By now, most B2B companies readily agree that social media can and should be an integral part of your inbound marketing strategy. Leveraging the right social channels helps you create awareness for your brand, establish thought leadership, connect to a more targeted pool of prospects -- and garner key insights about your target audience.
Despite the importance of a smart social presence, there are plenty of B2B companies who simply can’t seem to get a foothold in establishing a strategy that’s lasting and effective. Many lack the time or resources to see real traction. Others find they are stuck in an approach that yields little return -- and are therefore not motivated to invest any additional effort.
Time to wipe the slate clean and start with a fresh, more strategic approach.
Here we’ll run you through a list of important questions that will help you reboot and get on track to success. It starts by asking a few core questions.
7 Social Media Questions Every B2B Marketer Must Ask
- What are the latest B2B social media stats telling me?
- Is my social media branding strategy aligned with my overall business branding strategy?
- What are the top social media platforms for B2B marketing?
- Are my social media marketing goals aligned with my business goals?
- Which social media metrics matter?
- How should I plan social media posts for my business?
- Where are the holes in my current B2B social media strategy?
1. What are the latest B2B social media stats telling me?
To start, it always helps to justify the cost, time and commitment to a social strategy by assessing its potential for B2B companies like yours. Here’s a quick round-up of some recent, compelling statistics:
- As of Q1 2020, there are 2.6 billion monthly active Facebook users. (Statista)
- LinkedIn, with 160 million users, is the second-most popular social media platform used by B2B marketers, ranking only behind Facebook. (Statista)
- Improved traffic, lead generation, and growing fan loyalty are among the top reasons why marketers see value in employing social networks in their campaigns. (Statista)
- 97% of marketers are using social media to reach their audiences (Lyfe Marketing)
- 86% of consumers prefer an authentic and honest brand personality on social networks (Smart Insights)
This isn't to say you should drop what you're doing with your existing marketing. Think of social media as yet another tactic in your marketing toolbox that will help you accelerate results and reach your goals. If your business finds success with more traditional tactics like cold calling, industry events and direct mail, by all means, keep those efforts going as well!
2. Is my social media branding strategy aligned with my overall branding strategy?
When thinking about your social media branding strategy, it’s not about reinventing the wheel. How you represent your business in social media should simply be an extension of your existing brand and digital presence. Keep in mind the following.
- Create consistency with your website. First, you need to take care of your core; that is, your website. We can’t emphasize this enough: if your website is weak, then you should prioritize fixing it ahead of planning your social media roadmap. The last thing you want to do is engage interested prospects across social platforms only to have them click through to a negative experience on your website. Your website should meet some baseline best practices. Ask the following:
- Does my website accurately reflect my business and my brand?
- Is my website mobile-optimized?
- Do I have contact forms or other conversion points on my website that will allow people to get in touch if they’re not ready for a phone call?
- Does my website contain content that is outdated and no longer relevant?
- Re-examine your business description. Make sure your company’s description on social is consistent with what’s on your website. Do you have a general description or ‘boilerplate’ that is current and accurate? If not, now is a great time to update it. Also check in with your competitors to see how they are describing themselves on each channel, and make sure you're highlighting your company’s own unique differentiators.
- Think like your customers. A large part of having traceable, engaging content is doing social media keyword research to understand how people are talking about the solutions you offer. Be sure to put yourself in your customers’ heads by asking: what keywords would prospects use to find those products or services? Decide which products or services are a priority for your business, then make sure you consistently prioritize them in your outreach.
PMG TIP: When we work with clients on their social media marketing plans, we encourage them to prioritize by picking only 2-3 products or services to showcase. Then we do extensive research on all the keywords that users type into search engines to find that product/service. From this data, we identify a few phrases per service with a solid number of monthly searches and low competition. These phrases can be used in blog articles, LinkedIn content, Tweets, hashtags, and so on.
3. What are the top social media platforms for B2B marketing?
The “big three” for B2B marketers have traditionally been viewed as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. However, Instagram and YouTube have surpassed Twitter, bumping Twitter down to 5th place for B2B marketers.
Let’s take a deeper look: A 2020 Social Media Examiner’s Industry Marketing Report reveals that when B2B marketers were asked to choose the single most important platform:
- 46% chose Facebook
- 33% chose LinkedIn
- 12% chose Instagram
- 4% chose YouTube
- 3% chose Twitter
Also notable: 64% of B2B marketers indicate they plan on increasing Instagram spend over the next 12 months.
Keep in mind, that seeing what others are doing is only part of it. In reality, to know which platforms are best, you’ll need to determine the social trends and habits of your particular target audience. Start by identifying everything you can about their online engagement, including the various platforms in which they’re most actively participating.
Don’t assume that your social marketing plan has to include certain channels because “everyone is talking about them.” Give the required due diligence to developing a buyer persona, and you may discover that your B2B audience is more active on one platform than another.
