There’s no denying the power of social media - how it can theoretically help you to connect with a wider audience, attract new customers and build awareness of your brand.
An increasing number of companies are turning to social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, with 84% of B2B marketers revealing they use social media in some form (Aberdeen).
When used strategically, social media can help you engage directly with many of your target audiences. Twitter has now grown to 650 million users worldwide, while Facebook has a staggering 1.23 billion members. According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing study, social media does actually generate customers, with 62% of respondents reporting they had acquired a customer through LinkedIn, 53% through Facebook and 44% through Twitter.
Businesses have clearly become more present and active on social media and, contrary to popular belief, B2B companies are no exception. Here are some practical ways B2B companies are using LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter to get the best return on their investment.
The Key to Social Media Success
Whichever platform you use, you must remember that social media is a conversational tool, not a megaphone. Being active on social media is about interaction, not just about promoting your company.
For every company update you post, share third party content relevant to your target audience. That way you’ll be using social media to boost your credibility, expand your reach and – importantly – help customers with their buying decisions.
According to Social Media Today, LinkedIn is currently B2B marketers’ preferred social media platform. Hence, 62% of B2B marketers believe it’s effective, and it tops all social media investments at 91% penetration for audience use (Content Marketing Institute: B2B Content Marketing report).
You can create a company profile to highlight your products, services and job opportunities and network on a virtual scale. But if you really want to get noticed and generate widespread awareness of your brand, you need to get active.
If you aren’t already doing so, make sure you’re in the habit of regularly uploading your latest media releases, blog posts, event announcements, and other company announcements and updates to your company page.
Also have key employees join groups of interest to your customers. From engineering to green facilities management, there are active groups on almost every topic you can think of. By posting relevant content and joining in discussions, your employees will help build your business’ credibility among prospects.
Budget permitting, you may also want to consider going one step further by taking advantage of paid promotions through LinkedIn Ads. They enable you to capture new leads by targeting specific demographics, industries and locations.
Google+ provides numerous benefits for companies looking to promote unique content and optimise their website for organic search. It currently has almost 550 million active monthly users, however it’s often overlooked by business owners.
Communities are a key feature of Google+. Ensure you offer value to people, as opposed to giving them the hard sell or spamming them, by finding and interacting with the circles that are most relevant to your business.
You can use it to upload and share photos, videos and links. But features like Google+ circles actually enable you to segment your followers into smaller groups. Do this, and you’ll be able to share information with some followers while excluding others. For example, by creating a circle for a particular sector you can share product launches or exclusive offers relevant to particular prospects.
Twitter’s strongest characteristic is its 140-character tweet limit, meaning your updates need to be clear and concise. If you need to reach a broad audience that’s receptive to marketing messages, then it’s the best route for you.
Making sure you’re familiar with Twitter’s terminology, such as hashtags and @mentions, will help you make the most of Twitter’s potential.
You need to remember that the average lifespan of a tweet is extremely short. You therefore need to be strategic about how often and when you post. If you have a new blog post don’t just tweet about it once – post a series of tweets over a couple of days, so you’re more likely to reach people that check Twitter at different times.
One of the most valuable things Twitter offers you is the ability to search for keywords that are related to your industry. That way you can track relevant conversations. Do this, and you’ll get a real insight into the way your audience interacts with your competitors, enabling you to improve the content of your tweets.