How to use social networks in a B2B marketing strategy

Lynda St-Arneault – November 8, 2013

When you are a company selling products or services to other companies, integrating social media in your marketing strategies can be pretty complex.

For instance, let’s look at the buying process in B2B (business to business) and compare it to the process in B2C (business to consumer). As a consumer, when I want to find a product for everyday life, I am the only one actively acting in the buying process. I do take some advice from people I trust, I go online to check or I go in person to learn about the product. I will compare it to the competition and, in the end, make a decision as to whether I buy it or not. In the end, I’ll share my experience and explain what I disliked about it or why I did not choose this very product.

For a company, an “everyday life” product is equipment, office supplies or a printer, for instance. It is a product for my work or for the company I work for. Most of the time, buying such a product comes with risks (financial, technical, ecological and operational). The process will therefore be more complex, longer and with a lot of people involved in it: influencers, users, managers and technicians.

Understanding the reality of B2B marketing is the key when you launch a product or a service, whether it is on traditional channels or on the internet or social media.

B2B companies (those who provide the other companies with “every day” products) live in niche and specialized markets. This means the segmentation becomes complicated, that there are a lot of different geographic territories and each territory has a limited amount of targeted clients. On top of this, competition is intense and it’s not only a direct competition. It comes from other strategic domains of activity and even so, it could compete against your products.

In social media like all other channels, strategic choices are the starting point, and there are a lot of possible strategies. Social media came and splintered the broadcast platforms even more. Every media has its own particularities and precise objectives. Alas, marketing budgets don’t grow as fast as the offer does.

Therefore, it is crucial to take consistent decisions which are part of the marketing and sales strategy of the company.

More than the strategic choices, you have to build a team dedicated to social media, working in synergy with sales and marketing. Taking care of the accounts in an optimal way and making sure the content shared is pertinent and fits with the targeted segments is quite a challenge. More than this, you have to avoid creating “noise” through all the channels, which are targeting the same people. Measure and a well-thought choice of indicators of performance for every platform are necessary. They are a must, and they are easy to implement, thanks to the huge amount of monitoring tools, free or not, integrated or not.

Finally, leadership from management is highly needed. Without this will at the head of the organization, all efforts could be useless. Values and consistency are necessary through the company. If management does not underline the necessity of social media within the company, then the project is bound to fail.

Without going into too many details, here are 8 points to help you build and manage your brand on social media:

  • – Determine goals for your social media engagement
  • – Determine your online brand persona
  • – Get a social media community manager
  • – Define the roles of customer service and sales service
  • – Have a pre-determined crisis management plan
  • – Build relationships with the media
  • – Find influencers

For the rest, let me invite you to a training I’ll be giving on Monday, November 18 for Infopresse Campus.

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Let me also invite you to comment and share the challenges you’ve encountered developing your online presence.

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