Is your company new to the B2B social media game - or are you revamping your strategy? Get your platform going in five steps.
B2B companies shouldn't consider social media as one part of their marketing strategy, rather they should look at it as an integrated part of the whole strategy. Social media incorporates your content marketing strategy, your SEO and digital marketing strategy as well as your email marketing strategy. Therefore, when building your social media platform (and by platform I mean "structure" - what tools are you going to use and how) to sell your products/services in a B2B environment, build it knowing you will have to pull pieces from these other strategies like sharing content, driving customers from email to social media interactions and driving business from social media to your website.
- Do a brand mapping exercise
Brand mapping is crucial for your strategy and allows you to plan what social media tools you will use and how. The classic brand mapping exercise includes a price vs. quality analysis in a quadrant that allows a company to know where they stand against the competition in terms of costs and quality (high end, high quality, low end, cheap). You can take brand mapping one step further and list all of the attributes associated with your company, for example: experts in the industry, outstanding customer service, industry award winners. I always perform brand analysis using three levels: our brand's strongest attributes, attributes we can work on to become strong attributes, our areas of weakness. This allows me to build my social media strategy around these points and learn how to differentiate ourselves from competitors.
Attributes can be anything from price to performance to the brand's physical presence like logo colors.
- Make a social media checklist
Now that you know how you need to sell your brand on social media, make a list of which tools/sites will work the best. For B2B marketing, LinkedIn and Twitter are practically a must. But consider other sites as well. For example, if your company's strength is its expertise and expert content, consider building an account on Slideshare to share your expertise. Don't rule out sites like YouTube for B2B - you can create a channel with expert videos on your products/services, conduct interviews with your CEO and other experts or demonstrate your products. If your B2B business focuses on visual content, consider how to use sites like Instagram to showcase your work. Make a short list and then narrow it down.
Don't forget to consider social media management tools on your list such as Hootsuite and Hubspot. Some versions are free, others require a budget. Again, looking at your brand mapping you'll know what you want to get out of social media and whether it's worth a financial investment. If you're starting out, use Hootsuite to manage your social media accounts.
- Create your accounts and build profiles
You know your strategy and which tools you're going to use. Create your account, keeping in mind some basic points.
- Keep your company name simple - drop the LLC, Ltd, etc after the name and avoid symbols on Twitter like hyphens, underscores, etc. Make sure people can find you.
- Make your company website and contact details evident
- Choose images that reflect your branding attributes
- Consider building an individual employee profile on sites like LinkedIn and Twitter to give a face to the brand.
You can start building your profile immediately by following others in your industry and connecting your various social media pages to each other.
- Create content that matches your brand mapping analysis
Once you've created your account, it's time to start interacting. Start creating content - articles, blog posts, status updates - that reflect your strongest brand attributes. In the B2B environment, customers generally want to see information related to their industry, whether it's growing or shrinking and why. Share content that triggers a call to action like visiting the website or contacting the company for more info. Start discussions in LinkedIn groups with fellow experts.
Don't forget the important use of hashtags. Search the key hashtags in your industry, Twitter provides a status report on how certain hashtags perform, and reach out your main audience. Before posting any content, you should be able to answer: which brand attribute am I promoting here?
- Analyze and repeat steps 1-4
As any good marketer knows, the analytics don't lie. Analyze your social media performance quantitatively (how many new followers and leads generated) and qualitatively (what is the quality of my social media presence?).
Your analysis will allow you to repeat the social media marketing process. Do you need to review your brand mapping or is it working? Should you be using different social media tools? Is your profile accurately reflecting your brand? Does my content match my brand mapping?
Strategize. Create. Analyze. Repeat.