While the business to consumer marketing world are fully engaged in social media marketing, business to business on the other hand has been slow to get going. However, it seems that 2014 may be the year that all of that changes.
There are a growing number of well-known B2B brands beginning to take social media marketing more seriously in an effort to build brand awareness, to generate leads and to recruit employees. In a recent survey, Advertising Age revealed that 80% of B2B marketers plan on increasing their 2014 digital spend by 13% with a significant portion of their budget going towards social media marketing.
Some insights in B2B social media marketing best practices.
1) Put the right person or team in place A nephew, your daughter's boyfriend or your next door neighbor – although they may be computer whiz kids – most certainly don't qualify for a social media marketing job. Interns and junior staff (just 'cause they're young) may lack the skills and experience to build and protect your company's reputation online. Make sure that a social media policy is in place and that the person responsible (or the team) are fully aware of your plan, your voice, and know how to effectively handle sticky issues before they get out of hand.
2) Have a strategic plan in place It's important to take the time to think about your strategic goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. There's no sense in jumping head first into social media without a roadmap of where you're headed and how you're planning on getting there. Once you define your overall social media marketing goals(e.g. increase sales) and determine specific objectives (e.g. grow your LinkedIn connections), focusing on your core strategy (e.g. create thought leadership content) and tactics (e.g. post new content on a daily basis, through the week) will help you succeed.
3) What tools are right for your business? It may seem like a great idea to use as many social media channels as possible, after all, they're free. But, all tools are not created equal. Let's face it, LinkedIn is one of the top B2B social media marketing tools and one that you'll definitely need to maintain. There are however, plenty of other places to market your brand online. Pinterest may be the ideal channel for you to showcase your products. For example, General Electric and Bombardier do a great job of showcasing machines and jets and sharing these photos on Pinterest.
4)Include content marketing Content is still "king" and should be a huge part of your overall social media strategy. Content comes in many different forms including, creating blogs, photos, videos and other content to promote what you do. Your mission is to help educate your buyer. On that note, according to a recent IDG Connect B2B study, 89% of IT buyers want educational content. In also noted that "IT buyers will soon look to social media as the single most important content source to inform their buying decisions."
5) Embrace your online partners There are partners who work within your company or organization and there are those partners that you're connected with online. Engage with them. Share their posts. Like their photos. Leave comments on their blog posts. Put the spotlight on them. Don't overlook your partners to help you reach new audiences within your own industry. Partner amplification should be an ongoing strategy.