By Jorie Mark, Senior Director of Content
Fashionista influencers and toilet paper Twitter humor have their place in social media, but business-to-business (B2B) marketing is entitled to its piece of the social media pie, too. In fact, interacting with decision makers through social media content is one of the most effective ways to acquire qualified leads. In a universe of white papers and RFPs, however, switching into emoji mode can feel somewhat awkward. Here are five ways B2B marketers can slay social media.
1. Elevate Your Content
A 2016 trends report from Content Marketing Institute found that 72% of B2B marketers continue to be heavily focused on creating engaging content. Why? You’ve heard it before and we’ll say it again: Content is king. Of course, it’s not enough just to create more social media content. You must develop a healthy mix of promotional posts and informational features – the latter, especially.
As Social Media Today pointed out, “through an effective thought leadership program, you can build brand equity, and consumers and other businesses will end up looking to you for answers, and will trust what you have to say. “
So go ahead and write those white papers and blogs. But before you share them on social media, make sure they offer thought leadership that helps your prospective customers better navigate their industry. They shouldn’t be a sell sheet in a white paper’s clothing. They also can’t be shared in their natural long form. On social media, informative content must be cut down for readability’s sake. In fact, keeping all of your social posts short and sweet is much more effective.
2. Be Human
To quote our agency president Maria Harrison, “People do business with people they know, trust and like.” That’s why you should use social media to show the human side of your company. Photos of your employees having a little fun at happy hour or participating in a 5K charity run offer prospective customers a glimpse into their future business partners. This tactic even touches existing customers by fortifying the brand values that drew them to you in the first place.
There’s also the chance that your employees will share these human interest stories on their own social media profiles. This form of employee advocacy offers exponential benefits to your brand. When Hershey implemented a formal employee advocacy program, they received four times more page followers and three times more page views on LinkedIn. This was because their employees shared 13 times more often, thereby amplifying the brand’s message and social media presence. Being human pays off.
While showing that personal side, though, continue to follow B2B social media best practices. The nature of social media allows people to let loose a little bit, but media intelligence platform Meltwater offers this piece of advice: “Be sure to establish guidelines when it comes to sharing humor on social media.” There’s a fine line between being funny and offending your audience. This doesn’t just apply to humor. Anytime you’re sharing an honest, behind-the-scenes preview of your company, review it with a few different lenses before pushing it to the public.
3. Focus on the Target
Successful B2B social media campaigns speak to the appropriate audience. If your social content is carefully crafted to reach VPs of widget factories, but the only people who are actually reading it are your colleagues and their spouses, you’re not going to see many valuable leads come from your efforts. Social media targeting is critical.
The only catch is you can’t talk to the right people if you don’t know who they are. That’s why you need to analyze your audience. Partner with your digital agency to dive deep on audience profiles, looking at their top interests, household income, occupation, buying styles, whether they own a home or rent and much more. With this kind of insight, you can cater your B2B social media content to different segments.
4. Spread the Love (or Likes)
Social media isn’t just a platform for businesses to talk about their products or services. It’s first and foremost “social” before it’s “media.” Being social requires engaging with, listening to and supporting your current and prospective customers. At the heart of it all, people just want to feel valued and understood.
If this sounds a lot like a marriage, that’s because it’s not far off. The same way you would build a brand-agency relationship or commit to your spouse is how you should approach your B2B social media marketing. In other words, talk to them and never, ever take them for granted. This means liking and commenting on customers’ posts. Follow the people and hashtags they follow, as well as other relevant trends in your industry.
Also, don’t be afraid to spark conversations. Sprout Social says: “Social media is all about conversing and being able to have real-time conversations.” Being an active participant on their social channels not only reinforces your customers’ affinity to your brand, but also gives you exposure to industry leaders who are otherwise inaccessible.
5. Leverage Influencers
You know influencer marketing works for consumer products; several studies back it up. Nielsen Catalina Solutions, for instance, found that content from influencers provided 11 times higher ROI than the average display ad after 12 months. But this credibility factor is also beneficial for B2Bs. Marketing Land suggests that these trusted third parties are the most effective way to overcome skepticism from B2B decision-makers. After all, these are well-educated, time-constrained individuals. It can be exceptionally difficult to break their marketing-resistant exteriors.
If you’re having trouble imagining your CEO being swayed by someone who is “Insta-fabulous,” let’s take a moment to reframe what we mean when we use the word “influencer.” This term isn’t reserved for Instagram stars showing the world how to perfect a cat-eye with Cover Girl cosmetics or the YouTuber powerlifting with his favorite sports nutrition sponsor. B2B influencers are your industry experts. They have opinions and they like to share them by creating content. Other important factors to consider include the size of their audience and how far their message resonates on your preferred social media platform.
LinkedIn, for one, is crawling with productivity and empowerment gurus, who could be a good fit for your business. Since 63% of marketers rated LinkedIn as the most effective B2B social media platform, that may be a good place to start. You may also consider calling on an agency partner to streamline the process. After all, influencer marketing can be a time-consuming and largely manual process.
Let Bullseye Strategy ease some of your workload. Our experienced strategists will ramp up your B2B social media marketing in no time, so all you have to worry about is what to do with the influx of new leads. Give us a call today to get started.