8th October 2018 How to get the most from B2B social media
In the first of a two part discussion on B2B social media, we look at how you can get the most from these platforms. There is often debate as to whether social media is an effective marketing tool for B2B businesses. It’s true that many companies have struggled with the concept and some have even chosen to ignore it altogether berating the lack of return of investment. While B2C companies are driven to influence customers to buy something, B2B businesses should look at social media with the objective of your brand becoming an authority in your industry sector and therefore setting realistic objectives in the first place is vital.

Let’s start with managing expectations. If you are focused on lead generation, then there are better marketing tools out there that will drive a quicker return. Leads may well come to fruition in time but there are several steps that need to be taken first. Identifying your target audience is key and that is built around the content that you are going to deliver that creates some engagement and builds a following. Number of followers may not be that important, but quality will be. Of course, you can build a following by sharing other people’s content and there is nothing wrong with that if the material is relevant to your audience. However, if you want to create an even closer engagement with your followers, then publishing some thought leadership messaging is vital. That builds trust and shows you are an authority in a subject. As customers buy from companies they know and trust, this is ultimately how you generate leads.

Content is key

Content can be built from a company blog, a newsletter, whitepaper or your press releases. Sharing your expertise or demonstrating how you have been able to provide a solution for a customer with a similar technology issue will certainly lead to engagement. Develop valuable content. A good rule of thumb for creating content is to follow the 80/20 rule whereby 80 per cent of content focuses on customer interests and industry news and 20 per cent is promoting products and services. Don’t forget to schedule posts for the weekend. Weekends are a major lost opportunity for businesses as there are 40-50 per cent fewer posts at the weekend, while the number of users online stays the same. (Perfect Post)

Moreover, a key advantage that social media provides, and something that differentiates it from traditional marketing, is that it can provide a two-way conversation with your audience. That clearly demonstrates engagement. Equally, you should also be listening out for conversations that are happening on industry topics and taking advantage of the opportunity to comment. Joining industry groups on Linked-In can be great for that. In addition, check out the industry influencers that already have a substantial following and build a relationship that may get you recognised as an authority in a field or even better someone that they would recommend.

Whilst the quality of your content is key, social media also gives you the opportunity to present the culture of your company in a positive way. The copy can be more informal demonstrating the human side of your company, remembering that people buy from people. It’s quite possible to be authoritative and friendly at the same time. Comments from real people that are known can be highly effective. Just be sure that you have a social strategy in place that your employees are aware of in terms of how they conduct themselves on social media.

Driving traffic to your web site by clear call to actions will be a key strategic goal for your social marketing particularly for gaining new customers. Just like the consumer world, people will always check out your profile online, therefore using social platforms like Twitter and Linked-In to start that process is important.

Choose platforms that suit your business

According to Hootsuite, 92 per cent of businesses use social media as part of their marketing strategy. But that doesn’t mean that all platforms are right for every business. Of course, Twitter and Linked-In are proven to be highly effective tools for the B2B world. The Content Marketing Institute found that 63 per cent of marketers found Linked-In to be the most effective social media platform. That effectiveness may well be influenced in terms of the measurement criteria. Social Media Examiner believe that B2B companies are experimenting with more platforms to build brand awareness. Whilst Facebook and Instagram are unlikely to be your first choice, with the increasing influence of video, platforms like You Tube can also be beneficial. According to Twitter, Tweets with images receive double the engagement and video content is six times more engaging than still images. It’s worth taking a look at what platforms your competitors are using.

Finally, it’s important to ensure you devote enough time to building and implementing your social media plan. It’s an on-going process, requiring the right person with the right skills and the right time to make it an integrated part of your overall marketing strategy.

In the next issue, we will look at how you can measure the effectiveness of your social media strategy.