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B2B vs. B2C Marketing: Where Does Social Media Fit?

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B2B vs. B2C Marketing: Where Does Social Media Fit?

Business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) companies are relying more and more on social media to meet marketing goals. With more than two billion people active on social media worldwide, it has become a crucial tool.

For B2B companies, which sell products and services to other businesses, such as in manufacturing, social media marketing is about lead generation. Social media outlets provide a way to target specific customers — individuals and entire organizations. This is key, as the purchasing process within B2B companies typically involves multiple decision-makers, according to Rohan Ayyar, a creative content strategist, web analyst and conversion optimization specialist at E2M, a digital marketing firm.

B2B companies have been hesitant to branch out into social media, as they have historically looked only to the analytics of website traffic to measure the effectiveness of their online content — written articles, white papers, videos and images, among others. However, this can also be measured on social media with each platform’s analytics, as well as through direct interaction with their followers (individuals and companies). This is attracting an increasing number of companies to incorporate social media into their marketing plans.

“As the number of social media users worldwide continues to grow, companies increasingly will find that social networking influences their revenue and sales,” said Kristen Herhold, content developer and marketer for the B2B ratings and reviews firm Clutch.

Business-realm-focused platform LinkedIn has become effective for B2B. A survey of B2B companies by Oktopost, a social media marketing firm, found that just over 80 percent of sales leads are generated via that platform; Twitter and Facebook generate about 13 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Social media platforms help B2B companies to showcase information about products and services, and also share their expertise, skills and even advice with a broader yet still targeted audience. According to Clutch, B2B companies typically use social media with the objective of becoming an authority in their respective industry.

“B2B lends itself to curated content, where brands can help their audience by sharing curated news and best practice content to help individuals develop their skills and careers,” said Dave Chaffey, CEO of Smart Insights, a strategic digital marketing publisher and platform.

B2C companies on the other hand are driven to influence individual customers specifically to purchase something. Social media marketing is ideal for such companies, as they can reach a large audience. In a study by Clutch, nearly 60 percent of the B2C companies surveyed reported that social media helps increase their revenue and sales, compared to 46 percent of B2B companies. Additionally, 96 percent of those B2C companies cited Facebook as the most valuable social media platform to meet their specific goals.

“[Social media] makes more sense for B2C companies because of the mindset people are in when they're on social media,” said Steve Pearson, CEO of Friendemic, which offers online reputation tools, platforms and marketing services. “They're in consumer mode, not business mode.”

Social media — Facebook is the standard for B2C marketing, notes Ben Green, director of operations at Oktopost — allows community engagement for B2C companies, as well as product promotion and brand awareness. B2B companies can benefit in the same way, depending on their goals, target audiences and content they share.

“A company’s ultimate goal is to make money,” Clutch’s Herhold said, “and social media helps increase revenue and sales.”

B2B SellingB2C SellingSocial Media

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