It used to be that B2C and B2B were very different animals. Different tactics, different approaches. Then the marketing industry collectively decided that B2B should feel more like B2C – after all, we realized, at the end of the day we’re all consumers.
But the tables have since turned. And that means, especially when it comes to social media, B2C companies need to take a page from B2B companies’ social strategies.
In addition to being a mom of three kids, I’m also stepmom to two. One piece of advice I heard early on was to “connect before correct.” Meaning, you don’t get to offer advice or correct a stepchild’s behavior until you’ve connected on a personal level. Until you’ve built trust. B2B rockstars know this – first you must connect with a prospect before you can swoop in and save the day. Once they connect on LinkedIn, they start conversations, share helpful content, set up an in-person meeting. As long as they can bring value, and create a stronger relationship, they can earn business and even loyalty.
B2B companies seem to have mastered the game on social media platforms like LinkedIn. Let’s say you go to a networking happy hour event. You meet someone who might be a great vendor, partner, or contractor. Ten years ago, you’d exchange business cards. Today, you’d say “look me up on LinkedIn.” You connect. Then you share something useful. You like a post, or comment on an article they share. Then you message the person, invite them for coffee or lunch.
B2C brands can do the same thing. But remember, asking strangers to follow your brand on Facebook or Instagram is like proposing to someone on a first date. Easy does it! Consumer relationships have to start somewhere – at your brick and mortar store, on your website, or at an event. Maybe they tag you on Facebook because they bought your product. Or share a picture of themselves on vacation wearing one of your t-shirts, or enjoying a facial at your spa. That’s the equivalent of a B2B connection or networking happy hour.
Those consumer actions are permission for you to reach out and introduce your brand on a personal level. Thank them for the mention. Tell them you appreciate them. Invite them to follow you on Facebook (or Instagram, etc.) and work on strengthening those relationships one at a time. Here are some tips that can help your B2C brand develop deeper customer relationships via social media and earn rockstar results.
5 ways to drive engagement like a rockstar
- Listen. Use listening tools to find conversations happening on social media around your brand. Good or bad, you want to know what people are saying, what questions they are asking – and not just about your brand, but also about the products or services you provide, in general.
- Respond. Answer their questions and comment on their posts, and always respond to every review, good, bad or indifferent. [Read: Reputation Management: 5 Steps to Growing Your Business and Your Bottom Line.]
- React. Know who your strongest engagers are, and go out of your way to thank them and make them feel special. Share a social post with a customized image. Consumers like to feel heard, respected, and understood. Going out of your way makes them feel valued, and they’ll be likely to share that post, and continue being engaged in the future. They’ll also remember your brand when they’re in need of your products or services.
- Blur the lines between your virtual relationship with followers and your real world one. Send them a tangible sample or gift, or invite them to a VIP event. The more touchpoints you can create with them, the stronger your relationship will be and the greater their loyalty.
- Invite your most engaged, loyal customers to serve as brand ambassadors. This works like an influencer program, but is more cost effective and can earn much greater results [Read this blog post to learn how!].
These 5 steps will help you to drive engagement, traffic and, eventually, sales.
Tracking is key.
In B2B, we can track closing a deal all the way back to the first meeting – that connection on LinkedIn. But in B2C? We can’t seem to track it. We aren’t sure whether any sales are coming from those “anonymous leads” on social platforms.
Guess what? They’re not anonymous.
I worked with a media company who insisted that email marketing was far better than social media marketing because “social media followers are anonymous” while email marketing let you develop a relationship, learn more about them. I disagree. Handled the right way, every single social media friend or follower can become a potential qualified lead. You can – and should – track these relationships. We’re doing it in B2B. There’s no reason we can’t do it in B2C, as well. With the right tools (Sprout Social’s my favorite dashboard for listening, tracking, and gathering insights into our most engaged followers) you absolutely can.