Midas Touch, the company I run, is a B2B Specialist, digital and social media marketing agency. Through that, over the past few years, we have got an opportunity to interact with hundreds of businesses offering products and services to other businesses – also called as B2B services. A few years ago, businesses were almost convinced that social media does not work for B2B. However, things have radically changed now. Several studies, stats, research, and experiences have convinced organizations that if they have to survive in today’s competitive marketplace, they have no option but to adopt social media optimally.
The challenge, however, occurs when the team handling their social media does not understand the intricacies of B2B social media – one needs to understand that it is very different than B2C social media and needs some special expertise.
As a starting point, I am sharing answers to some of the most fundamental questions about B2B Social media -
What is the importance of a blog for a B2B business?
In our experience, we have seen that the blog section is typically one of the top three most viewed sections on the website. The blog offers you a great opportunity to create fresh content for your website (Google loves fresh content), it allows you to answer the latest questions of your target audience, it helps you establish your thought leadership, and it helps you appear as a knowledge expert in your industry. I would highly recommend having an active blog section on your website.
Can the in-house subject matter experts write the blogs?
Before I answer this question, let us first understand what is a relevant and appropriate blog article. A relevant blog article should answer the questions of your target audience, it should educate your audience (and not sell), it should talk about the solutions to the buyer’s problems (and not the features of your product/ service), and it should make the reader the hero (your product should not take the center stage). B2B content writing is a specific skill. I have earlier written about the traits of successful B2B content writer. If you have subject matter experts who are skillful writers and understand all these aspects, they can absolutely write the blogs for your business.
What all types of content can I create?
B2B businesses think that blog posts are the only form of content which they can create. However, that’s not true. There are multiple other options such as infographics, eBooks or whitepapers. Infographics are highly visual and extremely useful for establishing thought leadership. You can use these to create awareness and start conversations with your target audience. Whitepapers and eBooks are very good authoritative reports and more in-depth than a blog. They can be used to address specific business issues in detail with in-depth research and original point of view. These are excellent sources to demonstrate technical knowledge or business information. These can be your very good weapons for specific targeted campaigns and lead generation. You can also use other forms of content such as webinars or podcasts.
What is the role of webinars and podcasts?
Webinars and podcasts are great mediums to generate awareness about your brand and also to get qualified leads. These are brilliant tools to move the prospects up in the interest ladder. You can conduct webinars with your customers or industry experts. Product webinars are also very effective for keeping the prospects engaged.
Which are the most relevant social channels for B2B content promotion?
LinkedIn is the most active and vibrant social channel for professionals. People use LinkedIn not only for job search but also for professional connections, social selling, thought leadership (through LinkedIn Pulse) and group participation. So you definitely have to consider LinkedIn, LinkedIn Company Page, and LinkedIn Groups as your prominent social channels. Next, I would recommend Twitter. Twitter is extremely effective for sharing your content, easily connecting with industry experts and influencers, and joining the ongoing conversations. SlideShare is an another good channel for lead capture if you have very high quality, educational presentations. The tight integration of SlideShare with LinkedIn makes the promotion of those presentations easy. If you have very good quality videos, you should consider using YouTube because that’s the second most used search engine. In the B2B context, you can upload your conference speaker videos or product videos on YouTube. There are many other channels as well and the choice depends on where your target audience is. However, these four would top my list in most of the scenarios.
Is Facebook relevant for B2B?
It’s very tempting to say “It depends”. But let me elaborate more on this. Facebook is a great channel to reach out to the audience outside your sphere of influence. However, remember that people are on Facebook to connect with their families and friends. When they are on Facebook, they usually have no intent of doing any research or study for their business needs. Therefore, while Facebook makes it a great channel if you are running a restaurant, eCommerce site, or a salon, it is not a great medium if you want to reach out to serious buyers when they are looking for solutions to their problems. Having said that, Facebook is a great platform for talent acquisition and talent branding for B2B businesses.
Within how much time can I start getting leads from social media?
Let’s understand this - Social media and content marketing are (crucial) parts of your overall sales funnel. These are not the ONLY channels for your sales. B2B sale is a complex process where multiple stakeholders are involved and they are evaluating the vendors at multiple stages for various things. You, as the vendor, need to ensure that you are in front of the buyer when she is doing her research, you are helping her in her decision making, appearing as a knowledge partner, and creating a positive impression about your company. Let’s be honest here - It is quite unlikely that someone will read a piece of content written by you and immediately fill out the contact form on your site (aka convert into a lead).
How should I measure the RoI?
Almost everything about social media is highly trackable and measurable – which, of course, is good. I would highly recommend you measure both the qualitative as well as quantitative RoI. By qualitative RoI, I mean things like who is engaging with you, what are the questions people are asking you, which hashtags are working for you etc. By quantitative RoI, I mean you can track things like impressions (which is a great measure of visibility), overall engagement with your content, visits to your site, time spent on your site by the people who are coming from social channels, downloads for specific items like eBook and whitepaper etc.
What is the best way to integrate the offline events with social media?
Social is a great way to leverage the offline events like conferences and events. For starters, you can always create online buzz about your event through social platforms by creating specific event hashtags. If you are attending a conference, you can engage with other people who are talking about the conference. You can also engage with specific speakers or exhibitors since almost everyone is on social these days. Twitter works very well for all such things. The other way is to do live promotion of the event – as the easiest option, you can do the live tweeting. Post the conference, you can share your experience and learnings through blog posts.
What is the role of personal branding of the founder?
People connect with people and not with companies. In the B2B context, therefore, it is very important to remember that your company brand also needs a face. People want to know who are the people behind the company, their backgrounds, and their expertise. Having a well-developed LinkedIn profile is just the starting point. The founders of the companies should focus on building their personal brand through blog articles, active online presence through LinkedIn and Twitter. I have shared more detailed views on the importance and how to of personal branding, here.
I hope this article helped you in getting answers to your common questions. If you have any more questions, I will be happy to answer those. Just post those in the comments below!