Social media marketers, by training and instinct, love to opt for glitzy and high-profile social media strategies. But if you’re in the B2B space, the mass-market tactics favoured by B2C experts, can sometimes be ineffective and inappropriate. Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons why your B2B social media strategy might be failing.
1. You don’t actually have a strategy!
This may sound intuitive, but the reality is that many B2B businesses – particularly smaller ones – often don’t have a social media strategy to speak of. Instead, their primary marketing and sales focus is on traditional methods, such as cold calling, participating in networking events, direct mail or getting involved in trade shows.
When they do embark on a social media journey, the rationale is that “we’d better do some social media because everyone else is doing it”. This is not a strategy! Is it merely a knee-jerk, uncoordinated, me-too reaction that is, almost certainly, doomed to failure in the longer term.
Instead, you need to think about:
- What you want to achieve
- How you plan to do it
- What resources you can commit to your efforts
- How you will monitor public reaction
- What would be an acceptable and realistic ROI
Once you have these answers, commit to a written B2B social media strategy. Documenting your plans keeps everyone within the organisation heading in the same direction at all times. It also helps you to adjust your strategy when you need to.
2. You’re not consistent
Social media is a dynamic and constantly evolving environment. New networks are launched, once-established networks fade away, algorithms change, new features are introduced, and services that were once free, become paid-for. There’s also a strongly subjective element to social media and everyone seems to have an opinion (informed or otherwise) about how it should work.
If you allow yourself to be swayed by every bit of idle water-cooler talk, pub chatter, or half-baked and self-serving “social media report” that’s published, you’ll forever be chopping and changing your social media tactics and will have very little idea of what really works or doesn’t. Unless there are compelling reasons to do otherwise, stick with your B2B social media strategy for a pre-determined period, and then revaluate.
As with any other aspect of marketing, social media marketing also requires that you be consistent in the frequency of your client interaction and the way that you present yourself.
- Your organisational voice and overall brand message (the golden thread) should be consistent in each message that you post.
- Posts must be consistent with whatever messages you portray in other aspects of your marketing, for example the messages contained in your print advertising and press releases.
3. You’re not committed
Because many B2B businesses remain sceptical of the value of social media marketing, there’s a tendency to say “let’s try it for three months and see what happens”.
Social media is already very well proven as a B2C marketing tool and there’s no reason for it not to do the same in the B2B environment. The only real question is how to make it work best for your particular business circumstances. So commit resources, commit expertise and be in it for the long haul.
As an effective B2B marketer, you’ll already know that generating leads and making sales takes time. There are typically multiple people that need to be influenced before a sale happens – ranging from the client’s CFO to the marketing director, technical director, purchasing manager and product buyers. Even once they’re all on board, it may take months for a deal to be concluded.
Given all of these realities, wouldn’t it be unrealistic to expect your B2B social media strategy to begin making a bottom-line contribution in only a few months?
4. You’re not using the right platforms
All social media platforms are not created equal, so you need to determine which platforms work best for you. In the B2B setting, the obvious default is LinkedIn. It focuses on business content, business networking and jobs. It also boasts a huge worldwide audience of 575-million businesspeople.
According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute and Iron Paper Insights (2018), 97% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as a content marketing platform. This was notably better than the other platforms, with Twitter coming in at 87%, Facebook at 86% and YouTube at 60%. Others were Instagram (30%) and Google+ (28%).
Obviously this situation changes constantly and many social media platforms are becoming more user-friendly towards businesses. They are progressively realising that there’s good money to be made helping companies achieve their marketing goals.
If your company sells products with even marginal visual appeal, consider a YouTube presence. You can create how-to videos that explain how to fit, replace or repair your products, for example. These videos don’t need to be super-slick in look and feel, and can therefore be relatively cost-effective to produce. But you should always have minimum production standards in order to avoid damaging the brand.
Similarly, you can place interesting product photos, illustrations diagrams etc. on Pinterest or Instagram, as these platforms are primarily visual.
Facebook, despite its reputation for being sensationalist and frivolous, can also have B2B benefits. The scale of its total worldwide audience is enormous (2.32-billion monthly active users as at the end of 2018) and if your target audience is slightly younger (e.g. product buyers or product managers) then they’re almost certainly on Facebook themselves. According to Professor Michael Goldman of the University of San Francisco, almost half of B2B buyers are now millennials – those aged 23-38. In other words, they’re a prime Facebook audience.
If you’re in a business where there’s fast-breaking news, consider a Twitter presence. If you specialise in aviation insurance, for example, your clients may value Twitter updates about aircraft crashes, recently uncovered technical problems, or the unveiling of new aircraft models.
5. You’re not doing enough on social media
For many B2B organisations, being on social media equates to offering a very generic company profile, basic product information and contact details. Your social media presence is then little different to your website or the printed brochures that gather dust in reception.
A successful B2B social media strategy requires continual work. Update your posts frequently, although without becoming an irritant, as social media thrives on new content and the beast must be fed regularly. According to the publication Search Engine Journal, content typically only lives for about 20 minutes on Twitter and for a few hours on Facebook. LinkedIn and YouTube will have longer attention cycles, but you get the picture.
6. Your content isn’t good enough
Remember to be human and conversational. A long and convoluted extract from your annual report, that’s full of corporate-speak, does not constitute good content. Neither does an excerpt from your latest brochure or technical manual.
Leverage all your in-house resources to find new and interesting content that will be relevant to current or potential clients. Ask product managers, technical experts, in-house designers, marketing managers and executive management to all contribute content or, at the very least, provide ideas that the social media team can work with.
- Posts that teach something
- Posts that tell a story
- Posts that inspire
- Posts that announce what is happening at a company
- Posts that entertain
- Posts that showcase new products or services
If you’re tapping into all of the above, chances are that your B2B social media strategy is well on the way to delivering long-term marketing success.