B2B Social Media: 5 Steps to Developing a Strategy

A Framework for Business to Business Online Marketing Strategy

Social media marketing is different for B2C (business to consumer) companies than it is for B2B (business to business) companies. Yet, there isn’t much written about the difference in developing a social media plan for a B2B compared to B2C company. So, I’m offering five steps for companies to develop a winning B2B social media strategy.

 

1. Don’t Call it a Social Media Strategy
2. Know What Stage You’re In
3. Focus on Your Customer’s Issues
4. Develop a Keyword Strategy
5. Content, Engagement, CTA

Don’t Call it a Social Media Strategy

It’s about time we stop calling it social media and think bigger picture. We’re talking about a marketing strategy. It’s 2011 so of course social media will play a role in how you reach and engage your customer. But, don’t tunnel-vision your strategy by thinking it’s a social media strategy. Do you have a “tradeshow strategy,” a “direct mail strategy,” and an “email strategy?” These are each elements in your marketing plan that help you reach your customer, engage them, differentiate, create leads and move qualified prospects into to your sales process.

Know What Stage You’re In

Jamie Turner wrote an article for Mashable with research which estimates that about 50% of all companies using social media are in the initial Launch stage of their plan. This typically involves creating branded accounts for the big four: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. BTW, Google+ rounds out this list to the top 5. The focus in this stage is just establishing a social media presence usually with little or no strategy. Another 40% are in the Management stage. Here, businesses are seeking to drive traffic, followers, fans, subscribers and to engage with their community. Usually, there is very little strategy involved in this stage as well. The remaining 10% are in the Optimization stage. Here, there is a strategic marketing plan in place with executive level support including budget for people and technology resources. The purpose is to drive revenue with ROI metrics defined to measure successes. Ask yourself, in which stage is your business with regard to social media?

Focus on Your Customer’s Issues

Develop personas for your customers and identify the business issues that each cares about. In a typical B2B sale, multiple people are involved in the research and selection process. Often, the team of decision makers spans different areas of a business, and therefore they have different needs. The needs of an operations person versus a human resource person versus a sales person are each unique. If your product touches multiple personas in a business, map out the issues for each persona and develop your content to address each of them. Do NOT assume a “one size fits all” mindset with your content. Additionally, their issues can change according to the stage of the buying process. Meet your personas where they are through your social media engagement and address them accordingly. Blog and video content is a good way to deal with this by using titles and tags that allow your content to be easily found according to the relevant issues for each persona.

Develop a Keyword Strategy

This is very closely tied to developing a persona strategy. Once you’ve identified your personas and their issues, create a list of keyword phrases that very closely address each persona’s issues. For example, an IT Director evaluating a technology product may care very much about “cloud computing technology.” But, the same product should also address “cost effective” technology to the CFO and it might need to provide “customer service improvement” to the CEO. The same product must be communicated according to keywords that are meaningful to each persona that must approve the ultimate purchase.

Content, Engagement, Calls-to-Action

In B2B marketing slick campaigns have limited effect. B2B buyers are not influenced by sizzle. They are influenced by the steak. And, the steak in B2B marketing is relevant content. Blogs, white papers, ebooks, videos, case studies, webinars all represent methods to deliver relevant content. But, the content alone is like a party at an empty mansion. You need lively people to have a good party. In B2B social media that’s engagement. When people respond to your content, don’t be invisible. Be engaging! It sounds simple and intuitive, but why do so many businesses not do it? Lastly, add relevant calls-to-action in your content. It can be as simple as an invitation to contact the author of a blog post with his or name and email address. Or, it could be an invitation to request budgetary pricing about your offering. Or, it can also be a graphically represented image with a call-to-action to download content that goes into further detail.  Calls-to-actions should always be designed according to the strategic goals that can be measured as tangible contributors to the revenue goals of a B2B company.

Speaking of which, below is such a call-to-action. Let me know how it fits with your persona.

24 thoughts on “B2B Social Media: 5 Steps to Developing a Strategy”

  1. Bernie:

    Enjoyed the post; your point about engagement in particular made me nod in recognition. The Web certainly works as a cheap and accessible broadcast medium, but companies that aren't taking the time to reward people who actually take the trouble to engage with their content are cheating themselves (or their clients) out of the most powerful aspect of social media.

    Well done!

    Nate Warren
    Fusion Marketing Partners

    1. FindandConvert

      Nate,
      You used the word "reward" in response to people that engage with brands. In B2C that often means coupons and discounts, etc. In B2B is means "engaging back." It's not rocket science. People just want to be engaged in a meaningful way. It can be time consuming. I'm not suggesting it's easy. But, it's not rocket science!

      Thanks for your comment.
      Bernie

  2. I'd like to suggest we think of social media as a policy as well as an initiative. It should be part of the job of almost everyone in the company…whether you're in customer service, sales, marketing, engineering, or operations.

    Social media are just tools that help you to listen, educate, engage with your prospects and customers. At the end of the day, it's about using the right tools available for your company to serve your customers better.

    1. FindandConvert

      Peter,
      I totally agree with you, but in my experience most companies are not ready for that kind of thinking. I don't think that mindset is even on the horizon for another 10 years. It will take today's 30 year olds to become tomorrow's CEOs to think this way.

      BTW, I'm over 50 so I'm being critical of executive that are my in my age range.
      Cheers,
      Bernie

  3. Pingback: 5 Steps to Developing a B2B Social Media Strategy | Best Life

  4. This is a great article. One thing I'd like to add to this is that we should be using bookmarking and sharing technologies that use Web Analytics to see how people share what we post and what happens when they do share. This tells us a lot about how effective we are at engaging, influencing and selling…

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  8. Social media are just tools that help you to listen, educate, engage with your prospects and customers. At the end of the day, it's about using the right tools available for your company to serve your customers better.

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