Auditing Your B2B Social Media: 4 Components to Reevaluate for 2016
B2B companies have a complex relationship with social media. While it has certainly become a must-have tactic, marketers still have concerns about the role social plays in contributing to the business’s bottom line. In fact, a simple Google search for “social media B2B ROI” yields nearly 2.5 million results. The use and purpose of social media will certainly continue to be a point of debate for marketers in 2016.
But social media isn’t just about ROI. The various platforms provide companies with a way to listen to their customers and users and build brand awareness and loyalty.
Social channels open another avenue of communication, one with a high number of short, digestible, frequent touch points; can you imagine what would happen if you tried sending to a mailing list multiple times per day? You might end the day with a million hate messages and 0 followers. The takeaway: social media is a crucial aspect of a larger marketing strategy.
Pick your platforms and stick with them
There are lots of social media networks. The largest and most recognized are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. However, there are plenty of others: Google+, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, and Pinterest, just to name a few. Millions of users visit these platforms for different reasons. It’s important to understand which platform your target audience is conversing on.
Analyze each network’s demographics and determine which will yield the highest return on your time investment. If you’re targeting business professionals who should be in “work mode” as you market to them, look into LinkedIn groups. If your product is visually engaging, Instagram or Pinterest might be more apt.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, most B2B marketers use an average of 6 social media platforms to reach their audience. The most popular are LinkedIn (94%), Twitter (87%) and Facebook (84%).
The social media conversation now centers around these three platforms, but it’s important to remember that blogs should be part of your social strategy as well. With more than 2 million blog posts published each day, the challenge is making yours stand out with a loyal audience. You can accomplish that by regularly updating your blog and writing long-form posts.
Establish a clearly defined audience and scope for the blog in order to create a strong presence in your target niche and integrate it with your social media efforts to cross-pollinate, promoting new blog posts on social and linking out to social media profiles from the blog pages.
As for content creation, institute a shared editorial calendar and assign posts to your marketing team on a rotating basis. Make sure to draw in other departments, leadership included, in order to get an interesting and varied assortment of topics and perspectives.
Get your executives to buy in
There has been a good deal of conversation around this topic. The general consensus is that C-level leaders are notoriously squeamish when it comes to defining and supporting a social media strategy. Between training expenses and difficult ROI calculations, it’s not as easy to justify a social spend as an easily quantified pay-per-click campaign.
That’s why it’s important to make executives understand that “doing social media” isn’t a choice; people will be talking about your company in the social sphere whether or not the organization itself is formally participating.
Show your leadership that by choosing to actively participate in social media, you can get a feel for the pulse of your customers and partners, respond to customer questions, and field any inbound sales inquiries. On the flipside, social media gives you a wider, more engaged audience with whom you can share your successes in the form of press, stories, webinars, or customers’ positive remarks on your brand.
Since prospects and customers can now communicate their thoughts on a large scale, they are actively shaping others’ perceptions of your brand. If you’re not involved, you’re missing out on engaging with enthusiastic prospects or diffusing upset customers.
Throw money at the problem
Use the various paid promotional tools available on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to expose your content to new and relevant audiences. Widening your network is an excellent investment, and promoting your posts and content over the most influential social networks increases your visibility and extends the reach of your messaging. Once someone has followed, liked, shared, or otherwise interacted with your brand online, they’ve demonstrated a positive interest and shown that they’re open to hearing more.
There’s a variety of paid advertising choices across the social sphere, but your spend should be based on your choice of platform and how successful each option proves itself to be.
As with any investment, set goals, test, and examine conversions over time. Social media is a longer-term investment and is only one touchpoint among many, albeit an important one.
Monitor, refine, and optimize
As with all marketing efforts, social media isn’t a “set it and forget it” type of tool. After you’ve made a commitment to fleshing out your social media strategy, it’s important to monitor how your efforts are producing results.
Make sure the links included your posts track the number of visits and conversions you get from social. Review on a monthly and/or quarterly basis to determine how the results compare to the investment of time and money you’re spending on executing.
One easy refinement is to provide simple social media sharing tools to your customers and users. If it’s quick, easy, and satisfying to share a piece of content from your site, you’ll encourage more people to do so. It should take two clicks or less for a visitor to spread your content.
You can also look at what you’re providing your visitors to share. Consider crafting bite-sized pieces of information as “tweetables,” easily shareable with a “Tweet This!” button.
There are countless more tweaks to increase sharing and engagement, so take a good look at your strategy to determine what would be the best path for your organization. Once you implement and optimize, tell us how you did and what you learned by connecting with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.