B2B Start-Ups Must Be More Social To Gain Competitive Edge

Often the opportunities provided by social media are overlooked as start-ups focus on refining their product during launch. It can take up to three years for business-to-business travel start-ups to begin exploiting social media – but there's no time to waste for B2B travel firms who are just starting out, says Skift.

The importance of social media was highlighted in 2013 when a new trend emerged and B2B travel start-ups started becoming more competitive on social.

Now it's up to other companies to follow suit, regardless of their stage of development or how far they are from their launch dates. Follow the example of more established travel technology companies and start using social to your advantage, Skift advises.

To do this, make the brand more human - use casual talk rather than a business tone and use social media platforms selectively, differentiating between the different platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook since audiences have different expectations on each network.

The priority is often building awareness through content production and curation; introducing and celebrating the team; and motivating potential customers through free resources, often in exchange for their email addresses. These efforts can lead to offline conversations.

Four start-ups, Adara, Boxever, Rezdy and Xola, have successfully leveraged social media to boost their brand presence.

Adara, founded in 2009, connects online advertisers with potential customers. The company has successfully leveraged LinkedIn but also hopes to fine-tune its content and engagement approach for each platform.

This is what Elizabeth Harz, media president for the firm, said: "Overall, like other B2B companies, we see a growing need to expand our social media efforts to better understand what our clients need to be successful."

Boxever, founded in 2011, utilises the Big Data phenomenon to understand and reach customers in a more personalised way.

The firm has a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn, and has successfully enticed new faces via both networks. It is currently focusing on business-oriented conversations and doesn't have a presence on Facebook due to the deep commitment it would require.

Allyson Pelletier, VP of marketing, commented: "Since we're a B2B company, we're really trying to get in front of business buyers. From a lead-generation perspective, it's really less about calls to action and it's really more about participating in the [broader] conversation that's going on in these environments."

Rezdy, which also launched in 2011, is a white-label booking platform with a multitude of verticals, including whale watching and surfing, and 12 product types such as multi-day tickets, rentals and lessons.

Its social team not only shares thoughtful information with the community, but also seeks out new customer interactions by looking for groups with relevant topics and posting helpful tips.

"On Facebook, we're constrained for time to be more conversational; it takes time and effort to build the community. We're looking to humanise our brand more on LinkedIn," said Christabell Tani, the marketing manager.

And Xola, a booking and marketing platform for tours and activities providers, has seen its web traffic from social media rise from 8% to a third since it was founded in 2011.

The firm is more present and open about the company's personality on Facebook than Twitter, as the Facebook content has a longer life.