The Power of Social Media for B2B Firms
The Power of Social for B2B firms.
Many B2B/professional services firms are lukewarm at best about the power of social marketing. Instead they consider referrals and professional networking as the top drivers of business growth. Well, some B2B firms have figured out that social marketing is not very different from networking in the physical world. Done right, social marketing enables networking with influencers, peers, and prospectives. It also is an excellent avenue to establish thought leadership and support in-bound lead generation. According to Content Market Institute’s 2014 Benchmark Study, 87% of B2B companies employ social marketing (not including blogging) as a part of their overall content marketing strategy. Done strategically, social marketing can provide a boost to your website traffic, improve the quality and quantity of leads, and SEO ranking.
So how should you set up your Social Marketing to be Effective?
1. First and foremost, have a documented social strategy documented social strategy that addresses each of the following:
- Goal Analysis – This should be your starting point and addresses issues such as: Who is the target audience? What is the key message that needs to be communicated? What is desired action and output?
- Situation Analysis – figure out industry trends, authorities and patterns, popular sources of info etc.
- Strategic Posture – This is where you nail down your value proposition – your “sweet spot” and figure out how to differentiate yourself from competition.
- Client Positioning – How do you increase your influence by targeting key influencers and authorities in your field. This includes identifying groups, pages, and circles that you should increase your participation in.
- Platform Strategy – This where you decide on the most relevant platforms and how you tactically plan to target that platform. Top four social channels favored most by B2B companies (in order of preference) are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
For a complete social media strategy template, drop us a line at email@example.com and we will email it right to your inbox.
2. Develop a formal social media policy. Social media policy governs the publication and commentary on social media sites by your dedicated social media staff. Hopefully, you have a dedicated staff – there is ample and consistent evidence that companies that have a documented content strategy and have a dedicated social marketing staff are most effective at social marketing compared to companies that don’t.
Social media sites are a reflection of your organization that any and every person with access to the Internet can potentially see. What you post on social sites and the tone of your voice should be no less carefully weighed than your in-person interactions with your professional community and prospects. Make sure employees of agencies that represent you should have a very clear picture of how you want to be represented.
3. Content Creation & Curation – Once you have a clear understanding of the “what, where, and how” of your social marketing plan, it’s time to do content creation. Too busy to create value content on a consistent basis? Content curation offers an opportunity to sift through the vast content that already exists on the web and share it on your social channels. There are some rules here: Make sure the content you share is truly high quality and is engaging and/or informative. Also, include your own perspective on content you are sharing, bring in a level of personalization that is key in any effective social networking – digital or not! Find more details on the 40-60 rule that we advocate for your content strategy and how to do content mapping.
4. Social Management & Tools – There are terrific tools out there that allow for streamlined social marketing process. I will not go into a comprehensive list of social marketing tools, but will talk about some that are used by Marketing Pros for integrated social channel management & analytic. The top favorites are Hoot Suite& Sprout Social. A good social management tool especially for B2B marketers is Oktopost, which allows you to integrate your social media marketing, and customize your posts across channels, while allowing you to access your groups, company pages, and pofiles. This is very helpful for B2B marketers who need to adopt a different content style for different social channels and easily reach influencers and authorities by posting to groups to facilitate intellectual conversations and establish thought leadership. Other favorites are social monitoring and reputation management tools such as Radian6 for mid-level enterprises (an overkill for small businesses) and SocialMention & Mention for smaller enterprises that allow you to track social conversations around your brand and topics of interest and respond to concerns and opportunities.
5. Validate – Social marketing is an art and a science. You need to employ creativity and analytics to execute it well. The basic tenets of science, such as having a testable hypothesis, collecting and managing data, and analyzing the data to confirm or toss aside the hypothesis should be done on a regular basis with social marketing. If you are running LinkedIn ad campaigns to increase leads and conversions, make sure you are running A/B versions and running multiple campaigns so that you can find your sweet spot, bring down your cost-per-click, increase your opt-in and conversion rates and replicate the success all over again. If your goal is to increase traffic to the website, make sure you are racking your web analytics that provides traffic numbers from social channels. Look for bounce rates, entry and exit pages, time spent, demographics etc. Validate, validate, validate before moving ahead.
Let us know what has or hasn’t worked for your business in the social marketing arena! We look forward to your comments or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org