SM4B2B? That’s social media for business-to-business, and yes, it absolutely exists. Social media has grown from a person-to-person, or business-to-consumer voice and is now a top channel in any integrated, strategic communications plan. With social media driving brand awareness, boosting your website and company’s SEO rankings, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are tools that cannot be ignored. Ready to get started? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Identify your audience.
Even as a B2B company, remember that you’re talking to a person. There are typically a few folks who weigh in on any purchase decision, so make it a point to know who those people are, what they like, what they’re interested in, and what channels they are on. Once you know who to target, take it a step further by using nominal advertising dollars to target your message so it is seen by those decision makers. By putting some dollars behind key posts, you can be sure that your message is being delivered to the people who need to see it.
Reaching your customers on Facebook.
If your business plans to maintain a Facebook page, it’s important to keep in mind that the platform has evolved into a pay-per-play channel, and you’ll need to invest in “Like” campaigns to grow your following. Additionally, Facebook’s “EdgeRank” algorithm heavily sensors business page content and delivers only about 1% of published content to a fan’s timeline. The lesson here is that your company will need a mix of organic (nonpaid) and sponsored (paid) content. That is, in addition to engaging, incentive-focused organic content, a consistent cadence of promoted posts will guarantee that content will be seen in your fan’s timeline.
Using Twitter correctly and effectively.
Now that you know who your audience is, get your Twitter page up and running. Whereas targeting people on Facebook can be viewed as intrusive (because it’s a lot harder to do as a business page), Twitter makes it easy to find, follow, and engage people in a more professional way. In the beginning, find, follow, and listen to your target audiences and industry thought leaders’ tweets. Jumping in right away without fully understanding your audiences will turn them off. Re-tweet content relevant to your brand or business to get on their radar without a direct introduction.
Think about it like dating. Initially, you need to get to know each other first before you introduce him or her to your parents. So long as you have fun, engaging content, you’ll build a following (see below), but even though the ultimate goal is closing a deal, don’t forget to be human.
Using LinkedIn as a resource.
A strong network on LinkedIn can go a long way toward building relationships between businesses and employees, and businesses and potential customers/clients. B2B marketing is built through word of mouth; therefore having shared connections makes it that much easier to establish new online relationships. Ask customers and clients for reviews and reciprocate. Post blogs and relevant third-party articles a few times weekly to populate your newsfeed. This way, when prospects come to your page, they will see an active, engaged, and referred business.
LinkedIn Answers is a place where your sales team executives and reps can establish authority in your field by answering questions from prospective clients and/or customers. You’ll quickly build online rapport and relationships as you have more discussions. Many businesses have seen success in the form of sales leads after continually engaging in discussion and offering business services via LinkedIn.
Content, content, content.
Similar to the “location, location, location” real estate mantra, content is king online. Until your business has reached an iconic state on social media (i.e., millions of followers), simply posting content about your products and services will only achieve one thing: alienation. We all follow that one person on Facebook who posts about the same stuff over and over. It’s annoying and we probably hide their posts. At Martino Flynn, we generally recommend an 80/20 ratio of content: 20 percent original, branded content and 80 percent other (lifestyle, industry trends, etc.). Ask questions, provide data and insight, create original content like product videos and blogs, and offer incentives. Give your fans a reason to come to your page. Think about the business pages you follow. What gets you to type in those businesses’ name in the search bar to see what they’re up to?
Monitor, measure, and follow up.
Are people responding to your content? Social media monitoring is a full-time job. Not only is staying up to date with what’s being posted everywhere online incredibly important from a content and relevancy perspective, it’s also vital to be in the know on what people are saying about your company, industry, and competitors. Set up alerts using a search engine or media monitoring service, cater your content to what’s popular, and monitor engagement on your social channels. Respond to everyone you can and build those relationships.
Once you’ve figured out a posting and monitoring strategy, set benchmarks to work toward. Using website analytics, you should start to see when your social communications make a difference. Trackable (and shortened links) help to monitor traffic, and ad platform analytics on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will show you what’s working and what isn’t.
Does it still seem like a lot to handle? Martino Flynn’s team of social gurus can help get your social pages up and running, and we have the capacity to fully manage your platforms.