Does social media work for B2B companies?

I’ve always wondered why B2B’s executives keep telling me they’re not interested in Social Media for their Business. In my opinion, if there is a business sector that should understand and value Social Media, is precisely B2B.

B2B’s professionals had always relied on business contacts and personal relationships with customers. B2C’s, otherwise, normally deal with anonymous buyers. The buying cycle is longer in a B2B environment, than it is in a B2C’s, and usually goes way beyond the actual sale. A successful sale requires a, somehow, intimate knowledge of the customer, beyond product’s characteristics or seller’s level of expertise.  The roles of the influencer, the decision maker, the user… have always been present and well defined in B2B.

B2B has always been about developing Social Networks. Now that we live a time in which those are on steroids at a global scale, it seems to me, from a Social Media Strategy’s point of view, there is much a B2B company may benefit from.

So, for those of you who, like me, have to face the resistance of the B2B´s executive to integrate Social Media in his profesional arsenal, here go 5 tips to make them change their minds.

1. B2B’S DECISION MAKERS ARE NOT FROM MARS

B2B’s decision makers are people. They don’t live in a distant galaxy. They are regular Joes and Janes. In fact, they’re normally better educated and enjoy higher incomes than average. And, guess what, that fits perfectly in the description of the Social Media user. Do you know why? Because B2B’s decision makers are indeed heavy Social Media users themselves.

Ask the B2B executive about his social media habits. He probably visits independent blogs, gets info through Social Media Channels, has a LinkedIN profile and engages likely in social media activities. Don’t believe me: belive the $500 Forrester’s study  that proves me right.

b2bdecisionmakers

Survey done among North American and European decision makers at Companies with +100 employees

Now that we’ve established the obvious: B2B’s decision makers are humans and use social media, let me tell you another thing about them: they use social as a tool in their buying decision making process. If you want them to know about your business, don’t wait to see if your wonderful SEO strategies lead them to your site, put yourself where their eyes are. Join the conversation. Become part of their social media environment.

2. EMPHASIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL REPUTATION

I’ll never get tired of repeating this: Reputation is Social Media’s currency. Reputation is the door to influence. You may be an eminence in your field, but it won’t give you the influence you deserve unless you make it very public. Social Media can help you build your reputation as well as that of your business.

What are you waiting for? Show the world your company’s real value: the keen angle of expertise no other has. As redundant as it may sound, you need to strengthen your strengths, the things that differenciate your business from your competitors. If you don’t do it, others will. Or worse… your competitors will percive your social media absence as a weakness and make it work against you… which leads me to the third of my tips

3. DOMINATE THE PARTY ROOM… OR ELSE

There is an analogy commonly used when refering to Social Media: it’s like a big party. It’s almost true. And you know party’s dynamics, don’t you? If you’re not present, bad gossip about you is more likely to spread around than when you’re there, dominating the room, being the soul of the event. So, if not for anything else, be sure you make your own invitation to the party to protect yourself/company from insidious gossip.  Besides, parties are fun. Blend in and enjoy.

4. INDULGE YOUR CLIENT’S GODSON

Your clients not only are present in social networks, they are sharing their lives, the interests and people they care about.

Imagine you’ve been trying to convince the purchasing manager of a company to buy your product. Wouldn’t it be helpful to know his godson is a enthusiastic fan of the Miami Heat NBA’s franchise, buy a t-shirt signed by king James Lebron himself, and give it to this manager you want to lean the purchasing decision towards your side? You won’t be buying something nice for the decision maker, you’ll make him look great in front of a boy he cares deeply about. Guess what, now all that info is available for you, for free. Chances are that person is already sharing about the things he cherishes, and the intimate connection he has with them. If you don’t use social to research about your clients, be certain your competitors do.

5. USE HUMOUR

Face it, you’re not Brad Pitt. How did you make your better half fall in love with you? You made her laugh, didn’t you? Nothing works better than humour to enhance your natural charm. Humour catches attention. You maybe wondering what does it have to do with B2B? We’re serious people doing serious business here! Well… think it better. I’m not telling you to be a clown, I’m telling you not to understimate the power of a smile.

Take for example what CISCO did. They have a router, the ASR9000. Price tag: $250,000! Buying Decision Cycle: 2 years! Not your B2C’S cherry pie. What did they do to improve the chances of selling such a product? They made a Valentine’s video. “Nothing says I love you like 64 Terabites per second”. Using the words of Eric Crangel from Business Insider:

There’s really only a tiny handful of people with the budgetary authority to buy stuff like this. If even only a few them smile and think of Cisco more as a funny cool friend than a stodgy IT firm, it was worth it.


Next time you hear B2B’s executives telling you Social Media is not for his business, you’ll have five points story to tell them.  You’ll thank me later…

 

The original post, “DOES SOCIAL MEDIA WORK FOR B2B COMPANIES?” by Aurelio Toral was originally published on Aurelio Toral’s blog
Original Article
Photo by Udo J. Keppler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How Facebook’s algorithm changes impact social businesses

Facebook modified its EdgeRank algorithm… Bad News?

Advertisers don’t seem to be particularly happy about the change. Now that they were finally comfortable promoting their stories and cashing out on their hard earned Likes, Zuckerberg’s company changed the playing field and established new rules of engagement… how uncool…

Why is Facebook doing this?

