Most digital marketing professionals agree that social media is a critically important element of the marketing mix.
In 2019, we think it becomes even more crucial, as more and more people look to their own devices for gathering news, reviews and research.
Our recent research among digital agencies specialising in social media (see sources below) revealed the following insights into what marketers see as the benefits of social media for business:
- Greater brand visibility: “87% of marketers rank more exposure for their businesses as the primary benefit of their social media efforts”
- Increased website traffic: “78% of marketers who have used social media for 2 years or more report increased traffic to their websites”
- More leads: “more than half (53%) of B2B buyers report turning to social media to make buying decisions”
- Positive SEO impact: “both Google and Bing algorithms incorporate social signals into their search results”
- Thought leadership: “using social media to share your expertise will make you stand out from the competition”
We often hear from clients that they want to ‘do social media’ but that they are not really sure how to approach it, or even of what value it brings.
Questioning the connection between “time invested” and “value generated” is a valid one because running social media campaigns successfully is very time-consuming and requires more resource than at first might be apparent.
Whatever your investment in this and whatever the benefits you’re seeing, here are 11 ways you can make social media marketing work harder for your business.
- Embrace social media marketing
A common misconception among B2B businesses is that social media is for consumers, so potential buyers aren’t going to be active or communicate through these channels.
Yet many consumers are also employees. Even if a business owner or marketing director is browsing in leisure time, they are not suddenly closed off to content which is interesting or useful from a business perspective.
In fact, critical care supplier Walters Medical built a social media community specifically made up of buyer decision makers they wanted to reach through social media competitions.
With 500 million members and 40% of active users who login daily, LinkedIn is a vital tool for any B2B business wanting to build visibility, credibility and opportunities.
- Be prepared to invest in it
Social media marketing is not a quick fix, yet success is often expected quickly.
It requires time. And, of course, time is money.
Certainly, before you dive in to social media marketing, you need to spend a little time watching, listening and researching what is going on across your chosen social channels. Look at what your competitors do, how they interact with customers, what kind of offers they run, how they aim to engage potential buyers, what kinds of conversations they have.
More than anything though, invest in content. Content is the raw material of social media.
Creating the sort of content your buyers might value will take you a long way. Try and plan your content schedule, and if you can’t write it, record or film it yourself, invest in getting an expert to do it for you.
If you can’t create original content, you can still generate brand awareness on social media by regularly sharing content from others which is relevant and original. This will help boost your visibility and start attracting potential buyers to take notice of you.
- Decide why you’re doing it
Clearly you want your business can benefit from social media, but first it is important to establish your goals and objectives.
If you’re a marketing manager pursuing a social media campaign for the first time, it’s important that you set manage the expectations of your boss, so that they know the multitude of benefits that will accrue and the milestone KPIs you will see.
Decide in stages whether your aims are to build a follower community, to engage in customer service, to drive traffic to your website, to generate brand visibility or simply to start a conversation. Or something else.
Either way, don’t forget that over the longer term, social media engagement is important. Having lots of followers is wonderful, but if they don’t interact with your content, your efforts are wasted.
- Be consistent everywhere
Bear in mind that whilst social media is an excellent marketing tool, it is only one plank in your overall marketing strategy. It is unlikely to benefit you if it’s working alone and in isolation from your other marketing channels.
The perfect recipe for marketing success means you need to have everything working in unison by:
- Adopting a consistent voice across all platforms
- Ensuring your visual branding is consistent across your entire digital estate
- Posting regularly and professionally.
Consider a content strategy and ensure cross channel promotion of key pieces of content. This ensures that when a user is investigating you that they don’t become frustrated by not being able to find what they are looking for.
- Position your business as the expert authority
Customers need to feel confident that they are buying from experts. Providing your target buyers with educational, helpful content via social media will show position your business as the expert authority in the field.
Rather than delivering sales pitch, social media gives you a platform to present professional achievements and speak authoritatively on topics and issues that are important to your buyers.
A great example is Oracle, who prolifically share videos and blog articles that showcase their expertise.
- Choose your channels wisely
All social media channels differ in terms of who uses them and why.
- Twitter – online news, short and regular updates with images and videos
- YouTube – video is THE way social media is going
- Facebook – important company updates, culture and people, videos
- Instagram – appealing visual content including images and videos – hashtags encourage wide engagement and visibility
- Pinterest – web and mobile app for visual sharing, save and create content to virtual pin boards
- LinkedIn – professional social network, b2b and b2c content, infographics, videos, images and insight sharing, build connections, post jobs and be found
Remember that you don’t need to invest time in all channels. Just pick those where your audience is active and concentrate your efforts on those. Take your time and do your research properly.
- Humanise your business
B2B businesses can often appear rather ‘faceless’. Even in these days of ‘personal branding, some organisations prefer to not to show that there are human beings who work there.
Yet as the old cliché goes, people buy from people.
Showing off your people, offices, factory, warehouse, ethics, principles and ideals gives potential customers a greater insight into “who your business is” and can influence decision making further down the line.
Use social media to give your customers a look “behind the scenes” and to showcase the expertise and special skills of the team.
It’s a great way to create engagement and get potential customers to ‘like’ you. Have a look at how agricultural machinery company John Deere do it here.
- Adapt your processes
As the growth of digital channels continues unabated, every business is faced with a choice to adapt and evolve or face decline as customers change their search and purchase habits.
Social media channels offer potential customers new ways to interact with your business through all stages of the buyer lifecycle from initial enquiry about a service or product through to customer service query, comment and feedback.
These new customer communication preferences cannot be ignored, so embrace them and adapt your business processed accordingly so that you are enabling and delighting your customers, not simply managing their expectations.
- Review, revise, recycle and repurpose
As we said in Point 3 above, it’s important that before you launch into social media you consider what you want to achieve and what metrics you’ll use to measure the success of your strategy.
Once you’re underway, use the inbuilt analytics provided on each platform to monitor and measure the results, so you have actionable insights into what works and what doesn’t.
The beauty of social media is that almost everything is measurable, so you can stay on top of your activity on an hour by hour basis and make decisions quickly.
Use your social media insights to inform future campaign approach and to tweak your content and offers, recycling what’s worked and adjusting what hasn’t.
- Monitor your WHOLE online presence
Your social media channels are not the only online places you need to keep an eye on.
If you, your products or your business are mentioned or talked about in places and ways you weren’t previously aware of, you need to know.
Use alerting services such as Google Alerts to monitor industry discussion forums, review pages and online directories where your business has a presence (as well as those where it doesn’t).
Take note of what’s being said and listen out for other discussions and conversations that are going on around your business and industry sector, and observe those involving your competitors.
As with any conversation, wait for the right moment to get involved.
- Don’t let emotion get the better of you
While it might be tempting to rant and rave on social media, it’s not advisable. Things can get carried away very quickly.
Personal views, comments and opinions are very much the stuff of social media, but not when it involves either being very critical of others or venting personal emotions.
Rule of thumb: just be professional, behave on social media as you would in any other social situation and when responding to a negative comment or review be measured, circumspect and proportionate.
If you’re not sure about posting something, seek advice. Always try to defuse a “situation”, and if necessary take it offline by suggesting a meeting or phone call.
Good luck in your digital endeavours! If you want a helping hand with your social media company, training for your team, content and editorial production or a company to plan and manage your social media strategy for you create contact us at C4B Media at firstname.lastname@example.org