Before it’s possible for B2B marketers to implement successful social media tactics and tools, it is essential to understand what exactly social media is and how it supports your overarching business objectives. While social media marketing can be explained in a number of ways, at the most basic level, it can be defined as follows:
Social media marketing is the method of using social networking sites as an online marketing tool to drive traffic, generate shares, and boost brand awareness.
The goal of social media marketing is to build relationships and connections with target audiences, that lead to improvements in marketing performance (such as brand awareness, website traffic, leads, etc), in defined social media platforms.
To provide more clarity around the term and help you apply social media to your existing marketing strategy, I’ve outlined key benefits, common challenges and questions, tips and additional resources.
Key Benefits of Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing offers many benefits for both vendors and buyers. In that sense, strategic social campaigns can help support different aspects of your business and lead to some pretty great results, including:
- More Brand Exposure: Without a doubt, social media helps you reach a broader and relevant audience based on their existing customers (or followers). In order to do this, you must create and distribute content that appeals to your existing audience. Once that content is shared, your brand will get additional exposure and recognition from a broader audience of potential customers.
- Improved Customer Service: Social media is the future of customer experience. There are countless statistics to back this; however, one of my favorites is that 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.
- A Multi-Channel Approach: It’s no secret that buyers interact with brands across a variety of channels and platforms like email, social media, and on their mobile devices and tablets. For this reason, taking a multi-channel approach to marketing is more important than ever – and social media needs to be a part of that.
- Increased Website Traffic: Sharing content on social should be a part of your content distribution process – not just to give your brand a chance to gain exposure, but to drive clicks back to your website. By incorporating social media into your existing marketing strategy, you’re adding another channel for users to find you and visit your website. With that said, the more quality content you’re sharing and the more you’re engaging with relevant users, the more social media referral traffic you will gain.
- More Search Visibility: According to Marketo, marketers rate social media as the second-most important factor (64%) in organic search success, behind only effective web pages (82%). Not only does social media serves as a key driver of link acquisition, but with more social elements being displayed in top search results on Google, it can help support your organic efforts as well.
- Better Audience Understanding: With additional insights and engagement metrics, social media allows you to get to know your target audience on another level. A better understanding of your target audience with help you produce more engaging content, answer important questions, and provide essential information that meets the needs of your buyers throughout the entire buyer journey.
- Strengthened Thought Leadership: While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to becoming a thought leader in any industry, social media provides the opportunity to create a voice and get your messages out there. By engaging, communicating, and interacting with your audiences on social media, marketers can create a stronger presence in their industry, whether promoting their personal brand or professional one.
Top Social Media Sites
When thinking about what social networks are most popular, a few sites come to mind, including:
Each of these social media sites allows you to interact and communicate with your target audience in unique ways. For example, Facebook is designed for users to share updates, photos, life milestones, and even create groups and events; Instagram is based on sharing photos and videos with brief captions; and Twitter is based on sharing short messages (under 140 characters).
Don’t forget social media communities designed to target specific audiences (like Spiceworks and Houzz) as well as communities emphasizing niche topics, interests, or media (such as Slideshare, Inbound.org and Quora).
Common Challenges of Social Media Marketing
Like all online marketing strategies, social media presents a certain set of challenges, particularly for B2B marketers. These include the following:
- Measuring ROI: This has been labeled as the biggest challenge for the vast majority. The State of Social Marketing report found that more than 61% of surveyed respondents claim that measuring ROI is their top challenge, while only 9% say they can quantify revenue driven by social media efforts. Despite this, marketers continue to invest in social media efforts.
- The Need for More Content: As social media gains momentum, businesses require more content than traditional sources of lead generation, and with that comes the need for more resources. Not just any content will do the trick. With the amount of “noise” and “clutter” happening across industries, you need to produce quality content that your audience will like and want to share.
- Dark Social: Dark social is the social sharing of content that can’t be measured through analytics tools – often from email and instant messaging. According to recent research, dark social is dominating sharing activity, which hinders the ability to measure social media ROI.
- Authenticity: Connecting with audiences on a personal level is more important than ever, as this helps humanize your brand and build long lasting relationships. Yet, this is still something that many marketers struggle with. Buffer recommends using social monitoring tools (like Respond, Mention, or TweetDeck) to respond to every message and interaction in a personalized and unique way.
FAQs About Social Media Marketing
- How do I measure a B2B social media program? To successfully measure the impact that social media is having on a business, you must connect the dots between discovery, acquisition, and quality lead generation. This can be done through thorough network analysis, discovery attribution and lead nurturing. Derek Edmond covers the full details in this recent article.
- What tools can I use to automate my social media marketing? Social media can get overwhelming, if you don’t have the right automation tools in place. While not all social messages should be automated, there are certainly tools that can help make your life easier. Here are some tools that can help you research, schedule, and monitor social media marketing.
- How do I make social media a part of my everyday marketing strategy? If your organization has just begun investing in social media, I’m sure you know that success is not guaranteed or as easy as it may seem. Here are 5 ideas that you can use to begin building your social media strategy, without getting yourself in overboard or sacrificing too much of your time upfront.
- What is the relationship between social media, SEO and PPC? At KoMarketing, we see the online marketing process to incorporate three key components:
Social Media Marketing – create and nurture one-to-one relationships with customers, prospects, and targeted audiences.
Search Engine Optimization – visibility in trusted results, improved leverage in gaining visibility for content marketing assets.
Search Engine Advertising – immediate visibility controlled messaging, ability to test and refine quickly.
How to Create a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy
There are many ways to approach a B2B social media marketing strategy and set yourself up for success; however, I thought it would be helpful to go over some of the core components that marketers should consider.
At the most basic level, this should guide the foundation of your strategy:
- Identify target audiences
- Determine key communities and platforms
- Tailor social media program specific to business objectives
- Consider best practices and success factors specific to each community and platform
- Continuously monitor and adjust strategies based on key accomplishments and failures
- Consider working with an external company. For example, CommsLab social media services will provide you with advice on how to improve your social media foundation to improve your marketing strategy.
You must first identify key target audiences to determine the communities and platforms that your messages will best resonate with. Then, you can create a program tailored to your unique business objectives, which will increase brand awareness and engagement.
The Future of Social Media Marketing
Despite the unique marketing challenges that social media presents, research shows that marketers are successfully leveraging social strategies to support their business.
KoMarketing recently covered a report that highlights the future of social media marketing perfectly. The CMO Survey Highlights and Insights Report revealed that CMOs from B2B product companies said they spend 9.4% of their marketing budget on social media. Within the next 12 months, they expect to increase this percentage to 11.4% and foresee it rising to 17% over the next five years.
What do you think lies in the future of social media marketing? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Additional Social Media Resources
When it comes to social media, there is plenty to learn. For more information, be sure to check out these resources: