Social media used to be just a nicety that larger companies had on the sidelines. Having a presence made a company look good, but it didn’t have much of an impact. Over the years, however, social media has grown and evolved. Your b2b social media strategy should too.
A recent survey of marketing professionals revealed that 81% felt that content marketing helped their company create brand awareness, and 77% reported that their content marketing allowed them to build credibility and/or trust.
With LinkedIn now finding that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level/vice president (VP) executives surveyed use social media to make purchasing decisions, social media has firmly established its place as an essential part of B2B marketing. The challenge is creating the right social media strategy for your B2B business.
Unlike e-commerce websites, social media isn’t where prospects go to buy things. Instead, they turn to social media to connect with others and to learn. These are prospects at the top of the funnel, who may even be hearing about your business for the first time, and they need to be approached and nurtured so they will develop into customers.
Remember —content marketing is not about you. It’s about them. That’s why B2B blogs that create educational content receive 52% more organic traffic than those that mainly publish content about their company.
Your social media goals should focus on creating brand awareness, building trust and authority, and educating and nurturing potential customers in a relaxed way in order to establish your brand as the default choice when they are ready to purchase.
It’s not enough to just create content. The first step of your B2B social media strategy should be to set SMART goals. That means defining Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Related objectives that you intend to achieve. By making sure that your defined goals meet these criteria, you can narrow down the practices that will help you achieve them.
There’s a grain of truth to the saying: when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. Just as with your goals, choosing a specific target audience allows you to laser-focus your B2B social media marketing strategy in the right direction. Who are your ideal customers and what are their pain points? How can they improve their businesses by choosing your products or services?
Different platforms work better for different markets. LinkedIn is known for business networking, making it the place for content marketers to connect with C-level executives and decision makers, but other platforms have their merit.
Twitter is perfect for connecting with large audiences in real time. With Facebook’s vast number of active users, there’s a lot of opportunity for building trust, strengthening personal connections and understanding users’ pain points. YouTube is a must for businesses with complex products or services, or whose products or services can be demonstrated in real life. Because video content attracts a wider variety of users, YouTube’s universal appeal is undeniable.
Potential customers expect businesses to interact with personalities that correspond to their brand values. Speaking about your brand in the first person creates a sense of intimacy that B2B buyers expect on social media. Do you want to create a sense of dependability around your business? Accessibility? Or maybe your brand is more focused on being sleek and stylish. Whatever voice you want to project, you should use it consistently in your posts.
Once you’ve determined what platforms are right for you, experiment with posting on different days at different times and different days to find out when you get the most engagement. Then develop a content schedule and stick to it. Schedule posts ahead of time to make regular posting more convenient. If you’re providing your audience with a steady diet of their preferred type of content when they are online, they’ll become conditioned to crave your latest posts. Just make sure you keep up your side of the commitment.
While it may not always seem like it, competition can be a good thing. Your close competitors can provide a benchmark for your performance, letting you know where your B2B social media strategies are effective and where they can be improved. Get to know your competition, and clearly define what differentiates you.
Ask yourself these questions about your competitors: What is their target audience? What is their ad click-through rate? What content of theirs is getting the most engagement?
And then, most importantly: Are these answers different for my business, and if so, why? It could be time to do a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis with your competition’s data, and take advantage of the work that they’ve been doing to pave the way for your own campaigns.
Savvy execs know that it’s not just about the data itself — it’s about how you interpret it that determines how best to navigate the emerging trends and changes in the economy and market. Use your social platforms to establish your authority and voice your opinions. Light the way for your potential customers, and help them navigate the waters ahead. Offer them value, and they will come to depend on your guidance.
Social is all about making connections, and what better way to do that than to humanize your company? Instead of hiding behind an impersonal corporate front, showcase the people who make your business tick. Cast a spotlight on your employees to recognize their efforts and give potential customers — and potential employees — a glimpse behind the curtain at who’s holding the reins.
Content marketers always need to keep in mind the thing that all potential customers want to know — what’s in it for me? If you want to get the attention of your target audience, the best way is by offering something that provides value.
Listen to the pain points your target audience reveals on social media. See what they’re saying on your competitors’ channels and industry haunts. Then create content to help them solve their problems, or at least make their lives a little easier.
Everyone likes a good get-together, and hosting communities and events is a great way to keep your company in your potential customers’ minds. Hosted communities give your target audience a place to gather around the virtual water cooler and talk about the trials and tribulations of their work and personal lives. They also give you a more in-depth opportunity to build your authority and be an active participant or a fly on the wall during their discussions.
You can use the knowledge you glean to create educational webinars, refine your messaging and offerings, and deepen your customer relationships.
It’s not enough to just post content. Social media is a two-way street, and customers expect you to react when they communicate with your brand. Always respond with your company voice and make on-brand comments that are in-line with your SMART objectives and brand value.
No matter what your goals are, you should analyze every campaign when it’s completed to see how well your B2B social media strategy accomplished the SMART goals you set when you started, and how your campaign’s final performance deviated from your prediction. You can then take the data that you gathered and apply it to the next campaign. As you progress, you should find that your results become more and more predictable, creating a cycle of continuous growth and improvement for your company.