Any fool can steer a ship, it's just knowing where to take it.The Bounty
Some things change. If you build’em, they won’t necessarily come. Unless they find you on social media, because that’s where they are now. Consumers have changed their habits. They are increasingly seeking references of services and products on social media, because people trust people. Some things change, but others don’t.
Social media have a direct influence on how people buy and connect with companies. And clients, of course, are people, and expect to be seen and heard. Who doesn’t? Their feedback, which you can get by engaging with them on social media, is a vital asset to make informed decisions.
It is not a wild estimation to say that about half of online shoppers use social media to help them make purchase decisions. Or that one in four internet users between 16 and 64 use social media to research brands and products. In fact, they're quite humble.
When it comes to B2B, numbers rise like waves in Nazare. 75% of buyers and 84% of C-level/vice president (VP) executives report using social media to make purchasing decisions. B2B companies increased their social media marketing budgets by 15% and will continue to do so. Why? Because their reports allowed them to track sales, and they have tracked them to social media. It works. If only there was a way to plan, organize and assess your actions to save time and money and make the best of your company’s social media efforts, right? There is.
TA DA! SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY
A social media strategy is the summarized version of your plan to take over the world, one social platform at a time. It includes what you hope to achieve on social media, guides you to get there, and lets you know how you're doing. An incredibly useful navigational instrument.
There’s never been a better time to create a social media marketing strategy like right now. But there are some clouds on the horizon, and things move fast. There’s more of everything: more releases, more platforms, more privacy issues, more tools, and more content. A smart social media strategy can help B2B and hybrid businesses weather the storm of possibilities, enhance their brand growth and reach new audiences. Businesses not seeking to enhance their brand growth and reach new audiences are not really that keen on succeeding, are they? Let them be, and read on for some tips on how to stay the social media course.
SET CLEAR GOALS
If you don’t know where you’re going, any road can take you there .
Worse, you could learn you’ve been taking several wrong turns AFTER you arrived at what you thought was your destination. You need to set clear goals. Common social media goals for B2B may include brand awareness, engagement, lead generation and conversion.
You need to know what you want to achieve, to prioritize smartly and make decisions about where to focus and the time you must devote to each goal. Set clear goals and specific, measurable KPIs, because you also need to know what success for each goal will look like.
For example, for your brand awareness goals, metrics to focus on include direct traffic, brand mentions or brand search volume. For your lead generation goals, you should look at clicks, cost per lead and close rates per channel. To drive more conversions from social media, the KPIs you should focus on are reach, click-through rates, and conversion rates.
IDENTIFY YOUR AUDIENCE AND YOUR COMPETITION
Read the room before you go in.
A social media strategy will not let you control if people follow you, because that’s up to them, but it can help you select the right channels to meet the people you want to talk with. Segment your audience. Understanding who they are, where they are and what interests them will help you tailor your content to meet their needs.
The other group to keep an eye on is your competition. Not to replicate what they are doing, but to identify what works for them, where they fall short, and where you can step up and fill some gaps in your market.
Many platforms to engage them all: take your pick(s)
Now that you know who they are, you must focus on where to engage them. Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter. The list is not endless, but it can get long. Pick the ones you want to focus on and create a specific plan for each one.
Things have Meta-changed in the past few years, but Facebook remains the most used social media platform with 2.96 billion active users. True, it is mostly a platform for people to connect and share experiences with people they know, but it’s not just a B2C specific channel. Business decision makers spend 74% more time on Facebook than the average user.
LinkedIn is much more than a useful job search tool. It’s the top professional social network, a hub for industry news and valuable insights, and a true lead magnet. With 750 million active users, it’s the preferred social media channel for B2B marketers, 93% of which find it the most effective way to generate leads. And they are right. More than 80% of social leads for B2B come from LinkedIn.
Nope, it’s not just an app for centennials to share dance moves and lip-sync challenges. This “new” social platform has great potential for content creators and companies with its virality supercharged algorithm. Seen those “TikTok made me buy” trends? Well, they can make you sell too. TikTok has an outstanding 11.83% engagement rate. Success on the fastest growing social media platform will require some experimentation and creativity, though.TikTok can be an amazing channel for B2B and Hybrid companies willing to loosen their ties and show some entertaining, personal, behind the scenes details of their staff and operation. It’s the perfect channel to educate audiences about using your products, share tips and hacks and announce new products and updates.
