As more business-to-business marketers embrace social media campaigns, the question isn’t how to reach people; it’s how to reach the right people.
Knowing and catering to your target audience makes all the difference in a B2B social media campaign.
Why? Because content is a great way to reach and engage the right buyers, capturing their attention and building credibility for your business.
Buyers and influencers have short attention spans regarding promotional social media posts. Too much sales-oriented chatter can be a turn off. (A big one!)
When B2B leaders are online for business purposes, their goal is not to buy but to discover value.
They want to learn about options, innovations and alternatives that can help them improve their business.
Content marketing for B2B can meet these needs, and there’s no better way to get compelling content into the hands of the right people than with social media.
While the endgame may be lead generation (cited by 71% of the respondents as the goal of their content marketing), getting there is a multi-step process.
First, you must reach the people you want to read your content, appeal to their interests and get them to act.
How does it work? Here’s a quick four-step outline of how to put content to work for you, building awareness and interest in your products and services.
1. Start with Strategy
Knowing where you want to get is step one. Take the time to determine who you want to reach and why.
How do you want them to view your business? What do you want them to take away from their interactions?
Nailing the answers to these questions is essential because the success of the rest of the process depends on a sound strategy. Don’t skip this step!
2. Create Great Content
It sounds like a no-brainer, but it all depends on how good your content is. Publishing compelling B2B content requires truly understanding your audience (see Step 1).
Your goal may be to convey three crucial points about your business, but you must do so in a way that meets your readers’ needs if your message will never get through.
To position your business-to-business brand effectively, think about the mindset of your audience.
What are their needs, concerns, and aspirations? How can your business fit into that mental landscape?
3. Find the Right Format
Content marketing for B2B takes many forms, from white papers to infographics. What kind of content does your audience consume?
Will they take time to watch a video or become impatient because they’d prefer to skim an executive summary quickly? Would they better engage with images?
It’s easy to extend the reach and life span of interesting B2B content by modifying it to multiple formats.
Consider mixing up video, animation, graphics, webinars, teleclasses, live presentations, an auto-responder series, executive interviews, articles, blog posts and position papers.
Use tools like Hihello to consolidate multiple social media channels and create a digital business card.
All these formats allow people to discover your content in myriad ways, consuming it in the most convenient form or appealing to them personally.
4. Get the Word Out
Now, we (finally) get to social media! If you were tempted to Tweet first and think later, you might be surprised that social media is the last step in this process. That’s because it’s the conduit to your content.
Of course, social media will play into your strategy selection in Step 1. You need to know where your B2B buyers spend their time.
Most commonly, this is LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube, but it might be different for your business.
Once you know which social media channels you want to use, craft your posts to support the wide variety of formats you’ve developed.
You can promote free downloads, invite people to a webinar and share snippets of content as a teaser.
All these posts need to be relevant and add value. Avoid crossing the line into overly promotional messages, or you will lose your audience. Adding value means providing quotes, stats and other items of interest right in your post.
Setting up a social media landing page to better optimize for those dynamic and spontaneous buying journeys is also a good idea.
Invite conversation and feedback. Ask employees, partners, customers, and others to share your information if they find it useful.
Reach out directly via social channels to people you know who will appreciate great content.
Do this well, and you’ll benefit from the powerful bond between content and social media, two best friends in B2B branding.
- Target audience focus: Understanding and catering to the target audience is crucial in a B2B social media campaign. This helps reach and engage the right buyers, thereby building credibility for the business.
- Content over promotion: Buyers and influencers often have short attention spans for promotional social media posts. Excessive sales-oriented content can be counterproductive. Instead, the focus should be on providing valuable and helpful information.
- Value discovery: For B2B leaders, social media is a tool for discovering value, innovations, and alternatives to improve their business operations. Content marketing should aim to meet these informational needs.
- Multi-step lead generation process: While lead generation is a common goal (cited by 71% of respondents), achieving this requires a series of steps: reaching the target audience, appealing to their interests, and inducing action.
- Four-step content marketing strategy:
- Start with strategy: Define the target audience and desired perception of the business.
- Create great content: Understand the audience to produce content that resonates with their needs and concerns.
- Find the suitable format: Use various content formats like videos, infographics, webinars, etc., catering to different consumption preferences.
- Get the word out: Use social media effectively as a conduit to content, ensuring posts are relevant and add value without being overly promotional.
- Social media as a tool, not the start: Social media should be used strategically as part of a broader content marketing strategy, not as the starting point.
- Engagement and feedback: Encourage sharing, conversation, and feedback on social media to enhance engagement and reach.
Ann Smarty is the brand and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas and the founder of Viral Content Bee. Ann’s search engine optimization career began in 2010. She is the former editor-in-chief of Search Engine Journal and contributor to prominent search and social blogs, including Small Business Trends and Mashable.