“Social Media puts the public into PR and the market into marketing” says Chris Brogan, the President of New Marketing Labs. And if you step into our world of business-to-business marketing (B2B), it’s evident that this is an absolute fact.
With society now able to reach the whole world at the push of a button, exposing ourselves – or at least the version of ourselves we want people to know – to a great number of people, the influence of social media is potentially very powerful. While publishing power of this kind needs to be managed smartly, businesses can utilize this ability to advertise everything they want to the population at large – their product and service offerings, of course, but also their ethics, morals, agendas, and goals.
In effect, social media has significantly changed the game of B2B marketing.
When fingers did the walking
Let’s hop into a time machine and visit the B2B marketer of the late 20th century.
Back then, business was largely handled through cold contacting, sales calls, and building personal relationships… real Mad Men-type efforts. Your business was with the people you knew, and even for the well-connected, this was quite restrictive. The marketers of the day relied heavily on information from company sales reps and would get their word out through print media or live events. They did what they could, but looking back from a modern perspective, it seems incredibly limited.
You’ve got mail
Then, in the ’90s, something incredible happened. The world started going online, and with people flocking to email, fax, and other digital communication methods, society was realizing that waiting around for physical communication mediums felt like a thing of the past. Only a few years after, in 2003, LinkedIn was launched. And less than a year after that, in the summer of 2004, the user count was already over 1 million.
This interconnected network of business professionals was a huge steppingstone for marketing. Now, instead of only reaching the people you know, you could reach thousands of business professionals at one time, potentially. Social media allowed businesses to create an identity that people or other companies could see and understand logically and emotionally – nearly instantaneously.
Changing work relationships
In B2B relationships, businesses must carefully assess who they work with. It used to be the responsibility of a sales team to convince another company that their company was the right fit for their needs. But thanks to social media, businesses can scout out the prospect that best fits their needs, qualifying their products, and matching their morals, ethics, business goals. Now, when a company contacts a potential business partner, a general understanding of the company has already been formed.
With nearly every possible content outlet online, digital marketing is B2B’s present and future. A well-managed social media profile has become one of the most effective marketing channels for a business, allowing companies to regularly share, distribute, and unobtrusively connect with their clients and potential customers. The pace of business is quickening, and with it, a business’ marketing efforts need to scale to stay competitive. While once this would have been a daunting task, social media has increased the potential reach and efficiency of B2B marketing efforts.
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