Your employees and partners are likely your most powerful influence—and using social media to build customer relationships is essential for client retention in the B2B space.
According to social media expert Neal Schaffer, stirring up word-of-mouth marketing through influencers (who can be your employees) is the original intent of social media marketing. Employee influencers can use their social media accounts to amplify what is great about your brand and build the brand affinity that keeps clients onboard.
In our recent webinar, Schaffer explained that people buy from people they: know, like and trust.
Social media, rich with content, is a great tool to build and maintain customer relationships.
In this post, we’ll cover four ways your employees and partners can use social media for customer retention in a B2B context:
- Deepen relationships with current clients
- Discover business intelligence about people and organizations
- Become a trusted source of information about your industry
- Extend the reach of your content and insights
1. Deepen relationships with current customers
Your employees and partners don’t need to be the next Elon Musk to be a powerful force for your brand. In recent years, the presence of micro and nano influencers has grown. These influencers have fewer followers than traditional influencers but tend to have more engagement and deeper connection with their communities.
On platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, professionals can engage their followers and connections with questions and meaningful conversations.
Having at least 1,000 followers makes someone considered an ‘influencer.’ You probably have a handful of employees who are already at that mark on LinkedIn alone. On the LinkedIn platform, you can see which employees are regularly posting and who have the most reach.
Likewise, you can identify active client employees. With the proper plan in place, you can encourage employees to connect personally with your clients’ employees to keep the lines of communication open.
Brands can leverage their social media presence by ensuring employees are trained to be strong communicators and content curators. Your sales and marketing team members in particular can be encouraged to use LinkedIn to foster strong relationships with clients.
2. Discover business intelligence about people and organizations
Want to retain more customers? Get to know them.
According to LinkedIn, 49% of vendors use LinkedIn profiles to research other vendors. When it comes to current customers, LinkedIn is a great way to stay up to date on any changes a client is going through or challenges they may be facing. This may be time to reach out to them for upselling them on additional services or saying congrats on any accomplishment.
B2B business has long been conducted through personal relationships. Social media is a tool to maintain and develop those existing connections.
When a client goes through a big change, congratulate them or leave a comment. Everybody wants engagement on their posts and your feedback will feel authentic. Real relationships are good for retaining customers and for reducing the risk of customer churn.
Also, the B2B buying experience is complicated and people switch roles about every 4.5 years, which makes it difficult to keep current contact information up-to-date. Social media can be a way to easily access this information and maintain personal relationships.
You can find out a lot about your current customers based on their social media posts. It’s best to pay attention to:
- What are their biggest pain points?
- What changes are they going through?
- What content have they been producing?
- What content do they engage with?
- What major company news has happened?
The more you know about your customers, the better your customer relationships are—and, as a result, your customer retention will improve.
3. Become a trusted source of information about your industry
Strategic thought leadership content can position you or your organization as an industry authority. 88% of decision-makers say that thought leadership can be effective in enhancing their perceptions of an organization.
Customers want to work with companies that they trust and respect. They want confidence in knowing you can provide the right guidance and look around the corner to find future opportunities that will benefit them – which is why thought leadership is important for client retention.
Build your expertise on the topics your customers care about on a day-to-day basis. What industry challenges pose a threat to your customers? What trends may impact your customers in the future? What are your customer’s current pain points? Turn your business intelligence into new ideas, insights, and perspectives that can educate customers beyond what they already know.
Find opportunities to create content insights that can help start timely conversations with your customers. Turn thought leadership content into short, snackable social posts such as video snippets, blog posts, or infographics to capture your customer’s attention and provide immediate value.
Customer relationships are retained because conversations are focused on engagement, insights, and information – not about product features and benefits.
Harness your employees and partners, whether it’s customer success, senior executives or subject matter expertise to showcase your people and earn credibility.
4. Increase the reach of your content
42% of people distrust messages directly from brands. Putting a face (or several) to the name helps humanize your company: your clients are more likely to trust content shared by your employees. 45% of people are more likely to research a product or service when employees post about it. These same people will be those responsible for decision-making for organizations that could use your product.
Employee and partner advocates help you build relationships with your customers that keep them coming back for more.
To build a network of strong advocates, it’s essential to develop an employee advocacy program. Employee advocacy means getting your employees and partners involved in promoting your company and brand. When your employees post about your brand or product, your social media reach and engagement grows.
Employees have an average combined total of 10X more connections than brands’ social channels. And when an employee shares a piece of branded content, it will (on average) reach 561% further than it would if posted from your branded social profiles.
Learn more about how employee advocacy can help humanize your brand and build loyal customer relationships.
How can social media affect customer relationships?
If you focus too much on customer acquisition, it’s easy to lose sight of the value of customer retention.
Your loyal customers are the key to your success—don’t forget about them! Social media can help you build and maintain relationships with your customers. Your employees are key to making this happen.
They are often the people with the strongest brand affinity towards your company. They have the power to influence their followers, connections and friends with the content they share online.
With a training and plan in place, you can use social media to retain customers. Social media marketing is not about demanding employees to post content about your company or to reach out to current customers—but it is about collaboration and encouragement. With that as the foundation, your brand can see its messages, updates and values spread much further than any advertisement or cold call.
To learn more about the effects of employee advocacy on customer loyalty and retention, read through our Blueprint for Employee Advocacy.