Do B2B Companies Need Social Media?

This question was posed to me by Paul Gillin for a Q&A I did with him for BtoB Magazine. There are a number of ways to define the word “need” but it is a good question for companies to begin when they think about starting or expanding social media.

The mistake and trap B2B companies get into is the idea that social media should equate to sales. While the ultimate goal of communications should be to help drive revenue, there are many ways that social media can be used that are just as critical to a brand. Without getting into the tactics of how to do social, here are three ways to think about how social media can build on a company’s efforts.

Don't get so focused on social media to help sell that you can't see the forest for the trees.
Don’t get so focused on social media to help sell that you can’t see the forest for the trees.

Recruiting. Recruiters and job seekers more and more are turning to social media to look for a job. Because of this, they are trying to follow and discover more about your company. Whether you use social media to directly recruit employees or not job candidates are researching you online to learn more about you and to decide if they want to be associated with your firm. In addition, tomorrow’s leaders of your organization have grown up with social media. They too are looking online and deciding if they should work for you or your competition.

Crisis communication. When something goes wrong with your organization people more and more are turning to social media for the news or to see what people are saying. In addition, if you are focused on media relations remember that news stories about a crisis will quickly spread online. If you are there to respond as quickly as possible you can learn to leverage social media to your advantage.

Education.Think of your social channels as an extension of your website and event activities. Using social media for brand awareness to celebrate your wins, promote your news and talk about what you are doing can make a difference as you work to build on your brand.

Don’t get into thinking that social media is just about sales. There is more to using these channels than just a sales tool and you need to help your management and sales team understand that your group of stakeholders is much broader than just customers. We continue to see ways that social media is changing the way we consume and communicate information, as B2B brands we need to be listening and a part of these streams and discussions.