If you’re a B2B company, hopefully you’ve already incorporated social media marketing into your overall digital marketing strategy. It’s definitely becoming a more prevalent marketing platform in the B2B marketplace, even though most companies don’t use it effectively. Perhaps, your current social media “presence” includes a post or tweet once a month, but are you really reaching your target audience and reaping the full benefits social media offers?
B2Bs like yourself can’t follow the lead of your B2C counterparts when it comes to social media strategies because you’re dealing with different types of buyers and purchasing cycles. Since B2C customers primarily make short-cycle, one-time purchases, consumer retailers use social media as a direct selling channel. For business retailers, customers are more complex, long-term buyers, so more commitment and relationship-building is needed. Therefore, social media is used more as a channel for engaging and interacting.
Before you get started on your B2B social media venture, you first need to make sure your strategy is finalized and includes answers to who, where, what and when.
Focus on who to target
Obviously, your main target audience in your social media strategy is current and prospective customers. But in addition to them, you should be attracting industry organizations, business partners, journalists and even prospective employees to your social media platforms. While you may consider these different groups a rather broad audience base, there is one common denominator – they will all be tied to you socially – so make your engagements count.
Determine where to “socialize”
Social media is a great place for branding your company, promoting your products and driving traffic to your website, but it requires multiple platforms, relevant content and dedicated personnel to make it happen. So where should you make a presence? Consider these interesting facts compiled by B2B marketing blog site, Webbiquity:
- 71% of all Internet users are on Facebook, as well as 91% of Millennials (18- to 34-year-olds), making it the most popular social network out there.
- LinkedIn is the largest professional social network, which caters to more than 380 million members in 200 countries. In comparison to Facebook, LinkedIn is used mostly by people in the 30- to 64-year-old bracket.
- Twitter is becoming an increasingly popular way to promote brands and has 302 million active users per month.
With impressive numbers like these, it’s no wonder businesses are starting to go social. But if you’re still not a believer in social media, consider these additional statistics Webbiquity found related directly to B2Bs:
- 88% of B2B companies use Facebook for marketing
- 74% of B2B decision makers use LinkedIn to help make purchasing decisions
- 81% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to help launch products
- 88% of B2B marketers in the U.S. use Twitter for content distribution
The fact is these numbers are only going to increase as more businesses realize the benefits a good social media presence can offer.
Know what to talk about
As we mentioned, social media provides an opportunity to market your business and products. Above and beyond that you can use it to share industry news, provide an online forum for questions and even advertise job openings. Provide links to company blogs, white papers and industry findings so you can keep your audience interested and in the know. Statistics show there’s a 45% average increase in engagement when a LinkedIn post contains a link, a 50% increase in comments when a post contains a question, and a 98% increase in comments when the post contains an image.
In addition to the more practical information, be sure to incorporate a little of the lighter side of your business. Share employee achievements outside of work, photos from a company outing or a lighthearted video to show your company culture. The key is to keep the information you share relevant, interesting and worthwhile to your audience. Social media allows you to be more conversational and casual with people, so don’t be too formal or analytic.
Learn when to be on social media
In order to maintain your social media presence, you’ve got to have a plan in place with regularly scheduled posts and tweets. The easiest way to accomplish this is to create an editorial calendar that provides the list of topics you’ll be posting about, as well as on which platforms you’ll be sharing the information. By planning ahead, you’ll ensure the information you post is both interesting and valuable to your followers. The size of your audience and your business will ultimately determine how frequently you will post, but here are some general best practices:
- Facebook: One to two posts a day
- LinkedIn: One post a day
- Twitter: Set a goal of three tweets a day, and include relevant hashtags so that they can be categorized and searched by people
The key is to be consistent with your posting schedule and to only post if you have relevant content to share. Start with the suggested number of posts noted above and then, based on customer feedback and analytics, determine if you should increase or decrease your frequency. But be sure you don’t over-post. The last thing you want is too much exposure; it will overwhelm your followers and make them lose interest in you.
A good social media strategy makes all the difference in social business networking, so be sure to dedicate resources to the effort so you can post, link and tweet your way to success.