Setting Your Social Media Strategy for 2016
The world of B2B social media marketing is always changing. And the basics of good modern marketing—such as engagement, consistency, and strong customer relationships—will stay the same.
Looking ahead to 2016, how should the B2B marketer balance that tension?
The answer will look different for every B2B firm, but it will always encompass planning ahead. Setting expectations now for your 2016 social media outreach not only acknowledges the importance of your presence on outlets such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook—it will help cement your brand’s place as a market leader. As your company develops, and new products and services are built under your brand’s umbrella, you can and should act now to make sure your social presence reflects and bolsters your initiatives in the New Year.
Here, we’ll discuss a roadmap for building your social media strategy for 2016.
Review aspects of your B2B social strategy that are currently working
It’s not only refreshing—it’s critical in your B2B marketing to “accentuate the positive” and take stock of your successes.
In large part, what worked in your social media interactions with leads and consumers in 2015 will continue to work in 2016, even as industries, social networks, and marketing strategies continue to evolve. Part of reviewing what’s worked is assessing how you can further develop those relationships and ensure that they’ll stand the test of time.
Here’s some specific aspects of your 2015 social media marketing initiatives to look at:
- What social networks have worked the best. Perhaps you, like 94% of B2B marketers, found LinkedIn most promising for discovering a vibrant community of interested prospects. Or, it might be that you’ve created a flourishing Facebook presence where prospects are constantly liking, sharing, and commenting on your social posts. Identifying the best social outlets for your brand will be key to choosing the ones to focus on in 2016.
- What features of your best-performing social networks have been the most successful. Have you created (or joined) an impassioned Google+ Community where prospects are happily learning more and more of what you have to offer? Have you sparked great conversations through Twitter Retweets and hashtags? It’s important to look at specific parts of your social presence that have yielded the best returns for your brand visibility.
- What tone and style of content works best. Some B2B marketers find that prospects relate well to a formal, no-nonsense tone. Others have found (contrary to many expectations) that an engaging, friendly, and even fun tone has worked for them over the course of the year. Look carefully what tone resonates the most with current customers and draws the most leads into your fold. The types of visual media you’ve used, including images and video, are also important to consider here.
- What times were optimal for social posts. Aside from the statistically-determined best times to post social content, every business has its own “sweet spot” for reaching interested prospects via social. Think about the social media habits of the customers you typically find, and when you’ve most successfully created connections.
By looking at the specific social tactics that have yielded the best ROI, you’ll have a great idea of what to implement—and even, some ways you can experiment—in the new year.
Review company direction
With 2016 right around the corner, it’s a good time for B2B marketers to review the direction of their companies as a whole, and communicate with all interested parties about future directions.
The ideal situation is one in which everyone in the company—from entry-level marketing staff to C-level executives—are on the same page. With a united front and a well-informed staff, there will be fewer instances of ambivalence or surprise roadblocks when setting out to achieve marketing goals, especially given the newness and uncertainties that are part and parcel of social media ventures.
Here are some ways that B2B marketing departments can be instrumental in creating cohesion around a brand’s social media marketing in the new year:
- Meet with company executives to review goals and directions. A successful B2B firm is one that’s growing and expanding, reassuring customers and shareholders alike—and C-level executives bear a large part of that burden. Marketers should be firmly grounded in understanding future directions from senior management. Marketers who are the most fully-informed about upcoming products and new market segments will be the most capable captains of social media quests.
- Based on what’s worked, make a case for specific social media initiatives that are “sure bets” going forward. After identifying specific social networks, tactics, and content types that have worked over the past year, marketers are in a great position to lobby for the continuation of what’s worked. Now is a great time for B2B marketers to take stock of standout insights from their social media analytics, and communicate with CFOs and other relevant parties about social strategies that have significantly enhanced marketing ROI over the past year.
- Identify human resources needed in 2016. Now is the time to assess what marketing talent you have on hand, and what talent you might want to add. Social sellers will be extremely important to your 2016 strategy, so make sure you have capable managers or staff members responsible for it, depending on the complexity and size of your social outreach. You’ll want to review the talents of your content creators and re-delegate tasks accordingly, and you might want to consider hiring new talent or working with agencies. Also think of the graphic design professionals in your team or network, and how visual content will square with 2016 branding goals.
A thriving B2B firm could never be described as a “house divided.” Your company should be a cohesive unit striving for the same goals—and B2B social marketers will have an increasingly essential role to play in creating that reality as time goes on.
Implement changes in your B2B social approach where necessary
The power and promise of B2B social media marketing is most clearly realized in a solid plan. After reviewing the most successful initiatives and assessing all needs with company staff, it’s time to put a plan in place that will ensure greater brand visibility and lead generation in your 2016 social endeavors.
- First, revisit and update your buyer personas. Consumer behavior is predictable in many ways, but big shifts can still happen. As a B2B marketer, it’s important to stay on top of industry news through blogs, mastermind groups, and events in your industry. While there, take note of your potential customers’ thoughts, changing business demographics, and personal interests.
- Do more social listening. Keeping your ear to the ground will be essential in differentiating your marketing efforts in 2016. It might be that your prospects will migrate to different types of products. Or, there might be a change in the types of books, blogs, and whitepapers they read. To stay ahead, do your due diligence in social listening, and where there’s an opening, be a part of the conversation. By picking your prospects’ brains, you’ll create social content that anticipates their needs and involves them in your brand story.
- Create a new content calendar. It’s time to think about how your content will stay competitive. If your company is engaged in rebranding or developing new products, it’s a chance to brainstorm new, creative ways you might reach new markets or market segments via social. And creative is a key word: think of new media, such as podcasts, videos, webinars, and even various types of social media ads that will drive forward your market reach in 2016.
- Revisit KPIs and continue monitoring. It will always be true: you’ll have to stay on top of the numbers to make sure your social media marketing is on target. But be flexible. Think of important KPIs you may not have focused on in the past, such as reach, web traffic, and conversion rate per specific social network or tactic. The best social media management platform will be your partner in both managing social campaigns and measuring ROI every step along the way.
The new year will present many new complexities and challenges in B2B social. But as 2015 draws to a close, a level-headed consideration of your social campaigns will prepare you to face your evolving marketing ventures with confidence.
Let us know your thoughts about B2B marketing as we head into 2016!
Cover image via @Peter Dutton