As a marketing tool, social media has become a major part of any business plan. Combining it with traditional methods of advertising is usually what people go for, but you can't beat the reach and ROI that social media offers. With tightening budgets and a greater need to reach out to new customers, its no surprise that social media channels are being relied on more as a means of promotion.
Usually, a B2B buyer would spend more than B2C, the reasoning being that they have a much greater budget to work with whereas the spending power of a B2C customer would be far less. Because of this, how you approach B2B customers will be significantly different because of their contrasting needs.
A key part of marketing to this audience deals with content creation. Brands are now having to work harder and provide value to its customers to get noticed and generate sales.
No two companies are ever the same so what works for one company mightn't fit well with yours. While it's tempting to start a blog or increase the number of times you post or tweet online, you need to take a step back and determine what your company is and how best you can serve it.
The focus of all your efforts should be engagement. Communication is the focal point of any strategy and so you need to answer some important questions like who your target audience is, what sites do they visit, what do they share and how you can take advantage of this.
Once you know who you want to sell to, it's time to pick the sites that will help you reach out to them. Depending on your strategy, you can pick either one or all of them if you wish, but ultimately your choice should play to the strengths of your company.
Considering that content creation plays a major role in B2B, a blog is a great way of starting this. Not only do you get to show off your knowledge, but they also give you the opportunity to drive business leads by appearing in search results. More posts means more chances to appear in search engines and drive your views up. Ultimately, the format allows you to be creative and have complete control over your content. Also, you can promote it on all the other social media sites listed below.
The only drawback is that blog posts tend to take time to research and write up so you will need to schedule time in to ensure it's being regularly updated.
Despite not being as illustrious as Facebook or Twitter, LinkedIn is perhaps the best place for B2B marketing to occur. The reasons are many: The site is catered towards professionals, so all content is directed towards them. For one, your own personal profile and company page is where the majority of your content posting will be done; the latter allows you to publish targeted posts so that you only communicate to a specific audience. This is only useful if you have a large following or where you know your content will only appeal to a specific demographic.
Another powerful tool to use is LinkedIn groups, which allows you to bring together people from your industry together. Preferably what you will need to do is create your own group and bring people together, allowing you to drive the conversation and establish yourself as a thought-leader within the industry.
Once you've established yourself, you can promote yourself every so often, but not too much as then you will be spamming people. Like blogging, you will need to invest a significant amount of time and energy into developing that group so getting involved in an existing niche group might work better for you.
Another great way of generating leads, a lot of businesses and entrepreneurs use Twitter as a way of providing customer service since it's a quick and effective way of communicating. Getting in touch with users is simple and the only thing you have to worry about is that you're not spamming people and giving everyone a reason to follow you.
Facebook tends to be overlooked because it's viewed as a more personal site, but just because that's the case doesn't mean there isn't potential there. People are attracted to multimedia posts so there's a lot of scope to connect with your audience through image and video posts. While the high number of users is reason enough to get involved, but like Twitter, you will have to provide valuable content and not spam users with just your own content.
If you have the time and resources, video content is a brilliant way of reaching out to your audience. While videos are more engaging, bear in mind that out of all the sites mentioned above, producing video content will take the longest if you want to produce something of high quality. If you're starting out, it's usually a good idea to keep your videos short so that your audience will watch to the end. If you want to be more ambitious, take into consideration the time it will take to do things like research, scriptwriting, shooting and editing before you start.
Focus On Your Area Of Expertise
You're not going to be everything to everyone so you're better off focusing on the one or two areas you're interested in when you're starting off. What your company deals with is going to play a significant part in the type of topics you cover so make a list out of what topics you're interested in, what you know about the most and focus on those areas. You have a greater chance of appealing to people if you focus on a niche.
Choose Your Targeting Wisely
The purpose of any type of marketing is, of course, to generate new leads so don't be afraid to rely on social ads and targeting options to get yourself ahead. Provided you have the budget, a sponsored story or a steady stream of promoted tweets can certainly help get your content out there. The obvious barrier to doing this is that doing so costs money and you will only see benefits if you're able to run an advertising campaign over a certain period.
Identify Brand Ambassadors
Seeing what people are saying about your brand is just as important as how many people are reading and sharing your content. There are many ways to monitor the conversation like Twitter search, and search engines like Topsy.com will give you a glimpse into what people are saying and how your brand is featuring in their conversations.
The purpose for this is to help identify those who are talking positively about your brand and use that to your advantage. Maybe you want to reward them with a free subscription, a new product or a promotional code to show you appreciate their support. Better yet, solving the problem of a disgruntled user can be a more powerful way of getting the message across. A small gesture can go a long way so monitor the conversation and see who's saying what.
Incorporate A Call To Action
In your content, the aim is to convert views into sales so placing a clear call-to-action on your site and content. If it's your site, will you have a pop-up box, a link at the end of the article or a clearly defined sign-up sheet. If it's on social media, the call-to-action could be getting the opinions of your fans, or offering a free trial of your services. Experiment with different types of content and offers to see what works.
When you do place a call to action, make sure that the steps between clicking on the link and completing the action are kept to a minimum.
Dell - Direct2Dell
Wanting to reach out to its target audience, Dell created this corporate blog which brings together the expertise and knowhow of its staff. The site is updated daily and brings together many topics relating to Dell as well as tutorials, opinion and guides relating to technology and social media. The result is a popular resource whose numerous contributors inject personality and originality to the mix.
This case study doesn't focus on SalesForce itself, but instead the numerous companies it represents. Taking ten B2B companies and recording how fans engaged with these pages, it found that images got 5.5 more likes than a post that didn't have one and that the most popular content to like and share were fun facts (Questions got the most comments). Of the examples it provides, Caterpillar is the best one as it shows the power images have in making a post successful.
Wanting a channel that would drive and generate leads, Optify wanted to show that it was a thought leader in B2B marketing and get the word out there. What the company decided to do was use promoted tweets to publish its most tweeted, commented and shared articles as well as special offers. Targeting users similar to its followers, the leads it generated from Twitter increased by 770% and website referral traffic from Twitter also increased by more than six times year over year.
Optify wrote a blog post about the campaign that you can read in more detail here.
comments powered by