Social media insights for B2B marketers
I’ve been working with B2B companies since I started in advertising and one thing I can tell you is that no two industries are the same. Each has a unique set of issues, goals, product sets and … you name it. Some have long sales cycles due to highly complex products and purchase decisions. Others are governed by lengthy rules, regulations and processes. And although each is vastly different, there are several commonalities in the B2B world. Budgets often get stretched thin. Marketing is much more targeted than B2C. Tracking marketing ROI is of growing importance. And B2B marketers have been slow to embrace social media.
I am often asked if social media makes sense for B2B companies. My response is always, “You bet!” Not so long ago, B2B social media engagement was almost unheard of. Now many organizations embrace social. And the trend to cultivate customers and prospects through social media outlets will continue. It’s very targeted. It’s a forum where you can share your company personality, build relationships, form an emotional connection and establish yourself within your industry. And it’s not going away anytime soon.
Do you think your industry is too boring, or too complicated for social media? Your ROI can’t be tracked? Your audience isn’t engaged in social media? Think again. When done right, it can be a very effective tool. Here are a few guidelines to help your B2B company navigate the world of social.
Know your goals.
Don’t hastily decide to engage in a social media strategy for your business. First look at your goals and what you want to accomplish. Is it to get people to your website? Grow brand awareness? Position yourself as a thought leader? Generate leads? Each can require a very different approach.
Know your audience.
The obvious answer is “clients and prospects.” But what about peers, analysts, academia and other industry thought leaders and influencers? Don’t forget publishers who are continually looking for experts within their fields. Your own sales force and staff should be a target.
Choose the best platform for your content.
There has been much debate over which social media channels are best for B2B marketers. Many believe LinkedIn is the go-to choice, but more and more companies are seeing better engagement and increased social media success through platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Snapchat because they offer more creative, visual opportunities to share content. LinkedIn may very well be the best outlet, but don’t make that assumption without doing your homework. Evaluate all your options to see how they align with your goals and your audience.
It can be difficult to find time so start with one to two social media platforms and commit to excelling at it. Add in other platforms later.
Content is key.
There are entire blogs and university courses devoted to “content.” It’s become one of the great buzzwords of our time. In terms of social media, “content” is all the information, analysis and entertainment that a marketer posts to its social media pages and links to on its website. This blog is content. So are the videos Walz Tetrick places on this site and shares on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Your customers like and follow social pages that post high quality content – in other words, information they find interesting or useful. The better your content, the more your reputation as a thought leader improves. Your network grows. And your business climbs higher on the consideration set when it’s time to make a purchase decision. But before you go out and start posting massive amounts of information about your company’s products and services, here are a few pointers:
Create content that will facilitate an emotional connection, engage and benefit your audience. It’s about them, not you. Posting exclusively about your products or services will get boring and your readership will drop. Think about the problems you solve and the value you add from your audience’s point of view.
Share a mix of industry news, trends, studies and resources, as well as original, company-specific content such as case studies and blogs. Make sure it’s thought-provoking and useful information that your audience will value. Feature employees to humanize your brand. If lead generation is important, provide links to more valuable gated content like whitepapers, e-books and webinars.
Use infographics, videos and images in your posts. Visual content is more engaging and sharable. Plus, it provides a better opportunity to attract and hold attention.
Tag appropriate partners to increase impressions.
Keep it short in the social environment. Your audience will lose interest with longer posts. Engage them with succinct statements that will intrigue them to click through to longer content such as a blog post.
Have a content plan in place but don’t be afraid to deviate. Stay relevant by capitalizing on industry breaking news and trending topics. Social listening tools can help track relevant topics, keywords and hashtags.
Don’t be afraid to show your fun side. Even in the B2B world people enjoy a little bit of humor.
Stay consistent, but not rigid. Your brand personality should be consistent across all posts and social media platforms. However, remember that your audience uses Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn with a different mindset. So the type of content you post should be appropriate for each platform.
Tap into your greatest resources.
Encourage your employees, distributors and partners to share your content to give your brand further reach. They are your best ambassadors. And as a company, you should reciprocate.
Be part of the discussion.
Interact with your followers. When they comment on your posts, respond. Answer questions. Offer tips. Join and interact with discussion groups and communities related to your business. Actively search for appropriate conversations and provide timely, meaningful replies. It shows authenticity. Encourage your leadership to do the same.
Use Google Analytics to see how much of your website traffic comes from each platform. Take advantage of analytics dashboards offered by each social media outlet to track traditional KPIs like awareness and engagement (shares, likes, follows, etc.), reach and community size. Watch your network grow! And if tracking ROI and qualified leads is important, invest in advanced analytics and sales tools to provide more solid insights about how qualified leads move through the sales funnel.
Keep up with what they’re doing and what types of content their audience responds to (number of comments, likes, shares). And identify the influencers that are interacting with their posts.
Audiences, platforms and trends are constantly changing so continue so analyze, refine and improve. This should be a constant cycle.
It can be a 24/7 job.
Remain on the lookout for sharable content and post it in a timely manner. Never stop developing ideas for original content.
And be patient. It takes time to grow your audience and for them to start sharing your content. It will take a focused effort and it isn’t going to happen overnight.
Shannon’s been with Walz Tetrick since she graduated college, and in those 20 years there isn’t much she hasn’t done. Valued equally by clients and colleagues, she’s in high demand for her experience and insight. From high-level strategy to day-to-day communication, Shannon brings out the best in everyone around her.