Social media is a channel of communication that is all about “leading the horse to water.” Social media marketing has the potential to connect people to your brand, inform people about your products and industry, and even grow the reach of your company across geographical and cultural divides. These elements are critical to the long-term growth of your B2B company.
What are we talking about when we say “social media”? We’re not just talking about Facebook and Twitter. We are referring to blogs, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+, Foursquare… and the list goes on and on. They each have their unique selling points – and some may offer more value, depending upon your strategic goals.
If you are thinking about social media (because we all are, aren’t we?), but are not sure where to start, consider these three questions:
1. Who is my audience and how do they connect?
For a B2B company, you may believe that your network is comprised of a demographic that simply is not on social media.
Why shouldn’t an OEM supplier connect on LinkedIn with other suppliers in that industry or trade? You could be holding industry-specific, professional discussions or hosting forums on Facebook or LinkedIn. You could be sharing current events of the industry to demonstrate your expertise in the field.
Do a few Google searches on a subject that is related to your product or service. More often than not, you’ll find there is already a dialogue happening in the blogosphere – your company just needs to be a part of it. Consider how your industry is already connecting on various social networks, see what conversations already exist and better understand which network will best help you meet your B2B marketing goals.
2. What would I want from my audience and what could they want from me?
This is where you’ll need to assess where your customers are in the buying process. Often times, social media is a perfect solution for educating your audience about your products or emphasizing your company’s expertise in the industry. Consumers today (and that means customers to a B2B company, too) are hungry for transparency. How can you effectively share insight into what makes your company unique?
- Use Pinterest to visually share processes or data-related infographics with your network.
- Share photos and videos on Instagram of your latest research and development results (like the latest competitor comparison study).
- Publish how-to and instructional videos on YouTube.
- Connect with universities and colleges on LinkedIn and use it as a hiring tool, or re-publish your Pinterest infographics and products pages there.
- Use all networks to drive people to your industry blog where you can really start a conversation with your network.
3. What is the reach of my network and how would I like it to expand?
In this generation, what was once “word of mouth” has become so much more and social media as expanded the mouthpiece of every person in your network. Every person who likes a post on Facebook, or “+1”s on Google+ is growing your B2B company’s reach exponentially.
- Expanding globally? You could be “tweeting” at every tradeshow or international summit to get the word out.
- Reaching new industries and expanding the application of your product? Why not share photos on Facebook and videos on YouTube of your successful installation.
- Reinventing your brand image and need to change the dialogue about your company? Increase the frequency of your content and don’t forget about SEO – every keyword search could be attracting prospects to your Facebook page, Pinterest board, etc.
To get started, here are some hot ideas straight from the Autumn team:
Just like any effective marketing activity, the success of your social media strategy should be measured in its ability to anticipate the needs of your sales prospects at any given stage of the buying process. Autumn has the experience to meet the needs of your company’s social media interests – whether you want intentional grassroots marketing in the Milwaukee & Chicago areas, or whether you want to expand their company’s international reach.