Social media draws in many businesses because it is free (unless they are running paid ads), but without an effective social media strategy, these businesses are probably wasting their time. One size certainly does not fit all, especially when considering the differences between B2B and B2C social media marketing. These two separate entities both need to market their goods and services, but as many of the main objectives are not quite the same, the methods for achieving them on the social channels aren't either.
The Key Difference: B2B vs. B2C
A business-to-business (B2B) company sells a product or service directly to other businesses, and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies sell directly to consumers. For B2B marketing, a key objective is to build relationships between businesses, which involves generating leads and forging strong personal relationships. Instead of shooting for a few sales, B2B focuses on developing long-term, consistent sales and customer satisfaction while generating repeat purchases and referrals.
Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies sell their products and services to the public. Some consumers are fiercely loyal to their favorite automotive brands, face cream and other products, but most of the interactions are more transactional and less personal. While it is possible (and highly desirable) to create loyal customer bases for consistent purchases, the relationships tend to be short-term and not as personalized, with fewer purchases.
Marketing is integral for any company's success and is a large, controllable entity of many factions, from research to special events to content writing. Understanding how B2Bs and B2Cs operate provides the foundation for devising appropriate marketing strategies. As social media platforms evolve and gain popularity, social media marketing should play a significant role in your tactics, no matter who your target audience is.
B2B Marketing Fundamentals
B2B customers have the same considerations as B2Cs, such as paying attention to their wants, needs, and purchasing touchpoints. The first step is creating brand awareness and engagement, but you should remember that there is more than just one consumer when selling to a large company. Many can be involved in the initial and subsequent buying decisions, including managers, department heads, and CEOs. This larger group of consumers means multiple decision points.
With more cooks stirring the pots, there will be additional people who need to be satisfied with the B2 B's services. You need to address all of their wants and needs to build positive interactions, strong feedback, and high satisfaction. The products and services can be more complicated, too, since other businesses usually purchase these products in bulk. It is easy to see how B2B marketing strategies can be more complex; purchases are based on logic rather than emotions. Buyers want to do what is best for themselves, their supervisors, management, owners, and the company's bottom line.
Rasmussen University adds that the scale of one sale is larger with B2B: "In B2B marketing, a few sales can make a quarter." The budgets are higher, and marketers must convince businesses that they will benefit from the products/services offered. This process typically involves showing that there will be a positive return on investment (ROI). Major outlays of money also mean that the sales cycles are slower: it can take months to sell something like an HVAC system to a large company.
B2C Marketing Fundamentals
B2C sales, on the other hand, appeal to a consumer's emotional wants and needs. In short, the goal is to convince someone quickly that they want to buy a product or service. The call to action will be more prominent, whether to request further information or make a purchase. Some consumers will often make spur-of-the-moment buys, while others will wait a few hours or days. The sales cycle is shorter because most people will not take months to decide if they want to buy something like a new scarf.
With B2C marketing, it is crucial to create brand awareness and provide quick access when the customer is ready to buy. The buyer experience is not as long, but it can take time for something more complicated like a personal computer or a mountain bike. These consumers will want to know more about these products, so keeping them engaged will be more critical. When posting content and designing social media strategies, choose the platforms your target audiences use and post content that corresponds with their needs.
B2B vs. Social Media Strategies
Social Fix explains that B2B companies should keep the tone more professional with their social media posts, sharing and promoting educational and informative content. Trending news is also good, if it relates to the business. For example, a post about new legislation about data security would be well worth sharing by an IT safety company. When appropriate, you might also want to share brief information about success stories. For example, if your computer chips helped your client increase their production rates, others may want to know about it. This kind of valuable information can be linked to your website or blog.
B2C social media strategies are less formal and more geared towards faster sales. While consumers want to make informed purchases, they don't want to go in-depth on social media. B2C companies can post photos of employees, provide a quick video about using a product, or share a company holiday party. The content should focus on building a sense of community while putting products and services in a good light.
Both kinds of strategies should avoid hard sales pitches and be highly visual, with videos, photos, and other things like infographics in some cases. Again, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and the other channels all present differently, so your overall social media strategy will have to be broken down accordingly.
Be responsive to all audience interactions and do the metrics to measure which strategies are the most effective. To be successful, you'll need to adjust accordingly and continue to tweak things as needed.
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