Introducing the Back-to-School B2B Primer Part 1: 8 Techniques That Are Working for B2B Social Media
The high readership and engagement levels of my piece last week on effective B2B lead generation tactics encouraged me to write a mini-series on “What’s Working for B2B”. A lot revolves around back-to-school at this time of the year, so I’ll call this series the Back-to-School B2B Primer. Today I’ll focus on social media as Part One in this series.
We know that social is not easy, it is definitely a complex medium. No matter what the “gurus” may tell you, the fact is that there is no silver bullet to hit your target 100%. Not only that, you have to work at it consistently and without the unrealistic expectation that you can see immediate returns. Let me remind you of the 5 laws of real social ROI.
I quoted this comment before—“think about the social, not about the media”. (Click here to Tweet this!) As B2B marketers, we need to think about how to be social and how to make an impact on the audience that matters. To do that you need to know the basics that go into crafting an effective B2B social media. For all the different media that you plan to use, you need the appropriate tactics and the right tools. How do you incorporate social media into your B2B lead generation strategy? Are you interested in accelerating your demand generation? Download a free copy of The ALEA Demand Generation Playbook.
Here is a Quick List of the B2B Social Media Techniques That Are Working Today
- Start with a social media audit. Do a reality check to see how your brand is perceived across social media channels—is your company seen as the composed, informative, engaging thought leader, or the trendy, flashy, loud, social media chatterbox? Your sales team needs a social showcase of your company’s industry prowess that they can point prospects to. Know where you stand on that front before you go into a social media frenzy trying to gain visibility on any and every channel. An important step in this audit stage is also to define what your overall B2B marketing objectives are and measure how effective your current social media efforts are towards helping to deliver those goals.
- Monitor your competitive landscape on social media. It’s true that social is a very dynamic and fast-paced medium. Experimentation and continuous innovation are essential. Savvy marketers, however, will balance their own efforts with monitoring and watching the competition very closely. By observing what’s working and what’s not for other players in the industry, you can fine tune your own social strategy to minimize effort and maximize results. After all, your target audience is the same as your competitors’, so by studying reactions to what your competitors are doing, you can make better decisions on what your social campaigns should encompass. Once you’ve figured out what works for the competition, all you have to do now is focus on doing the same thing but faster, better and in a more measurable fashion.
- Put in place the right process for handling customer service issues through social media. Due to its innate capability of helping to build and nurture relationships, social media is a useful customer service tool. If you train your customer service teams and they buy into a logical process your organization has defined for handling service issues via social media, you can save time, money and valuable resources.One of the largest container shipping companies in the world, Maersk Line has seen much success by ensuring their employee base of 25,000+ people is on-board with their social media approach. Each call centre employee that could be replaced by a social customer care employee has contributed to the company’s cost savings. An even greater benefit is that many customer service questions are answered by the company’s fans on social media channels. This speaks volumes about the degree of engagement Maersk Line has been able to cultivate.
- Consolidate and strengthen your social media voice. Large, multinational organizations are often challenged by the sheer spread and diversity of the company’s global workforce. Each national or regional unit ends up localizing their go to market strategy, which can be a good thing—it shows decentralization. However, when it comes to social media, the openness of the platform allows too much of free-flowing content at the risk of brand messaging becoming confused, even convoluted. How can you manage and control this to work to your advantage. A recent Marketing Sherpa case study shows how SAP worked to consolidate its global social media strategy and strengthen its social voice across multiple markets. The results of this exercise seem quite impressive based on the facts and figures shared in the case study.
- Focus on social content aimed at value addition and thought leadership. Your target audience is not coming to a garage sale; they don’t have the time. Rather than waste their time with mindless automation tools for social content sharing, build engagement through value-added content, content that offers useful insights and a leader’s perspective on issues concerning the industry. Social media is one of the most useful communication channels available to marketers today because it lets you tell a compelling story without the pressure to sell.Cisco has a web documentary series called The Network Effect. What you see here is not self-serving, brand promotion or sales driven creative videos. Instead, you hear inspiring stories of innovators and inventors who laid the path of Cisco’s network prowess in the industry.
- Enhance your recruitment and talent search with social media. Social channels such as LinkedIn and Google+ are increasingly popular with recruiters and job seekers alike. You can use these channels to ensure you find the right talent and hire capable, qualified individuals who have credible references and recommendations from others in the industry.
- Enable internal social collaboration through increased adoption of functional, efficient channels. Social media activities do not always have to outward facing. Getting your employees to share social collaboration can be very beneficial. What used to be simple employee portals are today being encouraged to thrive on the social network. From sharing and searching for information to feedback gathering, ideation, project management and customer relationship management; all this and more can be achieved through internal social media streamlining.
- Establish at least one major social forum that you can drive and control. One of the biggest drawbacks of social media for organizations is that anyone and everyone is welcome to offering their opinion. This can be a problem, especially when things go wrong and negative social conversations start to go rapidly viral. If your company has at least one B2B social forum, even something as simple as a LinkedIn Group, it gives you the opportunity to drive and manage favourable conversations with your peers, channel partners, customers and prospects.
What are some of the social media techniques that your B2B organization has found useful and effective in recent times? Feel free to add to the list above and do leave me a comment below.
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