This morning, Environics Communications hosted a panel discussion at MaRS in Toronto entitled “The B2B Social World.” Digital B2B marketing experts from Backup Heros, Wave Accounting, Sequentia Environics, and MaRS sat on a panel to discuss the successes and failures that they’ve faced when using social media to promote their businesses.
The conversation started by identifying the best channels to use for B2B social media marketing. The panellists agreed that Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, and online communities are some of the most effective tools for reaching potential customers and building relationships.
Rob Maurin, Community and Marketing Manager for Toronto startup Wave Accounting says that he is watching Google+ very closely as a potentially beneficial tool for his business. “We put up a business profile the other week and immediately got 500 followers. So, there definitely are potential customers on Google+. In addition, many marketers believe that Google+ circles allow for cleaner segmentation of customer conversations,” says Maurin.
Quora, a popular question and answer platform, has also proven to be very advantageous for Wave Accounting. Maurin says that Quora has driven a high return on investment (ROI (via customer leads and acquisitions) for his company's time spent responding to customer questions on the website.
Many of the panellists believe that it is still important to be on Facebook, even if it is not considered a B2B marketing channel. “You just need to be there. We use Facebook to build one on one relationships with our partners,” says Samantha Morris, Community Manager at BackupHeroes.com and Digital Marketing Manager at Asigra Inc.
Next, the panellists discussed how to create engaging content for social media. Amrita Chandra, Vice President, Marketing at Sequentia Environics stressed the importance of using blogs to provide thought leadership and build trust with customers. “Blogs are a great way to regularly update fresh content on your website, while boosting your SEO rankings. They also enable multiple voices (from various people in your organization) to exist on your site,” says Chandra.
Ryan Poissant, Senior Advisor, IT, Communications & Entertainment (ICE) Practice at MaRS argued that while social media provides a low barrier to entry for businesses to produce content, it’s important to make sure that whoever on your team is managing your content understands your business and your culture. He also emphasized the need to trust that person with your messaging. He suggested that businesses should develop strategies and processes (for approvals, etc.) prior to getting started online.
The panellists agreed that small businesses have an advantage in social media because they can be more nimble and require less approvals prior to posting messages. However, these businesses need to make sure that they are not stretching themselves too thin. The panellists suggest focusing on the tools that will work best for your business long term. This also means properly measuring and monitoring what works and what doesn’t in order to drive the highest possible ROI.