(PRWEB UK) 19 September 2013
Since the rise of social media being touted as an essential ingredient to a business’s digital marketing mix, much discussion has taken place over the value and return on investment particularly wholesalers and manufacturers. Social media started out life as a series of virtual communities that allowed people to communicate and share information and ideas. Whilst it still well serves the original purpose, the platforms have expanded to accommodate businesses who are showcasing their brands, promoting their products and most importantly interacting and engaging with their target audiences along with building brand awareness and loyalty.
That’s all well and good for retail, with big popular brand names like Topshop, Coca-Cola, Pringles and Adidas having millions of followers; it makes complete sense that brands will want to be where consumers are. But the question remains, what does it mean for wholesalers in the business to business category? Rob Williams, MD of Williams Commerce, creators of trade ecommerce platforms for over 150 B2B businesses online has some thoughts about the social media agenda for wholesalers.
“Up until now, we haven’t yet seen significant return on investment from social media with many of our wholesale customers. Social media doesn’t appear to generate a great deal of traffic. Many B2B businesses think they ought to have a presence but they are not quite sure which platform matters most, what exactly it is they should they be doing and any efforts that have been made are a bit half hearted.”
Research from Optify in 2012 supports this. The marketing benchmark report suggests; ‘Social Media is still a small fraction of traffic and leads to B2B websites, contributing on average less than 5% of all traffic and leads. Twitter is the strongest social media channel for generating leads, outperforming Facebook and LinkedIn 9-to-1 with 82% of social media leads coming from Twitter.’ However, it’s not all bad news; the report goes on to show that traffic and leads generated from social media can make a positive impact. That is when social media is planned, consistent and resourced correctly it is likely to show healthy results for a business.
But how should wholesalers go about doing social media well? Rob talks us through some basic tips to start off in the right direction. “First of all try and think of social media as part of your inbound lead generation strategy for your business. Establish of your trade customers, which platform are they most likely to be using personally. Platform choice is the first step and as a general rule of thumb, Twitter is more widely used with greater success for generating actual leads than perhaps the likes of Facebook, which is better for building your brand. When it comes to Google+, we are incorporating it into all our client’s search marketing plans, becoming more focused on our efforts in this channel, as it’s likely to only become more important as time goes on.”
“Secondly, ensure your business is well represented visually on these platforms and is engaging for your target audience and does your business justice. Don’t always be about the products and the price! A more relaxed and less formal approach can pay dividends for your brand. Thirdly, listen more than you contribute in the early stages. Use the tools in these platforms to set up feeds to allow you to tune into conversations about your industry, your competitors, your business and your products. Then slowly, enter into these conversations to add value, not to overtly sell.”
There’s an example of where this was done particularly well by a well-known Cash and Carry recently. They tuned into a conversation between a retailer and a cider supplier and added their comment about when the stock would be arriving into depots and it was a win win for all parties. A great brand shout for the supplier, the retailer got the answers they wanted and the Cash and Carries reputation for customer service goes up a few notches.
However, there is a danger of not being present on social media. Rob Williams says, “When you’re present on these platforms and listening in, you can act by informing, reassuring and overcoming issues. This goes a long way to building your businesses reputation. It’s the new customer service. If you are contributing, be careful to avoid getting defensive if faced with criticism, work on the solution. You can bet a proportion of your trade customers are using social media personally. They will increasingly be using these same platforms to communicate and access business information quickly. Combine this with Google’s focus on measuring trust and engagement, social media is playing a bigger role in contributing to your website’s ability to rank successfully within the search engines.”
With the way things are trending, all this seems to indicate that B2Bs are and should be investing in social media, but through a planned and considered approach. In a nutshell, Twitter followers, Likes on Facebook and +1s on Google are all the equivalent of a customer signing up to receive an email newsletter. It’s a form of opt in; it’s permission to communicate with them regularly. Social media is a great opportunity to build your brand awareness, communicate and listen to customers whilst promoting products and services. And the final piece of good news, the cost to play is very low. What is there to lose?
Williams Commerce are offering a range of digital marketing initiatives for their B2B clients including social media and content marketing. Visit http://www.williamscommerce.com or phone the team on 0116 326 1116 to find out how to grow your business online.