For many B2B organizations, the question of how best to market themselves on social networks is a key one.
When social media first came on the scene, it was mostly thought of as a tool that could be used to reach a mass audience. Many businesses ended up learning the hard way that if they were to use it successfully, communication via such channels needed to be a two-way street.
LinkedIn was a gamechanger for businesses. Not least of which because of its impact on recruitment, but also thanks to the role it has taken as an important lead generation tool.
Today B2B sales and marketing teams are still getting to grips with how best to utilize social media to help them land more sales. And it’s about more than just being able to produce a comprehensive B2B social media lead generation strategy. That’s just the start. Getting the full team on board and driving positive ROI are also important elements that need consideration.
Here, we’re going to take a look at the broader issue and will be offering some expert advice on how best to approach the whole B2B social selling game.
Why should you invest in a social media campaign and strategy?
Consumer behavior is changing rapidly. We’re all now used to using smart phones and other gadgets on a daily basis, to search for information through various channels.
We’re surrounded by information all the time – and this isn’t just true for end consumers. B2B buyers are people too, who are likely to be engaging with social media in one way or another.
The goals teams set for using social media as part of their overall marketing and sales strategies will differ, but whether you want to generate leads or simply maintain a presence, you need to have a solid social media lead generation plan worked out.
75% of B2B buyers are influenced by information they have found on social networks. So, the question to ask yourself is – are they finding your information, or your competitor’s?
The role of social media for the B2B buyer cannot be ignored, so if you haven’t already put a plan into action, it’s time to act.
What is a good B2B social media strategy for getting sales?
If you have an active sales force with ambitious targets, then spending time on social media may at first seem counterproductive. But it can bring great results if used well.
The biggest mistake most B2B companies make is to go for the sale directly. But that approach simply doesn’t work. Even if the prospect is the perfect fit and you’ve got the perfect solution for their problems, direct selling in this environment will turn them off.
But if you’re not using social sites to sell, then they’re just a waste of time, right?
The best B2B social media strategy to have is one that:
- Acknowledges who your buyers are
- Where you can find them
- How they want to be talked to
Almost all buyers will do extensive online research before talking to a sales person directly. If they can’t find much online, then they will most likely pass your company by and check out a competitor who has a bigger online presence.
It’s a crude example, but if your target buyers use Facebook and happen to love cat photos, then that’s your way in. You know where you’ll find them and now have a way to engage with them that will certainly get their attention!
A great strategy for any B2B sales organization to follow on social media should contain:
1. Well written and filled out profiles
2. A plan for which social platforms will be used actively, which will be used re-actively, and which not at all
3. The person(s) who will be responsible for adding content, engaging with the audience and generally being the bridge between the outside world and the company
4. Objectives and goals
5. Ways to get buy-in and involvement internally from the rest of the team
6. High quality content
Before we go into a bit more detail about each of these points, here’s a link to a great article you may want to bookmark and read later on – putting together a social media game plan.
This is how you are presenting yourself to the rest of the world. It should give an impression of what your company is like and the type of people who work for you.
People like to do business with people and social media is the perfect tool to promote the personal side of your company. It can give prospects a peek behind the corporate brand wall.
Your social media profiles are what will help bring people to your website and can also help keep your existing contacts engaged with you. They are a bit like a permanent online market stall that’s showing off the social, human side of your company.
Which social platforms should you use?
There are hundreds of platforms out there to choose from, some of the largest and most popular being Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. The question is, which ones are going to be best for you to use actively?
For B2B organizations, LinkedIn generally makes the most sense and is becoming a must have. Using the Sales Navigator function, anyone involved in sales can turn it into a powerful lead generation tool. Especially when it is combined with other outreach programs, such as Lead Forensics, which can tell you exactly who is on your website right now. Check out our blog how to use LinkedIn to generate leads for more great advice on this.
The less obvious choice for B2B organizations is Facebook, but B2B companies can have huge success engaging with an audience here, particularly when using retargeting.
Again, it’s important to stress the fact that on Facebook – like any other social site – nobody wants to be sold to.
Twitter, while having far fewer users, is still very popular. And if the audience you want to reach is on Twitter, then you should be too. Or at the very least, consider using it to help enhance your SEO efforts.
As well as the main platforms, there are hundreds of smaller niche social networks which could be perfect for you. Start by looking for groups and communities where people come together to discuss specific topics that relate to your business.
