Have you noticed the insight, “B2B marketers don’t get social” has become something of a recurring theme over the past few years? As far as some digital marketing bloggers are concerned, it has even attained the status of a universal absolute on par with “the sky is blue,” “the grass is green” and “the Chicago Cubs are bad at baseball.”
Oh, wait …
But maybe there’s a little grain of truth to it …
Your LinkedIn page may not be barren, but you might not post as often (or as regularly) as you should. Maybe you do post new content frequently, but user engagement has fallen a little flat. Or maybe it’s flatlining.
But now your boss is in your office, eyes twinkling with enthusiasm. He hasn’t even sat down yet but you can just tell. There’s only one thing on his mind:
“This year is the year. The year we get really serious about social.”
Let’s get you some crash paddles.
1. Know your audience, and your competitors.
Resuscitating your social media presence depends on understanding how your customers use social media in their professional lives, especially when it comes to the B2B buy cycle.
And if anyone tells you that social isn’t a smart investment because it can’t be connected back to sales, tell them this: 75% of B2B buyers are influenced by information found on social media. B2B marketers who ignore social media, or fail to create and execute an appropriate social media strategy, put themselves at an inherent disadvantage. That’s why the most important thing you can do before you send a single tweet is to find out where your customers really go online and be there, not where you think they are or where you want them to be.
Need help getting started? Do a competitive social media audit.
Pick three or four of your strongest competitors and check out every social media profile they have. Record what you find, being sure to organize your audit by channel—Facebook posts and data will differ from tweets and LinkedIn posts. You’ll especially want to look for things like:
- How many new followers are they getting every month, quarter and year?
- What are they talking about? Do they post the same things on all their accounts, or do certain accounts appear to have a focus—promoting job openings and new hires, posting thought leadership content, etc.?
- How regularly are their followers engaging with their posts, and to what degree?
- How often are people sharing their content?
- What time of the day or week are they posting certain things? (Seriously, that really does matter.)
This exercise will go a long way toward helping you understand critical information about your competitors and your target audience. You’ll also get a sense for how much share of voice you can expect to carve out for yourself compared to your competitors; if your business represents 10% of the market in terms of sales, shouldn’t you expect to find at least 10% of your market through social?
We could spend all day talking about how to read social media metrics, but that’s a blog post for another time. Check out analytics partners like Salesforce Radian6 and Synthesio to dig deeper.
2. Have a measurable and meaningful goal in mind.
Like everything a marketer ever makes or does, social media must serve some strategic business purpose, and you need some way to measure success against that objective.
First, what is most important and achievable right now and for the next few quarters? Getting your fair share of voice in customer conversations? Getting customers to see your social content as worth following? Or just getting down the process of a regular social media effort done right so you can build toward those bigger goals?
From articulating the strategy, you come up with the key metrics aligned with the goal—like the metrics we suggested you include in your competitive social media audit, for example. Create, and focus on attaining, successive short-term, highly measurable milestones. You’ll be able to demonstrate the fruit of your efforts, which will keep you and any internal stakeholders energized and faithful throughout the year.
3. Be consistent.
Mastering social media means mastering consistency—in what you say, in how you say it and in how regularly you say it.
Make sure you have an absolutely solid understanding of your brand’s voice, then apply that voice to some of your best new ideas. Then, show them to your boss. Present them as a “teaser” for the kinds of things you want to do this year and be ready to show (via your handy social media audit) why those ideas are valid.
Next, with your supervisor’s approval in hand, buy a cheap calendar at Walgreens and create a rough social media editorial schedule for the rest of the year. What’s going out every day? Every other week? Is there a new theme each month? When do you run promotional content for that October webinar, and for how long?
Writing it all down achieves three things:
- You’ll have a real, physical document that you can refer to at any time. And it keeps you focused (and honest).
- Having your social media planned out in advance helps you produce content on time, and reduces the likelihood of sudden last-minute panics (“Oh my God, we forgot about Memorial Day!”).
- It gives you and your team structure, which gives you the room to be creative and spontaneous without any of the pressure that comes with it.
So, is social media hard? Yes, and especially for B2B. It’s also hard to win the World Series after blowing it for 108 seasons in a row.
Of course we’re over it, why do you ask?
But “hard” is not the same thing as “impossible.” And you don’t even need a miracle. A little planning goes a long, long way. Just remember to reach out if you ever get stuck.