When people think of branding, they probably think of popular consumer brands like McDonald’s or Apple. However, marketers know that building brand awareness is just as important, and just as valuable, for a B2B brand. Among Interbrand’s 10 most valuable global brands are Microsoft, Intel, IBM and GE, all of which generate far more B2B revenues than sales to end consumers.
As a B2B marketer looking to build your company’s brand, social media should be a key component. In fact, 83% of B2B marketers invest in social media to increase brand exposure. Utilizing social media allows you to identify your target market, observe their tendencies and join them in conversation, all while building the strength of your brand one campaign at a time.
Here are a few ways you can use social media to help build your B2B brand:
Present a Consistent Face
Identifying the face of your brand is the first step. Once you determine the look and feel you want associated with your brand, make sure to present it consistently across your multiple social networks. B2B marketers use, on average, 6 different social networking platforms. No matter what social media platform you decide to display your brand on, it’s extremely important that your audience feel like they are interacting with the same company. Make sure your name, profile, backgrounds, and overall look and feel of each page be consistent across your multiple social networks. This will serve to strengthen your audience’s association with your brand, rather than confuse and muddle it.
Show Different Sides Of Your Brand
While it’s important for the look, feel and “heart” of your brand to remain uniform across your social networks, that doesn’t mean you should market on each network exactly the same. With every network having its own purpose, protocols, and audience, your social strategy for each should vary based on what is successful on that network. However, even though the messages on each network are different, they should all combine to form on cohesive view of your brand. Like different sides of a cube, each social network can be used to give your audience a slightly different perspective of you and your company.
Many B2B brands are utilizing LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter to showcase their services in a professional way. 40% of B2B buyers say LinkedIn is important when researching technologies and services to purchase and B2B marketers who use Twitter, generate twice as many leads as those who don’t. The campaigns on these social networks are often more formal with the ultimate goal of making business connections and generating leads.
However, it’s important to showcase the lighter side of your brand and the internal culture that drives it. Facebook and Instagram can be an opportunity to do just that. Posting images of your employees having fun at work is a great way to advertise the fun environment you’ve built within your company. If your company looks like an enjoyable place to work, it’s likely that prospective clients will you view you as a fun company to work with.
These are not cut and dry rules for every social network. You may find Facebook is a great lead generation tool and Google+ is a better outlet for your lighter posts. Experiment and measure different approaches for each network.
Set Global Standards For Your Company
As you grow your social media exposure, you may have different departments, employees and even companies representing you online. Before you give every employee in your company control over the messages your brand puts out, it’s best that you set some rules and guidelines. Setting global standards across all of your employees, divisions and networks ensures that no off-brand messages are being created. Social media certainly welcomes spontaneity and real-time posting, but, like any marketing campaign, your social media campaigns must be tailored carefully and delivered precisely.
By setting up these guidelines clearly, you can safely encourage employees to help grow your brand online with their friends and followers. By using a social media management solution that includes employee advocacy tools, you can manage the contributions of all of your employees, across all social media channels. Rather than leaving your employees to match the messages you want to convey, you can save posts in a queue to be used later, so marketers can pre-load messages other divisions can take advantage of. Not only will this encourage your employees and divisions to actually share your brand message, it will give you complete control over what that brand message is.
Integrate With Your Overall Marketing Strategy
Before your social media team can work cohesively to sell your brand on social media, you need to make sure your brand image is consistent across ALL aspects of your overall marketing strategy. This will provide a strong backbone for your overall brand building initiative. Align the campaigns that are currently living within your blog, your website and your advertising efforts with the messages you’re delivering on social media and vice versa. Now that your brand is present in the world of social media, you’re likely to get some valuable feedback. By integrating your social media analytics with other sales and marketing software like marketing automation and CRMs, you can leverage this social information in your other marketing. Take what works, and what doesn’t, and apply your newfound knowledge to the construction of your future campaigns.
Categorize Your Brand
Social networks like Twitter and LinkedIn allow you to join conversations with individuals and brands who share content related to your industry. In order to get your brand found by the right people and involved in the right conversations, be sure to categorize it accurately. Each social network has different methods to categorize your brand, either through specifically defined industries on Facebook and LinkedIn or by adding relevant hashtags to your profile on Twitter and Google+. You can build new relationships quickly and identify your brand as a thought leader with a special interest-based LinkedIn groups, or join ongoing conversations on Twitter by hashtagging keywords relevant to your industry.
Defining and building your brand requires getting it in front of as many of the right people as possible – for an extended period of time. Luckily, social media can offer you a valuable network of people to interact with and help build your B2B brand. The most important thing to stress is consistency. Whether across different posts, networks or marketing channels, presenting a consistent brand image is vital for allowing it to grow and become recognized.
Are you currently using social media to grow your B2B brand? What methods have you found effective? Let us know in the comments below!