A SEVEN-STEP PLAN TO MAKING YOUR COMPANY A SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER
If your business still lacks a social media presence, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to connect with current and potential customers, industry partners, and thought leaders. These missed connections don’t just hurt your relationship development; they also keep you from potential leads and sales.
In the wholesale distribution marketplace, more than 75% of B2B buyers use social media to influence their purchasing decisions. That’s a huge number of professionals looking for insight, recommendations, and reasons to buy from you, which is why you need to get online and promote your company across multiple social media platforms.
Social media marketing is key to leading these buyers to your pages. According to a study by the Social Media Examiner, nearly 90% of marketers contend their social marketing efforts have increased exposure for their business, and 75% say they’ve boosted traffic.
If you’re ready to create a social media strategy that attracts more site traffic and connects with more people, you’ll want to read this white paper. Our seven-step social media marketing plan will take your business from being an online outsider to a social media influencer.
Social media is an important part of our B2B eCommerce strategy. It is essential to use social platforms as a way to attract, engage, and delight customers through storytelling. Increasing our brand awareness and connecting with our audience via social has led to sales and new customers! We also share our culture by showcasing the human side of our organization, and as a recruitment tool for new talent.
Digital Content Specialist, Hill & Markes
Statista reports there are approximately 3.4 billion active social media users worldwide. That’s 45% of the total world population using social networks. While many network on a personal level, a growing number of B2B buyers are also using social media in their daily work lives. Social media keeps them connected with colleagues, organizations, and even their competition. Plus, it acts as a good resource for product information where buyers can read reviews, learn about new product offerings, and check out the latest promotions. Social media provides a pulse of what’s going on in their industry; and best of all, social media sites can be easily accessed from their mobile device at any time of day. Plain and simple: social media is the place to be.
You don’t have to be a social media expert in order to create a boosted online presence for your business – but you do need to follow a social media marketing plan to build a strong brand that will ultimately reap rewards. Social media marketing is more than just posting to a Facebook or LinkedIn page. It’s a unified effort supported by your entire organization, propelled by thought leaders, and managed by a dedicated team of people.
MULTI-STEP PLAN TO SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS
To capitalize on the possibilities a social presence can bring to a B2B organization, we’ve put together a practical course of action for distributors:
- Secure executive buy-in
Before you venture into social media marketing, you must first show your organizational leaders the benefits of social networking. In addition to building more connections, explain that social media can become another extension of your sales channels. It provides another outlet to showcase your products where you can include a hyperlink that takes followers directly to your website’s product pages to transact – essentially turning social media visitors into customers. Make executives aware that social media also helps you manage your brand and reputation by inviting reviews, questions, and other feedback from customers. In a survey by SocialPath Solutions, 83% of customers said they appreciated when a company responded to them on social media and, as a result, were more likely to spend 20 to 40% more with that company. Some people prefer the convenience and less formal method of communicating with businesses via social media. By giving them another avenue to ask questions and provide feedback, your organization can use social networking to deepen your customer relationships and gain new customers. Further secure their support by asking them to contribute content to the cause. Their insight and expertise will result in some great posts and cultivate thought leadership.
- Define your strategy, goals, and players
Once you secure executive support, the next step is to define a strategy with goals and build a team to manage the work. Create a plan with the types and amount of content you want to post, and which areas of your business will be your focus. Put guardrails in place to ensure your posts are always appropriate, unbiased, and relevant to your audience. The content should also align with the goals you create for your efforts. For example, if a goal is to increase your social media following by 20%, consider promotional posts that reward visitors for liking your page. If your goal is to attract and hire great people, share your company vision and values, feature employee success stories, and highlight company perks. To help carry out your social strategy, designate people who can commit to the effort. Specify the duties of each team member to help manage the content and timelines and eliminate any gaps. If you don’t have the budget to hire full-time people for your social media marketing, find existing employees who are not only advocates of social media, but are comfortable posting (or learning how to post) on the different social platforms. Consider investing in social media marketing training to make sure they’re employing best practices. Creativity and a willingness to think outside the box are also beneficial skills for your social media marketing team. You want people who can come up with relevant topics, interesting formats, and fun ideas that will attract followers and promote engagement.
- Create an editorial calendar
To remain strategically aligned and ensure consistent online activity, create and maintain a calendar to plan out the number of posts per social media platform per month, as well as the specific topics and type of content you’ll be producing. In order to reach a wider audience, post your content on multiple platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Build out the calendar for each platform at least three months in advance so you have a well laid-out plan of the campaigns and content themes you want to convey. This gives your business the ability to align messaging with upcoming promotions, new product offerings, events, and more. Cleaning and janitorial distributor Hill & Markes informs and entertains their followers with daily posts on social platforms. From product demonstrations and promotions to industry awards and community involvement, Hill & Markes builds out a robust editorial calendar that’s aligned across channels to leverage the full benefits of digital marketing. A well-planned out content calendar is an important part of any social media marketing strategy and ensures you’re producing a variety of relatable content suited to your audience and customer base.
