A B2B guide to social media success
A social media framework for B2B companies
There isn't a company today that isn't "doing social media." This clause means different things to different companies. While some companies, especially SaaS ones, are doing a great job at leveraging social media to grow their business, many companies are still in denial. To some, it is to have a Facebook page. To other, more sophisticated ones, it is to have Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages. Reality check – if your social media pages have only a handful of followers, and if more than half of them are just your employees, then you are not “doing social media.”
B2B companies need to take social media as seriously as B2C companies do. They need to recognize that social media can impact every stage of the buyer journey and need to be more than present in all the different ways that they can create such impact. We divide social media into 4 kinds, aligned with the buyer journey.
1. Brand Awareness (Thought Leadership)
It is an urban myth that B2B companies do not need branding. They definitely do. Take commoditized markets such as the ITeS industry for instance. It is very difficult to stand out in such a cut-throat market. When intense competition is driving down margins, it is important to swim against the tide and invest in building a brand as a thought leader. This will lead to more customers, larger accounts and hence better margins.
In order to do this, you need to invest in thought leadership content and then distribute such content appropriately. Social media becomes a great channel to promote thought leadership content in the following ways:
- Sponsored Updates on LinkedIn, Boost Post on Facebook, etc.
- Paid articles in relevant publications (if you are not able to score free articles)
- Requesting shares, retweets and mentions from influencers
- Participating in relevant conversations in relevant forums such as Quora
2. Lead Generation
While all the above branding mechanisms may possibly generate leads for your business, any such leads would be purely incidental as the purpose of those activities is to build a brand. However, there are some other activities that you could do on social media to make it a lead generating channel. Some of them are:
- Event marketing on Twitter for relevant events (this will target audiences who are interested in a specific event)
- Ads with industry- and designation-specific targeting on LinkedIn
- Uploading a list of email addresses and targeting user IDs with these email addresses on Facebook and Twitter
While there are some other opportunities to generate leads, such as participating in relevant communities, you should know that many of these communities could be run by your competitors. If that is the case, they will probably not approve your post and your potential customers will be none the wiser. Unfortunately, most lead generation activity on social media today is through paid channels primarily.
3. Lead Nurturing
One of the best ways to use social media is with re-targeting. Re-targeting is simply a way to reach out to visitors that came to your website but left without giving you their contact information. You could choose to retarget them with a custom frequency cap (for example, not more than twice in a day). This is a highly targeted way of reaching potential customers and staying on top of their mind for brand recall. The only downside to this is that again, unfortunately, this is a paid channel.
4. Lead Conversion
This is primarily applicable to industries with long sales cycles. If you have a visitor on your website, there is a reasonable chance that he is interested in your product or service. Have prominent placement of your social channels on your website and entice these visitors to follow you to get regular industry updates. If the visitor is seriously interested in your offering, there is a fair chance that he would join your community (depends on how compelling your social channel proposition is).
Once the visitor joins your social channel, use your community management calendar to update posts frequently. If these posts are promotional, then he will quickly unfollow your community. The secret is to subtly promote your brand while educating the follower. This will keep your follower engaged in the community, while also promoting your brand.
Social media, if used effectively, can be a great tool to build your brand, generate leads and convert them. This is a vital aspect of digital marketing and should not be neglected by B2B companies. While search is a great way to generate genuine leads with purchase intent, social media is a fantastic platform for building you brand and converting cold leads into hot ones.
(Article courtesy of digitant)