I’m not sure if it’s harder to believe that Facebook has only been around for twelve years or that it’s already been around that long. The social media era has been around long enough that it has dominated the lifetimes of present-day teenagers – but that also means that, if you’re older than thirty, it can still feel relatively new.
And that means that lots of business owners aren’t really sure how to use social media platforms effectively. Some business owners really only think of social media as an extension of a newspaper circular. So if you’re a B2B business, you might not think that Facebook or Twitter marketing is right for you; after all, you’d never put an ad for bulk industrial lubricant sales in the Pennysaver.
But Facebook isn’t the Pennysaver, and what it offers you is more than just a place to post coupons. It’s a place to drive business growth and massively increase your exposure to precisely the people you want to be selling to – and if you do it right, the benefits can be enormous.
Doing It Right
The first thing to remember about digital marketing and your social media strategy, especially from a B2B perspective, is that this isn’t B2C marketing. So don’t treat it that way. You’re not here to hawk your wares. You’re not here to advertise sales. You have precisely one job: to expand your potential client base and become the place they go to for the news, tips, and content regarding your shared interests.
This may seem counterintuitive. How do you sell without selling? The principle is that your goal isn’t to sell; it’s to help. The more useful, relevant, and engaging your content, the more the people you want to reach will read, retweet, and share. Even something as simple as consistently sharing interesting news relevant to your field can lead to the right people finding you and consistently engaging.
Let those B2C accounts post Two-for-Tuesday coupons; you’ve got bigger fish to fry than 1:1 conversions. You’re building an empire.
You see those readers you cultivate in your sphere? Those awesome guys who like your posts and reshare them across their own networks? They’re going to be your best customers. They’re consistently engaged, consistently interested – and the people who are mostly likely to convert when you give them the opportunity. You need to have a social media manager or team that’s available to network with these people, getting to know them and building their investment in your brand.
Content and Conversions
Part of the problem with social media, and a major reason why B2B businesses are especially reluctant to invest in it, is that it can be really difficult to prove ROI. It’s hard to measure buzz, especially for niche B2B businesses, and it can be slow to build. But it’s possible to get a handle on what your ROI is when you integrate content marketing with your social media strategy.
Here’s where things get pretty legitimately interesting.
So let me ask you a question: do you want to be Steve Jobs? You know what I mean – dominating his market, setting trends, slick as heck in a black turtleneck while his peers hang on his every word?
Steve Jobs has what we call thought leadership, and he got it by consistently outlining his thinking behind his products, paving the way for people to follow behind him. Jobs’ thought leadership turned Apple, which in 1998 was in a state of total collapse, into the most highly capitalized business on the planet. It wasn’t just his products; it was him. Jobs centered Apple’s entire corporate identity on the idea of forging a new path with their seminal “Think Different” ad campaign. And that missing “-ly” aside, it worked.
Now, most businesses don’t have the resources of a major multinational to work with – but you can build your own reputation as a thought leader by developing original content that focuses on helping your clients do their jobs better – providing them with free material that meets their needs and shows your trustworthiness. The more you generate, the more you provide helpful guidance and content, the more your clients will line up behind you, already warmed to your business. They’ll be ready to trust you when it’s time to make the sale.
“Look,” you’ll say. “I guided you through the wilderness then – so believe me when I say that this product I’m offering really is going to make your life a whole heck of a lot easier.”
In other words, your social media can leverage your content to develop meaningful professional connections and legitimate brand loyalty before you’ve ever even made the sale – and those customers are more likely to be repeat customers.
In other words, your social media strategy has to be in it for the long haul, and willing to go farther than just getting a bunch of new likes and followers. Investing in B2B social media can work wonders – if you give it the time and the effort it needs to grow.