Having a set social media strategy helps any business determine their goals, and allows them to analyze their current B2B landscape. To start, Sprout Social created a checklist shows the most important topics for developing a B2B social media strategy.
- Successfully target a specific audience
- Use more than one social media platform
- Publish content that is relatable to your audience and industry
- Your social media goals are clearly defined and documented
- Use social media metrics to measure your efforts
- See how your competitors use B2B social media
These steps are a great starting off point for businesses to begin identifying their goals and develop a strong brand image. Of course there are many elements involved in the creation of such detailed strategies, but determining the most effective channels to use can help build a foundation to start planning a social media strategy.
Current B2B Landscape
With so many people connected through social media, it comes as no surprise that it continues to be the most effective channel for B2B companies to reach their audience. According to eMarketer, the efficiency of these platforms increased from 41% to 52% from 2014 to 2015. While many businesses may spend most of their time developing their social media strategy, they can't neglect the fact that paid search is the second highest distribution channel. Although the use of paid search in B2B marketing may have slightly decreased, it's important to keep a close eye on this channel to make sure your competition isn't bidding on your branded traffic. LinkedIn continues to be on the top of the B2B marketing mix, especially since it is a professional channel. It's followed by Twitter and Facebook, with YouTube not too far behind. Since YouTube is in the top tier of social media channels, it just goes to show the importance of video in advertising and marketing to reach your audience - we'll go more in depth with this later.
Now that you know where your content should primarily live, it's time to consider your company's content marketing strategy. Companies are planning on creating more content, but only 32% of them have a documented strategy. This means that other marketers may be pushing content that isn't necessarily in line with their brand, allowing you to create better, more focused content that outperforms your competitors. The B2B marketers that have clearly defined and documented strategies reported getting better results from all of their content marketing tactics, social media platforms, and paid media methods.
Humanize the Approach
The content mix strategy differs between every business and should be adjusted to align with each brand's vision. However, one of the best approaches is a message that includes the company culture and personality. To really portray this culture, posting event photos, in-office happenings, and videos combined with the use of a conversational tone will help to achieve this. Many companies tend to struggle to humanize their brand, particularly because they only advertise what their services offer. By using a conversational tone and words like "we" and "our" when speaking about your company, companies are able to really harmonize the message they're sending out on social media. No one likes dealing with a faceless company, so creating a personality for your business can really help showcase your brand and humanize your business altogether.
Video across social media is becoming more and more of an asset that businesses should not be without. It's an easy way to connect with your audience and communicate a message that can quickly resonate with the customer. Instead of traditional marketing where brands often just tell their audience about the benefits of their product or service, a video has the ability to actually show them. Video is becoming an increasingly integral part of your social media strategy - Facebook's auto-play advertisements and 360 videos make viewing more dynamic and entertaining. The use of video in a company's social media marketing strategy boosts engagement and opens the opportunity to be active on YouTube, which has strong organic reach within search results.
The metrics regarding video on social media deserve to be recognized, since it could make a strong impact in the B2B marketing world. On Twitter, videos and photos get the most retweets. Rich media, video and audio, has a 16.85% engagement rate compared to a mere 2.14% for standard banners. The numbers don't lie. It is concrete proof that videos are effective in marketing, and 96% of B2B marketers continue to use videos in their marketing efforts.
There are several different B2B methods which organizations deem to be effective, video of course is one of them, but the most successful continues to be in-person events. About 75% of B2B respondents said that in-person events are the most effective tactic, a clear indicator that brands should consider hosting and attending industry-relevant events to support their marketing efforts.
A brand's social efforts should integrate these in-person events through the following ways:
- Create branded hashtags that surround brand-sponsored events. Hashtags run across almost all social media platforms, and can be used to really amp up engagement and get attendees (and your experts) involved in the conversation surrounding an event.
- For industry relevant events not sponsored by the specific company, branded hashtags may be utilized to get your experts involved in the conversation. Communicating with those in the industry as well as potential customers will ultimately facilitate relationships and extend brand awareness for your company. The target audience is there, so taking it a step further and engaging with them can really nurture the process. Customers may ask legitimate, industry-relevant questions that your business has the opportunity to answer, showing that you are an expert in the space while simultaneously humanizing the brand.
- Share event photos across social platforms to show that your team is active in both hosting and attending events. Having an inside look about the people involved in the brand continues to create a personalized approach and can really give consumers an idea of how your business stays on top of industry trends.
Advertising for Events
Geo-fencing is another new technology that B2B marketers can use to their advantage. By creating a digital perimeter that corresponds to a physical location, marketers can target their campaigns to run in this specific area. For instance, businesses can use geo-fencing at in-person events to target attendees to visit their booth. This targeting technology boosts advertising efforts by reaching users within a certain radius of an in-person event and can really increase awareness to your target audience.
B2B Social Media Strategy
Social media has been proven to be a real driver of traffic and conversion rates, and B2B marketers should not be subjected to only using LinkedIn to connect with their audience. As mentioned, the growth and effectiveness of video on these social media channels is steadily growing and becoming a more popular way to advertise to clients. As for content, video is certainly an element that needs to be incorporated, but it's important to note that social media content should be personable and easy to digest. More importantly, the content marketing strategy needs to be documented - do not continue executing your marketing efforts with no written strategy of what types of content to include in the posts. Stick to a calendar to efficiently monitor and manage your content on social media, and assure it's sending the right message to your target audience. With a solid strategy in place, B2B brands can effectively reach their consumers through these platforms. Documenting a definite content marketing strategy will allow any business to grow by having a set plan for posting media on different social channels. The combination of dynamic content, like videos and photos, as well as event marketing puts a face on a corporation and really helps consumers understand the brand's vision.