As we all know, 2020 was the year B2B marketers were forced to rapidly change their strategies. Between events canceling, budget cuts, and uncertainty all around, the most agile of marketers were those best positioned to meet their goals.
This led many marketing professionals to refocus on their social media marketing strategy.
Social media allows marketers to connect and engage potential customers where they are at: LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and even some of the younger platforms like TikTok. With a strong social media strategy and the ability to create engaging content, marketers can engage their audience.
Social media will continue to be an important strategy in 2021, and companies can always find ways to advance their approach.
Why it’s Important for B2B Companies to be on Social Media
Even though B2B companies seek to sell products to other businesses, B2B marketing is still built on human relationships. Social media has long been used to help grow these relationships, but its importance accelerated last year.
Without in-person events, B2B marketers needed an outlet to connect with prospects and partners. And they found they could do this most effectively via social platforms.
By using social media, B2B leaders:
- Build brand awareness and trust: Across different platforms, companies can tell their story, why they provide the services they offer, and keep audiences updated with customer and employee stories.
- Generate leads and build community: Create meaningful conversations and engagement within their target industry by posting videos, news, data, and interesting trends.
- Implement social listening: Listen to customers and what people are saying about their company.
- Connect social posts to opportunities: With the right enterprise solution, leaders can drive customer posts to their CRM to understand customers more fully.
- Measure marketing efforts: Social media platforms and management tools enable you to track key performance metrics (KPIs).
If you want to connect and engage with your future customers, you have to be where they are. And that’s largely on social media.
Statistics show that social media is crucial for professionals
It’s clear that social platforms are great tools for showcasing employee stories, the brand’s vision and values, and creating an emotional connection with audiences (yes, B2B companies should strike the emotional cord just like B2C companies do).
We see this in the data:
- 89% of marketers say social media is “Very important”, with 30 percent saying it’s “Somewhat important” to their overall marketing strategy, according to Buffer.
- Youtube accrues more than 1 billion hours of watch time each day.
- 82% of B2B marketers report using LinkedIn as a means of networking and making professional connections. They also use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, and Pinterest.
- In 2017, 80% of social media B2B leads came from LinkedIn. (LinkedIn)
- 53% of the world’s population is now active on social media. (We Are Social)
Amid the pandemic, social media became even more important for B2B marketers. In a 2020 LinkedIn survey of 1,200 marketers, three out of four of those in B2B experienced budget cuts, forcing them to put more focus on tactical elements of marketing and short-term investments that clearly pay off.
“Having fewer resources and levers forces you to think differently, and our focus has been on providing value to our customers,” responded in the survey, Simon Morris Senior Director Digital Media Marketing at Adobe EMEA. “We’ve done a lot more to digitally network with them.”
Networking digitally allows teams to connect in new ways, spread company news through word-of-mouth online, and broadcast virtual events.
What are the Benefits of Social Media and Employee Advocacy?
One way companies can think differently about their social media strategy is by developing an employee advocacy program.
Employee advocacy is the promotion of a company by the people who work for it. When employees are proud to be working for a company, they’ll want to let the world know. And when they do so, their voices go further and gain more trust than traditional branding.
Study after study shows that word-of mouth marketing is effective. When employees share their experiences, their social connections are more likely to see their content, leave a comment, and trust the post more.
A study from Fleishman Hillard even found that consumers trust a company’s employees three times more than the company leaders.
Employees should be encouraged to share original posts that promote the company in order to boost organic reach, build brand credibility, and attract better-qualified leads.
How to Get Started With a Social Media Marketing Strategy
1. Create a social media strategy by answering key questions
Before publishing posts, develop a social media strategy that executives, the legal team, marketing, and sales will all agree on. Identify why social is being used as a marketing and sales channel, and if there will be any roadblocks. For example, regulated industries like financial and healthcare must follow strict rules.
As part of the overall social media strategy, a policy should be put in place for all stakeholders on what to share and what is off-limits.
After laying the ground rules, consider the following questions when developing a strategy:
- What are your goals and how will you measure them?
- What type of content will you post?
- When will you post?
- What channels will you prioritize?
- Who will create and distribute content?
- How will you encourage employees to share content?
2. Choose a social media management tool
There are several social media management tools that help social media managers plan and distribute their content. Top tools include Buffer, HubSpot, Zoho Social, Falcon.io and Hootsuite. Many of these tools are designed to help companies reach audiences on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. To reach target audiences on LinkedIn, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a premium tool for information on leads and it gives you the ability to send InMail messages to target accounts.
3. Train employees
Once you have a policy developed and tools set in place, it’s time to train employees. Whether they must attend a training webinar or read an employee social media handbook, it’s important employees know what the expectations are. Be sure to include the regulations, but also train employees on what drives engagement with future customers.
Not everybody will be a natural social media pro at first, but most people can get the hang of it when they understand its importance and how their contribution helps drive revenue.
4. Identify and collaborate with industry influencers.
Influencers aren’t just for B2C. Identify employees who are savvy on social media, and who would be a good fit to partner with your industry’s influencers by interviewing them on a live stream, webinar, or podcast.
No matter how you choose to partner with an influencer, the content can be later reused for social media posts.
5. Create a content calendar and approval process
One key to successful social media marketing is organization and attention to detail. In order to publish engaging content, social media teams need to establish a content calendar and approval process.
With an editorial calendar, marketers can schedule out content on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis. Beyond publish dates, editorial calendars help content teams track content type, purpose, authors, channels and more.
When creating this calendar, don’t forget to track the most successful posts in order to republish your most popular content.
Looking Forward to Social Media in 2021
It’s never too late to start maturing your social media strategy. Whether that means starting from scratch or encouraging employees to build their personal brands, the importance of social media has never been greater.
Learn how to identify your most influential employee advocates by reading our latest guide.