Social media is an incredibly important part of any marketing strategy. I know this and you know this, especially if you’re a marketing professional. However, there remains a stigma and (let’s be honest) a general ignorance, amongst executives and other people less familiar with the craft that social media is soft, unnecessary and unquantifiable. This is why, when your boss asks you why you’re investing so much time and resources on these campaigns, you better have an answer, preferably in the form of a social media presentation.
The Importance of Social Media in B2B
Businesses are made up of people and, last I checked, people have been using social media relentlessly for the past ten years or so. B2B businesses have been using these platforms as one of their primary resources across most industries. However, some executives need to be reminded of how important it is from time to time.
A well-designed social media presence increases exposure exponentially, but that is just one of the reasons why every legitimate B2B business is partaking.
Why Use Twitter in B2B
When an executive from a technical or financial background thinks of Twitter, they think about viral videos and celebrities like Kim Kardashian or Donald Trump. When a social media expert thinks about Twitter, it’s about the myriad of opportunities to reach and communicate with any given consumer-base.
Here are 6 reasons why marketers use Twitter in B2B:
- Every target persona is represented: The microblogging service averaged 310 millionmonthly active users in Q1 of 2016 and that doesn’t include users who don’t log in. Amongst those millions of users, you will find your target audience. If you don’t then you probably aren’t looking hard enough.
- Customer Service, Interactions and Relationship-Building: One of the unique perks of Twitter is that an active profile will attract questions, comments and constructive criticism. You don’t have to guess what your customers want; they will tell you. It can also help with customer support, recruiting thought leaders, event promotions, announcements, and brand building.
- Mobile Users: More and more social media is being accessed away from the computer and Twitter is ideal for these types of interactions. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, users spend 85% of their time on Twitter on mobile devices.http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/04/03/data-point-social-networking-is-moving-on-from-the-desktop
- Competitor Comparisons: It also allows you to compare analytics like the amount of followers, interactions, and other types of activity. This enables you to emulate their most successful messaging and content.
- Traffic Generation: Even if that traffic isn’t in your target, the higher numbers will improve your SEO by making your site more authoritative. And, as we all know, better SEO means more leads.
- Globalization: Lastly, Twitter is a global phenomenon. Regarding per capita usage, the United States is only 5th in the world, behind Kuwait, Netherlands, Brunei, and the UK.
Twitter Best Practices
Here are some best practices in case you trust your executives enough to engage with Twitter themselves.
Why Use LinkedIn in B2B
LinkedIn, a social media platform with which the boardroom is probably more comfortable, is the world’s foremost B2B social networking site. It has over 430 million users and statistics suggest that LinkedIn might be the best place for launching new products.
LinkedIn is also ideal for thought leadership, allowing you to share business-related ideas with those in your industry. A great way to build this trust is through sharing interesting and relevant blogs and other content, especially infographics, on the company page. This is known as content curation and is almost as important as sharing your original content, even though (or especially because) it isn’t promotional.
The Value of LinkedIn Groups
Everyone knows and recognizes the significance of LinkedIn in B2B, but the real value in the site is in LinkedIn Groups. These digital professional hangouts are a great opportunity to share your content to your target personas directly.
During your social media presentation, you will want to bring up the importance of being careful with these groups. First of all, in order to gain access, someone in the company will have to request admittance with their personal account.
This means that their real-world reputation is on the line. So, it is imperative that you not be seen as a spammer, which can be challenging, especially if you are using a social media manager like Sprout Social, Hootsuite or HubSpot. You should avoid posting to the same group twice in one day (even if it’s different topics), posting the same messaging to different LinkedIn accounts on the same day (because the membership overlaps very often) and, most importantly, make sure that your posts are relevant to the LinkedIn Group you are using. After all, you don’t want to get your boss kicked out, which can be embarrassing even in the real world.
LinkedIn Groups Best Practices
Even though it is unlikely that the executives will actually post in these groups themselves, it is important that they know how to do it well. After all, it will often be posted under their name, so it is their real-life reputation on the line.
Facebook Isn’t Just for Pictures of Your Friend’s Baby
It seems ages ago that Facebook first went mainstream and was only accessible to college students trying to socialize and share their Spring Break photos. Those days are long gone now and Facebook has become a great place for B2B businesses, in certain markets, to spread the word about their products.
Whether or not your industry is very active on Facebook, having a presence there is usually necessary. The goal is to be visible and active on all major social media platforms, when someone is researching your company. You never know where your next customer is coming from, so you should keep all avenues open.
Facebook Best Practices
The trick to drafting an effective Facebook post is combining the casual nature of twitter, with the timing of LinkedIn. Here are some other helpful tips:
The Other Guys
While Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are the most notorious social media platforms available, it is important to include some that are less obvious in any thorough social media presentation.
Reddit: This platform is perfect for products that deal with IT and web security, because it is mainly frequented by, well… computer nerds. Most ‘redditors’ are anonymous, but are very real people that are often exactly the target persona you’re looking for. However, users of this website are averse to marketers in general and don’t like anyone who’s too promotional. In fact, in order to post in many industry-specific subreddits, you need to have commented in other posts and have established yourself as somewhat authoritative.
Instagram: As a mainly visual medium, Instagram can be great for sharing your brand and its story, with a predominantly younger audience. It can be great for sharing company updates, original content and even short demos. Some say it might be the B2B marketing platform of the future, even if others say it's only good for taking pictures of your food before you eat it.
Google+: Just kidding.
Quora: This is a great place for B2B businesses to go to in order to build brand recognition and learn more about those in their industry. Quora is a platform where people ask and answer questions on all sorts of topics. You can go there and answer a question that is relevant to your field and, if users like it enough, they will trust you and go to your website to learn more. It is also effective for finding out what kinds of problems individuals in your industry are having so that you can solve them or create content around them.
YouTube: The famous video-sharing website has over a billion monthly users and almost one-third of all people on the internet use it. Almost 76% of B2B marketers use YouTube as part of their content marketing strategy. It is best to post short videos (under 2 minutes) with educational content. Basically, treat it like a blog and your viewers will appreciate the free and easily digestible information.
Social Media Tips
Some truths are universal and, as such, here are some final tips that apply to all of the above social media platforms:
- Regularly review your posted messages and repost the most popular ones. This is a simple and quick way to get some clicks. If it worked once, it’ll work again.
- Never take just one message and blast it across all platforms. This can be very harmful and cause you to lose the trust of your followers and, once that trust is lost, it can be near impossible to regain.
- Follow the top influencers in your industry on both LinkedIn and Twitter to see what they are posting about to get a better sense of the type of language they use and what interests your target audience.
- Posts with images almost always outperform those without.
- Always attribute the source, they may repay the favor in the future.
- Lastly, have fun with it and be human. Don’t be too self-promotional and write like you are genuinely interested in helping the reader out.
So, now that you know how to put together the pros and cons to each of these platforms and know the best way to use them, go out there and give that boardroom a social media presentation that they won’t forget!