Hello SOTGC community,
Today’s post is the first in a 2-part saga on how to use social media for your B2B Marketing needs. This advice is how to stay relevant in the current market, is for both corporate and entrepreneurs alike, and helps you use the most progressive web based tools to get the most visibility for your brand. When New York Times recognized LinkedIn expert Kristina Jariamillo invited me on her B2B Marketing Radio Show, I was thrilled. She wanted to talk about my book: “42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing” (co-authored with Peter Spielvogel and Michael Procopio).
You can listen to the radio show recording here. As it is a longer interview, here the top 10 Questions and Answers from the show:
#1: Understand that B2B social media is different. Why?
The main differences B2B vs. B2C social media marketing comes back to the target audience and the offering.
The price for an offering is generally higher than in B2C, hence the stakes are higher. Remember the line “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM?”, that’s because there is high risk in B2B purchases due to the potential deal size and the problem that the offering might solve
There are more stakeholder involved, in different functions and on different levels. This makes the sales cycle more complex and longer. Consequently, you can’t run the same Facebook promotion for a B2B as you could for B2C. You need to reach the influencers and decision makers in the different stages of the buying cycle with the right message. And you need to use the channels where these people are, e.g. B2B audiences are more likely to be reached on LI than FB.
#2: Start with your audience – can you explain what you mean and why?
In my consulting practice, there is a common scenario: A company – it does not matter if they are small or large – wants to leverage social media, so they open accounts on FB, LI & Twitter. They have heard that these are the most popular platforms. Then they bring me in, as they don’t see the results of their investment. What is the problem?
Often, there has been no research done on the target audience. It takes a lot of work to determine and prioritize a target audience, and to understand them well. Only when you know WHO you are talking to, e.g. what their roles and titles are and what types of challenges they deal with can you effectively market to them.
In step one; you need enough information about your audience to figure out WHERE on social media they participate. Where do they get information? Where do they engage (if they do)?
These are just the basics. Bottom line: if the people you are trying to reach are not on Facebook, or not talking business on Facebook, you should invest your resources in places that make more sense. A lot of the time, people don’t make the effort to look for niche networks that might hold their audience, e.g. a community around a particular topic, like Spiceworks for IT. Or they neglect Quora or dismiss Google+.
How can we avoid falling into the trap of jumping into a new social channel without having a plan?
It’s simple: have a plan. Seriously, start from the top down. Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve.
- What are your business goals and priorities?
- How do you measure success?
- How can marketing supports these goals?
- With or without social media?
- Who is your target audience? Or audiences? Prioritize.
- Create a strategy with tactics that support your marketing goals.
- Then measure, fine-tune, and experiment.
#3: Integrate social media into your marketing plan – please share with the audience how some of your clients have integrated social media into their marketing plan following your guidance.
A small Silicon Valley start up hired me to do their social media marketing. Turns out, they have done no marketing to date.
Step 1: Analyze their situation and create a strategy: Don’t assume social is the solution but take into account the individual situation of this client: Their goals (one new client or 10,000?), their audience (local or global? Small or large enterprise?), their resources (people, time money), their skills and affinities, their dreams, their infrastructure.
What they can do know – low hanging fruit and quick win – and what they can develop long terms; it takes a long time to gain a blog following or build a strong Twitter following.
Pick the marketing tactics most applicable, ideally integrating social media with the rest of the marketing plan. Make sure there are social sharing buttons on the website and in each email. Create blog posts on your site that can be tweeted. Create content with social media in mind, not as an after thought. Use your content to answer questions on LinkedIn etc. etc.
For large companies, it’s the challenge of not running a social media campaign in isolation. This can be an organizational challenge in a Global 2000. Say you run a Twitter campaign for a product but can’t get product marketing to give you access to SMEs. It’s difficult to be successful on LinkedIn if you don’t have a person who can personally connect and be a thought leader. Don’t fall victim to the impostor syndrome; you can’t outsource everything.