With most advice targeted at B2C users, how to create an effective social media strategy as a B2B company is a puzzle for many firms. At boxChilli we work with firms of all kinds, and below are some of the tips we’ve used time and again to create effective campaigns for our clients offering B2B services, products and ecommerce platforms.
1. Choose your platform wisely
LinkedIn is ahead of the pack when it comes to blending social media and work. The site is certainly a valuable resource for many B2B firms, but is it the right one for you? In truth, industry and demographic factors are often more important than the work/social divide. As an example, if you’re working with small or local businesses – such as Hampshire hairdressers or Berkshire bars – then Facebook may be a better option as many of these companies use the platform to host their main webpage and attract customers.
2. Manage your time and expectations
How long do you currently work on a sale? How many pitches do you have to make before you get one? How many sales do you need per month? You know what to expect at a networking or business event so don’t set unrealistic expectations for social media. While you can broadcast your message, which is great if your ecommerce store is trying to sell hundreds of small items, spreading yourself too thinly can cost you opportunities if your business requires the more individual approach.
3. Do your research
Many B2B services rely on the vendor and customer working closely together, often over months or years. If your industry benefits from the individual approach, use your social media profiles to draw out potential customers by offering them ways to tell you more about themselves. Your sales team can then use this information to follow up at the right moment, improving your overall hit rate.
4. Your staff are great resources
No one wants the intern tweeting about their drunken weekend on the company account, but your staff probably have a lot to say to your customers. As well as the obvious sales pitch ideas, encourage your employees to give you feed back and suggestions for your page. For example, your staff might tip you off about a regional trade show of interest to your Hampshire clients or perhaps let you know which questions are being asked frequently and would benefit from a how-to video.
5. Remember, this isn’t advertising
OK, you’re at work, they’re at work. That’s the nature of B2B social media. But social media posts aren’t exactly free advertising, even if they can also perform that function. If you want people to genuinely follow you, you need to offer them valuable content on a regular basis and limit the amount of direct advertising. This is as true if you’re a wannabe YouTube sensation in Newark or an ecommerce specialist based in Hampshire: if your followers aren’t interested, they’ll stop following.
6. Target your incentives at the humans
Every company is made up of individuals, and those individuals will respond to incentives at their own level (such as a free mug) as well as those that benefit their company (such as choosing the product that saves money). Targeting the individual’s self-interest is a great way of drawing positive attention. Depending on your industry, this may be as simple as retweeting industry specific jokes or as complex as sponsoring a national level award and promoting it over several months. Give your clients a reason to listen to you.
7. Follow back
OK, if you’re an ecommerce store with thousands of customers you can’t expect to read everything that all of them tweet. Nonetheless, following your customers and industry contacts back is a key step to making them feel heard and valued. If the total volume is overwhelming, there are tools that can help you manage your inbox or feed.
8. Be responsive
Social media works because it is a two way street. Just as you’re looking to be heard by influencers and big fish in your own pond, there are smaller fish trying to get you to listen to them. Being responsive to comments and complaints directed at you is essential, even if you’re not an ecommerce store. Beyond that, it’s also important to take time to amplify the voices of those who support you and causes you believe, particularly when their platform is smaller than yours.
9. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit of money
Social media is free, right? That’s what’s so great about it. In the end though, when you have to spend valuable working hours on it, nothing is free. There are numerous tools out there which might help you reach your customers and potential customers more effectively and some of them are definitely worth paying for. As an example, advertising on social media can be an effective way to kick start your page or jump to the top of search listings. Tools to manage and schedule posts may also be more effective if you pay for the premium version. And, finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that there are experts out there who’ll manage your whole B2B social media situation for you, so if you’ve got any questions, give us a call and the boxChilli team will put our collective expertise at your service.