Diving right into social media can be a daunting task for the 67 percent of B2B companies that remain unfamiliar with outlets like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. But the key to successfully launching a social media campaign is all about using dormant branding know-how to carve out a niche strategy that’s all your own.
For many B2B companies, the biggest ‘social’ obstacle seems to be determining how it would work best for their company, industry, audience, etc. The acceptance of social media as a valued form of marketing is on the rise, but knowing how to leverage these social outlets in the B2B world is another step in the process that many have yet to figure out.
At AmeriQuest, we’ve found LinkedIn and Twitter to be the most effective social outlets for their immediacy and interaction with our target audience. With LinkedIn, we’ve joined multiple industry-related groups that allow us to both follow and add to the latest conversations happening in our industry today. Whether it’s our own company news or a blog article, we make sure to share our content through as many channels as possible.
However, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to determining how best to work past this issue of incorporating social media into a B2B marketing plans. What some companies should look at, however, is the type of audience they’re trying to reach, the industry in which they’re trying to reach them, and the value they’re aiming to provide.
Perhaps the biggest struggle B2B companies face is the attempt to dive head-first into the social media world without developing a plan. Let’s take a look at just a few points on why a B2B company needs to step outside of its marketing comfort zone, as well as how to do so.
- Information gathering. It can be easy to forget that behind the businesses being worked with are, in fact, people. The most obvious advantage to using social media as a B2B company is having access to a pool of knowledge that would otherwise be unavailable. Know your buyers’ preferences on every level – right down to their pop culture preferences and food interests. The beauty of social media is that, at its core, it eliminates any need to ever ask a question – just look it up on a profile. You might be surprised by how impressed the folks you’re pitching to when you already have a thorough understanding of their business values and identity.
- Relationship-building. An email sent through LinkedIn is roughly three times more likely to be responded to than the average message – take advantage of that when attempting to build a relationship with a potential client. The more you know about who you’re working with, on any level, the better.
- Branding, branding, branding. If you consider your company to have a particular set of morals, a concrete image you hope to maintain, or a captivating story to tell, it is an indisputable fact that – if done right — social media can only help build your business’ case. Social media provides a unique opportunity to control your business’ message in the B2B world, assuming a level of uniformity is maintained between networks. The brand must be consistently portrayed and maintained – if you lose a hold of your brand, you lose credibility. For that reason, only create accounts you plan to use regularly, and be intimately familiar with the inner-workings of the network.
The ideal way to get started with your social media endeavors is simply to do your research – check out what others in your industry are doing. Are they primarily using Twitter or Facebook? What are they posting? How often? Following their social accounts may be the best way to learn this information. As with any marketing initiative, the first thing you should do if you want to step into the social world is define your goals. What do you want to ultimately accomplish?
These tools are freely available to everyone – that’s one of the great things about social media. It’s how you use them that will determine your success, so plan it out and tweak as you go. It’s an iterative process. At AmeriQuest, we initially mapped out our goals for what we ultimately aimed to accomplish through social. This included an outline of the current social tools, identification of our target audience, potential risks involved, how we planned to measure ROI, and more.
Essentially, the next transformative leap in marketing for your B2B company is just a mouse-click and a bio page away.
Guest post by Patrick Moynahan. Moynahan is Marketing Campaign Manager for AmeriQuest Business Services and oversees the social media marketing for AmeriQuest and its additional brands. AmeriQuest focuses on transportation services and the sale of used refrigerated trucks. The company continues to explore the world of social media, using platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to communicate with industry partners.