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A B2B social media strategy is not only desirable, it’s essential for several reasons. Firstly, presence on social media is now an expectation. It’s a bit like websites were a few years, you just had to have one. There are also three more strategic reasons why, irrespective as to whether you’re a large business or a small business, that a B2B social media strategy is essential:
1. The growing influence social media has on the B2B buying cycle
57% of purchase decisions are made before a customer talks to a supplier (CEB).
94% of B2B buyers conduct some form of online research before purchasing (Accenture).
By 2020, 85% of relationships with an enterprise will be conducted without interacting with a human (Gartner).
To put these stats into context, social media is increasingly being used by B2B buyers to inform due diligence and to aid buying decisions.
2. A controllable channel for strategic brand messages and content marketing
Social media puts you in control of the messages and content your business wants to be known for. The internet and social media have contributed to the decline of traditional news channels and trade media. Even when such channels were of prominence, it was often difficult, and expensive, to control precisely your brand messages. Having an appropriate B2B social media strategy in place puts you in control of messaging and content . In marketing circles, we call this a switch away from earned and paid to owned channels.
3. The ability to reach multiple audiences and complement traditional sales channels
A B2B social media strategy helps your business reach multiple audiences including, customers, prospects, staff (existing staff and new job applicants), influencers and media. These audiences can be targeted with specific messages and relevant content. The right strategy can also help complement traditional sales channels, aiding sales people and business development staff to target prospects on a one-to-one basis. Some of the premium features available within LinkedIn are particularly supportive of this.
How to implement a successful B2B social media strategy
There are a few things to consider when devising your B2B social media strategy and implementing it.
You’re not dull to who you matter to!
Some businesses suffer from a mis-conception that they operate within a dull industry. They question how they can be ‘interesting’ on social media. The counterargument is ‘people’. It’s people that are on social media, not ‘entities’. While the masses may not be interested in what you have to offer, your clients and your prospects are interested.
A good example is Hiscox Business Insurance. On the face of it, business insurance is unlikely to get many people clambering for the ‘follow’ and ‘like’ buttons. Yet, at the last count they had 35,000 followers on LinkedIn, 34,000 followers on Facebook and 9,000 followers on Twitter.
They’ve achieved these results by focusing on providing ‘value’ to their target audience; small business owners. They’ve tailored their content around what matters to these business owners; business financing, marketing, cyber security and entrepreneurship, not insurance.
Why do people on social media engage and share things?
Your B2B social media strategy should consider the question; why people engage and share things on social media? Motivations fit broadly into three categories:
- Vanity – people often share things to affirm, or to portray, a characteristic that they want to be known for
- Value – to get something in return (knowledge, insight etc.)
- Empathy – to express empathy, agreement or disagreement with a subject or a cause
In summary, make your social media activity mostly about your audience and what matters to them. Think them, not you.
Prioritise social media platforms
Prioritising the most relevant social media platform is an important consideration in your B2B social media strategy. Unless you’re going to invest considerable time and effort it makes sense to adopt a degree on pragmatism. Focus on the key B2B platforms and do them well. Traditionally, B2B social media priorities have been: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Content strategy – remember it’s about them, not you
Content marketing is the fuel for social media. Content such as; ‘3 things you should know about…..’ and ‘How to….’ guides are popular. This type of content is a good way to provide value and is relatively easy to produce. Production of content can be carried out internally, resource permitting, or outsourced to content writers. Keep promotional activities (blatant product pushes) to a minimum. Instead, produce content that addresses the business issues your products solve.
Plan your social media activity and your content marketing
Your B2B social media strategy should include tactics that enable you to implement the strategy. One important tactic should be to commit to planning your social media activity and content marketing. This means scheduling social media posts in advance and integrating the activity with a content calendar. There are numerous tools available to help with planning and scheduling.
Be conversational in tone. Where appropriate, be humorous. Remember social media is about people. Don’t be a robot, even if you are a robot, well an AI business!
Put someone in charge or outsource it
Put someone in charge of your social media strategy and its implementation. If there’s no one suitable or available within your business, explore outsourcing your social media management.
Finally, avoid the temptation to be tactical. Devising a robust B2B social media strategy can be done quickly and affordably. It can help transform your social media into a highly valued business channel.