January 26, 2016: As social media has grown, so has the opportunity for businesses to reach customers and potential customers. In fact, according to the Salesforce 2015 State of Marketing Report, 66% of businesses now have a dedicated social media team. Great news, right!?
Sort of. The problem is that while a whopping number of businesses have a social media team, the majority of them don’t know how to measure their efforts. And of the 95% of B2B marketers who have created corporate social media accounts, half still aren’t regularly active on social media and just 10% feel they are able to articulate the business value of social media efforts.
So, as it turns out, we still have work to do. That’s ok! Social media isn’t something you just do. It takes analysis and strategy, and like everything else in marketing, it must continuously evolve.
As we get into 2016, here are 30 tips to help improve your B2B social media strategy:
I know it probably doesn’t make sense to start a B2B social media strategy post by telling you to think beyond B2B, but as Owen Fuller suggests, we must think beyond just business and think P2P (person to person). We are interacting with humans and we can’t forget that.
One of the most common things we hear from B2B companies is “our audience isn’t on social.” This is most often in relation to platforms like Pinterest or Instagram but, in reality, that’s not always the case. In fact, Kristen Vaughn wrote a post right here on KoMarketing outlining the best B2B Instagram accounts. The point? Be innovative and don’t be afraid to look at what B2C companies are doing.
How do you make better marketing decisions? By using real data. As MarketingProfs points out, “As a B2B social media marketer, you need to back every move with solid data and evidence. Doing so will give credibility to your decisions, reduce the chances of failure, and help you present a clear social media ROI to your board members.”
A huge part of social media is understanding your audience. While typical demographic information like age, location, and education can certainly be helpful, understanding the psychographics can go much further. Michael Brenner suggests searching Subreddits, forums, and blog comments to learn more about your target audience.
If you are an international company, understanding audience demographics for each social platform is even more important. You have to determine where your audience is and decide if your account is going to be global or localized to specific country/location. As Jeffrey Cohen points out, audience location will determine the time of day you share content.
We often find profiles only partially filled out or unrepresentative of the company. As Marketing Insider Group notes, “Each social media site that you use is a brand embassy, and should represent your home country.” In addition, your profile should be optimized for search purposes. Ask yourself: Can people find you?
This may seem like a no brainer but you’d be surprised how many people don’t have one. Knowing what content is being published, what marketing events are occurring (webinars, ebook launches, product updates), and being aware of general company updates can make managing social much easier.
Each social network is different and not every post you write can be conveyed appropriately when shared. Make sure you optimize your content to be shared across each channel, including image optimization, Open Graph tagging, and share buttons.
In reality, this should go without saying but again, easier said than done. Keeping a content calendar and staying in contact with the overall sales and marketing teams can ensure your social media accounts are in line with the company’s marketing efforts.
According a study from TrackMaven, use of the word “please” was found to be an effective CTA, nearly doubling the average number of interactions on a post. Why? Because, as it turns out, sometimes asking people to take an action…works. Figure out the best call to action for your networks and updates.
“To drive people to opt in, create a post that promotes a free webinar or ebook, which someone will receive when they join your email list. Then use audience targeting and Facebook ads to get people to see it and sign up.”
I really love this piece of advice from Social Media Examiner; while they are being specific to Facebook, it can really apply across a variety of social channels.
Being annoying and giving your customers the information they want are two very different things. Social now enables us to get in front of customers when they are looking for information and, in turn, drive them toward our brand/product/service. As Oracle notes, “Just as buyers use social media to learn about you, use the same tools to keep up with them.”
Social media ROI has been, and will continue to be, a challenge for marketers who are driven by last-click attribution models. As Marketo points out, “Revenue might be the result of someone coming to your website because of your super compelling tweet and converting. It could also be the result of a longer term relationship, such as signing up for a newsletter and converting at a much later date after many other interactions.” We must look at how social is impacting other channels and driving interactions.
Customers want to trust you and one way to do that is to show you care. Social media is a great place to highlight customers, showcase members of your community, and put real faces behind the company brand.
I will admit that I have yet to try the two networks mentioned in the post (Blab & Periscope) but I love the concept that they could enable businesses to connect with customers in real-time. SteamFeed suggests using the networks for e-learning, insider views, and even live streaming for contests. The potential for these types of channels is enormous and it’ll be cool to see what companies do in the future.
