B2B goes social

This is an article by Sebastian Tully-Middleton.
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It’s not the most visible area of public relations and nor does it at first appear interesting to PR students. But there’s a lot of work in business to business (B2B) public relations and it’s a developing area, in part because of social media.

We all have to start somewhere and business to business social media is that likely starting point.

Business to business social media can be defined as:

The online platforms and spaces in which businesses have conversations.

We are all well aware of the rise and rise of social media, but did you ever consider the impact of social media on business relationships?

Businesses want to do business with companies that are approachable, professional and knowledgeable. So how do they go about creating a brand that matches these qualities?

Twitter in particular is a fantastic vehicle for this, where followers expect to see corporate messaging mixed with a touch of personality. Consider this: the largest age group that uses twitter is 30-to-49; 66% of all tweets have some commercial content (good or bad). With over 340 million tweets a day that’s an of average 224 million tweets mentioning a business, product or service, a truly staggering thought.

Business professionals are unlikely to have the time necessary to keep on top of so many conversations so automated corporate content can be used. Since this content may struggle to stay topical, this is where the PR graduate comes in. It’s likely that you will be expected to make use of your digital skills to win fans, followers, interactions, comments and gain click-throughs as part of a comprehensive effort to generate leads.

So, why is social media so important for companies selling products and services to other companies?

Social media allows companies to share content and capture data. Since the birth of social media various platforms have been created that can assess data in staggeringly fine detail. Instead of trawling through marketing research databases, companies can learn about their rivals instantly. With Information such as:

  • Demographics being targeted;
  • Emerging topics;
  • Key trends;
  • Competitor activities;
  • Opinions regarding products and services;

all available through monitoring social media.

Another key area which has crept into the public relations artillery is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). This is no longer the sole responsibility of the IT department or specialist agency. For those of you who don’t already know, SEO is concerned with the way a business topic or product is ranked by a search engine. The more times your subject is mentioned the easier it is for a search engine to find, therefore causing that subject to be bumped further up the search engine ranking.

As you can see from the picture below, with almost a billion users represented on just three social platforms, content discussed here has a massive effect on pushing a relatively unknown concept to an international audience in an extremely short period of time. So get clued up!

As a PR graduate or student you must be aware of the assumption that you will already have a base knowledge of social media. Whether this assumption is right or wrong is a debate for another day; the key point is this can be a way to squeeze through the employment door.

Below is a list from Coast Digital which gives the top platforms offering insight behind the content. I recommend that you familiarise yourself with some of these, as it is highly likely that you will be using them at some stage in the future.

What are your experiences of B2B social media, and what new skills are you acquiring in response to this opportunity?

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