Coffee & Tea, ‘Socially’ Speaking

One of the most important strategies for businesses today is social media. Through the use of social media, businesses can gain immense exposure for the company and its products, as well as engage in an interactive environment with other businesses.

That’s right, your favorite social networks are for B2Bs as much as they are for B2Cs! With that said, it is noteworthy that these social networks rely heavily on entertainment and show higher success rates when used in a friendly and interactive way rather than with a more rigid and traditional business structure.

Currently, the four most commonly used social networks by businesses are: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. These social-media platforms are also the best suited for B2B companies. When using these tools, it is extremely vital to always remember the background of your target audience. For example, Millennials and younger audiences are more receptive to Twitter and Instagram, while older audiences are more comfortable on Facebook, LinkedIn or regular blogs. Your target audience will dictate the appropriate social network to use. This article explains how these four main sites are successful B2B tools.

TC_April14_Pg_52-100Which SM Network to Use?

Facebook: Facebook is one of the most effective sites for businesses to network with each other. The setup is basic: a business sets up a page complete with photos and contact information. This allows the business to reach out to other businesses and friend them. Using the Facebook page, businesses can “post” on their walls and the walls of others, as well as share photos, links and ideas. Private messages can also be sent via Facebook, making networking even simpler.

Tara Shenson, director of marketing and communications, SCAA, noted that Facebook is not the best way to reach Millennials because they consider it to be “their mom’s” social media platform. So when implementing a social media strategy, be mindful of who your company’s target audience is.

Twitter: Twitter is another immensely effective site for businesses to become familiar with each other. This social media site allows users to express themselves within the limit of 140 characters in the form of a “tweet.” This often means that posts are more concise than Facebook, and it is not uncommon for tweets to have links to other forms of social media. Twitter users can reach out by “following” each other, thus allowing exposure of their tweets. All tweets of followed accounts show up in a live feed on the user home page, while users can connect to each other through the use of hashtags (#).

If needed for a consumer base, Twitter can vastly allow interaction. For example, earlier this month Oreo launched an interactive campaign allowing consumers to create their own flavors. The most tweeted flavors were created by Oreo and distributed to consumers.

Instagram: With Instagram’s rising popularity, businesses have started to adapt this highly popular social media forum into their business models. Instagram is a visual social media site, allowing users to solely share images. Instagram is similar to Twitter in that users can link accounts by following each other. Images of all followed accounts show up in a live user feed, making Instagram an incredibly visual social networking tool. For example, a business trip to an origin country provides a stunning backdrop for the business account of a tea or coffee company. Additionally, photos of industry events and shows can be shared using this media tool.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn provides a professional online setting for industry professionals to connect. Businesses can set up a LinkedIn page highlighting the company’s skills and services. LinkedIn operates similarly to Facebook in that users have the ability to connect to each other and make friends. Specific skills are highlighted within the business profile page, and users are encouraged to reach out to one another using connections, messages, and postings. Businesses can use this site primarily to network with other businesses in their industry, making this one of the most effective social networking sites for professionals.

Whether using one or all of these social networking sites, businesses can use the ever-expanding digital market to advance themselves and the marketing strategies of their company. However, companies must remember that social media is not the forum to deliver sales messages. Social media is one of the most effective methods of exposure as well as fostering relationships within the industry.

Don’t be afraid to set up an account with any of these sites, and always remember that these sites are popular due to their entertainment value. Through the use of social media sites, businesses can highlight their creative and fun ideas while simultaneously
fostering important relationships with each other.

Omaima Khan is the social media coordinator at Lockwood Publications. She manages the social media accounts for Tea & Coffee Trade Journal and Tea & Coffee World Cup. Omaima can be reached at o.khan@lockwoodpublications.com

This article was first published in the April 2014 edition of Tea and Coffee Trade Journal.

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