Use these top social media networks to gain more exposure, attract better leads, and ultimately, land more customers.
B2B marketers have long relied on social media to boost their exposure and generate new leads, but as platforms have shifted and new ones emerged, benefits of each network oftentimes shift as well. While platforms like Instagram, WeChat, and even Snapchat (just ask Inc.) are gearing up to be the “Next Big Thing” in B2B marketing, most marketers want to know what will help them today.
The good news is, you’re probably already on the 5 most effective social media networks for B2b marketers, but sometimes it’s not about the networks you’re using — it’s how you’re using them. Here’s how to use the top five B2B social media networks to get more traffic, leads, and ultimately, customers:
Start With Your Blog
As the single most effective tool for sending traffic to your site, establishing your industry authority, driving leads, and creating a content library that feeds your other channels, your blog should be the cornerstone of your overall social media strategy. Marketers who blog generate 97% more inbound leads than those who don’t, according to Hubspot, and 92% of marketers who blog multiple times per day have reported acquiring a customer specifically from their blog.
To see the greatest results from your blog, focus on content quality and consistency before ramping up your quantity. A single, high-quality post every week will give you a higher return for your effort than posting multiple “fluff” pieces, no matter what you might have learned about how great “new” content is for your SEO. The goal is to build followers who eventually start buying from you. So what does “high-quality” mean? It means addressing your target customers’ questions and interests, solving a problem with actionable advice, offering leading insight on industry issues, trends and events. It can also mean publishing original research, interviewing industry leaders, or providing analysis that can help your audience make better decisions.
Sound time-consuming and a little overwhelming? If you just thought, I don’t have time for this – you’re right. You don’t.
Your content strategy shouldn’t be a one-person job. It takes a team to create a lead-generating, revenue-boosting blog, and you want to make sure you have the right people telling — and sharing — your story.
Advertise on Facebook
Facebook may have lost some influence among Millennials and younger demographics in recent years, but for most B2B marketers, the “original social network” is still by far the most effective. The tools available to target, engage and ultimately convert new customers on such a large scale (Facebook’s 1.6 billion monthly users eclipse even second-place YouTube), Facebook is the only social network with the size and targeting options to serve any demographic or industry.
Although B2B marketers will find the greatest success utilizing both paid and organic efforts, if time and resources allow just one avenue, chose Facebook ads. Here are two reasons why:
1. Organically posting alone often doesn’t work for marketers. Facebook controls the reach of each business’s organic posts — and it famously rewards its advertisers. Without boosting your content or promoting your message with a targeted ad campaign, you reach (on average) less than 7% of your fan base — or even as little as 2% if you have more than 500,000 fans, according to a recent post on Forbes.
2. The good news is, Facebook advertising is as inexpensive as it is effective, costing marketers just $.25 per new customer compared to $2.75 per acquired customer with Google AdWords or an astounding $32 per customer with a newspaper ad, according to Wordstream.
That said, since many customers look to a brand’s Facebook page as a company overview, they expect to see up-to-date contact information, services, photos, and timeline content. They also view your page as an extension of your business, so make sure you answer messages promptly and acknowledge comments.
Reach Out on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the platform most commonly associated with B2B marketing (used by an astounding 91% of participants in Regalix’s State of Social Media 2015 survey), but the freedom to openly seek out opportunities or business prospects has made the network rife with spam, as anyone who has received persistent, “Let’s get in touch” InMail can attest. But used correctly, LinkedIn can yield more powerful results and help you mare more fruitful connections than any other network — by a lot. According to a report by Oktopost, LinkedIn contributes 80% of B2B leads — four times that of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ combined.
So how you start generating these leads?
Probably not with ads.
LinkedIn has had trouble finding a sweet spot with advertisers, recently discontinuing its unpopular Lead Accelerator tool while seeing a 30% decline in display advertising over the last year, according to AdExchanger.
The real “wins” on LinkedIn come from one-to-one engagement and publishing consistent content.
LinkedIn opened its publishing platform to all marketers in 2014, giving users a chance to share their expertise beyond their networks. With 45% of readers at a decision-making level, this audience is valuable. The network also offers a chance to publish SlideShare material and within privately run LinkedIn Groups around specific interests.
LinkedIn also allows users to hyper-target leads by fields as specific as city, industry, business title, and even personal interests, allowing B2B marketers to connect directly with the leads most likely to want their products. The best searchability comes with an upgrade to Sales Navigator, an enhanced service that also includes lead recommendations and the ability to save leads.
Combining the power to personally reach targeted leads with the freedom to publish for an audience of decision makers is what has made LinkedIn such a crucial network for B2B marketers, even as its advertising options have fallen short.
Start Using YouTube Already
YouTube might just be the most powerful network that B2B advertisers aren’t using. As the world’s second-largest overall social media platform, YouTube attracts more than a billion active users every month, many of whom are business professionals searching tutorials, webinars and other quick educational material. Forbes recently reported that 52% senior business executives use video, specifically YouTube, every week for work-related projects, and if that wasn’t enough to jump on YouTube, 59% of marketers name video as the type of content with the best ROI (source). Yet despite these stats, just 9% of small businesses are on YouTube (source).
The door is wide open for innovative marketers to make an impact. Here’s how:
Approach your video strategy in the same way you do your blog. Develop a content calendar based on solving your customers’ needs and interests, and hire a team that can produce high-quality content. Although photo editing tools now allow anyone with an iPhone to produce campaign-worthy images, video is one field where having a professional behind the lens makes a big difference. Create a content calendar to maximize the number of high-quality videos you can create within your budget, and start taking advantage of your billion-user audience.
Those of you who Tweet, whether personally or professionally, know this — Twitter is a fickle beast. More following and unfollowing, favoriting and un-favoriting takes place on a given day than trades in the New York Stock Exchange. (Please don’t quote that wild exaggeration in your next post.) If you aren’t a celebrity or naturally “quippy,” growing an audience organically takes consistent effort: hosting chats, joining chats, building lists, sharing links, and making sure you interact with the people you want to continue following you. This takes a lot of time, even with tools like HootSuite.
For many B2B marketers, the best results come from combining a consistent publishing strategy with a targeted advertising campaign. Twitter’s powerful targeting tools allow you to sift through the network’s more than 300 million monthly users by fields like follower base, behavior and interest, then track which Tweets lead to conversions among different groups. You can now even turn customer endorsements into promoted Tweets, leveraging the most effective form of marketing there is — word-of-mouth.
Promoted Tweets like this are designed to fit seamlessly within a user’s regular Twitter feed. Users can retweet, like and share promoted Tweets just as they do other Tweets, amplifying brands’ exposure.
By combining organic and paid efforts in the right ways, social media can be a powerful tool for B2B marketers. The common thread for success on each of these networks is quality and consistency — and a watchful eye on how each platform continues to change.