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Taking the gambling out of social media marketing for business to business companies?

I’m involved in a great local business group, EO Accelerator, for entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses to the magical million-dollar mark. One of my mentors in the EO Accelerator program is Dave Notte, of Wolfgang Commercial Painters. You may think, “C’mon. What sort of useful mentorship can a girl who runs a social media agency get from a guy who runs a commercial-painting company?”
You’re in for a surprise. Even a seemingly traditional-type company like Wolfgang can be pretty cutting-edge – they’re into social media, and reaping good results.

Many small businesses in Vancouver still question whether social media will be the right fit for them. If your company is business-to-consumer, the potential for return is obvious. Through social media, you can connect right to the consumer. But I’ve wondered if the return on investment for social media is enough for a small business-to-business (B2B) company.

For an answer, let’s look at the success Wolfgang is enjoying. Using social media for communications and marketing, Wolfgang has done a remarkable job of shaking up an old-school industry – or maybe that would be, shaking it into the modern age.

Office Manager Erin Gray is the brains behind the company’s daily posts and updates, as well as its long-term strategy. She has managed the feeds for about a year, with some amazing traction.

Erin said, “We ditched traditional marketing and put all our efforts into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and our blog, The Stir Stick. We wanted to reposition our marketing from an old school call-to-action approach to a newer, more brand-driven, education-based approach.”

Positioning Wolfgang as an industry expert, this approach has garnered press coverage – five articles so far on how it has reduced its marketing budget by engaging in social media.

Each month, Wolfgang’s site breaks traffic records – 1,300 visitors most recently. Much of the traffic comes from social media feeds. “We’ve doubled the web-based leads this year from last. Almost all are B2B leads, which we hadn’t seen before our increased web presence.”

Erin couldn’t say for sure that Wolfgang has seen opportunities stem directly from social media. “But that’s never been our goal,” she pointed out. “We know that our social media presence has helped to increase our page ranking with Google. This has certainly helped with our increase in potential web business. We are more focused on having a solid web presence and meaningful interactions, rather than getting leads from social media.”

Wolfgang keeps promoting its feeds, finding particular success in the Twitter hemisphere: 4,204 followers, and counting. “We have made our way on to several painter lists, and gained a lot of industry followers. We follow local businesses and other companies that we know appreciate our follow. We go out and find followers. We talk to them, not just wait for them to come to us.”

Erin said the company had got 100 Facebook likes this year, but could work on getting the number higher. “Our current audience for social media varies from platform to platform. On Facebook we have many customers, as well as other people in the industry, as our fans. On Twitter, we have many painting and restoration companies, other local companies, customers, residents of buildings we are painting, and other fans. We’re focusing on quality, not quantity.”

Wolfgang’s YouTube feed is impressive, with 27 videos about the company’s various services, events, tips, tricks and more. One video, The Wall, a parody, has over 500 views.

Here’s what you can learn about B2B from Wolfgang:

• It’s not all about direct ROI. Social media influence other items, such as search rankings, general opinion, and public awareness of you as an industry expert.

• Have one person who is passionate about owning the feeds and thinks it’s fun to maintain them.
• Actively pursue and engage new people on Twitter. Follow them; they may just follow you back.

• Consider using video in your social media. People love to watch video!

Tamara Brooks is a self-described social media addict and co-owner of October 17 Media, a Vancouver-based digital marketing agency. Tamara helps organizations leverage online tools to grow their brands and revenue, working with clients such as Future Shop, Park Royal, North Vancouver Recreation Commission, North Shore News, The City of Richmond and others. •

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