We live in an age where it is well known that we can go on Twitter for customer service enquiries and expect a response within hours, if not minutes. Although this may not be a particularly attractive nor persuasive reason for B2C companies to be on social media, it is through this means of communication that companies are given the opportunity to (re)build rapport with customers, even if it means opening the floodgates for complaints! Nike, for example, even has a separate Twitter account dedicated entirely for customer service. Indeed, the correct, public handling of customer service issues and complaints can entirely change perceptions of a company: increasing client retention rates and satisfaction levels and boosting popularity.
What’s more, a recent social media study by the Pew Research Centre found that 71% of online adults use Facebook and that there has been a 10% increase, since 2013, in the number of online adults using two or more social media sites. As such, social media sites with content sharing options provide B2C companies with the means to reach far beyond those clients already familiar with their companies. In fact, according toDMR, 33.8% of internet users have ‘Liked’ a Facebook post which they enjoyed, and 26.7% have clicked the “Share” button. Twitter is arguably the best social media platform for sharing visibility, with retweeted Tweets and popular hashtags having the capacity to go viral and trend globally. Knowing your target audience is vital in this respect, as B2C companies can incorporate humour, and even somewhat risque banter, into their social media posts. This enables companies to present a novel, more personable side to their business which, once again, has the capacity to improve B2C relations. Therefore, by either producing valuable content which gets shared, or sharing relevant content from other creators, B2C companies can establish themselves as industry experts by being on social media.
However, while it may seem obvious at first as to why B2C companies should be on social media, it is somewhat less clear as to why being on social media might too benefit B2B companies. Indeed, networks, like Facebook, seem more personal than professional, so why would B2B companies want to be on social media? Well, there are in fact numerous reasons.
Firstly, being on social media enables companies to create a culture which people value. Consequently, socially-enabled companies demonstrate better employee retention and engagement rates. This culture can also spread further than employees, with partners, customers, press and the public being within the reach of social media platforms too. Secondly, the culture promoted through use of social media can help strengthen the corporate brand. For example, DSM, the global science based company, increased brand value by $800 million thanks to social media.
An empirical example of how being on social media can benefit B2B companies can be drawn from ‘My Starbucks Idea’. This platform has been in operation for over one decade, encouraging people to submit ideas for Starbucks. The ideas are rated by other users, both up and down, where Starbucks can then review each idea and choose to implement them or incorporate aspects of them into their own business strategies. Consequently, ideas for the business are validated before they are even launched, thereby helping business development.
Further, similar to the reasons mentioned above as to why B2C companies should be on social media, B2B companies can make their customers happy by being on social media. Although B2B customers are typically professional buyers, public communication on social media platforms like forums can help improve loyalty and customer service, just like how reactions to enquiries on Facebook can better B2C relations. Consequently, as a result of peer to peer engagement, long lasting business relationships can be built.
A study by Hubspot helped highlight how blogging can also help B2B companies. According to the study, B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that do not. Building on this, by blogging, B2B companies can boost their SEO. Acquity Group found that 94% of B2B buyers report that they conduct online research before buying a business product. As such, what shows up in their search results when people search your company name? By blogging regularly and having multiple social media accounts, B2B companies (and B2C companies) increase the likelihood that their brand dominates searches.
Leah Hickey, Marketing Manager at Why Media, comments, “It is absolutely vital that B2B and B2C companies are on social media. In this technological age, so many companies are turning to social media to market themselves and to improve customer relations. By choosing to stay off of social media, companies run the risk of limiting themselves to a smaller reach of people and being outcompeted for business by other companies joining the social media storm.”