Despite the fact that most people think of social media as a form of B2C (business to consumer) marketing, it plays an important role in B2B (business to business) marketing as well. After all, the businesses you want to connect with are likely marketing using social media, so it is reasonable you should use it as well. However, B2B marketing via social media comes with its own set of rules, some of which are the same as consumer marketing and while some are not.
Businesses Are People Too
Keep in mind that even though you're reaching out to fellow businesses, there are still people behind these businesses. While it is important to project a professional image, it is also equally important to give your business a "face" and show some personality. Nobody wants to be just another 'contact', connect with your business customers and remember that they like personalized attention just as much as consumers do.
Choose Your Network
Some social networks are more effective than others for certain businesses. A business that sells physical products may benefit from the growing popularity of Pinterest. However, service-based companies may do better by connecting with other business leaders via LinkedIn. You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket, but it isn't a bad idea to tailor your marketing towards a social network that suits your niche. If you go with a network like Facebook or Twitter that appeals to a broad audience, look at what your competitors are doing on the network and see where you can learn from their successes and/or failures.
The only way to gauge the success of your marketing efforts using social media is to track how well you are progressing. For example, if you launch a massive Facebook ad campaign that results in very few actual sales, then you need to reconsider your strategy. Additionally, the time you spend using social media should have a direct impact on your website traffic or sales. If your social media plan isn't bringing in new visitors, as well as new leads, to your website, then its time to see where you are going wrong. Analyze your company's social media usage and how well it is or isn't working out for you so that you can do a better job reaching your target audience.
Have A Plan
While this may seem simple, many businesses fail to utilize social media properly because they jump in headfirst without any specific strategy. Know what your business customers are looking for and find the best ways to reach them, don't just start "putting stuff out there" in the hope that it generates some sort of return. Outline who you want to reach, what needs of theirs that you can meet, and then devise an adequate social media strategy to help you achieve your goals.
Social media is not an unfathomable mystery, but it does require planning and coordination. Business customers are still customers and social media can increase your opportunities to reach out to them and build relationships. Once you determine how your business can help other businesses through social media, you are practically guaranteed to see a boost in profits.