Do you think your customers will go to your website to find information about your products or services? This will happen very rarely. In a business environment, the product is not the king anymore. Therefore, experience and knowledge from peers and B2B customers are far more important than a simple technical sheet. Our new customers will look for case studies, recommendations, online communities for more experiences from peers, etc. The B2B customer is behaving more like a B2C customer nowadays and we need to adapt our strategies to this new scenario.
The brand is a puzzle
The brand is like a puzzle with so many aspects that build the perception from our audiences. Corporate social responsibility, customer experience, crisis management – it is not just the B2B customer that matters in this puzzle. We need to listen to all our stakeholders in digital media which are also building the brand: distributors, students, suppliers, press, etc. It is a complicated environment, that gives allusion to a “pinball” game. We can be inspired by a case like Maersk Line, which created a successful social media strategy out of what everybody thought was a boring brand with an uninteresting message. It is sometimes surprising how other audiences experience our brand. We just need to listen.
Customers are co-producers of digital content and information
Customers in the digital era have evolved from just consumers of information to co-producers. Consumers now use the network for amplifying brand messages, writing blogs, post reviews, answer questions in online networks. Let us take the example of Dell, which have listened to customers through their platforms to make improvements to their products. B2B online communities with experts sharing their experiences have helped the industrial brands to make improvements in areas such as logistics, customer support, and technical service, among others. The Electronic Word of Mouth (EWOM) can affect brand perceptions.
Digital channels as part of the core business
A huge challenge in a B2B environment is to get top managers to understand that social media should be a part of the company’s business strategy. It is an environment where different functions like IT, operations, sales and marketing are interconnected. As there are not standard metrics for ROI in digital media, sometimes it is difficult to analyze all the data coming from dashboards to convince managers that the information coming from social media is valuable. We have a challenge here on how to present our KPIs and goals for social media apart from amount of followers and likes.
Humanize the brand
We have a great opportunity to humanize the industrial brands, interact with other customers and stakeholders. Consequently we can then achieve brand engagement and recognition. Digital marketing is not more about transactions or selling. It is more about interacting and listening. As a result, marketers have lost control over their brands, but in the end… Who is building the brand?