Differences Between B2B and B2C Social Media
Knowing your audience, knowing your product, and knowing how to best allow the two to merge. Sounds simple, right? Not exactly. Different users have different needs, different preferences, and different motivations that drive brand interaction and purchase decisions. But what do you need to know about differences in reaching Business to Business (B2B) as opposed to Business to Consumer (B2C) users on Social Media?
Obviously, the marketing plan for an Original Equipment Manufacturer or Capital Equipment seller will be different than a local retail location, but how do you have to tailor each message to drive the right consumers to the right products? What motivates each of these to choose your product over a competitor? Thanks to a recent article in Social Media Today, author Leslie Nuccio has drawn out the fundamental differences between communities of Business to Business and Business to Consumer users in her post “5 B2B vs. B2C Community Marketing Differentiators.”
1) B2B Communities Care Want Problem Solving
A business consumer is your consumer because whatever it is you’re selling is theoretically something that they need to do their jobs – or do them better. The #1 thing that you can do for a B2B customer is to help them do their jobs better. This is something to keep in mind when crafting a content marketing strategy.
2) B2B Focuses on Industry and Discipline before Brand and Company
Business consumer purchasing habits are largely determined by the industry and discipline in which they work – and that industry or discipline will most likely follow them for quite a while. What this means for you, as a B2B brand, is twofold:
1) You can form long-lasting relationships with a person that will follow them even once they leave their current position
2) There isn’t a whole lot of brand loyalty here that’s more important than product functionality. Unlike a B2C world wherein consumers will forgive shoddy performance because they have immense brand loyalty, we revisit differentiator #1 here: these consumers want you to help them do their jobs better. If your product isn’t up to snuff, they’ll choose a new one regardless as to whether your logo is cute and they used you in their last job.
3) B2B Influencers Are a Driving Force in Purchase Decisions
Here’s where B2B marketing is actually easier than B2C: your influencers are pretty darn easy to find. Typically, a B2B influencer is going to be a seasoned professional in the business industry you target. What this means is that any decent social media marketing tool will allow you to identify and engage influencers a lot more easily than you might if you were selling ice cream.
The other bonus here is that industry influencers typically consider their thought leadership position to be part of their jobs. What this means for you is that, if you can figure out a way to engage an influencer with a program that increases that person’s influence and reach, you can create some happy and long-lasting partnerships – and some of those will (per point #2) last after both of you move on to other companies.
4) The B2B Community is less Likely to Rant and Rave
It’s not that often that you see a B2B customer ranting online about a company. After all, per point #2, people are likely to stay in the same industry and discipline a lot longer than they are in the same job, and it’s simply not professional to go off on a rant. The good news here is that you run less risk that you’re going to cause some sort of social media crisis or be called out on social channels for whatever it is that’s annoying people.
But remember: just because people are obeying the “If you can’t say something nice…” rule doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be trying just as hard to please your B2B customers. You should be trying harder, because the engagement can last a lot longer.
5) Your B2B Content Marketing Needs to Be Serious
B2B consumers have a job to do, and although being entertained is most certainly a nice way to lighten up the workday; real value to business professionals is in content that (per #1) helps them do their jobs better and more easily. Please don’t take this to mean that engagement in B2B necessitates pedantic, dense educational material; you can still get creative with what might help folks do their jobs better. Hubspot is expert at creating cool template downloads, for example.
What Should You Know about B2B and B2C Social Media?
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