A recent survey by Marketing Pilgrim found that over 90% of B2B decision makers use social media somewhere in their buying process.
Advertising and marketing associations are seeing marketers catching on to this trend and now social media is part of their marketing mix.
In surveys by GroupM and coMscore it’s become apparent that the impact social media is having on brand search is significant, so it goes without saying that social media is now a serious part of a buyers research and a suppliers marketing activity.
So why is it then that B2B companies are still finding it difficult to demonstrate results ?
Well, a large part of the problem has been the inherent difficulty associated with measuring the return on marketing investments at a suitable level of detail, as well as knowing exactly who is actually responsible for social media activity, whether its customer service, marketing or PR departments. Nobody seems to be quite clear.
After some research the biggest gap however seems to be a lack of experience or knowledge in deploying effective social media strategies, born out in Marketing Sherpa’s social media marketing and PR benchmark survey 2008.
In summary it showed that 60% of staff consider themselves as “knowledgeable” even though they’ve never used or done any form of social media marketing or PR before. Misplaced confidence or even assumed ability is a sure fire way to get your project relegated to the pile of marketing failures.
So, if you want to side step any disasters and replace “hope” as your only guide, then these 8 B2B Social Media Marketing Tips that will help you put your social media activity on the right path.
Avoid Using Social Media As A Direct Response Vehicle
Unlike their consumer counterparts B2B tends to be less impulsive or price-sensitive so “deals” or “specials” just don’t work so well. When it comes to B2B, social media is about interaction and knowledge sharing. Hard selling will get you ignored at best and hated at worst.
Do Your Research And Strategize Before Executing
Social media is about building relationships and that takes time. Think about who you want to engage and where they hang out because you’re going to have to spend some time there before things will start to happen. Spend time understanding the social media landscape surrounding your business before you start making any kinds of waves.
Plan For Long Term Development Just Like Your Business
Don’t expect immediate results or large numbers of readers or followers over-night, unless of course you game the system which means you’ve got a lot of irrelevant people that will be inactive around your content. Those B2B companies that actually generate a return from their activity established a clear strategy and adjusted it as results came in and sustained this activity over a committed period.
Don’t Be Boring And Take A Stand For Your Audience
Business can be pretty boring at times and if all you do is talk about your business, its messages and how great you think you are, then people will switch off, just like the boring person at that party you ran into the other night. Social media is about listening first, understanding second and responding by adding value lastly. Spread references to your own content in amongst other content sources which support your response and most of all deliver relevant and timely information.
Get Your Content Out There And Share It
Somebody once said “build it and they will come”. They won’t though unless somebody tells them about it. Your content is no different. Unless you share and distribute it on-line to make others aware of it and allow them to amplify it by sharing it further, you may as well not have bothered to writ it in the first place. RSS feeds are a great way to distribute content on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn and great place to share and exchange content within the context of meaningful debate.
Be Consistent Across Social Media
Anybody that has a market or customer facing role will probably have a social media profile of some form or other. There is nothing worse than seeing photos that don’t represent an individual in the context of their involvement in a business. Profile photo’s and messages on B2B social media sites should support the companies and allow for a little bit of individualism and creativity without distancing them from their customers and stake holders or the company they work for.
Make Sure You Track And Monitor Activity
Social media is like word of mouth online. People can spread your message or take it to task and challenge it. It’s impossible to try and control every conversation, much better to help shape and direct them or at worst be seen to be listening and taking an interest. Monitoring your social media land scape is an important task, in order to understand what people are saying about your business as well as its products or services and for you to thank your fans and deal with critics.
Build Your Social Media Activity As Part Of A Bigger Marketing Plan
Like your website, PR and online advertising, social media is not a separate or disconnected part of your marketing activity. In fact these different online marketing channels actually impact each other increasing the value of each by leveraging and compounding returns. Email signatures link to website and social media profiles as do press releases, articles and videos.
Building specific microsites can also help to increase cross linking and rank by providing better information management and relevancy. The bottom line is that each will raise the power of the other and in turn maximise the return from your online marketing presence.
So, with a little thought and planning you can put your social media strategy for B2B on safer trajectories.