Social media also known as “user generated communication” (Mangold & Faulds 2009) has emerged and transformed the business world in many forms. Social media has been a big tool in helping create different platforms/channels used by many and is increasing by the year. In particular, this article discusses the difference between Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B). Specifically, the benefits, disadvantages, limitations and insufficient amount of research that marketing strategists should be aware of. Also, how advantageous just being aware of it all can seriously help marketing strategist to create opportunities both internally and externally helping organisations.
According to (Kemp, 2019) there are some significant key trends digitally, that have been very impressive this year. One being, there are 3.4 billion social media users. That is a huge volume of users, with the world wide total that grew by 288 million (9 percent) since January 2018. With the times changing social media is evolving and more people are turning away from their desktops and laptops to their mobile devices. “Mobile Social Media applications are expected to be the main driver of this evolution, soon ac- counting for over 50% of the market” that increase is likely to open up new opportunities. (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). In January 2019 3.26 billion people used social media on their mobile devices. This was a growth of 297 million new users and a 10 percent increase from 2018 (Kemp, 2019).
There has been a major shift in the social media realm that has helped users worldwide. The shift that has been seen is that users are no longer utilising desktops as often as they are using their mobile devices. Desktops do still have a few benefits over mobile devices. However, the sheer volume of users that prefer their mobile over desktop is very blatant. Coming from the user’s perspective, mobile phones are much more advantageous when it comes to social media. The accessibility of apps on mobile phone devices is very important in western society. Having access anywhere and anytime, is why phones are now the first option in the connecting to the social media landscape rather than desktop (King, 2015).
Why use social media for B2C? Social media has been an influential tool, with the increase of usage and people having multiple accounts which has facilitated marketers using different strategies to reach their target audience. To name a few customer loyalty (Assaad and Gomez, 2011), brand equity and attitude has had a positive effect on brand purchase intention as seen in the research by done by (Schivinski and Dabrowski, 2014). This explains the benefits of brand communication and the aim of overall aim of social media strategy within a business organization.
Business have worked out how to use social. It maybe in B2B relationship building, they could be opportunities but to utilize in an important way. Different accepts to boost their market potential. This could suggest that because in B2B that they are of a more personal one to one relationship. They are trying to understand that the people with B2B are on a business to business transaction which involves more trust, reliability and delivery associated with cost. It has bigger ramifications then if you where B2C and that purchase wouldn’t work out. It’s a different cost attached to it. The amount of advertisement and cost associated to it gives a potential downfall for losing money. Which is a totally different purchase decision that could be some of the weaknesses.
Relationship building with new and existing customers is one of the key contributors to a successful business. It helps the company establish new customers and also help keep their current customer base. B2B covers business deals between companies. For example: this could be a manufacturer and retailer or wholesaler and retailer. Also, a large part to business to business is consultancy, business services in general. Companies offering services to other. Business services like consultancy. And business service companies.
The digital era has created many opportunities that social media is being used to help organisations within the B2C and B2B. One of the main motives behind the use of social media is to communicate to a wider audience whilst keeping cost low. It is evident from literature that social media helps to generate word of mouth (Okazaki et al., 2015) brand awareness and building brands. Its audience perceptions create leads from sales and lastly market data that can be used if the user has the know-how. A number of other factors that are often seen in journals have helped build relationships with consumers. There is no sufficient evidence that actually proves that social media helps with relationship building within a B2B context. like it does within a B2B context, which possesses a research gap (Lilien, G. 2016).
You can communicate on a mass communication feed for example buying a B2C product as it has value attached to product. Nevertheless, with B2B you’re not just buying a product you’re buying a service. It is about the people on how they are delivering it. It is hard to convince the people that you will be the right person. It’s hard to achieve this as it is more of a one to one relationship. It is more of a personal communication then to the drivers of a mass communication like B2C of selling a product. Social media might be used to verified that you are the market leader, but they will also want the one to one communication.
