B2B marketing is a platform that allows business transactions among themselves. This can be from manufacturers to wholesalers, or from wholesaler’s retailers. The main purpose for this is to maintain a smooth supply chain. B2B transactions are used to maintain communication between the employees of the same business. Social media marketing is the use of marketing tools such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to communicate with customers.
Social media has become a very popular way for people to keep in touch. In 2009, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, Facebook has about 200 million users. Facebook announced that by the end of 2013, they had more than 1.1 billion active users. Twitter has about 500 million registered users. With this in mind, many companies have embraced the use of social media marketing. One such company is General Electric. The company’s Twitter feed has one hundred and eighty thousand followers. General Electric uses their Twitter feed for various purposes. The corporation also has two hundred thousand followers on Facebook (Hutt and Speh, 2013).
General Electric adopted a strategy that focused on innovation and creativity. Its social network feeds on both Twitter and Facebook are very interesting. Its pages are different from other boring cooperate pages. The company’s social media are used to inform, entertain and answer questions from their customers and employees of their distributors. General Electric adopted a strategy to present their messages to customers in an entertaining way (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). The company’s staff is always online to answer any question, notify customers of new products and advertise their certified dealers, and get feedback from their distributors. This strategy has been very effective. The creative content on their social network sites means that people will keep on accessing their sites. The company has accessed many customers using this platform (Colorado Business Marketing Association, 2011).
General Electric has used social media in a variety of ways. Most companies that are venturing into social media are only hoping to bring in new customers and push the volumes of their sales. However, the results that they expect are not instant. This is because it takes time. Most of the companies do not understand the scope of social media advertising (Colorado Business Marketing Association, 2011).
Scope of the Company’s Social Media Effort in Business Market
For General Electric to become successful, it must create a powerful and recognizable brand. If used properly, social media can be a powerful brand-building tool (Edwards, 2011). It enables a company to determine the image that it wants to sell to the customers. The business gets to decide what they want the customers to know about them. They also get to choose the position they want to put themselves. If a company has great content on their social network, it can be able to turn it into a powerful brand. The company can build a reputation that is based on values and benefit (Shepherd, 2012).
Social media has helped the company to create a relationship with the community around it. Followers on social media can easily become a part of its community. The company has gained instant access to a wide public through the social media platform. The company gets feedback on products and services. It receives ideas of how the business is performing. The corporation can also use this platform to inform the public of any new distributors in the area close to them. The social media community is a very good way of carrying out research on the products and services (Anderson, 2010).
The company has the power in the business, which is very important. One way of gaining power is by having many followers on social media (Faulds and Mangold, 2009). This in turn will develop power on the market. This power will also increase to the media, new customers, investors and potential business partnerships. General Electric has a lot of power that will attract media interviews. These bring about free publicity. The company has created opportunities such as joint venture partnerships. All these conditions have only become possible because General Electric has a certain level of power. If a company can generate a large following on social media, then it will have great influence (Kabani, 2013).
For companies in the service industry, authority is very important. Enterprises that offer services such as coaching, motivation, and consultants need authority so that their clients take their advice seriously. This authority can help them attract other business to use their services. Social media is one key tool for building such authority. To do this, the company needs to share great content with their customers, give free advice on small issues and answer customer’s questions. This will increase the number of very loyal fans and followers (Anderson, 2010).
Companies that have an effective and working social media page are able to score big. Social network sites such as LinkedIn offer such enterprises a chance to connect with other related businesses. Social media can help a company to win a big tender. With a great social media page, the person who is offering the tender can learn a lot about the company; this may influence the way that they vote. The company has followed other business to discover any new opportunities such as available tenders. Through this platform, the business will impress other corporate users who may be potential clients (Minett, 2002).
Ahead of the Curve
The first step of a customer who wants to try a new product or service is probably looking for it on social media. Many people will always contact companies using statements such as “I have been following your social media site”; this means that the customers always have the idea of what is happening. Though the customer may not be using the product, he or she is always informed. Social media provides a business with a chance to be ahead of the others by informing their customers permanently of any developments that they have on products and services. This means that if the followers are trying a new product, the business they are following will be the first step that they take. General Electric has been able to take advantage of this learning curve (Zarrella, 2010).
