B2B social media strategy is a strategy for word-of-mouth marketing. Do you have one?

Using social media it’s now trivial for your prospects and customers to speak to each other, or to your competitors. If your competitors see you’re not handling a customer issue well they can jump in and steal your customer.  In the early days of social many businesses just ignored it, but now that conversations are happening regardless of your presence, you have no choice but to take part. Social media opens many opportunities such as social selling and building industry trust and authority.  The question in front of you is what is your strategy for modern word-of-mouth marketing?

Setting goals for your B2B social media strategy

Goals of social media marketing have changed. Just building an audience is no longer enough. You could have more followers than all your competitors but how many of these followers engage with your content and fit your target demographic. Will these followers ever become customers?  Businesses can no longer brag about how many followers they have, it’s not a badge of honor. You need to think about engagement and the number of quality conversations you’re having rather than volume of connections. Social media is a tool for influencing the buying decision and retention of customers.  You need to use social media to convince, convert and retain. Your goals social media need to be focused on these objectives to deliver true social media marketing ROI. A B2B social media strategy should include measurable and material goals for social media activity.

Tactical options to consider in your social media marketing strategy

When thinking about your approach to social media B2B marketers need to consider organic and paid options.  In terms of content marketing, organic social media marketing is where you’re reliant on your content being amplified by your audience.  Paid social media marketing is where you pay for your content to be amplified whether that is showing ads or increasing the reach of your organic posts. A successful B2B social media marketing strategy needs to combine both organic and paid social. Organic is increasingly about engaging the audience you already have and paid is for extending your audience.

How can B2B businesses use social media outside marketing?

Social media has become a channel that can be used for many reasons from sales to support, here are some other ways you could use social media in your B2B organization.

Social media content marketing: the established use of  social media is content marketing. Using social channels to amplify content so it’s seen by your intended audience. What is your social media strategy for content marketing? Are you reliant on organic or can you amplify your content through paid channels? Are you investing in the right tools for optimizing your social media marketing efforts?

  •  Social selling: social setting is a sales tactic where salespeople use social media for prospecting and then engaging with those prospects. Social selling is about adding value, the salesperson is aiming to become a trusted advisor. Do your sales teams know how to use social media for sales? Do you have a social selling program in place?
  • Social support: when your customer has an issue they are just as likely to Tweet your account about it as they are to pick up the phone. Customers, especially in B2C, know the world can see their support request and use this to leverage a fast solution to their problem. Of course, if your customers do pick up the phone and don’t get a satisfactory response they can also vent their frustration on social. Social media is becoming the de facto support channel for business, whether they want it to or not.  What’s your social media strategy for support? How do you respond if someone complains about you? Are you monitoring conversations?
  • Social transactions: social media is now a channel for transactions. That transaction in the B2B world could be a lead generating action or, more likely in the in the B2C world, it could be a sale. Instead of asking the prospect to come to our own website to convert, social platforms are encouraging this conversion to occur without leaving the social platform. What’s your social media strategy for supporting transactions on social platforms? Do you have a plan if social networks prevent your business from posting links to outside content?

These various aspects of social media and the questions they raise should be part of your B2B social media strategy and they all influence social media marketing. In your organization sales, support and marketing are all different functions, in social media they are seen as one, your audience doesn’t care how your organization is structured, so your social strategy needs to consider all possible interactions.

The rise and impact of dark social on social media strategy

Dark social isn’t a nefarious term but it is something you need to be aware of and consider. Globally, 84% of activity occurs on dark social. These are channels that are private and can’t be tracked. It includes instant messaging, email and other forms of conversation and sharing that is happening privately. If I’m going to share a link or pdf with my colleagues, I’ll email them, that is where a majority of sharing happens and it’s all classed as dark social. Why does this matter to you? If 84% of social sharing happens in dark social, you need to include it in your social strategy. In the B2B world, sharing content on private channels will be much more prevalent. Someone researching a solution won’t share what they do on social media, it’s too public. Here are four tactics that will help you leverage dark social:

  1. Make it easier for visitors to share via email and include calls to action such as “send this to your boss”
  2. Use URL shorteners you can track.
  3. Monitor how much traffic you might be getting from “dark social”.
  4. Provide functionality that gives your visitors a reason to share via your website, for example, a business case builder.

In your B2B social media strategy you can’t ignore the huge proportion of social activity that doesn’t happen on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. You need to develop strategies for using this to your advantage. How can you facilitate it in your marketing and use it for growth?

From social media marketing to community marketing

Social media is all about the community whether or not you are paying to reach that audience. The biggest aspect of having a successful social presence is managing your community. Although your goal might be ROI for your business the root to achieving that will always involve ensuring that you have a happy community. Community management is about growing and nurturing your online community. if a content marketing effort or a social selling effort is likely to have a negative impact on the community, then it’s best avoided. When writing your B2B social media strategy remember that a community takes a long time to build, but can be eroded quickly if taken for granted.

Audit your competitors not just your own social media

Any form of B2B social media  strategy needs to consider external factors, one of the most important being the competitive landscape. This information helps you identify where you need to focus your efforts, and the competitive advantages you have. Doing any form of competitive research is difficult, competitors aren’t going to reveal what’s is and isn’t working for them. There are plenty of tools you can use and you should take advantage of these when doing competitive research. Just by looking at the social accounts of your competitors you will see what’s is getting engagement, the frequency of posting and the mix of third party versus first party content. This all needs to inform your social media strategy and tactical execution.

Stats for your B2B social media business case

74% of B2B buyers use LinkedIn to inform their purchasing decision.(source)

78% of people who reach out to support via Twitter expect an answer within an hour.(source)

79% of marketers report an increase in site traffic after investing 6 hours a week on social media.(source)

B2B Digital Marketing Manager helping you with social strategy

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How I can help you with B2B social media strategy and execution?

Social media isn’t an optional channel for any business. Conversations are already happening about your business, brand and products. Decision makers are using social to inform their buying decision and companies are investing more in social every year. Digitally can help you invest in the right people, tools and processes to capitalize on social in your marketing efforts.