This is the fourth article in a series that began as guest blogs for Savvy B2B. You can find the previous entries there (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3), and I highly suggest subscribing to their blog. I sure do, and I learn something new from them almost every day.
Although social media marketing continues to be a hot topic among B2B marketing professionals, a surprising number of B2B companies are in one of these categories:
- Not planning to start
- Late to get started
- Only going through the motions with little or no results
- Have already given up
These companies are what I call turtles. Compared to the rabbits racing ahead of them, these turtles are content to either plod along or stay still within their shell. If your business is a turtle, remember Aesops fable and don’t count yourself out of the race.
It’s not too late for you. Anyone with the least bit of interest in B2B social media marketing knows there is an abundance of information about it everywhere you look online. No matter what level you’re at in your use of social media, there’s always more to learn. The landscape keeps changing, and there’s no finish line.
Start with a strategy, followed by a plan for generating content.
Dive in and learn by doing, making mistakes and quickly learning from them. Test and make adjustments based on your results. That’s how I started. But I read a book first: Inbound Marketing, by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. It opened my eyes to how social media fits into the marketing mix.
Social media for the purpose of marketing your business isn’t about frivolous chit-chat. It’s a waste of time if you’re not attracting interest by sharing compelling content and converting that interest into new leads, new sales and more engaged, satisfied customers.
I consider the top three social media platforms for B2B marketing to be Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook. Although there are others, start with these three. And if you need to narrow further, I suggest LinkedIn and Twitter, and here are two guides you might find helpful.
Think of social media as one part of a lead-generating engine.
This engine attracts prospects and customers who are searching for solutions, and converts them to leads that are nurtured for sales.
The engine works like this:
Social Media + Search-Engine Optimization + Blog + Call-to-Actions + Conversion and Lead Generation = Inbound Marketing
Mount this inbound marketing engine under the hood of your website, and turbo-charge it with marketing automation and a CRM program such as Salesforce.com. Learn how to keep it tuned up through testing and working the dials on your dashboard, because it won’t run itself.
The fuel for this engine is content.
Your company’s content includes your products and services information, but that’s the last thing you add to the mix. You start developing content for social media by being helpful, human and honest with your customers and prospects.
It’s not about hard-selling or blasting out promotional spam as updates. Think of social media as a social business function. Its OK to talk business, but no one wants to be sold to. You want to be entertaining, engaging and most of all, helpful.
Your marketing staff needs to be engaged, but within most companies are abundant sources of content your prospects will find relevant. Every customer-facing element of your business, from sales to customer service, is a potential source for problem solved success stories. In addition to expert advice and observations, look within your company’s files for whitepapers, presentation decks, videos, how-to guides, case studies, press releases, etc., that can be repurposed and restructured for sharing via social media.
You don’t have to create all your content; be a great curator, too. Industry publications, associations and consultants are a constant source of articles, news, research reports and opinions. There are best practices for how to add your comments and share this information with your audience, but you will find that most sources welcome the added exposure, and your added perspective. Even if your opinion is contrary to that of the source, remember to be friendly in your debate. This is social media, after all, so be sociable about it.
What’s your formula for generating compelling content?
Are your social media efforts in tune with your overall marketing?
Are you driving results?