Social media marketing is still a bit of a mystery to B2B marketers, as we learned in a previous B2Bnn report.
It’s surprising, considering B2B has a relationship-based sales cycle and the space has core subject matter expertise and a long history of creating marketing content. Such qualities are needed for B2B to succeed on social media, so why aren’t B2B marketers using it more as part of their marketing strategies?
Fear. Some are afraid of creating a situation that’ll reflect badly on their B2B firm, and themselves as marketers. Just do a quick search on “social media fails” and you’ll see why.
But such anxiety will turn off marketers from taking calculated risks to garner social media ROI from their campaigns. That’s where we come in.
Let’s take a look at some of the mistakes B2B marketers may be making right now (or are afraid of making) and find out how to fix them.
1. Using social media as a direct response vehicle
Every brand on social media makes this mistake, especially at the beginning of their journey. They push their brand too hard online, publishing only their own posts, products, and company-specific information.
In the B2C world, it works, since many buyers are impulse shoppers and will go out to buy the product as soon as they see it out on social media. As a B2B marketer however, you know that the sales cycle is much longer, so simply pushing your own products and company information won’t do much for your bottom line.
How to fix it: For you, the B2B marketer, social media should be about interaction with your followers and sharing your knowledge. That means sending out messages about your white papers, case studies, videos, thought leadership blog posts, webinar notices, etc.
That’s not to say you should ignore your B2B brand, just tone it down a little. Sprinkle it into your messages, rather than overwhelm your followers with it. Think of it in ratios; for every one brand message you send out, send out at least 3-5 value-added messages.
Look at what Cisco does on their Instagram account:
2. Not knowing what your social media goals are
Just like your other inbound marketing goals, you’ve got to set up your social media marketing goals as well. Otherwise your efforts won’t mean anything to you and you’re likely to give up on it as a successful marketing channel.
How to fix it: Understand the stage you’re at with your B2B social media and set your goals accordingly.
- If you’re a beginner, set goals around consistent activity. Determine how many messages per day/week/month you’ll publish, how many shares/retweets/etc. you give, when you interact with your followers (for example only M-F, only in the evenings, etc.)
- If you’re an intermediate social media marketer, you’ll want to build a high-quality audience full of prospects and influencers. Really dig in to your followers list and see who you should be interacting more with, sending them personalized messages and/or content, engaging with prospects and influencers in a way that’s meaningful to them and can help build your B2B business.
- If you’re at the expert level, then it’s time to turn it up a notch and start converting your social media activity into B2B website traffic, clicks, and sales.
3. Thinking social media should pay off immediately
Social media may be an interactive, instant reaction kind of medium, but that doesn’t translate to instant results for B2B brands. It requires time to build a community and earn their trust. B2B brands that succeed on social media have understood this and fully committed to the strategy and effort that it takes to get there. There’s no way to simply create a profile and convert them to leads within days. It’s just not realistic and not the way social media works.
How to fix it: Understand that social media is a marathon, not a sprint, and devote the appropriate time and resources to it. Integrate it into your current inbound marketing strategy and focus on it just like any other marketing channel. Your schedule may already be packed with other efforts, so take a look at what isn’t working for you and remove it from the docket. You’ll need that time for social media.
Maersk Line, one of the world’s leading shipping companies, started out slowly with social media, mainly just “listening” to the market, the networks, and how business was using it. Now they have a wide-ranging social media program, using Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+. They knew it would take a while to build up a following, but they were patient and expanded as necessary.
4. Not measuring your social media numbers
Savvy B2B marketers know the exact metrics they need to track and meet every month/quarter/year in order to be successful. They know how many leads they generate each month, what they pay for those leads, their email open and click through rates, and more.
Yet when it comes to their social media marketing efforts, some dive in with no idea of how to analyze their campaigns. They’re not sure if their tweets with images are doing better than text-based ones. Or if they’re getting more shares on LinkedIn because of the new sharing plugin they installed on their business blog.
How to fix it: Determine what metrics you’d like to track on your social media efforts, and set up the tools you’ll need to track them. Then tie those numbers in to your social media goals, and start analyzing.
At a basic level, you should be measuring the amount of shares your messages are getting on each social media channel, the number of clicks and website traffic you’re generating, and how many leads and conversions are coming through to you from them.
Since social media is one of your inbound marketing channels, you should have a category of metrics for it that helps you gauge how you’re doing.
5. Ignoring your social media reach
Social media reach is an often-overlooked metric by B2B marketers because they’re so focused on generating high-quality leads. The high sale price of your B2B products causes you to put blinders on and only focus on these lower volumes of leads.
What you’ve failed to notice is that the Internet rewards reach, especially with social media. The more followers you have, the more your B2B content spreads, and the more impact you have on search engine results. Sure, not every follower is going to become a customer; however they’ll be able to share your content to their followers, which could contain that elusive customer.
How to fix it: Include links to your social media profiles with each message to a customer or lead. Put it in your email signature. Feature your social media buttons prominently on your B2B website. Invite followers to share your content online.
6. Assuming all social media channels are the same
There is no one-size-fits all mentality when it comes to social media. What works on Twitter may not work on Pinterest, which may not work on LinkedIn, yet is very popular on YouTube. Every social media channel needs to be managed differently, so don’t treat them the same way.
How to fix it:
- Identify the channels that your target audience uses, and produce content for those channels. No sense in being on Pinterest if your audience is engaging on LinkedIn.
- Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook tend to be more visual, so make sure to include lots of images in your messages on these platforms. Twitter and LinkedIn tend to be more text-based, so messages with keywords and links to your content work well there.
- Pay attention to the messages that are getting the most reaction from your followers. You may be surprised at what you find. Each community consumes content differently and is intrigued by different content, so pay attention!
For example, in the last few years, Twitter discovered that people liked sharing images, and introduced the Twitter Summary card. Additionally, many of the top Twitter clients now display a preview of all images in tweets, giving further promotion to your images.
A quick scan of John Deere’s Twitter account shows they use the Summary card with Images pretty well:
— John Deere (@JohnDeere) July 23, 2015
— John Deere (@JohnDeere) July 23, 2015
There’s nothing like feeling the sand between your treads. pic.twitter.com/x9Q1B5nla2
— John Deere (@JohnDeere) July 21, 2015
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