In the business-to-business (B2B) sector, becoming a key ‘business of influence’ puts your organisation in a strong position. It allows you to attract the best people and get them delivering the best work – leading to the best returns for investors and further enhancing your reputation. And it allows you to lead your sector in the direction you want in line with your organisation’s strengths, further consolidating and building on your competitive advantage.
Studying the big data set of social conversations people are having about your organisation is the first step towards shaping these conversations in future. By playing close attention to social media activity you can understand how clients and potential clients see you, and develop appropriate strategies for influencing their perception. Social media data can also give you advance warning of potential threats to your reputation that, left unchecked, could damage your business.
Build on this first step by using advanced social media analytics to make a broader study of your sector as a whole, encompassing your clients, suppliers, competitors, potential competitors and key advocates. Use this analysis to develop ‘influence strategies’ – the blueprint for a set of consistent, reputation-enhancing signals communicated through the online channels that are most appropriate for B2B audiences: press, blogs and forums such as LinkedIn groups.
Digital channels also provide the data for market, product and brand analysis that offers you insight into social, political, commercial, technological and economic factors playing out across the globe. An awareness of these factors will allow you to create new business partnerships and build strategies for developing your brand, your market, your thinking, your products and services and your R&D strategies in a way that matches the needs of your sector.
Matching your company’s reputation with market place needs will position your business as a leading influence in your sector. One B2B ‘super-brand’ for example, uses thought leadership, in the form of articles and videos, to address the challenges its client are facing and increase its footprint across digital media. As the material is liked and re-tweeted across the globe, this has the effect of raising brand visibility and credibility.
For a B2B organisation, reputation is the single most important component of becoming a business of influence, but this has many facets: reputation with customers, suppliers, investors, employees, competitors and the media. Value each of these reputations separately, prioritise them by value, and then invest in them accordingly.
Beware of focusing on customers without maintaining a view of the overall picture and the relationships within it. For example, not valuing and focusing on your company’s reputation with its employees would result in your best employees moving to competitors. This, in turn, would have an impact on what business your company could win and the returns it could generate for investors once word about this attrition got out.
To find out how PA can win influence for your organisation by using social media, contact us now.