Today, consumers are more influential than ever in a typical B2B sale, making it crucial that businesses start building a direct connection to their end consumers. Many building materials manufacturers sell through an often-fragmented professional channel of contractors, installers, builders, remodelers, and architects. Most avoid marketing directly to consumers given the difficulty of measuring costly pull-through awareness efforts. However, we looked at what three Fortune 100 B2B brands; Intel, GE and Honeywell (a Bolin client) are doing to engage and build relationships with end consumers through their brand’s social channels in the areas of segmented content marketing, community management, and influencer marketing.
Content marketing has become an effective way to redefine a brand’s digital experience by sharing content that adds value whether it’s a whitepaper for a business audience or an entertaining video for consumers. By segmenting their channels, they ensure relevance with their different audiences.
As an example, Honeywell segments their homeowners from their professionals. Their Home channel offers helpful tips for homeowners while the professional side delivers content that speaks directly to their contractors with selling tips and recommendations for systems management. These separate channels allow relevant content to speak directly to each audience. Intel (with arguably even less of a consumer play), is an example of an ingredient brand committed to making a consumer connection by producing social content that tells stories about how their technology enriches average people’s lives. This, while continuing to invest and promote an Intel Business Channel that promotes their products to solve problems specific to their business partners.
Community management is a natural way for B2B businesses to infuse a human voice and human interaction into their brand. Honeywell has been a leader in social care across their digital platforms. Honeywell meets both consumers and businesses on social media answering questions and engaging in conversation. Dane Hartzell, the Honeywell Global Director of ePresence said recently in a Forbes interview, “Our objective is to engage with our customers—and potential customers—on their terms. Whatever way is easiest for them, we will support. Social listening tools allow us to pick up on that, and engage with customers without them even directly asking for help.” Consumers today are approaching businesses armed with reviews and are more involved than ever in making decisions that were once left up to professionals. By being available on their terms, Honeywell can build a personal relationship with consumers and often connect them with a qualified professional, feeding the B2B side of their business while building trust and reliability with the end user.
As an ingredient brand, Intel doesn’t have the same burden of consumer support that Honeywell has. However, Kristen Hardeman, Consumer Marketing Manager, Intel Australia said in a recent interview with Social Media Today, “people do reach out to us a lot for advice or on building our systems, and in those cases we try to engage with them quickly and get them as much detail as they need.” This social response and engagement doesn’t just let consumers know they are being heard, it shows them.
Influencer marketing can also be an effective way to bring a brand in front of consumers through the voice of a trusted industry player who commands their own community.
GE, a giant in the tech industry, wanted to spark consumer conversation about something no one was talking about – light bulbs. To do this, they partnered with three individuals with large followings and paired each one with a separate retail channel: Target, Walmart, and Home Depot. They created the 100 Reveal Challenge where each blogger was given a gift card to a retail store and challenged to change a room with GE Reveal light bulbs. The simple genius of this campaign was to showcase GE products through REAL people in REAL homes. The program garnered over five million paid media impressions and ten million plus earned impressions.
Influencer campaigns can be instrumental in helping brands bypass barriers to entry in the consumer space. Partnering with the right influencer to create accessible content can help convince consumers why they should care about a particular B2B brand which can ultimately drive future demand for the brand’s products.
If you’re looking for a starting point to better engage and influence end consumers online, Bolin can help. We work with some of the leading B2B building materials brands to help them reach consumers in new ways. For more information, please contact Jack Silverman at firstname.lastname@example.org.