Every day more and more companies are embracing the social media phenomenon, not only as an effective marketing tool, but as a necessary platform for everyday communication. But with every like and re-tweet, marketers at many B2B companies are still deciding if or how social media fits into their overall brand strategy. Because most successful corporate social media case studies involve large consumer brands, many B2B marketers have taken the “it doesn’t work in our field” stance. I say bologna.
The problem for B2B marketers isn’t using social media. It’s how they are using it. Research shows while B2B marketers are actually using social media at a higher rate than consumer marketers, they aren’t engaging with potential customers at the rate consumer brands are.
While successful social media usage may appear easier for consumer than B2B brands, the principles remain the same. Social media gives B2B companies the same opportunities to listen, engage and participate with current or potential customers. The key for B2B companies, even more so than consumer brands, is finding your audience. Having 10,000 likes or followers is no more beneficial than having 10 likes or followers if they’re not potential customers. Social media is not about the masses; it’s not about huge numbers. It is about reaching your target audience with your message and having them engage with you.
So how can B2B companies make social media work for them? Here are some tips:
Find your audience. Research on which channels are more effective for B2B companies varies about as much as the channels themselves. A HubSpot study reports LinkedIn more effective, while Outsell’s research favored Facebook.. So, devoting time and resources to researching how your current and potential customers are using social media is just as important as the content you distribute.
Devote proper resources. Having the right people and tools to manage your social media channels and campaigns is another must. A whopping 60 percent of B2B marketers surveyed had no staff dedicated to social media. Remember, you get out of it what you put into it.
Determine measurements. One of the most important and difficult tasks in a social media campaign is determining your ROI. But there are tools to help track and evaluate your results. First, it’s critical to have some sort of analytics attached to your website (Google Analytics is the most popular.). But tracking what people are saying about you across the Web is just as important as how customers are getting back to your website. Tools like Hootsuite and Radian6 give you the opportunity to monitor what customers and potential customers are saying about your company and engage with them through social media. Remember, it’s not just about the numbers, it’s about the conversation.