While social media has been an important component of digital communication for the B2C sector for some time now, things often still look different in the B2B sector. The myth that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are only suitable for communication with end consumers persists. This assumption seems to be confirmed by half-hearted attempts without any meaningful strategy, sufficient resources or the necessary patience, which are almost inevitably unsuccessful. But even this shows that B2B and B2C are not as different from each other as one might think: even in B2C, social media marketing only works with a long-term strategy, trained personnel and a budget that can make a difference.
And finally, it should be pointed out once again that social media marketing is not about selling first and foremost, but about communication. Of course, the goal of this may also be to increase sales figures, but even this is not a crucial criterion for B2B companies. After all, investment decisions are ultimately made by people here too, and these gather a great deal of information digitally, in B2B in particular.
The US manufacturer of computers and storage systems is one of the most active companies in the hardware industry. The group founded by Michael Dell has already gained a great deal of experience, especially with Twitter. When it comes to “selling via microblogging”, for example, the name Dell is often mentioned very quickly. Following the acquisition of EMC (storage and cloud computing), a new B2B division was established. Social media communication aims to address and support decision-makers, as explained in this blog post.
Krones AG, a mechanical engineering company for the beverage industry, has also been active in the social web since 2010. Diverse communication is used to inform the equally diverse community of employees, customers, applicants and fans about the activities of the global company. Ultimately, B2B is also about people, explains Charles Schmidt from Krones AG in an interim report: “Even if Krones AG’s products are sold to companies rather than end consumers, that is precisely what our customers’ employees and decision-makers are: people, most of whom are active, privately or for work, in social media.”
Liebherr is a great example of how it is not always start-ups who are successful in social media. The traditional company had its crucial moment of discovery in 2012, as Tobias Ilg explains: “In early 2012, we realized that there are already many communities on different platforms where there is a lively exchange about our products and our brand – without our involvement. On the one hand, we wanted to further drive this exchange through our own contributions, but on the other we wanted to seize the opportunity to enter into an active dialog with our fans and customers.”
Lufthansa Cargo was also aware of the common preconception that social media does not work in B2B, but it wanted to try this out for itself. With 14,000 fans within the first ten months, the Facebook page took off faster than the freight forwarder expected.
This list of examples would not be complete without ThyssenKrupp, because the industrial group is the winner of the “B2B Social Media Report 2017”, in which the social media monitoring service Brandwatch and the research company Somtypes investigated social media use by German B2B companies. ThyssenKrupp came in first place, ahead of IBM Germany and T-Systems. The report examined the volume of conversations, Twitter performance, Facebook performance and trend.
The reaches of the individual channels are of course only an indication and not a reliable criterion for success.
B2B companies can use social media not only to attract attention, but also to deliver information to their own employees, customers and decision-makers. They can position themselves as an attractive employer and build up a community from which they can receive valuable feedback. If this is used correctly, a B2B company can ultimately even enhance its quality.