Five steps to (B2B) social success

Image credit: Lindsay Henwood

Ask someone to name a company they think is making a success of social media and most will cite a well-known consumer brand or its famous figurehead. Less likely is that they’ll name-check the IT software company they saw tweeting up a (rather successful) storm last week, or the corporate law firm they noticed has more LinkedIn followers than you can shake a stick at.
But why is this? It’s not that social media in a B2B context isn’t a valuable brand-building exercise, clearly it is. Perhaps it’s simply that B2B companies arrived late to the party? Maybe B2B marketers just don’t know where to start - or if they do, don’t have the resources to keep it going? Are they unsure about which platforms to focus on? Whatever the reasons might be, the fact of the matter is this: 75% of B2B buyers say they are influenced by information on social media and this is proof enough that having a strong social strategy needs to be top of the B2B marketing agenda.

Here’s our five-step guide to a brand-building B2B social strategy:

Step 1: Set platform-specific goals (and know what to measure)
In the words of Simon Sinek, “Start with why”. Why are you doing this, and what do you want to achieve? Keeping the answer to this forefront of mind will ensure you shape the most impactful social strategy for your brand.

Next, decide which social media channels you’re going to invest in and set specific goals for each. If your objective is to generate leads, you might want to focus on LinkedIn and track things like open rates and click throughs, as well as attributable sales leads and conversions. If brand reach is your primary goal, you may decide to channel your efforts into the Twittersphere, measuring organic and paid reach, impressions, engagement, and follower count.

Whichever social media platform(s) you choose, the key here is measurement. Trial and error. Suck it and see. The analytics functionality within platforms such as Hubspot and Hootsuite can provide all the insight you need on this front.

Step 2: Match content with audience
This is make or break. When trying to engage your HR audience, start with the issues they need to solve and explain why your company can provide the solution. Rather than self-serving articles such as ‘Five reasons our HR software is the best’, provide content that positions your company as a helpful source of knowledge and information. In doing so, you’ll be able to convey your expertise and build trust.

Step 3: A little humour goes a long way
Social media wasn’t created for businesses, it was created for people - and as people, we like to be entertained whilst we’re consuming useful information. There’s no reason B2B brands shouldn’t build humour into their social strategy. In fact, we’d actively encourage this. It will help you to stand out from the crowd and it promotes positive word of mouth.

Zendesk is a great example of a B2B company that uses humour to elevate its brand and engage with key audiences:

Step 4: Pivot, pivot, PIVOT!!
We’ve already touched on the importance of ongoing measurement, but this only works if you’re measuring the right things and reviewing these against content type, timings of posts and channel. Only then will you get a true picture of what is (or isn’t) helping to build your brand in social media terms - and crucially, be able to pivot accordingly.

You may need to pivot your social media strategy for other reasons, too. One example might be a change in business objectives. While this may sound obvious, you’d be surprised at how many companies change their business strategy yet forget to re-align their social strategy. The moral of the story? Don’t adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality. Pivot when you need to.

Step 5: And finally...make it a team effort
Engaging with prospects, customers and industry influencers will form a key part of any company’s social strategy but this doesn’t happen overnight and it requires a consistent effort. A simple but effective way to boost engagement is to get your company’s employees involved - and not just those in the marketing team. The B2B sales cycle often spans months or even longer giving your sales reps time to establish relationships with prospects. Equally, your customer success team will have an ongoing rapport with your client base. By encouraging these wider company employees to get involved, you’ll be able to leverage their relationships with your key stakeholders in order to further expand social media reach and engagement.

If you’d like to chat about a brand-building social strategy for your company, please get in touch