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Did your social media meet the lockdown test?

The top 5 things B2B stakeholders need to consider when investing in social media

Social distancing has propelled social media into the boardroom. If you’re one of the many B2B organisations that found your social media lacking in lockdown, what do you need to understand when investing in this area? We offer our thoughts on the five most important things B2B stakeholders need to know about social media.

1) Social media creates multiple advantages

Content marketing is already well understood in B2B as a key way to warm up web traffic and other contacts by sharing knowledge, demonstrating expertise and addressing the questions that prospects have.

Social media marketing extends this, effectively presenting your content, organisation, brand, culture and offerings in a way that inspires engagement. It’s one of the best ways to amplify your messages, both to your target audiences, and to wider audiences who may have an influence. It can help you achieve thought leader status in your industry, enhance understanding, build brand reputation and keep you front of mind among potential prospects. Plus, you can specifically target and analyse the results.

All this from social media? Yes – but only if it’s strategically planned, joined up to support sales and executed to be thumb-stopping. 

2) Social media is for BOTH sales and marketing

Social selling and social marketing both support sales, and although closely connected, are not the same.

a) Social selling is the sales job of building one-on-one connections with target influencers, prospects and decision-makers on social channels – networking, listening, gathering intelligence and keeping up a direct dialogue. It involves answering questions and sharing observations, useful references and insights, nurturing contacts through to a sales lead. Once you have an interested lead, it’s best to continue the conversation offline in order to share more detail.  

LinkedIn is the most obvious social network in the B2B space for social selling. For many sales people, it’s replaced the dreaded practice of cold calling and proved highly successful –  78% of sales people who use social selling outperform peers who don’t.

When engaging in social selling, it can be useful to:

  • use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to direct message people outside your network. You can save leads and get updates on their activity and also gain lead recommendations based on your preferences
  • get active on LinkedIn Groups so you know what’s being discussed and can participate. By offering your viewpoint, you can add value without overtly selling.

b) Social marketing is about presenting content to a wider audience through your corporate social feeds and employee sharing activity. It extends reach and influence, humanising your company’s image and generally building brand awareness. It also supports your salespeople’s efforts, providing the all-important helpful content that sales people need to reinforce their conversations and share with contacts. 

We recommend you:

  • think of social media as an integral part of your overall marketing comms plan, both at brand and campaign level
  • start by identifying what your target audiences want to know about, the questions that are on their mind, and the needs/obstacles/issues they are trying to address. This is something that the sales team are closest to – so marketeers need to spend time understanding the conversations that sales are having with customers and prospects, and then identify the unique insights that they can develop into relevant content
  • use post boosting/ads to find more of the audiences you need.  This can be very cost-effective as you can test and learn on relatively small budgets.

3) Engagement takes investment in ideas, thought and execution

To grab attention, social media posts have to be succinct, yet powerful. This is not as simple as it sounds. Visuals need to be eye-catching and capable of telling a story in an instance. Headlines must be compelling with copy that immediately engages. We strongly recommend using professional creative visual and copy experts for best effect. This will reduce wasted effort and make every post count.

Settling for less is unlikely to give you the results you’re looking for. You may think that it’s just a moment in feed, but those enjoying greatest success from social media invest in the creative thought and production of each and every one of these moments.

We recommend you:

  • invest in quality rather than quantity
  • develop a consistent tonality and style that set you apart. But, at the same time, don’t over-standardise or viewers will think they’ve seen the post before and move on!
  • are authentic
  • talk directly to your audiences, keeping copy simple and using ‘you’ and ‘yours’ in appropriate and relatable language
  • aim for 80% of posts that inform, educate or entertain and less than 20% that directly promote your offerings. Viewers are on social platforms to learn, find inspiration, keep up-to-date or be entertained. Pure product posts and sales messages can be an irritation. 

4) Identifying the content that works best for you

Working out what content works best for your particular audiences will require some trial and analysis. But you should quickly be able to identify some key differences. Generally speaking, for our B2B clients, we find that:

  • posts that ask questions get far more comments than regular text posts. Where you don’t use questions, you should still include a call to action, e.g. click for more, ask viewers to leave a comment. Occasionally, you can directly ask your followers to share your post. Prompting an action helps to secure one but make sure that what you ask feels natural to the post. Don’t just beg for likes and never clickbait!
  • surveys and polls that ask followers what they want to see most can help to keep them interested. The results may give you some surprising insights to direct your content strategy
  • being bold and opinionated in a thoughtful manner works well. It’s a sea of sameness out there, so have something powerful to say and take some intelligent risks. For example, make a prediction – it’s a catalyst for conversation
  • links to ‘How to’ tips, infographics, downloadable guides and webinar offerings can all be   effective. But, occasionally, try to explain something there and then. Time, attention and interest are short – so grab the moment!
  • video can be a highly effective way to engage, portraying the complex more simply. Since lockdown, more casual, user-generated style videos have become popular. Their raw authenticity can energise engagement and build a personal connection with viewers.  But use with care as some people are not as engaging as they think! So mix it up with other styles or animation
  • going behind the scenes or sharing sneak peeks and previews can also be an effective way of building authenticity, humanising your company and creating better understanding about what you do
  • it’s a good idea to look out for trending topics or events that you can relate to your posts as these will usually attract more views and shares. Also, use hashtags that can extend your reach
  • while direct selling should only be used infrequently on social media, it can be good to occasionally share customer quotes, testimonials or success stories from satisfied customers. This will help other followers to envisage similar success. If your customer is happy to give you a testimonial on video, perhaps sharing a few learnings or positive experiences from working with you, then even better. You could maybe set up a regular feature on a customer of the month.

5) Success is incremental

You have to be patient. Social media doesn’t bring overnight success although you should soon start to see what’s working and be able to adjust your social media accordingly.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking only about likes and numbers of followers as their value is hard to prove. Instead, get to know who is following you and look mostly for engagement – i.e. click throughs, shares, and comments. Review what’s working and try to continuously improve.

Remember that social media can also be very helpful in building potential for recruitment and enhancing employee loyalty and advocacy, so include activity that make these work for you too.

Most importantly, keep an eye on how well sales and marketing are co-ordinating their efforts and create some ways to measure this. When they are working effectively together, social marketing and social selling have the potential to deliver significant revenue gains so it’s important to give this proper attention and investment.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help and see examples of our award-winning social media campaigns here. 

More social media viewpoints from Clear B2B 

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