Twitter remains the top global hub for news, trends and conversations. Like a massive virtual water cooler, where everyone gathers to chat, share opinions, discuss ideas and sometimes, throw a glass at someone you disagree with, but let’s not get into that now. Love, hate and everything in between, Twitter is all about relationships. With 368 million active users and 500 million tweets posted every day, it’s a platform that allows for real-time engagement with clients and prospects, and a super powerful tool to build brand awareness. It’s also a great channel to showcase industry expertise and address inquiries. 63% of Twitter users follow small-to-medium sized businesses. Depending on your industry and bandwidth, it can be even more engaging: Twitter users visit B2B tech brand sites at a much higher rate than average Internet users. (59% vs 40%)
Instagram is a very powerful visual based platform. Like with TikTok, you may think it’s only popular among teens, but 54.4% of its 1.3 billion users are between 25 and 55 years old. More than 200 million users check out business profiles every day and 60% of Instagram users use the platform to discover new products. 80% claim their buying decisions are influenced by what they see on Instagram. After all, it’s not about B2C or B2B, but about people, and Instagram is changing how people make buying decisions, so it’s definitely the right place to B2B.
SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY IMPLEMENTATION OR HOW TO GET IT DONE
THE WHO (NOT NECESSARILY THE BAND)
There are many different functions and roles involved in managing Social Media: strategy development, content creation, publishing, social media monitoring and analysis. That’s a lot of decisions to make. The first step to implement your social media strategy is to sort out who will be calling the shots for each function and have a workflow in place that outlines responsibilities, such as creating content, reviewing and approving suggestions, publishing content, monitoring social media channels and engaging with comments and questions.
Depending on the size and complexity of your organization, you may decide it’s better to fill gaps in your team with contractors or specialized agencies. Hiring an agency can save you time by taking over the responsibility of creating and implementing the social media strategy and prove more cost-effective for B2B companies than hiring in-house staff. However, to make sure the cure is not worse than the disease, it’s important to choose one that has a good understanding of the B2B industry in general, and of your company in particular, to prevent miscommunications, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and assorted miseries.
Content strategy is a crucial element of your social media plan. While there are some similarities between B2B and B2C content strategies, there are also key differences. B2B content should be educational and informative, rather than just promotional, as the main focus is to build relationships given the longer, more complex B2B sales cycle. Your content should be customized according to each stage of the sales funnel, from awareness through consideration to decision.
Once you have set your goals, identified your audience and competition, and chosen your social media platforms, it is time to create and implement your content strategy. This will require extensive research to determine the type of content that best suits each platform and the frequency and best times to publish. Your team should identify trends and gaps and create content series that users can find useful, relevant, or emotional. You should also plan the content for each platform separately, even if you are repurposing the same content for different platforms (which you most definitely should).
Creating quality content requires planning and organization. Determine what types of graphics, images, or videos you plan to use in your campaign, based on your budget and the needs of your campaign. Define your brand voice and tone to ensure consistency and nuance across all social media platforms and use a content calendar to outline the type of content you will post, when you will post it, and on which social media platform.
Paid promotion can help you reach a broader audience and amplify your content's reach. You can use paid advertising to target specific audiences, promote your content, or generate leads. It is essential to set a budget and define your target audience and goals to maximize the effectiveness of your paid advertising.
THE HOW AND THE WHAT NEXT: TOOLS AND METRICS
Planning and executing a social media strategy is a lot, but it’s not all. Analyzing results and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is crucial to determine the success of your strategy and identify areas for improvement. There are several metrics to consider depending on your goals. If your goal is to increase brand awareness, metrics such as reach and impressions can provide insight into how many people have seen your content. On the other hand, if your goal is to drive website traffic, you should focus on metrics such as click-through rates and referral traffic.
To effectively analyze, report, and optimize your social media strategy, it is essential to set a reporting rhythm. This could include quarterly, monthly, and weekly reviews of progress. During quarterly reviews, you should evaluate the overall performance of your plan, what's working, what's not, and what's next. Monthly reviews can focus on reviewing the plan and month-to-month traction. Finally, weekly reviews should focus on reviewing progress and a scorecard of key metrics.
Investing in the right tools can help make the process of analyzing and reporting on your social media strategy more efficient. Social media management tools can help streamline workflows and schedule posts, and analytics tools can provide more in-depth insights into your performance.
