There are many ways marketers can use social media, and we often see a lot of great examples of social media marketing from products or national brands and local businesses that really thrive on generating brand loyalty and involvement from their customers.
But what if your product or service is something with a long sales cycle rather than a sought-after consumer product, or if your target audience is composed of IT managers or CFOs rather than moms or college students? You can still reach key B2B stakeholders through social media marketing. But without the right strategies and tactics in place to reach these buyers on the right platforms, your social media efforts can end up hurting, rather than helping, your business.
Here are some of the biggest social media marketing mistakes to avoid – and what to do instead.
1. Dedicating Resources to the Wrong Platforms
Regardless of your business size or industry, building a robust social media presence is vital – but it doesn’t have to be everything to everyone. It’s important, especially if your resources are limited, that you’re focusing your social media efforts in places that will generate the most return for your efforts, but you can’t just guess at which ones those are. Not knowing where to start your social media strategy might be the result of a bigger underlying problem: not knowing your target audience. So, take some steps to figure out who your current buyers are and what your audience really looks like.
If you’re not exactly sure of the answers, or want to focus the majority of your efforts on a single platform, start with Facebook. It is the most widely used social media site by far, with 1.65 billon active users, and 66% of users logging on daily. So, chances are, your target prospects at least have a personal Facebook profile and are spending time there regularly. In fact, Facebook users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on the site. And, research shows that popular days and times for Facebook are Wednesday-Friday afternoonsbefore four p.m., prime time for B2B organizations to reach out to their target audience.
2. Having a Narrow Definition of Social Media Marketing
Many businesses may think social media marketing just means having a claimed and active business page on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social channels. But this narrow view of social media marketing overlooks a wide variety of channels and strategies that can expand a business’ reach, create communities, and drive engagement.
Here are a few social media tactics that your B2B organization can benefit from:
- Use LinkedIn Showcase pages to highlight top products or solutions and drive traffic directly to that page
- Create a Facebook or LinkedIn group to generate engagement from an active user community
- Leverage external social communities and online forums to drive user conversations and answer technical questions
- Have a robust and active Glassdoor profile that reinforces your company’s brand and message
- Publish product, customer, and community videos on an optimized YouTube page
3. Having a One-and-Done Content Strategy
What do all social media platforms have in common? They’re all content driven. But many B2B organizations don’t have a sustainable content strategy to fuel continuous interest and engagement on social media. On Twitter, your content typically only lives for about 20 minutes; on Facebook, a few hours. But, too often, businesses are struggling to create and share new content multiple times a day to post on these sites.
To achieve a repeatable content strategy that saves you time and effort, here are a few tips for generating and repurposing content for your social media marketing efforts:
- Tap into internal experts: Don’t just leave the content creation up to your marketing team or agency, which could eat up a lot of your team’s time. Expand your content creation capabilities by leveraging subject matter experts from all areas of the business to contribute new perspectives on your industry. We frequently rely on product managers, service delivery experts, and even executive leadership team members to provide insight into the industry and provide fresh voices to our prospects and clients.
- Share all the content from or about your business: Whether it’s a simple post on your company blog, an article for a third-party publication, a product video on YouTube, a press release, an interview or Q&A, or something else: promote all of your content across your social sites.
- Repurpose and reshare: Social media content is not a one-and-done exercise. Developed an infographic? Turn it into a Slideshare or a video. Have a series of blog posts? Combine them into a guide or ebook. You can also leverage evergreen blog concepts that are more than a few months old, develop a fresh title or take, rewrite the content and structure, create a new post with fresh imagery, and BAM! Then, share it repeatedly. One thing my team at ReachLocal likes to do is to write a series of unique social media posts for a single piece of content like a webinar, blog post, or e-book so that we can share it across social media multiple times with different, clickable headlines. This also enables us to test how different messages and titles perform. You can also mix up your social media shares of a single piece of content by including a different image with each new social share, so it looks unique in the social feed. Make sure you spread these social posts out over a few days (or a few hours on Twitter) so you’re not spamming your audience.
- Write clickable headlines: This is so important, I had to include it twice. Especially with the amount of competition on social media sites like Facebook, and the volume of organic views declining, it’s more important than ever to stand out on the News Feed. But how do you create clickable headlines? Start by brainstorming interesting titles with your internal team or agency, look at formats of engaging headlines from other brands and publications that are driving high social engagement, and test different topics and formats with your own audience. This also means you’ll need to review the performance of your social media posts and use the data to inform new headline styles, topics, and content.
- Always use images: People like images. They like them so much that Instagram just reached 500 million users – more than Twitter. No matter what content you’re sharing or where you’re sharing it, make sure it’s visually appealing. Remember that your content is competing with family photos, infographics, memes, videos, ads, and more – so it has to make an impression. For limited budgets, you can use royalty-free images and stock photos to liven up your social media posts. If you have an in-house design team or agency, ask them to create a library of images that you can edit and use across your social posts. If you’re short on time, posting an info-image that features a stat, quote, fact, or tip is a quick way to drive engagement and interest from prospects and customers on social media.
- Encourage employee participation: Finally, develop an employee advocacy program in your organization to encourage employees to share and amplify your content. This can be extremely valuable to expand your reach and engagement beyond your own fans and followers and enables employees to be active on social media without having to create their own content.
