Whether it's to catch up with friends personally, to check out lifestyle bloggers that we're fans of, or to scope out what some of our favorite businesses have to say, we're all familiar with social media in some way or another. We know exactly what kind of posts we enjoy, and which we don't. Certain things spark our interest, and while those personal interests may determine the social media profiles we follow in our free time, when it's time to develop a cohesive social media strategy for our business, it requires much more thought than what we are drawn to as an everyday user.
Particularly for business-to-business companies (B2Bs) that exchange products or services with businesses as opposed to customers, it's easy to get caught up with what ecommerce brands or lifestyle brands are sharing, and try to replicate that sort of campaign for your own company. However, if you're developing social media content for your B2B, your strategy should be created differently in order to leverage social correctly, as it is playing a larger role in the digital space with each passing day. With Google and Twitter recently joining forces to show tweets in search results, and the impact this is bound to have on SEO, B2Bs are looking to get more and more active with social channels as a method to foster more conversions and generate more sales. However, is it as simple as saying more activity on these platforms will bring more success?
Avoiding Social Overkill
Often times, a new client will come to our digital agency and would like to permeate the social market by immediately pushing out their messaging and sharing their content on social media five times a week. While in theory more activity on social should result in more success-in today's digital world, this isn't always the case. Your target audience may be avid social media users, but more commonly than not, if you're a B2B company, users may not be spending time on their favorite social platforms with an aim of reading your latest whitepaper or learning more about the latest technologies your company offers. Social media is a break from a stressful work day for many users. To be able to successfully target the right users on social and reach set goals with your social media strategy, your posts or ads should be shared in moderation to reach your audience while avoiding social overkill. From a business perspective, if someone "Likes" your company's Facebook page, it does not necessarily mean that they'll appreciate seeing your daily promotional posts as they scroll through their news feed on a coffee break in between presentations.
For lifestyle brands this is usually different. Users are personally invested in seeing what their favorite brands have to say about the next trend or news item related to this niche. When unaware of what the B2B social landscape is like, you'll often find companies trying to adopt the same concepts they see for those brands. In reality, all social strategies should not be executed in the same manner. It won't be worth the business' time or money if the proposed social experience is not tailored to meet the needs of your particular business.
Building Up Your Page
If your brand is new to the social media world, building up your account can generate credibility for your company. If you were checking out a company's social media page that you were considering signing a contract with for a SEC filing software and they only had 2 posts on their social pages, it might make you question the credibility and experience of the company. At this initial stage it is important to have fresh content updated 2-3 times per week for a 1-2 month period. Think about how long it will take someone to scroll through any social media profile. You don't want followers to scroll once and see that a Twitter account is brand new or users could immediately question the reputability of your brand. Potential clients want a brand that knows what they're doing, is innovative and offers a quality product that is the right fit for them.
Quality over Quantity
Direct response ads are most effective with a strong CTA. The strongest ROI tends to come from promoting content in which you've captured the information of potential leads and can then integrate them into the sales funnel process. While posts that are going to take users to your "About Us" page are important to incorporate into the strategy for brand awareness and recognition, they should not be the sole part of the content matrix because they aren't going to directly influence the conversions that you want.
Whether you're working with clients or on an internal team, you need to create a content matrix containing a product push portion that focuses on new arrivals, and general information about the company and product and service offerings. Through thought leadership content that showcases expertise and highlights industry trends and current events, a brand can take steps to build trust with the audience.
In particular, the use of brand resources (for example, whitepapers) is a great way to capture leads and bring users into the sales funnel. If customers sign up for an email newsletter to receive 15% off their purchase, they'll soon be receiving upcoming promotions, product updates, and all other company emails. You can have over 1,000 visitors to your "About Us" page, where users might poke around your website, and then potentially they forget about you. Comparatively, even if only 15 visitors sign up for your newsletter through a social post they clicked on, giving you access to their email address, name, and company they work for, you could be provided with far more value depending on the goals of your campaign and company. By honing in on one post as opposed to three, you can direct all your effort to really getting the engagement you need and driving that one message home to users.
As we discuss focusing on one particular post as opposed to several at one time, it's important to realize that organic reach on Facebook for example, is fairly low-reaching about 16% of Facebook fans on a given page. Spending your allocated budget on one promoted post instead of the time it takes to craft three posts with visuals and creative messaging is going to prove far more cost and time effective, with a higher ROI in the future. If you're hiring a community manager to create content, visuals, and links with proper tracking parameters-it may be more time consuming and less cost effective than having them focus on a few ads or promoted pieces of content. Most likely, those will generate a substantial amount of engagement.
Once you have built up your profiles, regular posting requires lots of time and effort. Why not take those efforts and focus on quality over quantity? Boost engagement on the posts that have strong CTAs so that within your set budget you're able to foster the greatest amount of leads you can. Create a few ads for a given time period and focus your efforts on a few quality pieces of content, promoting those to your target audience, and reaping the benefits of a streamlined social strategy that is tailored for B2B companies. Launch direct response ads-where you're much more likely to reach your audience.
Social Can't Stand Alone
For B2B companies, social media is another area that can bring users into the sales funnel, but in a more casual and conversational way. Your digital efforts need to support a solid framework that is already established with a strong company foundation, and a great website that social users are brought to. You can have as many contacts as you need to pursue as leads, but without the right team to pass them along to, you can't effectively nurture and eventually convert those users. If you don't have a good website that is informative with strong content and visuals, your social media strategy may be great, but it won't get you results. It is important for companies to provide a consistent experience as users interact between your social platforms and your website. If you have thought leaders that are in the industry, or excellent whitepapers that you're showcasing, social can support all of those initiatives-but it can't stand alone because it is part of a multi-level approach. To bring leads into the sales funnel, leveraging multiple channels and tactics will carry over the most success.
Ultimately, every company and client is different. Depending on the product or service that you're aiming to promote and the specific industry you are working in, you need to find the right social strategy for your brand and adapt it accordingly. Analyzing your results regularly to determine which efforts are the most effective and currently providing the best results is crucial to identifying the components for a successful strategy that will allow you to reach your goals. Social media can be a key component to any B2Bs overall business strategy success if it is appropriately created. B2B companies cannot permeate the social market with the same approach a lifestyle brand would, but if the strategy is developed in the right way, your brand may find social media to be a strong segment for your digital marketing efforts.