I recently had a client who asked if his company should include references to their consumer-facing social media channels (in this case, Facebook and Twitter profiles) on their B2B marketing materials.
For some reason, marketers default to thinking their business audiences aren’t real people like the rest of us, but rather than just say, “B2B people are people, too,” JS dug into it.
We searched online for best practices and polled our other client teams. None – not one – of our other clients seem to have wrestled with this specific issue and amazingly, there wasn’t much conversation on the web about it. So here’s our opinion.
The short answer is yes – you can and should include references to your social media channels on your B2B marketing materials, even though those channels may not be geared specifically toward your B2B audience. Here are five reasons why:
1. You can utilize your social media investment without losing your main B2B messages.
If including social media references required a lot of space in your B2B materials, the sacrifice might not be worth it, but adding social media references to B2B ads, mailers or other marketing materials requires very little effort or space in your creative. Given your investment in social media, putting it to work in more places would make sense. Be sure to go beyond icons. Include a tagline that explains what B2B decision-makers might get from the specific social channel. For example, “[Twitter icon] for customer service.” Or, “Special offers on [Facebook icon].”
2. Most of your B2B targets could be consumer prospects, too.
Your main B2B marketing objective is to sell products or services to businesses, of course, but if you also sell to consumers, then many of your B2B targets might consider you for personal use. If so, when they explore your social channels, they won’t be put off by a consumer-centric dialogue.
3. B2B prospects can see the kind of service you provide through your social channels.
Given the importance of customer service in selecting a B2B provider, seeing a responsive, caring customer support dialogue on your Facebook page or Twitter profile can be persuasive.
4. If nothing else, social channels can show B2B prospects the kind of company you are.
I’ll say it again: B2B prospects are people, too, and they make decisions with their hearts as well as their minds. Even though your social channels are mostly geared toward consumers, business decision-makers can get an immediate sense of what kind of company you’re running. Do you have a heart? A sense of humor? Do you genuinely care about your customers and community? If they like what they see, it could be the tie-breaker, all else being equal.
5. Your business customers can get support through your social channels.
Finally, in the event that B2B prospects become customers, your Facebook, Twitter and other social channels are yet another way that they can get the support they need, easily and when they need it. Why not let them see that early in their decision-making process?
Hopefully this is a helpful thought-starter. The bigger question is whether or not you see an opportunity to use social media more intentionally to aid your B2B sales and marketing efforts. But, that’s a question for another post.
Have you encountered this question in your business? Where did you land?