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Social Media Connects: B2B Buying Decisions

Social Media on a tablet

It fascinates me how social media transforms our lives—personally and professionally. Yet some still fail to fully embrace this game changing tool. That may be a mistake. The power of social media diminishes companies’ control over the reputation of their brands. I believe businesses, especially in the supply chain industry, need to pay attention to social media. One tweet or post can make or break a company’s reputation in a matter of minutes. Additionally, social media channels can be a powerful tool for business development. It’s as true for our teams in Europe as it is for our colleagues in the U.S.

Over the last few years, I’ve seen a lot of attention and research evangelize social media as the new form of customer relationship building. Using social media to deepen customer relationships works. And don’t overlook the impact of social media when it comes to changing customer buying behaviors. If you don’t believe me, read “Is Your Supply Chain ‘Gangnam Style’?” Social media can also impact the professional decision-making process. This is where social media gets really interesting. You can get more business by connecting with customers and prospects online. And if you’re not there, your competitors will be. The company that is on top of mind and easiest to access often wins the business.

At C.H. Robinson, we connect on social media channels to build relationships, educate readers on the finer points of supply chain aspects, and help our audience solve challenges. I love it when a customer mentions they find our social media content valuable. This proves the point that professionals utilize social media before making decisions.

Because the supply chain industry is moving at an increasingly fast pace, I encourage you to be active and present on social media platforms. When you do venture online, share or create content that inspires and connects your audience to you and your brand. This is true for corporate social media and extends to your employees.

Whenever I meet a new person on our European sales team, I always talk to them about 4 key ways they can use social media to their advantage:

  1. Build your network of industry contacts. Be a learner and be part of the community to enhance your reputation. This means: connect on LinkedIn with the people you talk to on the phone. It puts a face to the conversation and helps humanize business.
  2. Share your company’s social media channels with your customers and prospects. Sharing social media content can be as powerful as sending brochures or giving presentations. Share your company’s LinkedIn page or send them to a particular blog post that will resonate with your customers.
  3. Share your knowledge of your industry with your prospects and customers. Be a thought leader. Show them that you know what you are talking about.
  4. Help them solve challenges and answer questions to reduce risks of the buying decision. Be a trusted advisor. Show them that behind the sales talk you are there to help their business be more successful.

It’s all about content. B2B relies on thought leadership to make buying decisions. Social media is a dynamic platform to demonstrate expertise, engage with prospects and customers, and gain exposure in the marketplace. Companies that have managed a successful social media strategy have increased their sales, customer loyalty, and reputation. Embracing social marketing and finding a way to integrate it into your business culture can help B2B companies truly provide more value to the people they serve and create loyal customers for life.

Now, give it another try. Comment below if you have any questions or thoughts on using social media to build better business relationships.

Comments

Steve Katz, CTP

I could not agree more with the comment that, "It's all about content", but my reference point goes beyond social media as a relationship building, exposure generating tool. In B2B, and specifically transportation, the evolution of social media extends to being an operational, business performance tool.

As an example, there is the "Social Navigation" aspect of a product called Telogis Navigation. With over 120,000 professional drivers active, the system uniquely includes a feedback loop which enables the drivers to safely and easily report on-the-road conditions and events. The ability to receive road condition status from drivers impacts turn-by-turn directions immediately, and the real-time aspect of the system means benefit from the information flows to all drivers in the community.

Social navigation by professional drivers is one aspect that gives the application the industry's most up to date view of the road network for commercial trucks. As part of this community, drivers understand that giving real-time data will benefit all drivers, keeping them safer while getting them to their destinations more efficiently.

With the system's ability to add and remove road segments in real-time, the system grows smarter every day, and the high-value driver feedback meets mission-critical needs for safety, lower costs, and optimized customer service.

Social media, in the form of social navigation, is happening now, and commercial fleets and drivers are taking advantage and benefiting from it on a daily basis.

9.6.13

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