As a newer employee at Weidert Group I’ve had the opportunity to witness firsthand how social media impacts B2B marketing efforts. Many clients tend to be on the bandwagon of "our industry doesn’t use social media" or "none of our prospective clients are searching for us there." That's when the experts—us agency folk & social media connoisseurs—feel the need to intervene: Industrial-sector social media isn't about having the largest, fluffiest following on social media; it's about growing an audience full of B2B leads.
You know how the old saying goes: “if you keep doing what you’ve always done, then you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got." The same is true with B2B social media. If you continue to steer clear because it’s not what has been done before or no one else in your industry maintains it, then you won’t have the chance to see its potential.
Many B2B companies think that the time and resources spent maintaining the various platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter might be better spent elsewhere. What they forget is that these aren't just personal platforms. These are media where business professionals interact, find help, and collaborate together—and, yes, even business professionals in your industry do this.
Simplifying B2B Social Media:
What is it About, Really?
At the root of it, B2B social media is just that: it's social. But it's the kind of business-class social that typically includes trading business cards and donning a suit and tie. The only difference is online, the superficials are replaced with headshots and headlines.
Where most professionals see their LinkedIn and Twitter as personal assets, a B2B social media plan requires that you start using these platforms as professional assets. Your LinkedIn is a business card with extra bells and whistles. Twitter is like having your own individual PR outlet.
If you accept that these days, companies can and should bring in more leads online using inbound-focused content, then B2B social media's goal is to promote content to their contacts and attract more leads from the content they are producing.
Developing both a posting and engagement schedule is necessary for success so that the platforms don’t start to get too overwhelming to manage. This will also help to be able to monitor progress and impact of what’s working and what’s not. Think about what type of leads you are looking to draw in and this will help define what type of content you are sharing.
Content Promotion vs. Lead Engagement
While posting content is important, one of the more undervalued benefits is that of lead engagement. Content promotion certainly helps to drive traffic, educate, and entice customers. However, a unique benefit that is commonly looked over is that of relationship nurturing and engagement through social media. In nearly all platforms there is an opportunity to direct message potential clients to open the door of communication.
This can help to add a face to your company and show that you have taken interest in connecting with them personally. Whether it is a reply to a comment that was posted or an inbox message, that personal touch can help set you apart from competitors. The intention of outreach through social media is to nurture the relationship so make sure to match how you are communicating with that prospect to where they are in their buyer journey. The communication style should be personal and intentional—professional while not being stuffy.
How Each Social Channel Has a Different Function
Social media assists in making a B2B company more visible to the public by complementing your ability to attract visitors via paid search and SEO. Furthermore, an active social media presence creates more opportunities for clients to “find you”—thus impacting your ranking. Clients are likely researching your company online to confirm credibility and get all of the information that they can get their hands on.
The various platforms lend themselves best to certain arenas.
Facebook for B2B companies performs similarly to a yellow page entry but can also educate for free to one of the largest captive audiences out there.
Twitter can be used to get quick trending industry news and again inform consumers as an industry leader.
LinkedIn holds the majority of the weight and opportunity for B2Bs in that it is a professional networking platform. The users on this platform have joined with the intention of connecting with other business professionals and discussing business so it is a perfect match. Most importantly do your own bit of research before reaching out to see what specifically this contact may be interested in and how you can have the most meaningful interaction. Interest groups within LinkedIn can also be a great resource to start natural conversation that could convert into a business opportunity so don’t be afraid to post on those discussion boards.
The overarching message and purpose of maintaining B2B social media accounts is for relationship development and further lead nurturing. Old business development tactics in the B2B sphere can become stale. If an effort is made through social media towards creative engagement, prospective clients will respond. It helps to leverage lead generation opportunities and cast an even wider net.