Gaining Competitive Advantage through Social Media
For any business, competitive edge is very important. One way of gaining it is by carrying out extensive market research. However, this can be very expensive. Social media provides a cheap but reliable option. General Electric has used social media to get information about its customer, brand appearance and popularity, the markets and competitors. To do this, a company can use the ideas given below.
Keeping Track of All Trends on Social Media
Social media provides business with a way of carrying out market research. This is done by looking for the most discussed terms, posts and trending topics. This will enable the company to have a real-time market research. If the enterprise keeps tabs with social media trends, it will discover the consumer’s preferences and fashion trends that are being preferred. The company can also keep tabs on any discussions, complaints, or comments about its brand. This allows the firm to have a competitive edge as it works with real time information (Anderson, 2010).
Learning the Language of the Audience
When marketing, it is very important to learn the language that your audience uses. Any business will want to keep tabs on language as it helps to create a marketing appeal. The company can learn the language of their target market by simply following them on social media. The language that they use will help the enterprise to make a more effective marketing strategy. If the language of the customer is incorporated in the marketing strategy, it will appear more appealing. This incorporation helps the business create a unique brand that is fundamentally distinct from its competitors. This allows the company to have a competitive edge. General Electric has been known to change their language depending on whom they are targeting (Shepherd, 2012).
Get New Ideas of Business Diversification
Social media can help a company’s creativity department. The firm can offer a reward for the best business ideas. One such example is Netflix. The company offered to give a reward of one million dollars to any person who would come up with an algorithm that would beat theirs. By offering a reward for an improvement of their site, Netflix improved its services by using social media. A company may post on their social network sites that they are looking for the best big idea. The post is likely to yield so many different ideas, and the company will have a wide variety to choose from. This is a very simple and cost efficient way of creating new ideas. This will ensure that the business is always being a market leader when it comes to improvement or to building the product line (Anderson, 2010).
The number of people who are frequent users of social media is estimated to be about 1.5 billion people (Colorado Business Marketing Association, 2011).
This means that about a fifth of the world uses social media. Any business can use this to its advantage. With so many people, it will be easy for any company to reach a wide market. A company can create a trending topic which in turn generates hype around any subject. This in turn will create a discussion around the topic. The discussion is likely to spread to other people who are not on social media. This means that using this platform the company will always generate a discussion on all its products ensuring that it has a competitive edge (Wall, 2012).
Social media allows companies to carry out a wide range of market research. To do this, the company has to invest time and very little funds. The enterprise can use its social network platform to advertise, build its brand, build a network and make generation changes. This means that the company will get all the services from the social media without paying for them. This allows focusing the funds on other projects. Using social media to advertise also means that the company may decide to lower their prices as a result of the free marketing. This creates the possibility of having cheaper products than its competitors do. Cheaper prices translate to greater sales volumes.
General Electric can use social media to group the customers into small segments. This can be done by using the social network information such as gender, income, age and profession. Social media can also be used to analyze the behavior of customers or psychographics such as lifestyle. All this is possible because users of social media easily give this information freely (Hutt and Speh, 2013).
Once you have segmented the market, the next step is to choose which groups on the market you will need to target. Depending on the strategy chosen, the company may use social media. One of the most common targeting strategies through social media is indifferent targeting. The company advertises its product to anyone that is available. General Electric uses an indiscriminate market targeting strategy. This is because most of its products are not produced with any age group in mind. However, some electronics may be targeted for the upper class; these are marketed differently to the others (Anderson, 2010).
To position the product on the market, the company decides to create discussion on the targeted market. This can be done by creating a trend about the product that will make sure that the product is being discussed on the market. This will give the product a certain advantage over that of its competitors as the customer already has an idea of what the product is (Minett, 2002).
General Electric has used social media to gain a competitive advantage over its competitors. However, this competitive advantage has only been possible because the company has many followers. To create a successful social media page requires great content that will make the customers follow you. A great description of the goods and services that you offer means that potential clients will automatically be interested. Social media may also give the company a chance to attract corporate investors and partnerships. The platform offers endless potential for what companies can achieve only if they use it properly. General Electric has managed to enhance social media to increase its competitive edge. The company also has managed to keep close contact with its customers. All the attention to customers’ needs has made the corporation a shining example of how to use social media marketing efficiently (McDonald and Dunbar, 2012).