While frequently viewed as a tool for B2C companies, social media platforms often prove themselves useful in B2B marketing efforts. In fact, in a recent study completed by MarketingProfs, it was discovered that 87% of B2B marketers use social media platforms over 13 other methods for their content marketing efforts. In another study by the Content Marketing Institute, statistics found that:
- 86% of B2B's have a committed individual or agency to handle their social media content marketing campaigns
- 91% use LinkedIn for social marketing
- 85% use Twitter
- 81% use Facebook
- Many are active on at least 7 platforms
With this unbiased preference to use social media, it is important that businesses understand their buyers and the social media platforms they are using in order to generate effective inbound marketing campaigns.
Inbound marketing involves creating useful and appropriate content, and promoting said content to potential buyers through various channels; specifically social media. While social media is a primary channel, it can also be used as a secondary tool to promote pages from your website, such as blog posts, products, and services. For example, primary content distribution occurs when a video is shared on YouTube. The reach of this YouTube video is amplified once it has been shared as a link on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platforms.
While this is all useful information, it still leaves us with this question: how does a B2B marketer structure a successful inbound campaign?
Step 1: Humanize Your Brand
While still useful for marketing, social media platforms are highly personal venues when it comes to information sharing. For B2B companies to stand out, they have two routes to take when trying to reach potential buyers:
- Communicate with users and decision makers as your brand (ex: Company Twitter account responding to a potential buyer)
- Communicate with users and decision makers as yourself promoting your brand (ex: Personal Professional Twitter account responding to a potential buyer)
Using both techniques simultaneously can help to humanize your brand and create a positive brand impression. While it may be a large company that is in need of your product, it is the person, or decision maker, that you want your company and product to resonate positively with. People often relate better with other people than large corporate entities.
Step 2: Outline Your Marketing Goals
Before launching your campaign, it is important to define your marketing goals both small and large. Though making a sale is a popular conversion that companies monitor and measure, the B2B buying process can be quite lengthy and often requires for other, smaller conversions to be measured before a product is ever sold. Social media has the power to drive hundreds of small actions along the way to finally make a sale. Some questions to help understand these smaller conversions include:
- Did we make a connection that created awareness, or improved their perception, of our brand?
- Are they asking our company questions or sharing our material?
- Were there specific social interactions that helped us promote our content or that improved conversion rates?
Step 3: Define Your Metrics
In contrast to the linear sales process that comes with outbound marketing, the complexity of inbound marketing can make it difficult to measure the actual impact of your campaigns. The two most practical ways to measure the success of your campaigns is through volume and value metrics.
Volume metrics focus primarily on engagement and growth rates. They are simple to measure and can validate that you're on the correct path by showing what your target market is interacting with most frequently. They include:
- The amount of increase (or decrease) in the number of followers or fans
- Likes and/or shares that your content receives
- Click-through rates
If users are interacting more with certain types of posts then that may be something that you want to focus your marketing efforts on.
Value metrics concentrate on your bottom line and look for outcomes that may have impacted it. Value metrics can answer questions such as, "how many leads is each of your campaigns generating?" or "what do the conversion rates of these leads generally look like?"
With social media becoming a highly popular channel for B2B marketers to share information with potential buyers, structuring a strategic and engaging social media marketing campaign is imperative to the campaign's success. Evaluate your existing content and campaigns to see what methods are currently working for your business and where you should focus your marketing efforts.