Social media strategies are not set in stone, very few things are. Adjustments may need to be made along the way based on the data and insights gathered. By regularly measuring and adjusting your social media strategy, you can improve your performance, reach your target audience more effectively, and achieve your business goals.
SOCIAL MEDIA TO IMPROVE SALES
Creating a seamless shopping experience is crucial to enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customers crave convenience, speed, and ease when shopping on social media. Another good use for social media is to leverage social platforms to streamline your purchasing paths to meet their needs.
Instagram Shops allows businesses to set up online stores and tag shoppable products in their posts, Stories, and Reels, which is a great way to speed up the online shopping process, and eligible businesses can use Instagram Checkout to enable users to purchase products without being redirected to an external website, saving them the hassle of switching between multiple tabs or apps. Alternatively, you can add links to specific product pages on your posts with a link to your ecommerce store in your bio.
THIS JUST IN: AI
Here to take our jobs, here to save our lives, everyone talks about what AI will do to our future. But as the world still tries to figure out what it can do, and whether issues like accuracy and bias can be solved and how, there are many specific ways in which AI can enhance your social media/eCommerce strategy.
For example, it can be used to analyze data and identify patterns and trends in order to create or improve your buyer personas, or to outline and schedule content to ensure the company’s content is timely and relevant. It can also be used to monitor social media platforms for mentions of your brand, as well as keywords and topics related to your industry, allowing you to use that information to create targeted content or to improve your customer service.
Leveraging recommendation features, such as suggesting products based on what other customers have followed, liked or bought can improve customer satisfaction and increase your order values. Implementing AI-driven personalization during checkout or in post-purchase communications is another way to offer more value.
Yes, ChatGPT may have made all the headlines, but it can’t write really good ones yet. Hype and panic aside, it is undeniable that AI, balanced with human creativity and intuition (is there any other kind?), can be useful for a variety of tasks to boost your social media strategy, and your sales.
THE NOW BIG THING: INFLUENCER MARKETING
As the world of social media evolves, so do the strategies businesses use to reach their target audiences. The now big thing is influencer marketing. Over 83% of people believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing. Businesses are making $5.2 ROI for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
The goal of influencer marketing is to leverage the influencer's credibility and relationship with their audience to promote a brand or product. Influencers may promote the brand or product through various channels such as social media posts, videos, blogs, or podcasts. They may also provide product reviews, giveaways, or discounts to their followers.
NOT JUST FOR B2C
Yes, it's commonly associated with B2C, but B2B and hybrid companies can also benefit from this approach. By partnering with influencers, B2B and Hybrid companies can tap into new markets and reach a wider range of potential customers. Here’s a couple of things to bear in mind, though:
Firstly, you need to identify whether influencer marketing is suitable for your brand and your target audience. You should select an influencer who is an authority in a specific area that's relevant to your brand. For instance, if you're selling photography equipment, you might want to work with a well-known photographer. It's important to choose an influencer who is responsible and whose reputation won't negatively impact your brand.
One of the main advantages of working with influencers is their ability to connect with your target audience. True, many people are doing it. Still, enlisting a Kardashian for your influencer marketing will not always be a good idea. It's crucial to carefully select an influencer who is a good match for your brand and product.
To execute an effective campaign, create a database of suitable influencers who align with your brand values. Then, you can manage communication with them and negotiate the value of their services. It's also essential to track the progress of your campaigns and analyze what works and what doesn't. Have a clear budget in mind and prioritize the type of content to produce based on the platform you're using.
It's worth noting that influencer marketing may not be suitable for small businesses with a limited advertising budget. However, larger companies with solid knowledge of their audience and brand values can benefit significantly from adding it to their social strategy.
FINAL SMOOTH SAILIN' TIPS
Outlining and implementing a social media strategy goes beyond cute videos and memes (not that there's anything wrong with them). These guidelines may help you develop yours to build brand awareness, connect with your target audience, and drive sales. Remember to take the time to consider your goals, your target audience, and what content can help you connect. Know where you want to take the ship.
Above all, don't be afraid to experiment and try new things -social media is a dynamic space. What works today may not work tomorrow, so be ready to change tack along this long journey. Building a loyal following and seeing results takes time, so be active but also patient.
If you have any questions or thoughts to share, just get in touch. Ahoy!