We often speak to marketers within specialised B2B businesses who wonder whether social media is the right place for them to be. At first glance, their point seems valid. After all, how much can there really be to provoke lively online discussion in the fields of industrial gases, bookkeeping or chimney sweeping for example?
Far too often, we encounter a culture of embarrassment amongst those immersed in more obscure areas of business – a reluctance to talk about their professions for fear of boring those outside the field. Some also wonder whether, even when there is something of such interest or urgency to warrant sharing, is their target audience even spending time on Twitter or Facebook?
The simple answer to whether B2B is too boring for social media is ‘absolutely not’. The reason? People, no matter what field they work within, are human. Even if they aren’t able to access social media from work (or indeed, if they work on the move and spend much of their time in a vehicle) – they are still likely to visit social channels in their free time. Perhaps they catch up with friends on Facebook, or use social with their professional hats on to research products and services on blogs, forums and video sharing sites, or hunt out their next job on LinkedIn.
Say you manage marketing for a supply chain management software company. The opportunities for success in social media marketing may seem bleak at best. Yet Kinaxis recognised the potential to spark conversations and launched the Supply Chain Expert Community, and has since become an industry poster girl, if you will, for successful B2B social campaigns. If this thriving community (with 6,750 members) can create entertaining video on supply chain management, then anything is possible.
Our advice when using social media for B2B is to always keep the human at the other end of the internet connection in mind. Use lateral thinking to come up with content that is related to, but far more sparkly and exciting than the product or service they sell.
A B2B marketer’s job is to see beyond the often highly specialised subject matter it is their task to promote, and come up with compelling, thought provoking and even entertaining discussion points.
Talk to the people behind the business, and the business people will sit up and listen, and often start talking themselves.