If you’re a B2B business, there’s a good chance you’ve been neglecting social media as part of their marketing plan. Why? Maybe you think it doesn’t apply to you. After all, you’re in the professional world — the bright colors and clever catch phrases of social media are for appealing to individual consumers.
But what people tend to forget is that at both ends of any B2B transaction is a normal human person, subject to the same marketing strategies as for any B2C customer. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that social media is more important in the B2B world than in B2C. Your business has a smaller customer base, a higher price point, and a sales funnel that’s more strongly influenced by reputation and word of mouth than most.
Of course, there are differences between a B2C and a B2B social campaign — but at its core, the goals and strategies will be the same. You’ll think about why your company should be involved in social media, who you’re talking to, how you’re talking to them, where in the buying cycle you’re likely to reach them, and how you’ll measure the KPIs that determine whether your efforts are successful. Here’s how to get started.
Find an Interesting Angle
B2B marketing is boring. It’s just a list of the features of your product, drily laid out so that people can make objective comparisons of all the options before coming to a decision. At least, that’s the stereotype, and frankly, we got bored just reading that previous sentence.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Remember, B2B marketing is the same as B2C marketing in that it’s helping you fulfill a need. Fulfilling a need makes people’s lives easier. That’s your interesting angle.
For example, let’s say you make data backup software for small businesses. You could talk about how many terabytes you offer and at what price point, the encryption technology you use to keep everyone’s data safe, and the various recovery methods that are available to your clients.
But why do people really buy your products? So that when something bad happens, they don’t lose any of their hard-earned work. They don’t have to worry about natural disasters, power outages, or hackers that might hold their data hostage. You’re not selling server space, you’re selling peace of mind and the ability to conduct business without stress or worry. That’s your angle.
Use a Real Face
The whole point of finding your most interesting angle is to make your business appeal to real people — the people who are making purchasing decisions at the other end of every lead. While you’re at it, it’s important not to be a corporate monolith. You need to humanize your company to make it easier to communicate with your prospective customers.
Use a first-person voice when you communicate with people. Whether you’re answering social media comments, writing blogs, adding copy to your web page, or otherwise engaging with your customers, first-person writing will make you much more relatable. No one wants to get an email saying, “The Company is happy to welcome you to our business.” It just feels robotic.
Focus on the Right Talents
When B2B companies hire internal social media professionals to manage their outreach, they usually make one of a few mistakes. The first is to hire in-house in the first place — obviously, we can’t be objective here, but we think that an agency will always provide a better bang for your marketing buck than hiring in-house, unless you’re a large enough business that you can effectively hire your own agency. But there are other ways that many businesses go astray:
- Hiring someone who’s experienced in the product and the industry, but not in social media. It’s great if the person handling your social media is also well-versed in your product, but it’s much more important that you find someone who knows all the ins and outs of social media.
- Hiring someone simply to execute social media functions. It doesn’t take any skill to post to Facebook twice a day. What takes talent is knowing whether to post twice a day or twice a week — and why. It takes skills to know what to post, how to make sure all your posts are unified, how to create a voice, and how to shape your company’s outward identity.
- Focusing too narrowly on leads. You can’t just wade into the social media environment and expect to generate leads. The goal of any social media campaign is to create engagement and a presence on the web — leads will follow naturally when you start to make yourself known.
Use LinkedIn to Your Advantage
Everyone is on LinkedIn. According to the Content Marketing Institute, fully 97 percent of B2B companies have made an effort to establish a presence on the platform, and you need to be there too. Why is LinkedIn such a popular choice for B2B? Because it’s all about lead generation.
The goal of social media campaigns isn’t just to generate traffic — it’s to generate the right kind of traffic. Too many companies try to piggyback on any trend that’s sweeping the web at that moment, but increased traffic to your social profiles or website isn’t doing you any good if those people aren’t interested in what you’re doing.
LinkedIn is more focused than most social media. It’s not about meals, babies, and vacations — it’s about business people interacting. If you run a LinkedIn campaign properly, you’re guaranteed to find people who are working in the right industries, interested in your business, and motivated to pursue what you’re offering.
Lean on Your Content
Finally, remember that social media is just a vehicle to drive traffic to the rest of the content you produce. You need a foundation of strong, consistently produced, relevant, and useful content to support any marketing efforts you undergo. If you’re truly focused on meeting your customers’ needs, solving their problems, and making their lives easier, your content will be the cornerstone of everything else you do.