Even B2B marketing efforts can benefit from a positive social media presence. Businesses are run by people and people are on social media today. Although not everyone will want to talk business on their Facebook page, engaging folks through social media can help your B2B efforts stay at the top of the minds of decision makers and eventually bring you some revenue. It also helps your brand, gets your business known, and might even influence your B2C presence as well.
It all begins with how you find your audience. Follow the businesses that are your current customers and have your marketing people interact with their marketing people. Get involved with those who are known to influence your niche industry as well so that you can begin building more relationships. Spreading your brand awareness is important, but developing long-term partnerships through social media engagement is what leads to better levels of success.
Once you find your audience, you’ll be ready for these additional best practices.
1. It’s not just a one-way street.
The biggest problem that B2B marketers face on social media is that they bring a certain level of narcissism with them. With a world filled to the brim with selfies, individualized status updates, and team successes, it’s not hard to see why a little ego seems like a good thing. It isn’t. Don’t just push products onto B2B prospects and talk about how awesome your team happens to be. Value comes from the classic 80/20 rule, but the 20 here is pushing your product. The 80 is providing information to prospects that they’ll want to see on their feeds every day.
2. Engage on every level.
Social media tends to engage on an individualized level, but for the best B2B presence, it has to go beyond that. Partnerships are required at every level. This means you’ll need to engage your B2B prospects with your marketing and sales teams on a 1-on-1 basis. Your brand will need to engage with other brands in the niche to establish a small pocket of expertise. The business needs to engage with other businesses to set itself apart, but still have relationships. That consistency is what will lead to more sales.
3. Use it to enhance value.
Social media can be used for more than just talk and links. Consider using it as a tool for your customer service department. If your B2B prospect has an issue that comes up after hours, they can interact with your brand through social media and relieve their immediate anxiety. You can then respond when you have a moment, offering enhanced services that will ultimately speak of enhanced value.
4. Hashtags have their place.
If you see a post on Instagram, then you’ll see an average of 11 hashtags. On Twitter, you might see 2-4 hashtags per post. On Facebook, you’ll see 1 occasionally. Hashtags have their place because they help you brand search through specific posts and track data trends, but different social media platforms respond differently to them. If your primary presence is on Instagram, it doesn’t really matter how many hashtags are used. If your presence is on Facebook alone, however, just 2 hashtag search terms is enough to drive people away.
5. Regularly analyze the data that is received through social media.
Something that has been very effective this week may be the worst idea ever next week. Trends fade quickly on social media and it is up to your marketing team to make sure that your brand is staying ahead of the curve. Analyze the B2B interactions that you’re receiving through social media at least once per week so that you can see where your best responses tend to be. Shift your focus consistently so that your strengths are always placed on point and your ROI will improve as a result.
6. Use paid promotion when it makes sense.
Promoted links can help B2B prospects easily find your presence on social media, but your team needs to be smart about when to use this type of marketing. Without strict guidelines in place for customer segments, you could be paying for impressions that will never result in a potential lead or sale. Consider defining a conversion as a like on your Facebook page or a follow on your Twitter account with your paid efforts to get an idea of who is wanting what you’ve got and who isn’t paying any attention at all.
7. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
Being on social media with a B2B emphasis can be a full-time job. It’s tempting to put yourself onto every social network where you’ve got customer segments, but that will eventually wear out your team and make you ineffective. Instead of being on dozens of sites simultaneously, look for a social media presence where a majority of your customers tend to be. If that means you’re on LinkedIn, then dominate it. If you’re on Facebook and Twitter, then don’t spend all your time on one site and virtually none on the other. Two or three platforms is the most you should have.
8. Timing is more important than ever before.
The average B2B prospect isn’t actually going to be on social media during working hours. Although some folks get updates on their smartphones and continuously engage while at their desk, the average person will be online before and after work. Consider engaging people between 7-9am and then 5-6pm to get the best results. Weekends can be incredibly useful as well, especially on Sundays in the B2B world when most prospects are going to take a break.
9. Use your active listening skills.
Instead of speaking to your audience, let them do the speaking for you. Active listening means more than just seeing what your B2B prospects have to say. It also means getting onto the same page. Repeat back to them what you’re seeing to see if you’ve understood them. This allows for a natural back-and-forth that will quickly build relationships and eventually brand loyalty.
10. Videos that are posted online can drive home value.
A well-produced video can help your B2B prospects see products or services first-hand without much effort at all. More than half of the prospects who see a video of something they’re interested in will research it further by visiting a company’s website. Because up to 90% of the sales process occurs before a B2B prospect ever makes direct contact, the video can also serve as a natural call to action that will help people feel more comfortable engaging because they’re getting to know you on their terms.
Refine your processes consistently. Stay positive. Provide value. When you follow these B2B social media best practices, then you’ll be able to engage your prospects in a meaningful way and that will eventually mean more revenues.