Facebook’s answer to that question is:

Surveys show that on average people prefer links to high quality articles about current events, their favorite sports team or shared interests, to the latest meme. Starting soon, we’ll be doing a better job of distinguishing between a high quality article on a website versus a meme photo hosted somewhere other than Facebook when people click on those stories on mobile. This means that high quality articles you or others read may show up a bit more prominently in your News Feed, and meme photos may show up a bit less prominently.

Apparently, Facebook has been conducting a series of surveys in order to fine-tune the way the algorithm perceives relevance for the audience in each user’s updates. They presented users with different types of content and asked them the following:

  • Is this timely and relevant content?
  • Is this content from a source you would trust?
  • Would you share it with friends or recommend it to others?
  • Is the content genuinely interesting to you or is it trying to game News Feed distribution? (e.g., asking for people to like the content)
  • Would you call this a low quality post or meme?
  • Would you complain about seeing this content in your News Feed?

I have my issues regarding the survey design and results.

I specially dislike the way the fifth question (“Would you call this a low quality post or meme?”) was presented. It categorizes the “meme” as low quality prompting negative answers about memes in the mind of the user. Somehow, I don’t see a user answering honestly that he or she prefers a funny meme over a well crafted article from a news organization, despite the fact that the former seem to be much more popular than the latter, but I imagine Facebook has taken the shame factor into account while interpreting the survey’s results.

How are people reacting to the new algorithm?

Comments on FB Official Blog new algorithm’s anouncement

Judging from comments in Facebook Official Blog, many suspect it’s a matter of Facebook getting greedy. They think Facebook does not want companies to clutter people’s newsfeeds with content unless is paid. And according to the comment of Nestor Carrasco, responsible for the fanpage “StarterDaily” the results of organic unpaid updates are dramatic: a decrease from 30% engagement to 2%.  Content that, up until today, made 30% of your fans engage, now gets only 2%. Less people exposed to the content turned into less people engaging.  If Facebook wanted engagement, reducing the number of people the content reaches does not seem logical… or does it?

MY OPINION

Although Facebook usage is still growing, Facebook has seen a decrease in this growth. They want it back on high speed and they’ve figured out that engagement is key to recover velocity.

Engagement will keep users on Facebook, make them use it more, expend more time on it.  Take it from the perspective of a user: if your news feed keeps filling up with non engaging content, you’ll look for it somewhere else. An engaging user is a person who goes from mere witness into action mode. From that point of view, brands should prefer this type of user over the other. Facebook wants to be a platform of engaging users because they now their have more value.

Turning non-engaged users into engagement junkies is not a task Facebook can do alone. They want us marketers to step inside this “creating Mr Engager” scenario and add our two cents to the jar. In the long run, activating engagers is a desireable scenario for us too.

They made some recommendations alongside the anouncement:

  • Make your posts timely and relevant
  • Build credibility and trust with your audience
  • Ask yourself, “Would people share this with their friends or recommend it to others?”
  • Think about, “Would my audience want to see this in their News Feeds?”

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR BRANDS? 

1.What you consider important may not be what users find important.

Well, for once, it seems pretty obvious that Facebook does not encourage us to prioritize what we consider important over what users may consider important. That is a key factor to consider when we prepare our content. And don’t only consider the essence of the content, notice the relevance of now. What is important for the users currently. Context Matters my friends.

2. Make “Engagement Trigger” Content

Shareability of your content seems to be important. Facebook prefers a message your followers would recommend to others, or even better, one they’d comment about, over content they may like but not feel in need to share. This presents some issues.

Imagine you are responsible for Viagra’s Social Media Strategy. There is certainly a community of people interested in your content but… will they share it with others? Seeking shareability is undoubtedly a challenge.

3. Make your content Facebook Native. Links may not work as they used to.

AllThingsD interviewed Lars Backstrom, Facebook’s NewsFeed Manager, and he had some remarks that particularly caught my attention:

Q. Are you paying attention to the source of the content? Or is it solely the type of content?

A. Right now, it’s mostly oriented around the source. As we refine our approaches, we’ll start distinguishing more and more between different types of content. But, for right now, when we think about how we identify “high quality,” it’s mostly at the source level.

Q. So something that comes from publisher X, you might consider high quality, and if it comes from publisher Y, it’s low quality?

A. Yes.

It’s yet to be determined what a high quality source by Facebook’s algorithm standards is. Backstom’s answer lead us to think that a vague article about cancer treatment from the New York Times would be consider of higher quality than the testimony of a cancer patient posted on his personal blog… I happen to disagree. But, since it’s a factor, it may be better for us to create the content natively within Facebook, so outside links to what could be consider a not so high quality source weight less on the algorithm’s criteria.

4.Value Facebook user’s interests as much as Facebook does

All the changes Facebook does to the algorithm have one purpose in mind, and it is not to make you pay to reach their users. Facebook wants to empower their users. They want them better informed, more engaging and active. The cherish the user because he is the main asset of their business. Facebook prioritize a better user experience over a better marketer’s one because user enjoyment, not advertiser money, is Facebook’s source of income. Advertisers will always come second, that is the way it has to be. A Facebook with a UI tailored for advertisers instead of for users is not valuable even for advertisers.
So, Facebook designs its algorithm trying to get into the mind of the Facebook Native. They want to mimic their thoughts, think like one, in order to give him or her what he or she wants. You should do exactly the same.
The original post, “Think like a Facebook Native” was originally published on Aurelio Toral’s blog
Original Article
llustration by artlessstacey/artlessstacey (artlessstacey) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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