With 2013 underway, there is no doubt that social media is here to stay and needs to become a part of your marketing strategy. “But I’m a B2B marketer, how do I use social media efficiently and successfully?”
Capitalizing on social media marketing opportunities can be difficult without a concrete strategy. One of the biggest challenges in utilizing social media is the scope of it. Facebook alone generates 500 terabytes of data per day, which is considerably more than most companies can manage. Businesses embarking on a social media marketing B2B campaign need to employ specific strategies and exercise the patience necessary to see those efforts come to fruition.
These strategies can be broken down into four primary steps:
1. Identifying the best social media site for your market segment – All social media sites are not created equal. Facebook may boast the largest numbers, but your target market may be going to other places for relevant business-related content. More importantly, many businesses with Facebook profiles invest only a minimum of time on this site. Sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ may provide a larger share of your potential customers.
2. Choose multiple platforms - If your marketing budget can support the multiple financial and human capital investments of focusing on more than one social media platform, you should definitely do so. Since the demographic profile of each site may not be identical, you will want to research which social media sites are most conducive to your industry and lead generation.
(WE SUGGEST: picking at least two to start. Many B2B companies have seen their social media marketing strategy flourish on Twitter and LinkedIn. According to Vocus, “Companies on Twitter get two times the amount of leads per month.” Furthermore, “Linkedin generates more leads than Facebook, Twitter or Blogging for B2B.” )
3. Generate engaging content – Merely being on a social media site isn’t enough. Your company needs to introduce content that is entertaining, intriguing or informative on a regular basis. A significant part of your social media marketing budget should be devoted to producing this type of content and staffing the site for follow up questions. Not only should the quality of the content be high enough to generate enthusiasm, but the update schedule should be frequent enough that customers maintain ongoing interest. If you hit the jackpot of producing viral content that gets propagated throughout the social media-sphere, you will generate an enormous amount of leads, as well.
4. Cultivate relationships – Many companies use the number of followers to determine if they are succeeding on these platforms. Although followers is an important measurement, a more important metric is legitimate engagement, a.k.a. lead generation. Lead generation is enhanced on social media sites by building a strong network of personal relationships. The myriad of human relationships that make up the business community is what drives these social media platforms, and what will ultimately win your company more sales. Time invested in developing substantial relationships may not lead to an immediate bump in profits, but it creates reputational enhancement that leads to brand trust and will eventually lead to more sales.
Social media is an undefined medium at the moment. While many companies have found success on these platforms, many more have foundered. Because social media doesn’t yield the immediate results that a Pay-Per-Click campaign can, many businesses invest more at the front end of the social media campaign and lose enthusiasm at the later stages. If you are crafting or implementing a social media marketing B2B strategy be sure that you are ready to go the distance; it may take months or years for your strategy to bear the juiciest fruit.