I was meeting a client – a foreign B2B brand yesterday to introduce them to China social media. As usual, the client asked the question that most B2B brands ask all the time:“ I know this social media stuff apply to B2C brands, but is it the same to B2B business? What’s it like in China?”
Well, first of all, social media does apply to B2B business, globally. When we develop a marketing strategy for B2B brands, we will first analyze where the target audiences are, their behavior and interest, and then we’ll create the content that they will be intended to read and publish the content on the platforms where they will be active. Sounds familiar? Right, this is the same strategy that we follow when planning for B2C brands. As a result, the differences between B2B marketing and B2C marketing are at the tactics layer rather than the strategy layer. What it matters is how the platform is used rather than which platform is used. For the target audiences of B2B brands, no matter what they do – salesmen, marketing pros, purchase agents, etc, they are “persons” after all. If social media works for B2C brands, why can’t B2B brands try it as well?
Then we can focus on China. From a macroscopic view, China hasn’t developed a mature social environment for B2B specifically, hence apart from a limited number of B2B marketing platforms, brands actually do not have many choices. They have to rely on mass social media.
But don’t take it as a bad thing. Again, no matter what occupations the target audiences are in, they are socialized persons. They read on Weibo and talk on WeChat. Weibo and WeChat are social media platforms with strong media attributes, especially Weibo. 80.3% Weibo users check it to follow news and hot topics and 60.3% users are on it to share content. And being more than just a media platform makes Weibo even more ideal – you can use it as a human flesh search engine and approach the leads proactively, which makes the specific targeting come to reality.
After understanding the landscape, let’s further talk about the tactics. China is a society that is well known for “relationship”. It is the starting point to do B2B business in China, and this applies to social media too. The very first step that you should take is to do a social monitoring, digging out the consumers from industry, scale, revenue, individuals, until C-levels, layer by layer. Sometimes you may need a 3rd party to do data analysis, and this is an ongoing process.
Once you’ve locked the targets, listen to them carefully. What are they reading about? What are they sharing out? What are their pain points? Try to share some of their posts to let them notice you. In this way, when you talk about your business, they won’t exclude it. If lucky, they will approach you as well to see what kind help you can provide.
Being a good listener also enables you to create the content that is truly valuable to the customers. It’s the lifeline of social media and also the principal communication to form “relationship”. High quality content needs frequent efforts and consistent nutrition. It’s another story and I’ll talk more about the B2B content that works in China market in another article.
On top of that, you also need to proactively start the conversation to customers with customized messages so that they can feel your sincerity. It’s hard because in China, every company, every industry has its own rules, and people care about the rules. You have to understand them and keep them in mind during the communication. This requires a mountain of research priorly but can let you harvest a surprise packet afterwards.
It’s important to understand that for B2B brands, finding out customers and turning them into sales points via social media can’t be achieved simply over one night, but as the social activities carry forward, you will be able to win a number of social audiences who are responsive and welcome to two-way communications. They will be able to bring sales leads to your business constantly.