To reign supreme, your social media marketing should be just one cog in a larger, well-oiled lead generation, sales and marketing machine.

How To Market Your Business Through Social Media Networks

When it comes to marketing a business, social media can sometimes suck all the oxygen out of the room. For 10 years it has been and remains the “shiny disco ball” of marketing that gets a lot of attention. Because of this, a lot of companies fail to see the forest for the trees and understand how social media should fit into a B2B marketing effort.

Unfortunately for some companys, social media marketing is not always aligned with business and marketing goals.

Social media is the #1 content marketing tactic used by B2B companies as indicated in the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends-North America from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

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Despite the high usage number indicated in the report, there are still B2B companies not using social media or barely using it.

The reasons companies have not embraced social media for marketing often fall into three categories:

  1. They aren’t sure what to do once they’ve set up some social media accounts
  2. They aren’t sure if it’s worth the effort (ROI)
  3. They don’t have time

To address those common issues, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Have a plan. Start developing your social media marketing plan after you have a firm understanding of your company’s revenue goals. Once you have the revenue goals, work backwards to sales goals, lead to conversion ratios, etc. After you have specific lead generation goals for marketing, only then should you start thinking about how social media can help. The primary purpose of social media marketing is to help close sales. That is done by helping to make connections with prospects, bring them to your site and capture a lead. Secondarily, social media should be used to reinforce the relationship you have with your existing customers.

Research your buyer persona. Start backwards from when a sale is made and list the different people (if more than one) who are researching, evaluating and making a decision on buying your product. What prompts them to start looking for a solution like yours? How do they evaluate their options, what are the barriers to buying from you? How do they ultimately decide to buy? Adele Revella’s “5 Rings of Buying Insight™ for Buyer Personas” is a very solid framemwork for researching your buyer personas.

Create content. Publish helpful content for those different buyer personas at each step of the purchase research phase. Think about every question you and your team receive while a prospect is evaluating your product or service. Post the answers on your blog and put more in-depth content (such as eBooks, buyer guides, tip sheets, recorded webinars) behind landing pages to capture their contact information.

Put someone in charge. Assign an employee the responsibility for managing your company’s social media. Task them with staying abreast of the latest developments in social media marketing. Evaluate their performance against specific lead generation goals. Don’t give the responsibility to an already overburdened employee, either. If you do, you’ll revert back to the problem of not having enough time.

Pick the right watering holes. One challenge for companies ramping up their social media efforts is figuring out which social media networks to use. Go back to your buyer personas and determine which ones they use. Pick a few of the top ones and have a meaningful and effective presence. It’s better to be on just a few social media platforms and excel than to do a mediocre job on several.

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Listen and respond. Social media is not a one-way broadcast channel like so many other information distribution pipelines where B2B marketers are accustomed to pushing out their messages. Your customers and prospects will offer feedback and suggestions that can be illuminating and profitable. Also, watch what your competitors are doing to get insights in their social media strategy and their overall business strategy. They’re watching you already.

Be helpful. Share information on social media for which your buyer personas would say “thank you.” Share your own content that is tailored to your buyer personas. But you should share even more information that isn’t yours. This is helpful, but it also positions you as a resource and an expert. This doesn’t mean that you should not occasionally invite your social media followers back to your site to download helpful content. You can and should do that once your followers know, like and trust you.

Be consistent and give it time. Content marketing and social media marketing should be seen as a marathon, not a one-time javelin throw. The social media world is strewn with the detritus of company blogs and social media that were set up amidst great enthusiasm and hope only to be neglected when results didn’t occur almost immediately.

Measure. No amount of traffic from social networks means anything unless a portion of that traffic converts into customers and clients. Once you start to measure the results of your social media marketing, you can “lift and shift fires” and do more of what’s working and less of what’s not working to generate leads, sales and happy customers.

Your turn: What challenges do you face with social media marketing?

photo credit: Mike Licht, via photopin cc