A decade ago, the idea of social media eventually becoming one of the most powerful marketing tools for any brand was a farfetched one, at best.
A decade ago, the idea of social media eventually becoming one of the most powerful marketing tools for any brand was a farfetched one, at best. I don’t think anyone at the time had any idea that LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, or any of the subsequent social media platforms would become advertising juggernauts.
It’s a combination of a number of factors. A lot of people are saying that social media is an effective marketing tool because everyone’s on social media. While there is some truth to that (in a general sense), I think it’s much more complicated than that.
You see, not everyone is on the same social media platforms. Let’s take LinkedIn, for example. The social networking platform, which was founded over a decade ago, counts industry professionals, Human Resources folks and businessmen among the majority of its over 380 million users. (For more interesting facts and statistics on LinkedIn, as well as its very useful offshoot SlideShare, check out this infographic I put together.)
It comes as no surprise, then, that marketers for B2B businesses do allocate some time and effort on using LinkedIn to build their professional network of contacts and connect with industry leaders and potential customers who are on the social media site. This is despite the fact that lead generation and ROI are still a bit tricky to gauge on social media.
Nevertheless, failing to gear your social media marketing strategy towards maximizing the potential of LinkedIn (and even other platforms that are suitable for B2B businesses, such as Google+ and Twitter) is an opportunity wasted. Similar to my earlier blog post on social media marketing best practices for B2C businesses, I’ve come up with a list of tips on how you can optimize your social media accounts — which, in the case of B2B businesses, is most likely LinkedIn — to attract more leads that would hopefully lead to more conversions for your business.
(The interesting thing here is that, if you think about it, there really isn’t much of a difference between how you should strategize social media marketing for B2B and how you do so for B2C. It’s more in the kind of tactics and the level of interaction required for B2B marketing: deeper, and with a bit more focus on engagement. This is because, as Christina Kerley points out in her blog, business audiences are actually more engaged on social media, by virtue of their very livelihoods.)
Don’t be afraid to mix it up when it comes to your content.
Employ all forms of useful, informative, and engaging content — from case studies and whitepapers, to infographics and blogs, and even videos and livestreams — to attract your audience to the parts of your website that are relevant for lead generation (contact forms, email opt-in lists, and so on).
Your content should be optimized with the right keywords, and your calls to action must be strong and clear.
Use all of your social media channels to distribute your content.
Share your content through your blogs, your social media accounts, your video channels, and even email marketing.
Utilize Q&A forums to develop thought leadership.
Thought leadership is a key area for B2B marketers to focus on, given the nature and typical characteristics of their target audience. Online Q&A platforms such as LinkedIn or Quora present the opportunity to reach out to your target market and provide meaningful answers to questions about your industry, which can help you establish a reputation as a trustworthy and reliable source of information (and thus, someone your audience can count on to deliver effective solutions to business problems).
Become part of the community.
Don’t forget to put the “social” in social media — make connections with your professional contacts or with people within the same field or with the same interests. It’s not enough to just join relevant groups left and right, though; do your best to provide value by being a helpful member of the online community whenever you can.
Keep your LinkedIn status up to date.
Ask interesting questions about your industry or post relevant updates. These are displayed on your profile and sent to your contacts through email, which keeps your visibility up and creates avenues for you to communicate with your audience.
Organizing a webinar event? Promote it on social media.
Obviously, this raises awareness about your webinar (or any other event) and drums up interest. This way, people who might be interested in what you have to say about a particular topic will be encouraged to sign up. Don’t forget to link to your registration page, of course!
Try to connect with your customers’ contacts on LinkedIn, too.
One of the ways to do this is to ask for a personal introduction to one of their own contacts — however, this is only likely to work if you’ve been successfully providing reliable, high quality service to your contact or addressing one of their important needs. Remember that successful B2B marketing greatly hinges on the size and quality of your own network.
Be more attentive and responsive.
Choose keywords that are relevant to your brand and monitor them carefully, paying close attention to any important conversations and taking note of related keywords and trends you can utilize.
You can then participate in them via a carefully crafted message that offers useful content (perhaps an eBook or a case study) to get your audience to sign up.
All in all, B2B social media marketing is all about making the right connections with the right folks, getting them to consume your content and engage with you, and making them realize the unique value and services that only you can provide.
Looking past the specifics of your target audience, the lesson remains the same, whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn — social media platforms are indispensable tools in marketing, and can take your business to new heights with the right guidance and a solid strategy.
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.