Building a B2B Social Media Strategy: Part 1

on December 26, 2015

Building a B2B Social Media Strategy: Part 1

When a B2B marketer thinks of social media, the image of selfies, cute kittens and baby pictures might come to mind. However, social media is not just for kids anymore.

This blog has covered, on many occasions, how important a b2b social media marketing strategy is. Some B2B brands have a token social media intern who does nothing more than retweet articles and update Facebook. For this type of marketer, the metrics they are judged by are often Likes, Retweets, and Followers.

It’s no wonder that B2B brands are often skeptical of social – they aren’t even trying!

Jim Collins

In his seminal book, “How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In,” Jim Collins outlines the “5 Stages of Decline” for large companies. While his research mostly focuses on the decline of large companies in the United States, the first stage the author highlights is incredibly relevant to B2B brands when it comes to social media marketing.

Stage 1: Hubris Born of Success

In this stage, Collins talks about how large companies, blinded by their success, will rest on their laurels and not adapt to the needs of the market. This hubris is the first step in the demise of a company. Similar to Collins’ hypothesis, B2B brands that aren’t embracing the new forms of marketing – namely social media – are simply not adapting and will eventually be overtaken by the competition that has.

If you are a marketer at a B2B brand that isn’t putting enough focus on social media, chances are that you just don’t have the resources to understand how to create a social media marketing plan.

Well, we’re here to help. This post is the first in a three-part series that can be used by B2B brand marketers to set up their B2B social media marketing machine in order to fully maximize the potential of social.

What Are Your Goals And Metrics?

Before getting started, it’s important to define what you are aiming for and how you will measure your success. Goals are the broader desired outcome of your social media efforts, whereas metrics are the way you measure their success.

Here is a breakdown of some B2B social media goals and how they can be measured:

1. Awareness

This can be a somewhat nebulous term. There is no real way to gauge how “aware” the world is of you and your brand. However, with social media, there are a few things you can look at in order to get an understanding of how you are increasing awareness of your brand.

Some key indicators of increased awareness as a result of social media activities include:

2. Engagement

Social media is meant to be social, that’s why engagement is such an essential aspect of social media marketing. So what exactly is engagement in terms of social media? Social media engagement is when a member of your community (or anyone else) takes some sort of action around your social posting. Engagement doesn't just mean comments.

Here are a few things to look at when measuring social media engagement:

3. Lead Generation

For B2B brands, awareness is often not as important as bringing in leads. This point speaks to Collins’ “Hubris of Success.” Large B2B brands will blast out social posts with no particular goals or way to measure them. It’s true that a company like IBM could send out one tweet and it will be retweeted thousands of times, but to what end?

As with all strategies, social media marketing goals must be realistic. Everyone would love to triple their lead database within a month, but chances are that won’t happen. If you are starting from scratch with your social strategy, and have no historical data to look back on, you will have to make an educated guess – educated insofar as you have looked at other companies in your industry and tried to deduce what their social media goals are.

Once your goals are defined, it’s time to understand whom you will be targeting with your social posting.

Who is your Target Audience?

Obviously, most brands are well aware of who their target market is. However, it’s important to note that a target audience on social media may not necessarily be the same as your general target audience. The reason is that you have to understand who is spending time on social media, which social channels they are on, and how they relate to the decision maker in a company.

What to Share

Simply speaking, content marketing is the bread and butter of B2B marketing today. That goes for brands, SMBs, and startups alike. B2B brand marketers should look at social media, first and foremost, as a distribution channel for content. In fact, 87% of B2B marketers already use social media as a content distribution channel. If your company is not leveraging social, you are behind the curve.

The golden rule for content marketing is don’t promote, and the same is true for b2b social media marketing. Share content that provides value to the reader and they will view you as a thought-leader. When it comes time to make a purchasing decision, your brand will be at the top of their mind.

1. Blog Content

A blog is a company’s voice. B2B brands, like all B2B companies, must have an active blog. However, if a blog falls in the forest and no one is there to read it, does it really make a sound?

You can write all the great content in the world, but if you aren’t distributing it correctly then it isn’t going to get the kind of readership it deserves. It doesn’t matter if your company is a Fortune 500, if you aren’t actively pushing your blog content then you are losing out on a larger audience.

2. Gated Content

Gaining leads as a direct result of social posting is a great feat, one way to do it is to share content that can only be accessed by filling in information – ie, gated content.

You can’t just gate any content. It has to be something the reader truly feels that they need to read, watch, or listen to, or else they will miss out on a piece of information that they desperately need for their day-to-day work.

This type of content can include:

When sharing gated content through social, it’s important to make sure you don’t sound promotional. If, for example, you are sharing a link back to a White Paper in a LinkedIn Discussion Group, you will want to craft your messaging in a way that whets the appetite of the reader. One good strategy is to ask a question that relates to the content you are sharing. This will engage the reader in your social post and make it more
likely that they will click through to read your gated content.

3. Content Curation

There are many brands that might not be able to constantly update social media with new content; they simply don't have enough original content on hand. Not to fear, most companies are in the same boat – that is why content curation is such a popular strategy.

B2B Content Curation

Content curation means taking content from an outside source and distributing it through your own social channels. This strategy is not about you taking credit for someone else’s work. What content curation accomplishes is that it establishes your social channels in the mind of your target audience as a resource for valuable information. Whether or not you are the original author of the content, the fact that it is being shared on your channels will associate your brand with the value that the content you have shared brings to the reader. This will further the ultimate goal of keeping you in the top of the mind of your target audience, so that when it comes time to make a purchasing decision your brand will be the first one they think of.

Finding the right content to curate can be a laborious process, but strategies exist to make it easier. Using Google Alerts or setting up an RSS feed are good options, but the most effective tool for a B2B brand to use is Oktopost’s Content Recommendation Engine.

In the next part of this three-part series, we will highlight which social channels are most beneficial for B2B brands and how to best leverage them. Click here to read part 2

Social Media