Building your B2B social media strategy starts with a strong foundation and the right tools for the job. That's why we reached out to someone who knows a bit about the construction process. Meet Kevin Espinosa (@kevingespinosa), Social Media Manager at Caterpillar, a giant manufacturer of construction and mining equipment. Kevin is responsible for the brand's social media strategy. And it's a job big enough for a backhoe.
Kevin and I met at Dreamforce during a B2B Social Media session and when he offered to have a deeper conversation about Caterpillar's social media strategy, I happily agreed. Here's the interview.
What is Caterpillar's strategic approach to social?
Our strategy we developed based on our goals. The bottom line is that we want to develop stronger customer relationships. In order to do this we have defined social media in four pillars: social listening, customer support, promotion and thought leadership. All of our social media activities fall under these pillars. For thought leadership, we want to provide our customers the information they need to become better in their job and be seen as an industry leader when it comes to construction equipment, and we have a lot of knowledge to share.
What is one way you're using social listening?
We have an entire strategy for social listening, but very transparently, we have just started executing on that strategy. Currently, we are using social listening to understand what people are saying about our products, the issues they have, where they are saying it, and who the key influencers are. As you can see, this is a wealth of information and the art is to make this information actionable. This is what we are in the process of doing. But this is just one component of our listening strategy…much more to come.
What is the most important takeaway when it comes to social media strategy for B2B?
Social media is not just for B2B companies. Often people use this as an excuse for not getting started on their own strategy. There are many ways to use social media as a competitive advantage beyond the promotional aspect. Many aspects of business are moving from the human element to digital. Social media has given the customers a voice. You must engage with them or soon become obsolete to them.
Do you have any advice for businesses in regards to social media strategy?
If you haven’t started already, you have to start with social listening. It's like building a large campus without the sidewalks. Let your audience lay down the paths and sidewalks they want to take. They'll tell you where they're participating and what they need. Then you can backfill with a strategy that addresses their needs. This is the push aspect of social media. Eventually, you get to the pull aspect, where the customer is a big contributor to your social media strategy. This is where there is truly two-way dialogue and relationship building.
What’s next for Caterpillar in the world of social media?
It is truly the integration with all of our efforts. Our social media strategy can’t look like it is an individual effort, but it must be woven into everything we do with the customer so we are providing value to them. We want our customers to see we are there for them and we care about their success.
What inspired you to get where you are today?
I've been in e-business for 12 years now and have seen the world evolve to social media, so I've followed the growth of the channels to communicate with customers. I love the challenge of digitizing the human interactions. The next big challenge is humanizing our machines, company and customers so that we are all collaborating together.
OK, last one. If you were any piece of Caterpillar equipment, what would it be?
I would want to be a 797 mining truck. It's the biggest and baddest piece of equipment!
Thanks for your time today, Kevin. If you have questions for Kevin, ask them here and he'll try to respond. In addition, hear more about B2B social media strategy from Kevin in this post from Dreamforce.