Social media burst into the rigid world of marketing like a meteor into the world of the brontosauruses. In B2B, it’s been a little slower, but new report from Circle Research and B2B Marketing Magazine reveals that the allure of social media in B2B is growing rapidly.Over four in five marketing teams (83 per cent) now post on social media – an activity that consumes one fifth of their time (20 per cent) – and three quarters (77 per cent) expect to spend more time doing this over the next 12 months. In addition, just like an investor keenly eyeing their growing wealth portfolio, as the ‘value’ of social media in B2B rises, so too does the attention paid to tracking its performance. Over one third (35 per cent) of organisations now subscribe to a paid social media monitoring platform.
However, this bounty is not being distributed equally. Instead, the power of social media is merging around two behemoths: Twitter and LinkedIn. These networks are used by over nine in 10 organisations, regularly updated by more than seven in 10, and are expected to have the strongest growth in usage of any social media channels over the next 12 months. Let’s be honest – you are not about to sell a nuclear reactor on Twitter, but it does offer the opportunity to reach potential clients and influencers.
At the other end of the spectrum, still struggling to scrape together a B2B living, is Google+. Used and updated by significantly fewer organisations, Google+ is considered to be less effective at achieving marketing goals. In fact, despite its obvious SEO benefits, fewer than one per cent of organisations think it is the most effective social media platform.
As Twitter and LinkedIn continue their charge for dominance, it’s easy to assume they will continue to overshadow competitor networks. But wait – who’s that poking their head over the parapet? There’s another contender on the block: the ambitious maverick, YouTube. Despite currently having lower usage than Twitter or LinkedIn, this channel is nevertheless striving for high growth (a net 76 per cent growth in usage anticipated over the next 12 months). In a world where the biggest challenge facing marketers on social media is cutting through the noise (38 per cent), YouTube is offering the promise of differentiation through rich media. While the majority of organisations are using social media as a side-act to funnel clients into bigger pieces of content on their websites (85 per cent), this isn’t always working too well – fewer than one in three (31 per cent) describe this as very effective. Instead, social media needs to become the star performer in its own right. The most compelling social media posts are infographics (67 per cent believe they are very effective) and videos (66 per cent). It is on this differentiated footing that YouTube is preparing its ascent up the B2B social media ladder.
So the next time you’re embarking on a content plan, take time to consider how you can repurpose material in new and interesting formats on social media, whether that be Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube. Pull out those killer stats in an infographic, or have a chat with your CEO on film. Let social media become the star.
So now the stats have proved that social media is worth the effort in any B2B marketing plan, here are a few tips for getting started :
Selecting a Suitable Platform
Using Facebook for smashing atoms probably won’t have the expected impact. It should be noted that different platforms are used for different purposes.
Specialised information belongs to specialised media, and for informal media turn to an informal platform. For effective engagement it is necessary to choose the right medium. So, if you have a great technical paper on nanotechnology, publish it in an advisory group on LinkedIn. If you, thanks to them, create a great, luminous T-shirt with a popular cultural icon, put it on Instagram. And if you have photos of you sitting in overalls beneath the heat press T-Shirt machine, put it on Facebook.
Speak the Lingo
If you were standing in a room full of neurosurgeons, would you talk in the language of a teenage girl? “OMG WTF LOL!!!” Each target group has a different language and a different and specific social slang. While I say Van Gogh was “self-taught” an art historian would say that he was an “autodidact.” If you want to win your audience, speak its language.
Interaction is always a condition of motivation. If you are asking readers to help pass on their personal details or visit a website, you must know what to do to motivate them. Entertainment? Emotions? Or education?
If people share your content just to win an iPad, it’s a material reward that probably will not have much impact on your business. In contrast, by reading and sharing content with added, informational value you attract the truly “qualified leads” that are most important.
One of the ways to engage your audience is to ask for an opinion. If you share a link to an article, add an appropriate question, too. People want to talk – they just need to know that their discussion is welcome.
What is the essence of a friendship that lasts for decades? Continuous contact. Social marketing is not leaflets that you try for two weeks. Be consistent in publishing regular, quality content. Building a relationship is a long haul, but it carries better results.
Microprocessors probably are not very sexy products, but Intel’s Facebook page is among the most interesting. An amazing mix of text posts, photos, and videos are not really what you’d expect. There is always a way to present your services and differentiate yourself from your competitors. The more media you use, the more attractive your social feed will be.
Breaking Down Walls
A collection of contacts is one of the basic values that are measurable in B2B marketing. Often, however, they create a wall that stands between visitors and what they want to acquire (typically, exclusive content). Never ask for too much personal information. Get basic contact information or just an e-mail address. Ask for only what is truly important.
There is always someone who will not agree with you. It’s their right. If you encounter a ‘trouble maker’, do not worry. People will not judge him but they will evaluate you and the way you cope with him.
You Need to Have Fun
You must always show your enthusiasm and love for the subject. I mentioned Van Gogh earlier. Yes, he was crazy. But he loved what he was doing and he believed in it. Social media is about immediacy and enthusiasm. And no, it’s just not possible without it. You might not know the difference, but your audience certainly does.