees’ shares as well through retweets, posting of comments, connecting with influencers on LinkedIn, or repinning images on Pinterest. Your employees solidify your brand by providing some social proof to the public, and then help you connect with prospects and leads. You’re reaching leads that you normally wouldn’t be able to if it weren’t for your employees, right?
Take it a step further by creating a social sharing leaderboard, and foster some healthy competition between your employees. Fun competitions like this liven up the workplace, which deepens employees’ connection with you and the work they’re doing. They’re more invested in the brand and its products, which can be especially important if you’re in a particularly conservative (read: boring) or hard-to-explain marketplace.
Put a face on your business
B2B brands often struggle with how to put a human face on their products and services, as often they’re so behind-the-scenes that people don’t realize they’re even there. Chris Brogan talks about this in his post on branding (scroll to the section on The Human Side of Brand). Social media is an easy way to do this, and something that’s not natural to the B2B world. So let your employees do it for you.
Get a head start on social selling
See which of your employees are already on the social networks you’re targeting for your B2B business and set up a working group. Get everyone talking now, and see how you can get a jump on your competition. Connect with me on Twitter and I’ll help out too.