Originally published in the PR News Social Media Guidebook. Buy it here.
Major business-to-business (B2B) brands established their presence on Twitter years ago and are continually recognized for successful campaigns, such as Raytheon’s Poland Patriot campaign or Baylor Scott & White Health’s #HeartTXLive event. While these larger brands are reaping the rewards of these programs, many smaller enterprises are lagging behind, not always convinced of Twitter’s ROI.
If you work for a B2B company or have B2B clients, particularly in technology, you’ve likely faced the challenge of convincing the executive team (or your client contact) that they need to invest time, money and resources on Twitter. You’ve probably heard, “our target market doesn’t use Twitter” or, “social media can’t help drive sales for B2B companies” or, “we don’t have enough content to post.” All of these reasons demonstrate a lack of understanding of the benefits of a strong Twitter presence.
Educating your client contact or leadership team is an important first step in creating and executing a social media program, as company buy-in will be crucial to your success. Here are four key points to make in proving the value of Twitter for the enterprise.
Your B2B Audience is There
According to a recent Brandwatch report, which analyzed the top 200 B2B brands on social media, Twitter is the leading platform for B2B brand mentions with more than 3.8 M mentions in just two months. To put that in perspective, the same brands are only mentioned by news sites 1.8 M times per year, by forums 1 M times per year and by blogs 960 K times per year.
Twitter was not designed as a one-way communication platform, and should not be used as such. B2B customers are mentioning the top B2B companies more than 3.8 M times in two months for a reason and on the other side of the conversation, leading B2B brands publish more than 3.6 K posts across social media every hour. If you’re not on Twitter, your customers are consuming your competitions’ content and engaging with their brands on a platform that is void of your voice. By dismissing a presence on Twitter, you’re ignoring an opportunity to increase company awareness, harvest actionable business insights, and most importantly, you’re leaving money on the table.
Overlooking a Source of Sales
Twitter presents an invaluable opportunity for B2B companies to not only generate sales leads, but to engage with customers directly and glean insights from customer behavior, concerns and requests.
On average, B2B brands receive one sales lead per day on Twitter alone, 23 percent of which come from executives at other B2B companies. These leads typically surface in the form of intent to purchase conversations, meaning a buyer has communicated a challenge they are facing, or a need they have that your product or service can help remedy. The first step in capitalizing on these leads is to monitor and identify these conversations. To do this, start by ensuring you are following active accounts within your target demographic (i.e., potential customers) that are likely to participate in such conversations. How do you find them? Launch a targeted follower campaign and reciprocate the relevant follows you earn. Win, win. Make sure you’re also tracking relevant industry hashtags. Take it a step further and consider investing in a robust social listening tool.
Twitter can also be an incredible customer service tool, allowing you to identify potential problems, build brand loyalty, nurture existing customer relationships and ultimately, increase sales. In the past two years, there has been a 2.5X increase in customer service conversations on Twitter. Your customers who are active on Twitter not only want reciprocal engagement, but expect it. Twitter is an important medium for customer feedback and presents an opportunity to leverage negative feedback to improve current offerings. Fostering positive feedback and customer relationships is just as important. Help promote wins and news from your company’s partners and customers, or invite consistent brand “champions” to contribute a quote in your next press release.
If there is any point to emphasize when convincing the leadership team or your client contact of the value of Twitter for the enterprise, this is it. Money talks (and tweets).
Twitter is Key for Thought Leadership
We’ve already discussed why Twitter should not be used as a one-way communication platform. It also should not be used as a billboard. Many B2B companies make the mistake of publishing strictly promotional content, ignoring the opportunity to establish thought leadership and participate in engaging conversations. Here are a few simple ways to remedy this and start diversifying your content:
Take it a step further by live streaming webinars on Twitter via Periscope or invite a notable journalist or industry analyst to co-host a Twitter chat with your CEO. When executed successfully, these programs can lead to interview requests or invitations to comment in industry round up articles. Your followers will start to look at your Twitter account as a source of intellectual authority, rather than a stream of ads for your company.
Key Influencers Are Watching
Still not convinced your audience or target market is on Twitter? Reporters are on Twitter (journalists account for 24.6% of verified accounts). Analysts are on Twitter. C-level executives from competing companies and partners are on Twitter. Venture capitalists, investors and other industry “celebrities” are on Twitter. Influencers that are reaching your customer base are not only using Twitter as an outlet to do so, but are observing and engaging with content from other brands.
Ensure you are following important journalists, analysts and bloggers to prompt a reciprocal follow. This is an excellent way to supplement PR efforts, leveraging Twitter as another venue to share important company news.
Take it a step further and begin tagging these journalists/analysts when you share their articles/reports, as recommended above. This is an easy way to engage them and make your presence known. Increasing your company’s awareness among those that influence your customers is just as important, if not more important, than influencing your customers directly. These key influencers already have their attention; you still need to earn it.
You now have the ammunition needed to prove the value of Twitter for the enterprise. Delivering on the benefits outlined above will prove the value that you, or your agency, can deliver for the company.
Quick Dos and Don’ts in B2B Twitter Usage