We asked some of the Social Media Experts at Worldwide Partners, Inc., to give their opinion of the best current practices around the globe for B2B marketers. Godfrey in Pennsylvania, Mintz & Hoke in Connecticut and Traction Creative in Canada give their ten commandments below.
Number One: Be On Target
Know your audience – “Start by determining where your audience is spending their time online and where they are engaging in conversations,“ urges Andy DeBrunner, Social Media Manager at Godfrey. “Then begin participating as a valued member of their community.”
Number Two: Be Relevant
“What works in social for business to consumer is not likely to work for business to business,” says Jeff Lucas of Traction Creative in Vancouver. According to Lucas, it is of utmost importance to recognize that the motivation to use social media in business circles is different than the motivation to use it in our personal lives. “The uses also shift by industry from older conservative industries versus technology industries,” Lucas adds.
Number Three: Be On Time
“Is the right message being presented at the right time in the sales cycle to the right audience?” asks Lucas. Chris Knopf of Minz & Hoke in Connecticut adds, “It’s important to stay top-of-mind as the B2B consumer moves through an often long sales cycle in B2B.”
Number Four: Focus On Quality
“Content is king,” Knopf notes. “Social media can help establish community, create brand identity and generate leads. And this starts with content. Create high quality, varied content on a consistent basis, with a call-to-action to drive discussion and engagement. Promote with social links and use keywords to improve SEO and findability.”
Number Five: Be Real
DeBrunner advises businesses to, “Walk the walk. It’s easy for community members to sniff out a social media dilettante. If your company is not committed to making the digital community a better place, then they will tune you out. Simply sending out traditional marketing or sales messages in a new medium will ultimately fail.” Knopf suggests businesses use question and answer formats to develop thought leadership.
Number Six: Look For Leads
“Lead generation is also the name of the game,” explains Knopf. “Lead generation starts with building relationships, which is fueled by a content marketing strategy. A solid marketing automation program also will bolster these efforts. Like the ‘likes’ but keep an eye on the leads.”
Number Seven: Know What’s Working And What You’re Working Towards
Metrics matter. Know in advance what you are tracking against. Metrics will vary depending on your goals. Tie specific goals and metrics to higher-level business objectives. The most successful and targeted campaigns integrate social media management with marketing automation metrics. Explains Knopf, “Equally important is to track the impact of social media on sales. Develop a strategy with your sales team on board to follow-up and convert leads from social media. Monitor results on an ongoing basis.”
Number Eight: Start Small And Go Long Haul
“Be consistent,” DeBrunner encourages, “and don’t give up too soon – start small with one community where you believe you will have the greatest impact. Focus on making your presence in that community the best it can possibly be. Results will probably not be immediate but will become more pronounced over time. Then, after you begin to see results and learn more about your audience, start growing your reach into new communities. If you spread yourself too thin early on, it’s likely that you will give up before the program starts working.”
Number Nine: Remember Social Is Global
As many consumer goods companies have learned, there are no borders in the digital world. “While language can sometimes create a barrier, it seems to be less and less an issue in some of the B2B industries,” asserts WPI, President & CEO, Al Moffatt. “We’re finding that B2B social efforts are viewed around the globe.”
Number Ten: Integrate Social
“Social permeates everything,” says Knopf. “Integrate social media programs with overarching marketing campaigns. As a key driver for offline programs (e.g., trade shows), social media should be part of a coordinated effort to improve results of traditional tactics. Audit everything you do for social potential: cross-promote social platforms and facilitate sharing at multiple touch points such as websites, newsletters and the like,” Lucas adds.