Once you understand where your audience is and what they’re looking for, you can then build a relevant social media plan.
PMG TIP: You’ll also want to see what your competitors are doing to reach your target audience online. Are they blogging, building a Facebook community or tweeting about conferences or industry events? Social media has made competitive research easier than ever, so take advantage of its transparency.
4. Are my social media marketing goals aligned with my business goals?
It sounds like an obvious question, but it’s one that’s surprisingly often overlooked. It is important to be clear about your social media goals for a couple of key reasons:
- It will drive what social media you should participate in, and how you should participate in it.
- You need goals to track what’s working and what’s not. If the metrics are flat, then it’s time to switch up your approach.
Like any marketing plan, set your goals and get your baseline.
Is your goal to create an open dialogue with your clients? To amplify thought-leadership content? To increase the traffic to your site? Or maybe you’d like to use social listening to obtain market insights to help you develop your messaging and keyword strategy?
Don’t just jump in without a plan. Sit down and identify your overall marketing goals, making sure they are realistic, measurable and attainable -- then chart your course on how to reach them.
PMG TIP: We sometimes find that businesses will set goals for their social marketing that are unrelated to helping them grow their business and generate leads. Make sure your goals align with your overall strategy, and that the metrics you use to measure them aren’t “vanity” metrics that don’t truly matter. This leads us to our next point!
5. Which social media metrics matter?
How will you measure the results of your efforts? Of course, this starts by answering Question 4 and establishing your goals. Then think about which metrics you’ll use to keep you on track to meet those goals.
It helps to understand the four broad categories that are commonly used when thinking about social media metrics:
- Awareness metrics, which measure your existing and prospective audience.
- Engagement metrics, which measure how people interact with your content
- Conversion metrics, which show if people are taking a desired action
- Consumer metrics, which reflect how active followers feel about your brand
(For a further break-down of those high-level metrics, follow these actionable tips from Hootsuite.)
Once you create a roadmap of your goals, and the metrics that align with them, make a commitment to review them regularly. How many visits and leads are you receiving from social media channels? Are those numbers growing as you build your presence on social media? Which posts are resonating with your target audience?
Assess what’s working, what’s not, and whether your goals have shifted based on your business. A consistent review will allow you to track success as you go, and give you key insights into what types of content you should post more of over time.
PMG TIP: Make a commitment to review your metrics -- at the very least, on a quarterly basis -- and set reminders on your calendar to meet as a team to do so! This will help keep your social media goals on track.
6. How do I plan social media posts for my business?
Oftentimes, this comes down to how much you can manage from a resource perspective. Decide how much time you will spend on your social marketing. Can you spend 30 minutes a day? Do you only have 2 hours per week? You’ll need to know this information so you can create a realistic social media plan based on your goals.
When it comes to social listening, for example, consistency and timeliness are critical. Let’s say you’re following a messaging board, LinkedIn group, or blog on which your prospective clients are very active. On Monday, someone posts a question that is right up your alley; something in which you have plenty of expertise. If you wait until Thursday to respond, you have lost your opportunity. Your best bet is to set up Google alerts or notifications to ensure you are aware of content that is important to your business.
When it comes to planning social media posts -- for example, social posts used to amplify content like a blog post, you can schedule your social posts ahead of time using automation tools.
PMG TIP: We ask clients to commit roughly 30 minutes per day to their social marketing activities. Tools like news aggregators can streamline your efforts by keeping everything in one place for you. Other tools, like HootSuite or HubSpot, can help you write and schedule blog posts and social posts well in advance, so that you have a continuous presence online.
7. Where are the holes in my current social media strategy?
As you figure out where you’re headed with social media, first think about where you’ve been. Chances are, you’ve dabbled with posting content on LinkedIn and Facebook, yet failed to get any real traction. Here are a couple of common mistakes:
- You Participate Inconsistently. You write and create a social post for a blog for one month… and don’t post for another four months. You build a Facebook Page but don’t link to it in any of your marketing communications. You have a Twitter account with no tweets. As a business owner, you consider your personal LinkedIn page to be your business page and post occasional news about your business.
Not only is your spotty social presence not working; it could be negatively affecting your brand reputation. You need a dedicated resource -- ideally a marketing professional -- who’s committed to maintaining your social media programs.
- You’re Not Social Listening. Social listening is the monitoring of your brand's social media channels for any customer feedback and direct mentions of your brand, helping to provide key insights and act on any opportunities that arrive.
Because social media presents an open forum between your organization and its key audiences and the public, it’s necessary to keep an ear out and respond to what your connections are saying about your brand, positive or negative. If you have something to say, make sure you're ready to listen, too.
Remember, social media can be a powerful part of your B2B marketing program, but it doesn’t happen overnight. With some time, dedication, and a steady and strategic approach, you will no doubt achieve the results you need.