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What we do not know about social media marketing

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Author: Elena Badea, Director of Marketing, EY Romania

A few weeks ago I held a seminar on B2B Social Media Marketing in Bucharest. In the room there were marketing professionals coming from SMEs and NGOs, but most of them represented large companies in Romania. I therefore had an audience mainly coming from a corporate environment, with access to cutting edge information and serious exposure to best practices. The discussion was going to be a serious one.

The thing I learned durring the hours spent with my peers was that we are all in search of tools, platforms and applications that could facilitate a better conversion rate of social media interactions into sales. Therefore, in addition to those discussed at the seminar, I would like share my thoughts over the last few weeks on this topic. I know that many companies are questioning the potential of social media marketing and its relevance for the business-to-business area. I hope to bring some answers below. 

1.  The selling process will always start online

A great deal of recent research points out that until contacting the sales department of the company, the potential client advances, on average, up to 60% in the purchase decision while online. Until requesting an offer, all the research, comparative analysis of information about products, services, expertise and capabilities of potential suppliers, takes place online. That is why it is essential for companies to have an carefully build online presence, one that is kept up to date, relevant and meaningful. Starting with the company's website and LinkedIn page, to its video account on youtube and PowerPoint presentations of products on, all of these make it possible for potential customers, through one google search of your company’s name, to find a lot of information that you've thought of, uploaded and directly manage. As I have said many times, marketing goes where people go. Today, increasingly more people are present on various social media platforms, that is why marketing, which was previously focused on print, TV and outdoor in order to meet them, now has a great opportunity through social media.

2. Count on the familiarity principle

The familiarity principle is the effect that occurs when we are repeatedly exposed to certain people. Psychologists tell us that it is more likely to fall in love with a faculty colleague that we see every day than with a friend we only see twice a year (and exceptions only serve to strengthen the rule). The same is true for brands. That is why I believe that companies need an integrated online presence, one that  includes social media.

Here  is where I want to point out two things that I belive to be essential. (1) In social media, the fans/followers make their choice, because the decision to like or not to like a certain company page belongs to them. (2) The perception that social media users have about the interaction in this environment is one of closeness, which will rarely happen for the company’s site visitors. Even if we talk about B2B,  the manager of the company requesting an offer can ultimately also be exposed to the familiarity principle. Just make sure that the interaction takes place on the relevant social media platform (eg. LinkedIn).

3. To sell, tell a story

When you want to make a sale, the content you give to potential customers is mainly composed of specifications, descriptions of services and benefits. The wording is often dry, blank and corporate, especially if we talk about the business-to-business area. Yet, there are brands that we love and want near, even when the final purchase decision in B2B is based on analyzes we do with the procurement department at work. How are they different? Well, I think that these brands have found a way to tell us their story. They transformed monologues like "we provide services that meet the highest standards of excellence " into a conversation in which they tell the story of the everyday company life, the people there, their successes and challenges (anniversaries, exams, tests, successes, etc). Through social media, they share their concern and care for their profession, for the environment, community, customers and quality of the products they offer, this making all the difference. Social media allows companies to carry a conversation  that goes beyond the immediate objective of achieving sales, but one that can significantly influence the purchase decision.

Open conclusion

I do not believe to find the perfect answer in social media marketing, nor that it is a part of digital marketing that companies should exclusively focus on. I continue to see the benefits in traditional marketing and it is clear that each area of activity is specific in terms of B2B marketing. Yet, it is increasingly evident that many of us are "consumers" of social media and companies understand that they now have another channel to influence and guide the purchase decision. What do you think?

Article in Romanian(pdf, 91.5kb), in English(pdf, 82.5kb)