Are businesses still debating whether or not there’s a role for social in B2B? Sure you’ll still find pockets of resistance (and nostalgia), but the marketing dollars being moved to social say the debate is all but over. It says at the very least, serious businesses do not intend to get left in the dust as their competitors build relationships and start ongoing dialogues with buyers via social.
Better that you be the one to beat your competitor to the punch in establishing a comprehensive, integrated social marketing strategy. And if you’re going to do it, you may as well get started on the right foot with 9 foundational principles.
1. Know whom you want to talk to. If your answer is “Golly gee, anybody and everybody who might even remotely be interested in what I have,” you’re going out there untargeted and smelling desperate. Know who the likely prospects are and act on where they live digitally.
2. Use social to offer your prospects something they genuinely want or need. They don’t owe you anything and they don’t care if your company does well. They only care about solving a problem they currently have and making their jobs & lives easier. Speak to that.
3. Track how the content you’re giving your prospects does with them. Did they consume it? Did they visibly react to it (engagement)? Or did they find it immediately skip-able? Don’t keep giving them stuff that fails, you’ll start looking tone-deaf.
4. Hire the most exceptionally gifted channel managers to run your social efforts and empower them with the social technology to maximize their greatness. If your brand were a person, your channel manager is that person. So it’s critical to get this right.
5. You should listen for signals from your prospects as intently as SETI listens for alien signals from space. And you should get just as excited if you get something. Respond in a rapid, constructive manner…even if the signal you got back was negative.
6. Be a thought leader in your industry or sector. If you’re tired of the term “thought leader,” be a professor, an educator, or a researcher. If you can teach a prospect something they didn’t previously know, you’ll achieve an elevated status in their minds.
7. Be consistent. If you start posting on social then disappear, what good did that do you? If your blogs are published randomly, or only come out when you can serve the brand’s interests, you’re sending some very bad messages. I’m selfish and I can’t be counted on.
8. Use social to supplement your overall marketing efforts. Integration is a big topic in the marketing world. It’s what everyone is racing toward even though frankly, it’s not that easy. Go with a tech partner that’s most likely to get you to true modern marketing.
9. Somehow, some way, acquire patience. B2B selling is a process, and one that will never move as fast as you need it to. Social will not get you to the quick B2B close. So you not only have to be consistent, you have to be persistent and keep the steady social drumbeat going.
Those B2B prospects are a tough bunch, much less likely to give you quick trust or the benefit of the doubt like consumers. But B2B is made up of real people (people immersed in a labyrinth of proposals and approval processes, but people nonetheless), so value can be given and relationships can be built thanks to social B2B marketing.