More and more B2B marketers are adopting content marketing (generally) and social media marketing (in particular) to increase their networking potential, leads, and overall sales.
In fact, B2B marketers have increased their marketing budgets as well as their marketing allocation on social media marketing. At the same time, there's a growing acceptance among B2B marketers that this money is well spent since 93% of B2B marketers use content marketing and over 90% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn, a social media networking site. Interestingly, LinkedIn is both the most used B2B social media marketing vehicle and the one that B2B marketers are most confident in.
Creating a Successful B2B Social Media Presence
People almost always think of social media marketing in a B2C context. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially since B2C and B2B social media marketing largely share the same strategy, but it could put marketers on the wrong track because B2C and B2B marketing don't necessarily share the same means of going about that strategy.
What exactly do we mean here? We mean that both B2C and B2B social media marketers should be following the same basic steps in order to find their optimal social media marketing strategy.
You should be asking the following questions:
- What end goal am I pursuing by embracing social media marketing?
- What is the target audience for my social media marketing efforts?
- Do I have marketing and sales metrics for ultimately determining success?
- What stage of the buyer's journey is my audience working from?
- Which social media sites have the best track record of success?
While the questions behind social media marketing are the same whether you're about to embark on a B2C or B2B social media marketing campaign, the answers can be strikingly different.
Professional Content and Casual Content Distribution
The types of content, your overarching marketing goals, and even the social media sites that you'll use will vary because your B2B social media marketing is reaching a different audience in pursuit of slightly different ends.
As just one example, Facebook is still the B2C social media marketing goal standard when it comes to whipping up brand awareness and community engagement. On the B2B social media marketing front, though, LinkedIn reigns supreme because it's the best platform for professional content distribution, networking, and peer engagement.
Focus on Professional Content
This might sound like a no-brainer but it's essential that this is done right. Content in a B2C social media marketing context tends to focus on blog posts, entertaining graphics and videos, and getting your content shared (and commented on) to enhance your brand awareness.
You obviously still want more brand awareness when you go about your B2B social media marketing, but the name of the game with B2B social media marketing is obviously lead generation rather than "going viral" or taking onboard the more-views-at-any-cost approach per se.
Case Studies and Whitepapers
Since B2B social media marketing is all about lead generation, B2B marketers need to have the arsenal in their professional toolkits to efficiently convey the merits of your company's product line. Here's where case studies and whitepapers come into play: taken together, case studies and whitepapers create a potent one-two lead generation punch that also supports your demand generation and lead nurturing efforts.
Using case studies in your B2B social media marketing can drum up higher demand for your products and seriously spark your lead generation efforts. Case studies that focus on people well-known in the industry are especially convincing social proofs that drive more demand and provide a nice seal of approval for your products and services.
Whitepapers are another effective tool for convincing buyers that your products and services are a cut above the competition's. Although white papers can take some time to put together and certainly aren't as easy-breezy as a tweet or Instagram post, white papers are an invaluable B2B social media marketing tool because they allow you to convey research findings, in-depth product descriptions, and solutions to your buyer's problems.
Casual Content Distribution
The success of your B2B social media marketing hinges on conveying the positives of your products and services without sounding too sales focused. This can put your buyer's off. Instead, you should be focused on casual, yet professional communications, conveying the merits of your products on a peer-to-peer level.
This largely explains why LinkedIn leads the pack when it comes to B2B social media marketing: LinkedIn allows you to connect to other professionals via discussion groups. These obviously offer a networking opportunity and, perhaps more importantly, they facilitate professional engagement and the chance for you to broadcast your industry expertise.
Measure Your Success
Just remember to keep an eye on essential B2B key performance indicators, especially your qualified leads and CPA score, to determine whether you're on track or need to recalibrate.
Social media sites have changed the way small businesses market their goods and services. Facebook, Twitter and more than 400 other such sites give even the newest and smallest companies an opportunity to connect with potential customers all over the globe for a very modest investment. However, like any marketing strategy, you need a solid plan before you jump into this existing medium. For the best results, your company needs to know what it wants to achieve from its B2B social media efforts and how to measure that success.
Now on to developing your social media marketing strategy.
Steps to Developing a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy
- Choose your target social media sites carefully. While more than one billion registered users on Facebook can be attractive and compelling, Facebook is but one of more than 400 social media sites on the Web, and that number is increasing every month. For a company with a niche product, concentrating on Facebook is spending time putting your product or service in front of millions of people who will never consider buying from your company. Your time may very well be better used interacting on a much smaller social media site, where all of the users have expressed an interest in your type of business. There are social media sites for most every industry, from music and travel, to crafts or publishing.
- Be consistent. For your social media marketing strategy to be effective, you need to be consistent with it. If you only post when you have an extra few minutes, you won't be in front of your potential customers enough to make an impact in your sales. Your social media followers need to know that there will be new content at least every few days. Conversely, a languishing social media page can send the wrong message about your business, that you're not staying current, that you're under-staffed or even that your business is on the decline. It's best to set aside some time each day to focus on your social media pages.
- Be responsive. Your social media followers have a unique relationship with your company. They may be sitting alone in their offices, but they feel like they can have a one-on-one conversation with you via comments, private messaging and posting their own reviews and experiences with your company. Ignoring those efforts is the same as ignoring a phone call from a customer or telling them that you don't have time to talk to them when they drop by your office.
- Stay true to your message across all channels. It's a commonly-accepted marketing rule that customers have to hear the same message multiple times in order to take action. Since many customers read posts on several different social media sites, that means you want to be saying the same thing on Facebook that you say on LinkedIn and any small social media sites you use. It's fine to change the slant slightly to match your audience (i.e. LinkedIn has a mostly B2B readership, whereas Facebook and Twitter's users have a diverse demographic). However, your basic message needs to stay the same.
Social media marketing can help you boost your bottom line with very little monetary investment. Don't discount its potential simply because it doesn't come with a huge price tag. Choose a few sites that are a good fit for your product and your industry. Commit to spending the time and effort to post consistently. Respond to readers as if they were sitting in your office, and stay true to your marketing message no matter what site you are using. Stick with it for at least six months and you'll be surprised at the positive results.
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