Social media can be a tricky beast to tame. Attempt to sail its challenging waters without a chart and you’ll quickly find yourself with no direction to follow. But if you get it right, you’ll effectively harness the power of one of the most powerful B2B marketing and traffic generation machines in existence today.
According to HubSpot, social media plays an important role with 75% of your potential customers as they’re about to make a buying decision. For a sales force this influential, failing to incorporate it into your overall marketing strategy equates to leaving money on the table.
But how to make sense of it all and integrate it into your overall marketing strategy? Buckle up your seat-belt as you’re about to find out!
What is a B2B social media marketing strategy and why you need one
Business to business (B2B for short) social media marketing involves reaching out to other businesses to sell your products and services and to boost brand awareness. Although the goals may be similar compared to its traditional counterpart, any B2B marketing strategy that’s worth its salt has a couple of notable differences.
First and foremost, you should be focusing on cultivating mutually-beneficial business relationships. For those you’ve already established, every so often, you should remind them of your existence as to prevent the flames from dying out too quickly – you want to keep them around for as long as possible.
It’s also about giving value by sharing valuable industry insights and informative statistics. This tends to work way better than blasting out the name of your brand with no added value to the reader. Ideally, you want to give them helpful tips and strategies they can implement the very same day.
The content you post doesn’t necessarily need to be something new or never seen before, so don’t feel pressured by it. Remember that your business prospects are looking for your unique take on a subject. They want to see how you feel about it and there’s no shame to engage in opinionated topics as long as you can back up your claims with rock-solid arguments.
In turn, people will start to perceive you as an authority in your niche and become your repeat customers.
The step-by-step process
Knowing the basic ingredients of a good B2B social media marketing strategy is a good start, but it will get you nowhere without developing the right mindset and laying out a concrete step-by-step plan to follow.
The key thing to remember is that B2B marketing is an ongoing process rather than a one-time gig. While the results are unlikely to come overnight, you are bound to see them if you make the time in your schedule to post at least once a week (ideally more).
Below, you’ll find the steps you need to take on your B2B social media marketing journey, along with any specifics you’ll need to master for each:
Step 1: Pinpoint your objectives
The first step is to define and pinpoint the objectives of your campaign. Is it to:
- Raise brand awareness?
- Educate your audience?
- Build credibility and trust?
- Achieve other goals?
Ideally, you should have answered ‘yes’ to all of the above. In fact, the most successful B2B marketers rate these as the most important objectives to aim for, which interestingly falls high above generating more sales (unlike what your gut instinct may be telling you). Remember, no one wants to be sold to, and the same mantra applies to B2B marketing of any sort. Information-based marketing will get you there much faster.
At any rate, once you’ve found the answers, you’ll have everything you need to start moving in the right direction and working out the remaining specific details. The bottom line is, whatever approach to B2B marketing you end up taking, it should be in line with the objectives you’ve outlined during this crucial initial step.
Step 2: Create your ideal customer persona
To address our prospects’ concerns with informative content, we first need to find out what’s bothering them or in what particular aspects of their business they’re struggling with. This, of course, will heavily depend on the niche you’re in.
In this step, the objective is to determine their:
- Age range
- Level of education
- Crucial pain points
One of the strategies that works very well for this is using websites like Similarweb that virtually serve you this kind of information on a silver platter. All you need to do is to enter one highly trafficked website your prospects are likely to hang around often. With a little bit of googling, this shouldn’t be that hard to find.
For their pain points, specifically, try to come up with thematically-relevant niche forums where they’re likely to be posting. If you’re not a fan of forums or tend to think they’re getting a bit out of fashion, Facebook groups are another place to look at.
Then, grab a pen and a piece of paper and note the recurring themes and questions. This will greatly serve you later on when you reach the stage of laying out your content strategy – the most effective content tends to be designed around answering these questions and providing a solution to their problems and pain points.
All of this will help you shape your ideal customer persona. After all, if you’re selling to a 30-something male-dominant business audience, the tone of your content will be different than if you were trying to gather the attention of 40-something stay-at-home moms who love crocheting.
Step 3: Define what social media channels to target
Another major piece of the puzzle is to decide what social media channels are worth going after and laser-focusing your efforts on these. The last thing you’d want to be doing is spreading yourself too thin by trying to cover all of them. Instead, it’s much better to start with the most popular one in your industry and work your way up from there later on if you so choose.
Depending on your industry, LinkedIn may be more relevant than Facebook, for example (typically this tends to be the case with B2B marketing). Ask yourself this: Where are your prospective customers likely to gather?
You’re free to research this on your own, but Content Marketing Institute seems to suggest that 96% of B2B social media marketers are on LinkedIn, and 82% of Twitter. And there’s probably are reason behind it. So if you have no clue where to start, you can’t go wrong with either of them.
Note that the two B2B social media marketing channels we’ve mentioned have completely different content standards. While industry insight type articles tend to work very well on LinkedIn, Twitter only allows you to use a maximum of 280 characters in your tweets. For obvious reasons, the way you structure your posts will need to take this into consideration.
If you can’t decide between the two, it’s entirely possible to use Twitter as an extension of your LinkedIn marketing campaigns. Whenever you post an article there, simply tweet out its title and URL, which shouldn’t take you more than a minute.