Marketing Strategy which is utilised from the marketing mix, product, place, price and promotion for a business. Marketing strategist job is to promote the business and to use the best tools towards overall business objectives to meet the market trends and target markets (Fifield, 1996).
The role of a marketing strategist has a variety of complexities that come with the job. And if you are using social media within a B2B setting, it becomes even more complex because of the different industries for example acoustic consultants deal with B2B however they also have consultancy based directly with the B2C. The business’s they work closely with are architects, developers, large construction companies. They also work with local government authorities and could be bidding on multiple different tenders. Where advertising for social media might work in the context of advertising such as events. It might not be professional to building a relationship with local councils for data protection reasons. Therefore, if acoustic consultants used social media to build relationships with local councils they could be in a breach of contract or deed. On the other hand, it could be used and would have several advantages in terms of brand awareness and to seeking building relationships with new and current clients within a B2C context if using the right social media campaigns. Furthermore, there also can be advantages within a social media B2B context when using for events and linking back to the company’s website.
The soring pace of social media and its fast pacing channels make it difficult for marketing strategists to keep up. As Marketers are constantly competing against other vendors when trying to win over new contracts in B2B. Marketing strategists are intimidated by how they utilise the tools which get other businesses involved. For example, Linkedin, Facebook and other social media channels. It appears that marketing strategists are lacking a framework or model to help them and give them the know how to best to utilize social media to approach different business. This is a strong argument and a gap in the research.
“Moreover, they are increasingly using social media and emailing tactics to deliver more personalized and hands-on experiences for their prospective clients. The main marketing strategists’ companies use for B2B organisations currently blogging 52%, newsletters by email 40%, producing e-books 38% and organizing in-person events 36% (Content Marketing Institute 2018). In person and online events help create leads. Conversely, case studies are better at converting leads and growing the sales progressions (Marketing Charts 2018). According to (Content Marketing Institute 2018) 79% of B2B marketers said the greatest channel for demand general was emailing.
B2C Marketing versus B2B Marketing
Furthermore, the market for B2C is on a much larger scale and the business is number one priority is brand awareness and loyalty. On the other end, B2B has become more of a niche market, realistically driven, and the number one priority is lead generation. This is a major difference. It terms of B2B its much more complex fully thought through and much slower process and maybe social media is too fast past for this it would not suit face to face more time, more measured more realistically driven in time and more measured approach that is slow and grows and develops in a more organic way. It could be argued that social media it is or is not appropriate because of it takes time to build business to business in a fast way and that it needs to be organic.
The key difference in both, is that they market to different audiences. There has to be a mindfulness of whether you are operating in B2B or B2C context within social media. For example, of the social media channels: LinkedIn is most likely used for B2B. Whilst B2C prefers channels such as Facebook and Instagram. Because of the complexities of B2B and perceptions of the vendors/buyers that companies are trying to win over they could perceive your brand as of low quality or not up to what their perception was of it. So, it is critical to choose the right strategies with a broader view of the 3ps of marketing communication’s strategy. For example: if the target audience was the end-user being B2B customers, then the pull strategy message would be product or service focused with the communication being purchase intention.
In concluded whether to social media can be used for relationship building within a B2B context, marketing strategists need to know their end goal. The marketing strategist in B2B the disadvantages of using social media in terms of B2B relationship building is there is not sufficient evidence with ROI. So, B2B will be less willing to invest in social media without this data present. In a study prepared by (Jussila, Kärkkäinen and Aramo-Immonen, 2014) it has been suggesting that further research needs to available in order to build up a real-world image of the different opportunities of social media within a B2B framework. By bringing together organisations and academics to have wide view of case studies in order to implement a theory/result of how enable business to use B2B in the right context in terms or social media. Marketing Strategists need to know their end goal. What is their aim of using social media? What are the benefits and challenges that would come from using in their particular industry? And what is the country or countries they would like to tap into? There is a gap in the research, if there is no research done it is very hard to use strategies. As mentioned earlier.