How can you manage multiple social media channels at one time? Here are some of the more popular tools that exist to help you schedule and manage your social media footprint:
- Sprout Social
- Zoho Social
- Develop content that matters
Fundamental to your success is the content you post. It’s one thing to have a Facebook or LinkedIn page; it’s quite another to produce original content that attracts and engages people on those pages. Social media is a great place to showcase your organization’s new product offerings, promotions and rewards, as well as the latest company news, but it’s also a medium for sharing your expertise and opinions as an industry thought leader. Develop white papers, blog posts, and informative guides to share with buyers, and enlist team members to contribute their knowledge as part of your efforts.
Turtle & Hughes and Bay Fastening Systems both use social media to promote educational content that attracts new buyers.
You can also make your pages a valued resource for industry information by sharing news stories and trends, and alerting readers of government regulations and other compliance rules. Be sure to back up your posts with statistics and references from reliable resources.
North Coast Electric promotes industry news and forecasts via their social media channels.
Just as important, use social media marketing to share the personal side of your business. Promote your organization’s employees, celebrations, and community involvement and show followers there is more to your company than just a bottom line.
Distributors Hill & Markes and Turtle & Hughes both share personal stories about their business on LinkedIn.
For even better results, provide links that take people to content pages on your website where readers can learn more by viewing additional information or relevant pages associated with your post. This tactic not only drives more people to your site, it also boosts engagement on social media. LinkedIn found there’s a 45% average increase in engagement when a post contains a link, a 50% increase in comments when a post contains a question, and a 98% increase in responses when it contains an image.
- Build a video library
Video is a hot commodity in the B2B marketplace. It’s a mobile-friendly medium that can be watched from any device, at the viewer’s convenience. As a result, video is now the most shareable and engaging type of content online. In fact, according to LinkedIn research, members are 20 times more likely to share a video they see on LinkedIn than any other type of post. You don’t need to be a professional videographer to create content that’s social media worthy. Just keep each piece short, maintain a steady camera, and prepare your dialog in advance. Demonstrate to viewers how a product works, showcase the benefits of a new system, and do a little self-promotion at conferences and trade shows. Build up a robust video library on your website and on YouTube, and then share the links to those videos on social media. Electrical distributor McNaughton-McKay has built an expansive video library on their website, offering tech support, product updates, and training in convenient video modules for their customers. By sharing their videos on social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, they’re boosting their brand and driving traffic to their sites – all while educating buyers.
McNaughton-McKay is one of several successful B2B companies who leverage educational videos to get noticed on social channels.
- Join industry-relevant groups and follow influencers
The best way to stay on top of industry news is to keep your ear to the ground on social media. Subject matter experts regularly post new content related to your industry, your products, and your customers. Seek out organizations and industry influencers on social media as a means to network and keep apprised. And, by connecting with reputable groups and people, you’ll be able to share links to their content on your pages, and vice versa.
Don’t forget to engage with other industry thought leaders and groups to help grow your own social media influence.
- Measure your performance
Track and measure your impact on social networks by establishing metrics on key performance indicators (KPIs) for each of your social media objectives. The most common goals of a social media marketing strategy include:
- Expanding brand presence: Check your fan following on different platforms to see if brand mentions and comments have increased to meet established metrics.
- Building positive brand sentiment: Scrutinize brand mentions to evaluate how your brand is viewed by other people. Look for positive and negative mentions.
- Forming partnerships: Track and interact with connections to identify opportunities for future collaborations and partnerships. Check whether your list of potential partners is growing.
- Creating engagement: Keep tabs on how often followers comment on your posts and share them on their own social media channels. Generating followers and likes is much easier than creating true engagement with your content.
- Driving traffic to your website: Monitor visits to your website and identify the channels that drive the most traffic to your site.
Analyze your performance on a regular basis so you can determine if you need to improve or adjust your content, posting frequency, or formats.
Social media doesn’t have to be an arduous task. If you find people who can dedicate the time to create content and drive engagement, the payoff will be deeper customer connections, more website traffic, and an opportunity for more sales. Start implementing our social media marketing action plan today and see what a difference going social can make for your business.
In a survey by SocialPath Solutions, 83% of customers said they appreciated when a company responded to them on social media and, as a result, were more likely to spend 20 to 40% more with that company.
Unilog is a global technology company that delivers powerful, affordable eCommerce solutions for the B2B marketplace. Our cloud-based eCommerce platform and product data enrichment services help distributors, manufacturers, and wholesalers increase online sales, reduce cost to serve, and enhance their digital channel. Unilog is an ISO 9001:2008- and ISO 8000-certified company with North American headquarters outside of Philadelphia, PA and international headquarters in Bangalore, India. For more information, visit www.unilogcorp.com.