If your business sells products or services to other businesses – and if you hear the words ‘social media’ and all you can think is ‘Facebook’ – then I’ll start by forgiving you for assuming social media is not for you.
Now you’re feeling comfortable, I’m sorry to say that’s as much molly-coddling as you’re going to get. Social media IS relevant to your B2B business, just not in the way you might be thinking.
In the same way the word ‘molly-coddling’ has had its time, it’s your turn to move with the times and shift the way you think about social media and how it applies to your business, because the benefits are just too great to ignore.
Here are your top 4 B2B social media priorities, conveniently in order of importance, as well as how to get started with each of them…
B2B priority #1 – Company blog
If you have one already then congratulations and you can jump to priority #2
This may suprise you but yes, a blog is a social media channel. Clients and potential customers can engage with you and share links to your articles within their networks in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and more. In fact in Nielsen’s 2010 Social Media Report, 73% of New Zealanders said they had sent or shared a link in social media channels.
Social media needs content and one of the best content sources is your blog. If you don’t have one yet, hold off on spending too much time in LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Google+ till you’ve got it sorted first.
Your blog is actually way more than just a social media channel, it’s also the most powerful free way to attract new business.
How does 127% more leads sound? Not good enough?
Okay, how about free SEO, 79% more Twitter followers, free PR, 55% more visitors, pre-qualified leads and fewer time wasters, proving you’re a better choice than your competitors… the list goes on!
Check out the 11 business benefits of having a blog to get the research and reasons behind why a blog is the most often missed yet most powerful B2B social media priority.
By the way, a blog does not have to be on its own domain like our blog is. Our company website is actually www.OrchidWebDesign.co.nz. Whether your blog should be on its own domain, integrated within your company website, on a sub-domain or sub-directory will depend on a number of factors and the good news is you don’t need to have understood any of that!
Shamelessless plug: If you need help making that decision feel free to contact me as the considerations could make up an entire article just by themselves. Alternatively chat to your website developer as providing they understand SEO they should be able to point you in the right direction. Yes, we create business blogs, so if you need inspiration, check out our blog portfolio to see the blogs of other NZ companies and to find out what you get when you choose us to design and build your blog. Okay, shameless plug over…
B2B priority #2 – Fresh, relevant content
Congratulations! You’ve got the most important step of social media for B2B out of the way – but when was the last time you updated your blog?
Content is still King, even though your marketing channels are changing.
Without fresh and relevant content it’s an uphill battle to improve your rankings in search engines and shift your LinkedIn network, Twitter followers and Facebook fans that vital one step closer to your website, persuading your social media connections to convert to clients.
The reason I’m still rabbiting on about blogging is because many businesses start a blog then never update it.
You need at least 20 articles to start seeing results and fewer than 10 articles is basically the same as having no blog at all if you want your blog to help with lead generation.
What are you writing about?
Fresh content is all very well and good but if your content is not relevant then you’re missing the point.
Avoid using your blog just for “Aren’t we great?!” content, such as ‘Look! We won this award’ or ‘Check out this great new product / service / offer we have for you, aren’t you lucky we’re letting you buy it from us?!’.
Instead, down-play the ‘me me me’ self-promotional content and focus on value-added content that is relevant to your target market.
A couple of examples:
What you do: Pillow importer and manufacturer, selling to bed retailers
What you could blog about: Insomnia, snoring, how to pick the right pillow, neck pain, sleeping habits, allergies, dust mites, bed linen…
What you do: Business mentor to executives and corporates
What you could blog about: Managing staff, starting a business, leadership, dispute resolution, employment law, changing careers, work life balance…
Think about what makes you the authority in your industry, use your blog for thought leadership, to upskill your network, to answer those FAQs you get asked day in day out, the list goes on!
Worried about who’s going to write all those articles for your blog? Here are 6 ways to get high-value content written for you for free
B2B priority #3 – LinkedIn
LinkedIn is where business professionals hang out. Business owners, sales and marketing managers, GMs, CEOs … in other words, the decision makers you want to get your products or services in front of.
The power of LinkedIn goes far beyond your profile, though step 1 is to ensure your profile has the most important areas completed, followed by step 2 which is to connect with everyone you know who’s also on LinkedIn, so get out those stacks of business cards and start connecting!
One of the most valuable places to spend your time is actually within LinkedIn Groups.
Firstly find the groups where your target market hang out. In the search bar (top right), click the arrow and select ‘Groups’ then type in one of the topics you specialise in.
Look through the stats for groups that focus on that topic (hint: try and stick to groups where members are mainly from your target country so you attract the right leads). Join the most relevant groups and off you go.
Listen and lurk for a while if you’re feeling shy, then when you’re ready, contribute to an active discussion.
When you’ve got the hang of Groups, you can also start your own discussions and generally work at being seen as the expert or thought leader on your topics within each group.
The secret to remember when contributing is don’t write a novel in LinkedIn, even though I know the generous character count can be tempting.
Instead, remember to utilise your blog articles to expand on your answer / opinion, linking from the discussion to the article you’ve written that directly relates to the point you’re making. Always add value and avoid getting spammy with your self-promotion, so make sure any article you link to is on-topic.
That secret is how you move those business professionals and decision makers out of LinkedIn and on to your website, one step closer to becoming a customer.
To get started in LinkedIn groups, here’s a group called Social Media New Zealand you’re welcome to join (disclaimer: I am the owner and moderator of this group).
Another area of opportunity is LinkedIn Answers but to get started, focus on those initial 3 tasks for now:
1) Update and complete your profile (it’s okay to skip some sections of your profile, not every section is relevant)
2) Build your network. Start by connecting with everyone you know.
3) Join and contribute to relevant groups.
B2B priority #4 – Twitter
Did you expect to see Facebook make number 4?
More than 1 quarter of New Zealanders have visited Twitter and of Twitter’s NZ user base, more than 44% have followed a company or brand.
The good news is setting up your company on Twitter is easier than Facebook. For some though, you may find getting the hang of Twitter has a bigger learning curve than Facebook or LinkedIn.
More good news is it’s a very fast learning curve and when you look back you’ll have a giggle when you realise there was nothing to worry about and will be kicking yourself for not having got into Twitter earlier.
To help you get underway, I’d highly recommend Mashable’s fantastic and very detailed Guide to Twitter or attending one of our Twitter for Business Results training courses.
If you prefer to have me come to you, to train you and your team about how to get business results using Twitter, it’s more affordable than you might think, so definitely get in touch.
Remember priority #1? Not only does having a blog means companies attract 79% more Twitter followers, but tweets with links to your content are much more likely to be retweeted which can vastly increase your audience.
For example, I have over 1,000 followers on Twitter but due to one tweet that linked to one of my articles here on Marketing Gum being retweeted, I reached an audience of over 20,000 which caused a healthy blip in traffic.
Tweets with links are also much more likely to result in an increase in leads than if you spend all your time on Twitter chatting and cross your fingers the link to your blog or website in your Twitter profile will do the job at attracting followers to your site.
So write those great articles then tweet about them!
By the way, tweets that are 120 to 130 characters in length are the sweet spot to attract more clicks, as is placing the link around a quarter of the way through your tweet (ie: not at the end) and keeping the balance around 80/20 for tweets with links (80%) versus conversation (20%).
Yes, I know what you’re probably thinking about now, and you’re right. As with most social media advice, your unique products, services, objectives and target audience will mean your social media priorities and strategy isn’t always going to fit the advice above, but you now know the right places to start.
PS – I hope you got lots of value from this article and all the hints, tips and research included. If you did, please share the love and pick one of the sharing options at the top or below. Thank you in advance :)