Who are your company’s best voices? The people who believe in what you’re doing. Employees are often an over-looked asset but they shouldn’t be forgotten. Social enables you to humanize your company and make your employees feel valued; it also gives them an outlet to spread the word about the business.
Do you actually understand how your audience engages on social? Do you understand what they want? Take some time to ask them.
If we go back to our first point, we have to remember that we are talking to humans and, as Sean Chauhan suggests in the post, “getting to what social users feel is important.” It’s the reason why cats and babies do so damn well on the internet!
I’m not suggesting you litter (get it?) your feed with kittens but I am suggesting you know what is important to your audience and what emotional needs they have.
19. Get Personal
One thing that social enables us to do is learn about our customers in a very personal way. We can determine what they like, where they live, what they look like, what food they like, and so much more just by looking at their social profiles. With that in mind, don’t be afraid to get personal and talk to them about things beyond just business.
Telling a story in 140 characters or in a Facebook post that cuts off can be difficult. That’s where images come in. According to Jenna Dougherty, “Imagery provides a great opportunity to illustrate and promote your company’s culture, values, and philosophy and to showcase important events. It’s a great way to promote your firm without becoming too sales-y and shows another dimension to your brand to help set you apart from the competition.”
21. Leverage Video
As shown in Cisco’s Visual Networking Index, by 2019, video will account for 80% of consumer traffic. More and more people are watching videos on their computers and, more importantly, their phones. Video is a fantastic element for social and can be used in a number of ways including sales Q & As, webinars, company culture videos, and more.
Check out PGi’s hilarious trailer for iMeet man:
It’s no secret I like Q&A sites. I’ve talked about Quora in multiple presentations, blog posts, and team training. Why? Because it’s awesome! While Q&A sites aren’t your typical social networks, they provide direct access to potential customer questions and allow you to get in front of your audience. They can also help inform your social content strategy.
Similar to Q&A sites, LinkedIn groups can be information gold mines because they provide direct access to customers, competitors, potential customers, and industry influencers. Find a group that fits your business best and become a presence there.
Under Cover Recruiter points out that one of the values of using social media is to attract talent. In fact, a number of companies have dedicated careers social accounts (example) built just for this. While you may not need a separate account, don’t overlook social when it comes to recruiting.
Social media is an amazing way to connect with conference attendees before, during, and after events. If you are sponsoring or exhibiting, it’s also a fantastic way to drive people to your booth. Know the event hashtag and don’t be afraid to run a small targeted paid campaign. Which is a perfect segue into our next point…
26. Pay to Play
We’ve slowly watched as organic social reach gradually became less and less. And it’s no wonder! In reality, many of us use social media to talk to our friends, find information, and most certainly not have ads thrown in our faces (I’m talking to you Facebook). The reality is if you want your content to play well on social, you’ll probably need to pay. The good news? It’s still relatively low cost.
If you have ever visited a site and then been followed around the internet by that same site, you my friend, have been retargeted.
Retargeting can be a valuable way to stay in front of customers and social retargeting is one of those methods. Facebook is the most popular tool for retargeting but LinkedIn also has a feature.
28. Test Test Test
One of the cool things about social is it moves FAST! If something doesn’t work, go ahead and try something new. But to make better decisions, test different strategies and hypotheses. Test headlines, use of images, hashtags, and more. How we consume information changes and you must adapt.
It’s not enough to just test what you’re doing, you must also take a step back and re-evaluate your strategy. As BrightTalk notes, “Make sure the links included your posts track the number of visits and conversions you get from social. Review on a monthly and/or quarterly basis to determine how the results compare to the investment of time and money you’re spending on executing.”
If you’ve tested, re-evaluated, adjusted your strategy and are still not finding success on a specific social channel, it’s time to stop. We can’t win em all right? Time is money and not everyone has endless resources to spend on something that isn’t working. This isn’t to say to just give up, but to be smart and know when it’s time to shut it down.
Social media can be a valuable asset to any B2B company. Not sure where to start? Take a look at some of these examples:
- 12 Noteworthy Examples of B2B Companies on Instagram
- 12 Examples of B2B Companies Managing Impactful Twitter Profiles
- 10 of the Best B2B Facebook Pages
Have questions on your B2B social media strategy? Don’t hestitate to reach out in the comments or connect with me on Twitter!