7 steps to successful social media marketing
Almost 96 percent of B2B companies use social media for their communication. No wonder, because these are not only among the most useful company-owned communication channels (owned media), but also promise great reach. There are many opportunities for companies to make use of these channels: For example, they can comment on the posts of third parties, participate in discussions in relevant forums, use popular hashtags or act as sponsors of posts that are relevant to them. The fact is that social media marketing in B2B can improve the visibility of companies - an invaluable competitive advantage in the struggle for customers and skilled workers.
B2B is different from B2C
It is true that social media marketing in the B2C and B2B sectors serves equally well to address individuals directly with customised content. After all, even in the B2B sector, decision-makers are individuals with their very own wishes and concerns. Nevertheless, there is a subtle difference: decisions are made in a professional context - especially since several people are usually involved. Spontaneous reactions or purchases are therefore rarely to be expected in the B2B environment. In terms of social media marketing, this means building on long-term strategies that need to be implemented continuously.
The order of the day: B2B social media strategy
As part of the overall corporate communication, the social media marketing strategy must not exist in isolation from the overarching marketing strategy. Much of what has already been defined for content marketing can be reused for the B2B social media marketing strategy:
1. Target group definition
First of all, it is important to determine the addressees - be it by means of a detailed buyer-persona definition or an exact target group description. Are they possible applicants, potential new customers or both? In which industries and business sectors can they be found? Which social media do they use? What content do they respond to - and how? What additional information might they need? Only when the company has the answer to all these questions can it tailor its posts to the target group and achieve the desired effect on them.
2. Goal setting
In addition to the first general goal definition (increased brand awareness, improved visibility or employer branding), it is also important to define concrete goals that are to be achieved with the implementation of the strategy and the creation of content:
Does the company want to drive users to its website?
Should they download information material?
Is it to generate event registrations?
Should users contact sales directly?
Does the company hope to increase the number of its followers?
Is it to attract new employees?
Only such a precise objective - if possible supported by targeted key figures - makes it possible to assess the success of the measures and posts afterwards.
3 Channel analysis
Once the concrete goal and target group have been determined, the next step is to analyse the possible channels. Now it is important to determine in which networks the respective target group is active and which of the numerous channels are most conducive to achieving the goals.
The business network LinkedIn is considered particularly suitable for the B2B sector. According to a study(2) by the "First Working Group Social Media in B2B Communication", it even ranks first in German-speaking countries: almost 95 per cent of respondents use LinkedIn. This is closely followed by Facebook (75 percent) and YouTube (62 percent). Xing takes fourth place with around 58 percent, and almost 56 percent of B2B companies in the DACH region are active on Instagram.
To note: Social media are very dynamic. New networks are added, others fall away. Such data should therefore only ever be understood as a snapshot.
4 Determining the content
Content that is too promotional is extremely unpopular with many users. Real interest can be gained and maintained through useful and informative content (micro-content). Also useful: regular posting. This way, the algorithm evaluates the company channel as relevant and ranks it accordingly.
5. Create the editorial plan
With the help of an editorial plan, the company keeps track of the content to be published in the different channels within a year. This makes it possible to determine topics on a day-by-day basis and to coordinate the posts in a meaningful way, both in terms of content and time. In particular, such an editorial plan should contain these aspects:
Schedule: Company-relevant events - product launches, own events or third-party events - are fixed points in the calendar around which appropriate (social media) communication can be built.
Frequency: Two to three posts a week are considered a good frequency.
Topics and formats: Here it is important to make sure that the intended posts serve the previously defined goals and target groups.
Responsibilities: For a continuous implementation and maintenance of the editorial plan, it makes sense to entrust certain persons with content planning and creation as well as monitoring the channels. This makes it possible to react quickly to user reactions and innovations.
6 Involve staff
It is also wise to involve colleagues and:
inform them about the importance and advantages of social networks in B2B,
encourage them to be active in the social networks,
train them accordingly,
raise their awareness of the company's values,
provide them with social media guidelines including dos and don'ts
provide them with text modules, images and links.
7. Measuring success
There are various options available to the company to check whether the social media measures implemented have been successful. A good start is the manual monitoring of the channels, which shows how often users have reacted to which posts (likes, hearts, sharing of the post, etc.). It is also advisable to closely monitor not only your own channel, but also those of competitors and influencers. On the one hand, this makes it possible to see which topics are moving people's minds at the moment, and on the other hand, a quick reaction to changing opinions and preferences is possible.
Special analysis tools, on the other hand, make it possible to take a closer look at various aspects: starting with the number of views, the reach achieved by the communication and the interaction rate of the respective posts to the type of comments and mood of the users.
Conclusion: Social media marketing - a must for B2B companies
Social networks are also an important communication channel for the B2B sector. But developing and implementing a corresponding strategy is not without its difficulties. Due to the sheer number of current topics and the numerous aspects that need to be taken into account, it might be worthwhile to consult an experienced communications professional for the development and implementation. Specialised agencies, for example, can be extremely helpful here: they not only provide support in strategic planning, but also take over the creation of customised, target group-oriented content and the monitoring of the channels.