When your organization struggles to find a way to turn an online presence into a revenue generator, it’s easy to wonder why B2B needs social media in the first place.

Between daily content creation, constant updates, online conversation management, and striving to stay relevant to a highly curated customer base while remaining competitive, it can seem like an overwhelming nut to crack with little payoff.

Yet, B2B marketing still needs social media for very powerful reasons that all play back into an effective overall marketing strategy. One of the most important reasons is this:

There is a sweet spot of social selling that, when done right, can connect you directly to customers in a way that pulling them through the traditional buyer’s journey does not. This type of deeper relationship building potential is unique to social media, and a critical part of any content marketing plan.

It’s also the key reason B2B needs social media—to leverage valuable social currency for the present moment and future long game.

Seeing the Long Game Potential of Social Media and Why it Matters

Instant gratification is one of the biggest challenges in marketing because brands need to justify budgets and hit sales numbers. However, some investments don’t show proof of value immediately because they rely on unpredictable choices of a person in the purchase position. Social media is one of those investments.

Social analytics and metrics are good predictors of purchase behavior and offer a general “read of the room” when it comes to gauging interest and engagement level of a target audience. This part is key to shaping offerings and buyer-centric content to meet customer needs while providing a clear platform for a two-way conversation between a customer and brand.

A direct line of communication like social media creates a powerful way for a brand to “socialize” with customers, building customer advocacy and brand loyalty through consistent, relevant interactions. And that social relevance keeps a brand top of mind.

Social media marketing also does wonders for building a brand presence using buyer-centric content in a way that direct advertising and marketing simply cannot achieve. When a social brand manager skilled at social media is also an industry expert, they can create a personal or “human” voice for the brand and carefully curate online relationships with customers. This turns social media into some of the most powerful currency for a B2B organization long-term, blending business know-how, relationship ties, and technology aptitude for the win.

Then, when you add employee advocacy to the mix, a brand can stretch its reach beyond active marketing or selling into awareness through trusted social ties. And let’s face it, trust is the true fuel behind purchase decisions.

But What About the Bottom Line Value and Time Investment of Social Media?

Now, before we jump back to bottom lines and justifying the time and cost of social management, remember social media is best for building brand awareness first and MAY result in lead generation in the long-term. As with anything in life, having a clear intention is essential. You don’t buy a horse and force it to be a zebra, so don’t use social media as a lead generator, but a brand awareness and relationship builder, first. Then see where it leads.

To offer a little perspective, here’s a great point from a Fast Company article titled, Why B2B Marketers Still Don’t Get Social Media – And 7 Steps for Fixing That, “B2B has a smaller potential customer base, a higher average price point, and a customer decision funnel that is more influenced by word of mouth and reputation. Turning your customers into advocates and marketers on behalf of your brand pays off a lot more when you’re selling $10,000 pieces of manufacturing equipment than it does when you’re selling $3 cans of Pringles.” If that is not a direct value add for why B2B needs social media, I don’t know what is!

Here’s some additional insight from Forrester’s Global Business Technographics® Marketing Survey, 2016 about the sales space shifting to more social selling, “William Dinkel, CEO of Nova.ai, believes that social channels allow salespeople to draw from an abundance of data that social networks produce ‘to make interactions with business decision-makers and influencers more empathetic and one-to-one.’”

Dinkel added, “Companies that have formal and structured social selling programs in place are already seeing results such as 18% greater lead volume and 17% faster lead conversion among reps who use social consistently versus those who do not.”

The same Forrester report also revealed, “B2B marketers rate social as one of their three most-effective demand generation tactics in the awareness stage of the customer life cycle. Social media’s application lags in the other phases of the customer journey.”

Now, updating social media tactics isn’t just about being on social media more often. It’s about connecting with customers, offering useful insights, and answering their questions, while including knowledge from customer service, sales, operations, and other departments to demonstrate a truly balanced brand voice.

Make no mistake, personalization is, and will continue to be, the key to social selling and automating overall sales effectively. To get to that point, B2B marketing needs a strong presence online. B2B’s are already doing a great job with content marketing. The next step is to find a way to take buyer-centric content and add the social aspect, building a bridge that leads to stronger customer relationships and social currency overall.

Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.