B2B marketing has historically been driven by “interruption marketing” – sales reps making cold calls, firing off cold emails, and marketers sending direct mail pieces hoping for a response – along with participation in industry conferences, events and publications.
Social media has changed that.
Now that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube have gone mainstream worldwide, people are comfortable using the sites and interacting with content and people there. Consumer marketers have embraced these digital channels and brought their brands to these online communities where people are now interacting.
Many of those same people are also the targets of B2B marketers. As people become accustomed to new methods of interacting with consumer brands, they come to expect B2B brands to engage them in the same method.
What do they want expect? They expect highly visible brands online, with plenty of content so they can research the products/services, and they want to participate in the online conversation to see how the brand interacts with the market, and how the market views the brand.
If you’re a B2B marketer tasked with designing a social media strategy for your company, start with three activities:
Most B2B marketing teams are evaluated by how many sales leads are generated from their campaigns and moved into the sales funnel. Most organizations track those leads all the way to close, to calculate marketing return on investment.
With the shift in the market – where people no longer respond to a company campaign immediately, instead checking out the company online — tracking leads from single campaigns is no longer an effective measurement.
The buyers now control the front end of the sales cycle, and perform plenty of research online to qualify themselves before becoming a “qualified lead” from the company’s measurement standards.
Make sure your company rewards the marketing department for the holistic brand engagement approach that’s required in today’s marketplace, instead of judging effectiveness from single campaigns.
Since B2B buyers are researching online, you must produce quality content that’s easily accessible online. Content is the main driver of social media interactions. Without a consistent flow of content, what will people talk about?
Dedicate time and resources each week for writing articles, designing informational presentations and infographics, and shooting videos that convey the personality of your brand. If you don’t have the talent on staff, hire a consultant to help.
Now that you have a steady flow of content, engage your market online. Reach out to thought leaders and connectors in your market to share content and listen to their ideas.
Ask questions – people love to be engaged and asked for their opinion. To do this effectively, you need to accept that you no longer have a tightly-worded message that’s delivered through a cold-call script or fancy dimensional mailpiece; your brand should be focused on having authentic conversations with your market to allow them to determine if they’re a good fit for your product or service.
Follow these activities in order, and make sure to give yourself enough time to complete each. It might take 3 to 6 months, but it’ll put your B2B company ahead of the curve, and greatly enhance your skills as a digital marketer.
Access detailed step-by-step plans in our new marketing website.
It’s free to use