70% social media visitors are frequenting platforms for business purposes which surely warrants B2B marketers sitting up and taking note.
Lets start by understanding a few quick facts about B2B social media marketing:
- Organisations set varied goals on social media which in descending order range from brand awareness, customer acquisition lead generation to customer retention.
- B2B marketers rate blogs and in person events as most effective.
- After Twitter and Linkedin, Youtube and Slideshare have been rated as the second most effective marketing form for B2B content.
- On an average, 30% of B2B marketing budgets are allocated to content marketing. There needs to be some kind of provision in all B2B marketing plans without which no amount of promotion will deliver results.
- Most of the content of B2B marketing are based on industry trends.
- Metrics of success vary from reach, downloads, lead generation to brand sentiments which are positive versus negative.
- Twitter dominates the B2B landscape, whilst in terms of efficacy of content, the blog scores the highest.
- The top preferred social media channels for marketers include Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube, Facebook and the blog.
Platform choices should be decided based on the nature of content to maximise conversation value and virality. Serious brand centric content is best placed on blogs, Twitter, Linkedin etc. whilst casual customer centric content thrives on Facebook/Youtube etc. Also blogs become ideal for thought leadership, Linkedin for collaboration and Twitter for marketing services.
Today, B2B marketers are using various techniques to harness interaction levels on platforms and to increase frequency of visitation. Eg : Cisco runs a UGC (User generated consumer) blog and rewards visitors, contributors, active writers, and employees who contribute to it in the form of badges and a meter which is trackable using Cisco logins. The same is visible in the screens below.
Dell also runs a rewards programme on Facebook to encourage repeat visitation, engagement and conversations. To strengthen its social media presence, it has also set up a social media listening center powered by listening tools. The dashboard ensures realtime responses and feedback along with a sense of positive /negative sentiments which is always on.
YouTube being another very critical B2B channel, content investments are being made to build a rich repository of videos ranging from product ,service, customer support, events, and specials. Cisco is a classic example of building a video enabled site on Youtube.
B2B brands are recognizing the importance of being conversational and casual to connect better. Hence posts which spark conversations are becoming critical.
“Wish you could indulge in multi-tasking/face to face interaction even in the cloud? What if you could attend a board meeting at the Headquarters without moving an inch from your cubicle?”
The key mantra to good content marketing on social media is to build a rich content property/platform and circulate/ interlink it across social media touchpoints in various formats to multiply reach, virality and conversations to amplify it. The same in turn enables buzz, multiple inbound links, better searchability and scale.
This is a far better strategy versus fragmenting content, creating multiple content inputs and spreading the investments thin. Also, to create consumable content for B2B marketing, it is critical to build it in the form of downloadables, videos, infographics, and articles.
Social media success metrics should always be mapped against set objectives which can range from reach within the TG to increasing website traffic or lead generation to influence.The measures vary based on platform . Eg : Views on Youtube, followers on Twitter/Linkedin, fans on Facebook , Mentions/retweets /PTAT.
B2B marketers need to adopt the following approach to build a robust social media presence.
- Listen – don’t pitch.
- Entertain – make people laugh.
- Educate – Share helpful information.
- Listen some more.
- Ask questions – solicit feedback/market research.
- Be transparent, reciprocate well and consider yourself accountable to the community.
While we take cues from B2B marketers like Cisco and Dell who have got their act together and made huge forays in social media.
The following 7 steps would certainly ensure a kickstart in the right direction:
- Set social media goals which tie back with overall business goals.
- Allocate minimum of 20% social media budgets towards content creation.
- Create a content strategy as a first step before venturing into conversations in the community.
- Build a robust content property around the same which rests in a central location, preferably on the blog.
- Have a distribution plan in place to interlink the content property across social platforms and maximise distribution and inbound links.
- Measure success against the goals set.
- Have relative progressive benchmarks to build on social media plans.
So its time to gear up to be a truly networked brand and interact, engage, collaborate using available social media platforms and tools.
- B2B Social media brand channels.
- B2B social media whitepapers.
- Forrester research.
- Industry experts POV.
- Case studies.