I recently read an interesting report (the fourth annual 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner) showing some of the differences in social media usage between B2C and B2B companies. Basically, they both use social media (in fact, over 93% use it). But B2B companies use LinkedIn (86.6%) and Twitter (84&) almost as much as Facebook (87%), whereas B2C companies are much more likely to use Facebook (96%).
Why the difference? It all comes down to knowing your audience.
B2B clients are far more likely to be employees, business owners, consultants, or other professionals – and they don’t hang out on Facebook while at work. Instead, these types of clients use professional networking tools (like LinkedIn) or look for business-related updates online (including on Twitter). In contrast, Facebook users are typically online looking for updates about their friends, checking the latest photos, and watching fun videos – areas in which B2C companies can provide content of interest to their customers.
The number 1 reason that businesses fail when they go online is that they don’t know their audience. Tweet this!
They have a product or service that they think is fantastic and they assume that everyone will want it. So they build a website, write a blog, send out tweets…. and nothing happens. Why? Because they’re addressing the wrong need or problem, or because they’re talking to the wrong audience.
For companies that are already successfully doing business in the ‘real world’, the lack of online success is nearly always because they’re not getting in front of the right people. Maybe they’re focused on Facebook when their audience hangs out on LinkedIn. Maybe they send out Twitter updates when their current (and future) customers would rather get email newsletters. They might as well be shouting in the wilderness – no one will hear them.
These companies also won’t hear their customers. They’re listening in the wrong places. I’m not saying to go out and ask your customers (and potential customers) what they want from you – surveys rarely give valuable information. But if you’re hanging out where your customers hang out, and if you’re actively listening to them, you’ll hear what their needs are, what problems they’re facing, and what kinds of solutions they’re looking for. Social media is a treasure trove of customer information that will help you grow your business.
So think carefully about who your audience really is. Is it the main decision-maker in a large company who wants to buy products that help the company be more efficient and cost-competitive? A new mom looking for information that will help her keep her garden looking its best with minimal effort? The arborists out climbing trees each day who want strong, lightweight ropes that won’t fray or break?
Where does your audience go online to look for information and connect with others? Hang out there for a while, listen, and learn what it is they’re looking for. Then figure out how you can provide that.
What are you doing to find and talk with your audience?