Many B2B companies tend to focus on traditional methods of bringing in customers through paid advertising, trade shows and cold calling. But the fact is, like B2C companies, they should also be investing heavily in organic methods for attracting customers, like social media.
While B2B social media won’t operate exactly like B2C social media does, it can deliver similar, positive results and ensure that B2B companies are building their customer bases and meeting their sales goals. In today’s business environment, B2B companies must have a social media strategy in place to succeed.
B2B Social Media Pays Off
When B2B companies properly use social media, they can experience excellent outcomes. According to Weidert, 54% of B2B marketers report that they have generated leads from social media. In addition, 55% of B2B buyers conduct research on social media, and 84% of VP-level and C-level buyers are influenced by social media when making purchasing decisions.
Though B2B social media is highly effective for generating leads, most B2B companies using it don’t have documented strategies. In fact, 80% of B2B marketers say they have a specific social media strategy, but only 32% have a documented one.
Why Have a Documented B2B Social Media Strategy?
A documented B2B social media strategy provides the roadmap for how B2B companies will proceed with their social media efforts. If you're simply posting occasionally on various platforms and not measuring results, you won't see if you're targeting the right audiences, spending money in the most effective ways or reaching your key performance indicators (KPIs).
To get started with B2B social media, follow these nine steps for creating a documented and thorough social media strategy.
1. Determine KPIs
The first step in creating a social media strategy is to determine your KPIs. KPIs should be specific and include a timeframe. Some common KPIs include:
- Gaining 200 more followers on Twitter per month
- Increase engagement (likes, clicks, shares and comments) by 20% on Facebook posts within 60 days
- Increase web traffic from social media campaigns by 15% within 30 days
- Increase conversions from social media by 10% in the first quarter
2. Determine How to Track KPIs
Before you start posting on social media, determine how you will track performance through analytics. You can track social media metrics using a variety of different tools, including:
- Google Analytics, which shows what social media platforms are bringing the most visitors to your site, goal completions for your posts and conversions from posts.
- HubSpot Social, which monitors social mentions and engagement, and compares the performance of different platforms, campaigns and publishing times.
- CoSchedule, which tracks post engagement, gives you in-depth reports about performance and recommends the best time and day to post, along with the best content to post.
- BuzzSumo, which shows your most shared links on social media, helps with social listening and allows you to find top influencers in your field.
3. Decide Which Social Platforms You’ll Use
A well-documented B2B social media strategy involves finding the most effective platforms. While most platforms are suitable for B2C, B2B has specific platforms that work best, such as:
- LinkedIn, the most-used social media platform for Fortune 500 companies. It is the no. 1 platform that B2B marketers use to distribute content, and LinkedIn makes up more than 50% of all social traffic for B2B blogs and websites.
- Twitter, the second most popular site for B2B content distribution, as well as the second place that marketing executives turn to when looking for quality content.
- YouTube, which 59% of marketers use to distribute content. It is rated the fourth most effective B2B channel, falling only behind email, LinkedIn and print.
While Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels are available, these three platforms offer the best bang for your B2B social media buck and will help you achieve your KPIs.
4. Optimize Your Social Media Profiles
After choosing a platform, you’ll want to make sure your profiles are optimized. For example, on LinkedIn, a member with a photo will receive nine times more connection requests and 21 times more profile views than one without a photo. On LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, upload clear photos of your logo and eye-catching cover images. Make sure your bios are completely filled out and link to your website and other social media accounts. Don't forget to include your contact information in case a prospect wants to get in touch.
5. Look at Your Competitors’ Posts
Before creating any content or posts, look at what your competitors are doing with their B2B social media strategies. See what platforms they're on, how many followers they have, how frequently they’re posting, what tone they take, how many posts are promotional (paid) instead of organic and what kinds of media they use.
Use this information to create a social media competitive analysis report to share with your team. While you don’t want to post the same things as your competitors or copy them outright, you can use your report to determine what strategies work best for them and how to implement those elements into your own strategy.
6. Look at Top B2B Companies’ Strategies
Along with looking at your competitors, find out what successful B2B companies in your industry and beyond are doing on social media. For instance, IBM has a large social media following, with more than 241,000 subscribers and over 38 million views. They create compelling videos that raise the hot-button issues of today, tell great stories and feature influencers.
Another B2B brand, Salesforce, is highly popular on LinkedIn, with more than 1.2 million followers. Like IBM, they tap into the issues of today and create content around those issues to entice their followers. They recently posted about the World Economic Forum and Women’s History Month, for example. Look at what other companies are doing to learn some key takeaways for your own campaigns.
7. Create Content for Social Media
You’re going to need content you can post on your B2B social media sites. Best practices for creating B2B content include:
- Produce content for different buyer personas in various stages of the buyer’s journey. You want to ensure you're reaching all your customers and the various stages they are in.
- Include a mix of top of the funnel and bottom of the funnel content. Top of the funnel content would include a blog post or white paper, and bottom of the funnel content would include a demo video or testimonials page.
- Use multimedia like videos, images, memes, charts, etc. Social media is where people go for visual inspiration, so include interesting media to go along with your posts.
- Highlight your team and partners. This gives a face to your company and endears your customers to you. You could post team bios, behind the scenes photos from company gatherings and interviews with leadership.
- Establish authority by responding to industry news and trending topics. Follow relevant companies and publications in your industry. Building rapport with industry influencers is always a good idea, as their validation gives you credibility.
- Share a mix of original content (such as your own blog posts, white papers, ebooks, product videos and webinars) and curated content from top industry sources. The sweet spot is to post third-party links 50 to 75% of the time, and original content 25 to 50% of the time.
- Experiment with posting times and frequency of posts. Industry research shows that posting on Facebook on Thursday is the best, while the safest times you could post on social media in general are weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. However, your followers may have different schedules, so test to see what works well for you. Make sure to post across platforms at least once per day to keep followers engaged.
8. Schedule Your Posts
Once your content is lined up, you can schedule your posts. With tools like HubSpot, CoSchedule, Hootsuite and Buffer, you can easily bulk schedule posts and receive insights on the best time of day to post.
9. Measure Your Results
Now it’s time to monitor how your social campaigns performed. Did you reach your KPIs? To determine this, you can look to your analytics platforms to see things like engagement, follower count, shares and other helpful insights that will be useful when planning your next campaign. If you didn’t reach your KPIs, look at where you came up short and decide what tweaks need to be made to your social media strategy.
With a documented B2B social media strategy, it’s easier to reach your goals, boost sales and ensure the success of your company for years to come. And, by using proper monitoring tools, you can continuously adjust your strategy to make sure it continues performing effectively and is finding your audience.