Does social media work for B2B businesses?
Guest blog by Mike Boswell, MD of Plastribution @polymerman
A few months ago I was talking to Victoria Tomlinson at a Leeds University Management Division Advisory Board meeting and we got on to the topic of #social media and how our business was exploiting this marketing channel. She asked me to write a short blog on our experience of exploiting this important new channel of communication.
Importance of thought leadership to win business
Our business, Plastribution, is a Supply Chain Management and Added Value Services business that is primarily involved in the supply of plastic raw materials to UK processors. It is perhaps surprising to most that this niche B2B business area is highly competitive and therefore much of our efforts go into persuading customers that we should be their preferred supplier. As the largest player in the market we also strongly believe that we can, should and will show thought leadership in the sector, and given that competitors are all too eager to copy what we do then this is most definitely a journey without destination.
High quality content is core to our social media
First of all we have appointed a first class marketing agency to work in partnership with us so that we do our utmost to continuously deliver high quality content. Whilst at the heart of what we do lies our website we also understand that in an era where there is evermore competition for everybody’s attention we also have to be proactive in terms of taking the message to our target audience. Also as part of a customer satisfaction survey we took the opportunity to get feedback on both our current marketing activity and importantly on the communication preferences of our audience. This confirmed that our audience wanted concise articles delivered in a proactive manner. Here both LinkedIn and Twitter are very effective; so far we have not really found that Facebook to be a suitable media for our target audience.
Which social media for a B2B business?
Obviously the creation of relevant content, which appeals to the target audience is a necessity, but trying to expand the breadth of the audience requires investment. In addition to developing a database within our CRM system we have also invested in using industry media to provide custom e-shots to their database to engage with a broader audience. We have also ensured that the creation of content is shared by a range of employees and that where particular expertise exists in terms of technical or commercial knowledge, these individuals are encouraged to provide personalized insights. These diffusion channels are proving ever more popular.
What is the return on investment for social media for our B2B?
Is it working? Most definitely. Along with positive feedback we have seen increased business activity and new business opportunities from our efforts. I agree with Victoria’s blog that we measure social media success in terms of new business relationships and eventually new business.
Some of our successes include
- As a result of our social media activity, not only do we get more media engagement but @polymerman now has a regular feature in the British Plastics and Rubber magazine
- Typically we are generating one or two quality leads every week and have business directly attributable to our social media activity
There is clear evidence that using social media as a key route of communication with our market enables us to increase credibility through an open and honest approach in which we believe that there is value in sharing information. This is underpinning our vision to become the preferred choice of UK plastic processors.
What is the cost?
Whilst the cost of distribution is nil in the case of our own database, there is a real need to produce quality content and there is an obvious cost to ‘renting databases’ of target audiences. However these cost are competitive compared to traditional print advertising or website banners and clearly there is the opportunity to deliver much more content.
What is the future?
With ever increasing competition for time the need to deliver relevant content becomes ever more important. Furthermore compared to traditional print media the internet provides the opportunity to provide media rich and interactive content and here at Plastribution we are busy developing our marketing strategy to make use of these interesting opportunities. We are committed to continuing and developing our social media.