Social media? Where is the value?

in Gilroy; social media
by Rhiannon Hopkins
I am a social media addict! Completely hooked. From starting out as a complete newbie and not really understanding the relevance of social media, I now have a variety of social networking accounts. No one can deny that the presence of social media has become a phenomenon, but does it have any value within the B2B market?  
The answer is yes. As a company, we use social media to increase our clients’ profile and social selling effectiveness, as well as enhancing our presence, profile and knowledge of our competitors, clients and trends within the B2B sector.  91% of B2B IT buyers are now involved in social media, hence why it is so important to be seen and heard within the social media circle…it’s all about generating opportunities. 
I was not aware of how important social media was to the B2B market until I started increasing my professional presence. The easiest way to get started is to enhance your online profile, which will ultimately make you more “desirable”. As a LinkedIn member, I began with this to test three easy tips provided to me by peers at Gilroy to optimise my presence: 
1. I updated my profile image (something corporate/professional)
2. I updated my summary, skills and experience fields. I made sure everything was relevant, up-to-date and informative…after all, honesty is the best policy.  
3. I connected to clients, groups, customers and people of interest within my professional sector.
Once these updates had been made, my profile generated a lot more views; appearing 258 times in a LinkedIn search over the course of a month. Some of these searches and views will not always be relevant, but within this I have received new requests to connect to other professionals within Gilroy’s clientele, building new relationships and avenues for business. Once this occurred, it was essential to be proactive and reply, introducing myself and sparking up a conversation based on common interests…simple yet effective. 
Launched only in 2006, Twitter has rapidly become a positive B2B platform to gain insight around customers and market content. Once I had joined and connected to customers and influencers, I started reading regular twitter updates and re-tweeted relevant content of interest, ensuring my own opinion was added to increase presence and attention within the social media community. 
My philosophy has always been, if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all…well now we are taught that if you don’t have anything relevant to say, don’t tweet it! 
Finding content is always going to be hard to start off with…where do you start? 
It is always best to start with what you know and make sure it has relevance! I began sharing content from the Gilroy webpage and blog, watching what my customers and peers were sharing and then researched around these areas, adding to their conversations. As soon as you begin, it will become easier to find content from various blogs and other online sources around the market, and customers you are involved with. And with the help of Buffer, I am able to share content across multiple social media accounts via scheduled intervals so that my interests and content can be shared when I haven’t always got the time to tweet! 
The key lesson is not to assume connections will flock to you, you need to start connecting to those key contacts. Social media within B2B is rapidly increasing with consumers and customers now choosing to use social media to learn about new solutions and to stay current, especially to brands and individuals they are loyal to.  
So, are you hooked yet?