One thing to think about when you’re considering platforms is which you will actively manage, and which you will simply have a presence on and only react when you need to. For example, you might be active and going for engagement on LinkedIn, making use of all its tools, while you only keep a low profile on Twitter, simply monitoring it for mentions.
Who will manage your social media?
The next important question is who will be responsible for creating and maintaining your social presence, as well as actively pursuing a strategic approach – such as lead generation.
If you’re serious about using social media marketing to the full (and you should be) you need to have at least one dedicated in-house person who is responsible for it.
You may start off with the help of an agency, who can get things off the ground for you and help you handle the steep learning curve. But it will always work best and most effectively with an inhouse person at the center of the process. This is an issue we discuss in more detail in our thoughts on outsourcing social media article.
Objectives and goals
Lots of the blog posts we’ve already signposted throughout this piece have some great advice on goal setting. Make sure you start by asking ‘why’ – why do you want to use social media? What do you want to achieve?
Make sure you set goals and know how you’re going to track and measure your success in relation to them. What do you need to put in place from the start to ensure this happens?
Whilst direct selling doesn’t work well on social media, building and engaging with a target audience does. This is where your aims should lie.
It’s a team effort
One challenge that’s traditionally been faced by sales-focused organizations is getting buy-in from everyone in the company and their active involvement.
Yes, you can put standalone campaigns together and run them via your social channels. But what will make them work even better is for you to be consistently active and to build engagement over time. Not just when there’s a new product launch, for example.
Social media marketing and content marketing go hand in hand. The information that sits at the heart of the content, shaping and informing it, needs to come from the wider team. It’s their expertise and the experience they have with customers that will help you create high quality content that the target audience will find interesting and relevant.
To achieve this, you firstly need to get team buy-in.
Simply sending out an internal memo saying you’re now on social media and asking for support isn’t going to do anything. It’s just not enough.
The best way to get employees involved is to hold an internal workshop where you educate them on exactly what the company is doing on social media, why and the role that everyone within the company has to play in its success.
At the other end of the scale you also sometimes get organizations that have control issues. If every single tweet needs to be approved by three departments before it can be posted, you’re going to have a problem. Work on resolving that process before you get started so you give yourself a fighting chance of success.
You need to be producing and sharing engaging content, if you’re to make an impact. But it can be easier said than done – especially if you work in a more mundane B2B industry.
If you haven’t done any kind of content production yet, other than perhaps for advertising, then it’s a good idea to engage the help of an agency (or at the very least a freelancer) to help you get the ball rolling.
High quality content relies on you finding the right message and the right voice with which to deliver it. Firstly, you need to be clear what the story is you’re trying to tell.
Another aspect is quality control. Always let at least two people check text and visuals before they are shared online. Work with a professional who knows how to create appealing content.
Tracking your social media strategy
To make the most of any social media strategy, you need to ensure appropriate tracking and reporting is in place- especially if you’re putting budget into getting more from social. Tracking allows you to discover and define ROI gained, whilst also proving what techniques work best for your audience. What content engages them most? Tracking can tell you.
For optimum tracking, you of course need the best tools for the job. As social media technology advances and the way businesses use it to promote new sales opportunities widens, so do the tools available to boost social media use and performance.
Check out Top social media monitoring tools and when you may need them to learn more about what tools B2B sales and marketing teams are using to master their social media results. You can manage your social campaigns and gain insights into traffic sources amongst other useful data but the value in social media tracking lies in attribution. Understanding the characteristics of your visitors from social networking sites gives you powerful insights.
With Lead Forensics IP tracking software you can identify the businesses visiting your site, which pages they viewed and the traffic source. Other useful data includes: company name, telephone number, address, turnover and industry. The information gained from Lead Forensics can be used to qualify leads for your sales team to convert and also to identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities with existing customers. Why not book your free demo today?
Getting stuck in
Any comprehensive and well thought through B2B social media strategy and marketing plan will contain many moving parts. Getting it right isn’t always easy and it certainly takes a lot of trial and error to find the right voice and content to share. But if you work at and start engaging effectively with your target audience, you’ll soon reap the rewards and will see your bottom line increase.
We’ve compiled a whole list of 32 tips on how to improve your social media strategy – so there can be no excuse! It’s time to get social.