In the first installment of our three part series titled “Building a Social Media Strategy for B2B Brands,” we laid out the reasons why social media is so important for brands. More importantly, we pointed out the potential dangers of not leveraging social media or having a social media plan in place. Namely, what Jim Collins refers to as “Hubris Born of Success.”
The first stage in Collins’ “Five Stages of Decline,” Hubris Born of Success, stipulates that large and successful brands tend to assume whatever they are doing is right and they don’t need to innovate to stay relevant. The risk for brands, in this case, is not understanding and embracing social media as a real tool for marketing. If you haven’t had a chance to read part 1 yet, feel free to check it out here.
In part 2 of this series, we are going to take a deep dive into the best social channels for brands to utilize. More importantly, we will give some solid examples of best practices that you can start using immediately to carry out a successful social media marketing strategy for your B2B brand.
Which Social Channels to Use
Social media is not what it used to be. In years past, social media was the sole jurisdiction of college students – this is no longer the case. What we are seeing today is a proliferation of social channels. What was once a landscape that was owned by Facebook, is now a crowded field with various social networks focusing on niche aspects of social sharing – sites like Pinterest for pictures, Soundcloud for audio, Youtube and Vine for video, Twitter for short form posting, and, of course, LinkedIn for business.
There is one golden truth for all B2B marketers: you must focus on LinkedIn. When LinkedIn came out, it changed the rules of social media for business marketers. It brought together mature, business-minded people and allowed them to engage with each other about relevant topics to their industry.
What better place is there for a B2B marketer to be?
Don’t take it from us, just look at the stats. A recent study conducted by Oktopost found that over 80% of leads generated by B2B marketers on social media came from LinkedIn.
What makes LinkedIn so beneficial for B2B brand marketers is that it’s a place where highly relevant and engaged decision makers spend time conversing with each other and are desperately looking for best practices in their given fields. A B2B brand marketer would do well to focus a large part of his or her efforts on LinkedIn Discussion Groups – you can read more about discussion groups a bit further on in this post.
Here are some general tips for a few of the social channels B2B brand marketers should be posting in:
Facebook was once off limits to businesses. Even after it was opened up to marketers, B2B marketers stayed away. The reason was that most assumed that the demographics of Facebook were not conducive to their marketing efforts. Nowadays, that is no longer the case. You might be surprised to know that the fastest growing demographic within Facebook is actually 55+. That means that serious business people, decision makers, c-suite executives are now spending more time on Facebook.
In order to best reach this audience on Facebook, here are some tips to follow:
1. Have an Active Company Page
So you have a Facebook company page, that’s great. However, if you are not actively updating that page then you might as well not have one at all. That might seem a bit harsh, but when a potential customer does research on your company he or she will check your Facebook page. Imagine that when they get to your page they see that it hasn’t been updated in 6 months – how do you think they will react?
2. High quality banner and profile pictures
Piggy backing on the previous point: your Facebook page reflects on your brand. As such, if you don’t have a high quality image and banner then visitors will view your brand as weak. Additionally, having low quality images on your Facebook page will make it seem that you don't put much effort or resources into social media. Again, this reflects negatively on your brand.
3. Make sure the description of your company is accurate
If your Facebook page is a reflection of your brand, you want to make sure that the description you have listed on your page is accurate. Keep it short and to the point, most people don’t have the attention span to read a long description.
4. Update at least 1-2 times per day
As mentioned earlier, keeping your Facebook page active is extremely important. What’s also important is that you post content that is relevant – don’t just post for the sake of posting. To keep your Facebook page active, you should be posting 1-2 times a day. Any less will make you seem like you have no social media presence, any more will become annoying to your followers.
5. Don’t only promote
Your B2B social media strategy should follow the 80/20 rule. That is, 80% of social posting should be thought-leadership type content, while only 20% of posting should be specifically about your own brand.
6. Engage at every opportunity
Facebook is not just a one way conversation. The greatest benefit of social media, Facebook in particular, is the ability to have a one-on-one conversation with your community. Instead of having someone call a customer support number, they can now comment on a Facebook page and (hopefully) get an immediate response from a company representative. Make sure there is a community manager on hand to respond to these comments in a timely fashion.
7. Ask questions
Getting community members to engage with you on Facebook is no easy task. There are thousands of examples of brand Facebook pages where there are zero comments whatsoever. So how do you get your community to start communicating with you?
Everyone wants to give their opinion, and everyone likes to show that they know the answer to something. By asking questions you will be inviting your community to get engaged in a conversation with you and they will be more likely to appreciate your brand.
Twitter is the great equalizer. Never before has a marketer been able to directly communicate with executives at large companies without having to make an appointment or go through a gatekeeper. Unlike other social networks, Twitter doesn’t require you to be connected with another user in order to engage with them or have them be able to see your tweets.
Some best practices for twitter include:
- 10+ tweets per day
- Curate content
- Identify and engage with thought leaders
- Follow popular hashtags in your industry
- Don’t just promote content
As mentioned earlier, LinkedIn is the most powerful social channel for B2B marketers. Discussion Groups, in particular, are invaluable weapons in a marketer’s tool belt. Not only do Groups allow you to engage with relevant potential customers, they also allow you to establish yourself as a thought-leader and offer a great channel for distribution of content.
When distributing content in Groups, it is important to follow a few simple rules so that you don’t find yourself getting hit with SWAM (Site Wide Automatic Moderation).
Here are some strategies to help you get the most out of LinkedIn Discussion Groups:
- Take part in the discussion; don’t just post your own content.
- Don’t Promote. Even when sharing content, make sure your social post is written in a way where it still provides value to the other members of the group.
- Look at the Group Rules prior to joining. Some Groups have stated rules that members aren’t allowed to share content of any kind.
- Read through posts in the Group and make sure the content you are sharing is really relevant to the other Group members.
- Always ask questions. Even when (especially when) sharing content, the social messaging you use to share said content needs to come off as genuine and non-promotional. The best way to do this is to try to engage the other members into discussing the topic of the content you have shared. Once they are engaged, they are far more likely to click through and read your content.
Stay tuned for the last post in this three part series in which we will discuss how you can leverage your employees to advocate for your company through their own social channels, as well as the types of content you can share through social and how to go about promoting them.