4. Avoiding New Content Formats
Does your business only post 1-sentence status updates to your social media channels or link to curated content? You may not have experience creating live videos, presentations, or Buzzfeed-style articles, so you use this as an excuse not to try your hand at these tactics, but adding them to your toolkit can help you engage more of your audience on social media.
Here are a few ways to reach and appeal to your target buyers with new formats:
- Create engaging videos: Not only do 87% of marketers already use video content, but it’s also one of the most liked and engaged-with forms of content on social media. So think about putting together some videos about your business, products, or services. Some of our top videos include Q&As, short webinars, product overviews, and client case studies.
- Try your hand at live video: When it comes to social media, sometimes what works best isn’t the high-budget, edited video. Especially if you are short on time or lack video-editing capabilities. Chewbacca mom skyrocketed to viral stardom with a Facebook live video shot on a smartphone. While she’s not a B2B marketer, the lesson learned here is that sometimes a simple, emotional video is more. Facebook Live has already generated 8 billion video views per day, and on the heels of this, Twitter announced live streaming platform Periscope would be integrated directly into its timeline. Try creating a live video for your brand when you know your target viewers are most likely online the most, like weekday afternoons for Facebook.
- Publish directly on social sites: In addition to creating content on your blog or website and amplifying it on your social channels, think about publishing new content directly on social sites themselves. LinkedIn,Facebook Instant Articles, and Slideshare are just a few examples of native content mediums that grow your brand’s reach and engagement on individual social media sites. If you decide to repurpose existing content for these publishers, take some time to make it unique for each platform and format by changing up the text and images – this also helps original to avoid SEO conflicts and site penalties.
- Build relationships with influencers: When it comes to B2B social media marketing, some of your biggest lift can come from other people in your industry. Forming relationships and earning interest from top influencers can result in published content about your business (either content that you write or content that’s written about you), shared or retweeted content, positive brand mentions, and more. All of this can add to your social media inventory and propel your business into social media success.
5. Not Paying to Play
So, you’re regularly publishing content on social media – but you’re not really moving the needle. Do you still refuse to consider that today, a successful social media strategy involves paid content and advertising?
To reach both your existing fans and followers and new audiences within your target market, you need to invest in advertising or sponsored content on a variety of social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn all offer native advertising solutions, and Instagram ads can be delivered through the Facebook power editor. But, not all of these sites will be lucrative in the B2B market. For the sake of this post, we’ll continue to focus on Facebook for B2B marketing, although depending on your industry, you may want to test the effectiveness of Twitter or LinkedIn advertising solutions.
Facebook offers two paths for promoting your content: boosting posts or running targeted advertising. Both can effective but have different results for your business.
- Know your goal: If you’re relying heavily on content marketing in your organization, you can reach a broader audience by boosting a popular post from your Facebook page. You should only pay to promote pieces of content that already have a good amount of reach and engagement, since the traffic you generate organically is a good indicator of whether or not your content will continue to perform well when you promote it. If your goal, however, is to drive a true conversion, such as a website download, a call, a contact form inquiry, or an online purchase – you’ll want to create an ad to promote your offer on Facebook that uses the right call to action to encourage viewers to take a specific action.
- Use the right targeting: Whether you’re boosting an organic post or creating an ad, Facebook provides an abundance of audience targeting options to help you reach and engage just the right users. For B2B businesses and brands, it’s in your interest to identify and build a target audience similar to people who already like, engage with, and buy from you. There are a few ways you can create a niche target audience on Facebook:
- Upload an existing customer or prospecting list (Excel or CSV file)
- Create a lookalike audience with traits similar to your current customers
- Target specific employers, job titles, industries, and business locations
- Select demographics like gender, age, and income
- Specify employer and/or job title
- Keep your budget in check: Even as a B2B business, you don’t have to spend a ton of money on Facebook. You can start with a small budget and build on it if you see good results from your efforts. Keep in mind that the narrower the audience you target with an ad, the more it will cost you. If you’re not entirely sure who you’re trying to reach and are comfortable casting a wider net, start with a broader audience, and use Facebook’s optimization technology to help your ad reach the most engaged users.
6. Keeping your Social Media Separate from SEO
One important result of social media that many B2B leaders often miss is the organic traffic and leads you can capture outside of the social media site itself. In fact, robust, optimized, and active social media profiles for your business or product are likely to show up in natural search results, especially for searches for your business name, so failing to integrate these efforts could have a negative impact on your business.
In addition to your social media pages, individual posts and content like videos, images, tweets, and articles can also populate in SERPs for your business name or keyword searches. Interested prospects may find and check out your social media pages, company profiles, and more when researching your company, so it’s important that they are up to date and portray a positive view of your business. This also means ensuring you’re also taking note of comments, mentions, and reviews on social media and responding accordingly.
Go Forth & Be Social!
The most important thing to remember is no matter what you’re doing on social, be active. One of the top mistakes B2B businesses make is simply failing to be social. Because social media is so fluid, you have a lot of opportunities to try new strategies, test tactics, ask for feedback, and be more agile than you can with some other marketing methods. Even if you think you’re just selling boring software, social media can your chance to dedicate some of your most creative minds, time, and budget to your efforts.
by Tamara Weintraub