The Basics of A Social Media Strategy
For industrial B2B companies, social media must a prominent component of your lead generation efforts for several reasons.
- It will help you build your brand over time by generating engagement and facilitating online conversations around your business
- It will be a source of traffic to your website that will grow over time.
- It will allow you to test content and refine your messaging.
- It will be a platform where you can engage with potential customers, demonstrate value, and nurture them towards becoming customers.
Consider this quote from Oliver Blanchard (2011), in his book Social Media ROI: Managing and measuring social media efforts in your organization:
One of the fundamental reasons why social media has been so readily embraced by the general public is that it helps connect people with each other in ways that are valuable, meaningful, and convenient, on their own terms, and on an unprecedented scale. (p. 4)
For businesses, social media provides the opportunity for a more personal connection with their customers at scale. In this section I will outline some tools and strategies for using social media effectively.
Select Your Platforms
There are many social platforms to choose from. In the industrial B2B space, it’s generally expected that your company has a LinkedIn presence at a minimum, and often Twitter and YouTube as well. Beyond that, there are a long list of social media platforms to consider including Meta Platforms (the parent company to Facebook and Instagram), as well as Snapchat and TikTok, which appeal to younger generations. YouTube is a great platform for video-based learning, such as “how-to” videos and product demos.
Whichever platforms you use, make sure your company consistently shows up, posts content, and interacts with your audience. It’s better to have fewer platforms that are run well than many that are left under-resourced and unattended.
Set Your Measurement Framework (i.e., KPIs)
Take a moment to consider your goals for social media. For the purposes of this book, I focus on using social media as a marketing tool to attract, engage, and delight customers. Yet there are other worthwhile reasons to invest time on social media as well.
Here is an example KPI framework. Depending on the platform(s) you choose to invest time in, your KPIs may look slightly different, but you should have a dashboard to measure performance against your objectives over time:
This framework will show how well your social media strategy is working, and where any problems may exist. Equally as important, you will be able to measure the relative performance of your content.
Best Practice: Continually test your content with your social media audience, using your KPIs and qualitative data such as post comments. Adjust your content creation according to these insights to maximize impact.
Research Your Customers and Your Competitors
It’s important to keep tabs on your competitors and periodically assess their social media strategy, content positioning, and the level of engagement they are receiving. This can yield insights for your own strategy.
Equally as important is understanding your customers, where they are showing up, what information they are consuming, and how they are engaging on the platform. One way to do this is simply to join and participate in industry relevant groups (e.g. LinkedIn Groups). Another way to do this is through hashtag research. Lastly, find and follow influencers in your industry and observe their stories and conversations.
A powerful social media research and management tool is Sprout Social, but you can also use the dashboards from any of the above-mentioned platforms to conduct your research.
Publish Your Content & Interact
Consistently publishing content may seem resource intensive, but there are some tools and approaches that when used correctly can save your teams considerable time. For content, leverage your content strategy and repurpose as much content as you can. Every blog, white paper, and customer case study should have corresponding social media posts that use this same information. There are a few benefits to this approach.
- It creates consistency in your messaging.
- It saves valuable time.
- It helps you build authority in the market through links back to your webpage as your audience begins to reference your original content on their blogs, websites, etc.
The tools I recommend for managing your social media platforms, including scheduling and reporting, are below:
It is important to interact with your audience on social media. These platforms are not a one-way street, and your audience will expect interaction. There is a wealth of information on building a social media strategy for your company, and large international businesses invest significant time here. If you’re looking for more information on constructing a comprehensive social media strategy for your business, the book Social Media RIO: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization by Oliver Blanchard (2011) is a great place to start.
Suggested Reading: The New Fundamentals of Industrial Marketing.
This blog is an excerpt from from my book, The New Fundamentals of Industrial Marketing. For more in-depth look at industrial marketing strategies to build your opportunity pipeline, grab your copy here.