In simple terms social media is just another marketing channel.
For those who see this as an added complication and more hard work, then I’m afraid you are right. As with all the marketing channels available to businesses, social media requires a degree of understanding and specialism to get results. Just like the traditional channels such as trade press, direct marketing or exhibitions.
Unfortunately many business owners and marketing departments that have a lot of experience in traditional marketing channels do not see themselves as well equipped to deal with this new channel. Instead they see the young generation that has grown up with social media as the obvious answer. But whilst millennials have grown up using this form of communication they do not know how to use it for business purposes. In fact the very people that understand business strategy and B2B Marketing are the people that have the best starting position to make the most of B2B Social Media Marketing.
Start with Marketing Strategy and then focus on a programme to suit your market, situation, budget and timescales. Most often we find that in your programme you need to make sure you:
- Use the right people
- Get found on social media
- Complement it with paid advertising
- Integrate it with your marketing channels
- Engage with your community
- Monitor, Analyse and Optimise
Step 1: Get started with marketing strategy and the right people
Marketing strategy stems directly from your business strategy and business objectives for sales and marketing. Marketing strategy identifies the target persona, and focuses on their needs and pains, and how your solution can be communicated. Once you understand your market and your competitive positioning then you can identify which channels would be best to communicate with the target persona.
If social media is a good option then you need to make sure you have people who are skilled and experience with it. This may be an agency or an individual to be recruited as an employee. The important point is that they are familiar with the technology, the culture and best practice of the media, and also that they are marketing professionals, familiar with the full marketing mix and business issues.
Step 2: Monitor, Analyse, Plan, Focus and Integrate
Social media offers the opportunity for two-way communication, and listening to your target persona is easier with social media than other channels. Even in the most ‘boring’ industries people are interesting, and by monitoring what they talk about online then you learn how to engage with them.
Robots can get in the way. Monitoring helps us to see what people actually prioritise. When you see what issues people respond to, and understand what comments people actually engage with, then you know how you can successfully engage. Blindly broadcasting your message and / or using marketing automation robots to follow people does not necessarily help. You may not be engaging with your target persona, just their robots! It is only when you see intelligent responses and proper conversation that you actually engaging.
Technology advances help us sift through the huge volumes of monitoring information available, possible on a scale that was not possible before. But it does need data analysis skills and benefits from an analytical mindset, not necessarily the skill-set of the traditional marketeer.
Having identified where your audience is actually engaging, you can then invest resources in that social media channel or mix of channels, but if you can focus your efforts on a few media then that will be more efficient.
Step 3: Advertise and Get Found
Awareness is often one of the biggest problems for mid-sized B2B businesses, and social media is now a good option. Advertising works when your message gets in front of your target audience, and Twitter and Facebook in particular offer platforms that deliver results today. They offer the opportunity to pay by results and this can be very effective, albeit expensive compared to organic search / content marketing.
Step 4: Engage
Engagement is a function of the quality of your content and the amount of time you can afford to dedicate to it yourself on social media.
Step 5: Optimise
As with most marketing programmes we need to loop back. We need to review performance and make adjustments. Unless we learn what is working and adapt, then we will not optimise the programme. It is a dynamic situation.
Your audience, market, competition and the environment are continually changing, therefore you need to adapt, and a tool-set is essential to this process. At Elder Digital Marketing we use HubSpot, but there are many others.