If, however, you want to step things up a notch, there are other things you can do on Twitter, which involves getting social and interacting with your target audience (we’ll be covering more of that in the following step).
Step 4: Lay out your content strategy
Don’t reinvent the wheel - check what your competitors are doing to see what works, then find a unique way to do it better. To give you an idea what your account can be about, consider the following ideas:
- Industry insights
- Helpful tips
- Career advice
- Customer support
It’s entirely feasible to pick just one category (such as customer support) and have the entire account be dedicated to it.
But whatever you decide to do, don’t be pushy or try to push your audience into buying something from you too aggressively. Be patient and the sales will come. To give them a bit of a nudge, you can naturally include a few lines about your products or services within your helpful and informative articles and outline how they will help your audience solve their problems.
If there’s a controversial topic in your industry, let them know your thoughts on the subject matter. Since the title itself will compel them to click through to read the whole article, this is a great way to get noticed without resorting to cheesy clickbait strategies.
You can also take a proactive approach to your B2B social media marketing by interacting with people. If there’s a discussion, join in and add something of value or bring something interesting to the table.
The beauty of this strategy is that it won’t feel like selling – you won’t be doing any of it. But if you manage to catch their attention, they will be inclined to check out your profile to learn more about you and discover your products and services along the way (don’t forget to include your company URL in your profile).
Step 5: Find a way to track your efforts
Last but not least, you should find a way to track your efforts to see whether what you’re doing is bringing you results. This is especially important if you’re posting in multiple social media channels. Ideally, you should at least have some sort of an idea where your traffic is coming from to determine what’s working (and consequently focusing on it even more).
To do so, you will need to have set some concrete goals (please refer to step 1). For starters, you should measure clicks, conversions, engagement, and similar metrics. Many marketers use link shorteners such as Bit.ly or anything that lets you count how many times someone has clicked on your links. You should also be using website analytics to dissect these numbers more in-depth.
We will tell you more about these below.
The tools that will make the process easier for you
As long as you have a website up and running, none of the tools we’re about to reveal are an absolute must for you to be using, but merely suggestions – they will undoubtedly make your life easier in more ways than one. So it absolutely pays off to invest a little time to get a general idea of how they work.
If there’s even been a one-stop shop for planning and automating your B2B social media marketing campaigns, it’s got to be Ocoya. It works with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok and virtually every other social media channel you can imagine.
From there, you can not only have an advanced AI algorithm generate humanly-readable posts for you at the click of a button, but you can also schedule them to be posted automatically at predetermined intervals.
On top of that, it features a built-in photo and video editor, lets you collaborate with your freelancers, and also works as a click-tracker, so there’s no need to look for other dedicated tools separately. Best of all, it’s 100% cloud-based, so there’s nothing to install!
Let’s give you an example of how simple it is to shorten a link with it.
Step 1: Visit the tool’s main page and click “My content”.
Step 2: Click “Link Shortener”.
Step 3: Enter your link and click “Shorten”.
Step 4: Copy the shortened link to your clipboard.
Ta-da! Now, simply include the shortened URL in every one of your posts and the platform will automatically track how many clicks your links are getting. Neat!
Other features such as content drafting and scheduling are equally as simple and you can get everything integrated in just a few steps without any kind of technical knowledge.
This cloud-based tool helps you nail your target audience down to specific variables like age, gender, education, interests, etc. All you need is to enter an URL of a website your prospective customers are likely to frequent on a regular basis, and you’ll get all the information you need to know. No need for a tutorial – that’s how simple it is.
3. Web analytics
If you want to measure your results, determine where your traffic is coming from, and how they’re behaving on your website, you’re going to need to install a web analytics tool on your website. Google Analytics is a popular choice among webmasters and marketers alike. You’ll find everything you need to know about how to install it on the official website. Some people prefer to be using other third-party web analytics tools, which is fine as well.
4. Payment processor
While not directly related to your B2B social media marketing campaigns, the goal is to eventually drive sales through your efforts, which should be one of the secondary objectives. For that purpose, it’s better to be prepared in advance – after all, you never know when a sale might come in.
Stripe and Paypal are both popular payment processors for you to integrate on your website, but there are alternatives too. Be advised that the more payment methods you support, the more likely you are to close a sale. The last thing you’d want to see is to lose a customer at the cashout screen due to a minor inconvenience.
5. CRM tools
When building business relationships with your clients, eventually, it’s going to become next to impossible to track where you stand with each client manually without making a ton of notes. But there is an easier way – use CRM tools! These are purposefully designed to help you do that in the most efficient way possible. Hubspot is a great example!
6. Collaboration tools
If and when you eventually decide to outsource B2B social media marketing by hiring content writers, graphic designers, and social media managers, it helps to set up a tool that lets you manage and coordinate their work. Asana, Monday, Trello and similar are all good options to consider. Don’t forget Ocoya can do this too.
And there we have it! By reaching the end, you now have everything necessary to start drafting the perfect B2B social media marketing strategy that’s custom-tailored to your preferences and needs. You understand the importance of it and how it fits into your overall long-term marketing plans. The rest comes down to following the steps we’ve outlined for you and making it happen.