As 2020 taught us all, the power of social media and digital marketing in general cannot afford to be underestimated. While developing an effective social media strategy takes a great deal of marketing know-how, there are simple tactics B2B businesses can employ to gain traction in the social sphere. By defining their goals, choosing the right platform, and setting a budget, B2B companies can set their social strategies up for success from the get-go.
Defining Your B2B Social Media Goals
Before diving into creating a social media strategy, B2B businesses first need to define the goals they’re trying to achieve through social media marketing. A well-developed social strategy will ultimately impact the marketing metrics across the customer lifecycle. That said, B2B companies should think about the following as it relates to their social media objectives:
- Awareness: Let customers know the brand exists.
- Consideration: Generate viable leads through education and nurturing.
- Conversions: Drive sign-ups and sales from new and existing customers.
- Advocacy: Receive reviews and referrals from customers.
It’s important to note that businesses may have multiple social media goals they wish to accomplish — that’s okay. In fact, having many specific goals can help businesses drive purpose behind their social media campaigns, developing multiple, highly-specific campaigns to deliver to different audiences based on where they exist in the consumer lifecycle.
In addition to defining the overarching social media objectives, B2B businesses need to understand how to measure success or failure for their efforts. Depending on the goal, businesses can use the following metrics to gauge how their social campaigns are performing:
- Awareness Metrics: Direct Traffic | Mentions | Brand Search Volume | Reach
- Consideration Metrics: Conversation/Comment Rate | Applause Rate | Amplification/Share Rate | Video Views & Duration | Clicks Per Post
- Conversions Metrics: Cost Per Lead | Marketing Qualified Leads | Customer Lifetime Value | Close Rate Per Channel | Average Close Rate
If the goal is advocacy, B2B companies can simply measure by how many reviews they receive and what the average rating is. Once the goals and measurements have been clearly defined, then a company can determine which social platform is best-suited to their needs.
Choosing the Right Platform
There’s an overwhelming amount of social media platforms in existence, and selecting the right one can be challenging. While businesses can certainly take advantage of niche platforms such as Tik Tok and Parler, B2B businesses would do best to stick to the top four social platforms available (at least in the beginning). Each social media channel offers something unique to their users, and depending on what goals were defined by the company, one may prove to be more valuable than another. The following breaks down the different social platforms and what they’re best used for in terms of marketing objectives:
- LinkedIn: 93% of B2B marketers have identified LinkedIn as the most productive platform in terms of lead generation. The platform is ideal for establishing personal relationships, launching products and breaking news, and generating viable leads. Publishing updates, polls, articles and joining groups are just some of the best ways for B2B businesses to engage on the platform and get the results they seek.
- Facebook: While certainly more challenging due to its restrictions on reach for B2B organic content, marketing on Facebook is not impossible for this segment. The best way to drive results on Facebook for B2B companies is by joining relevant groups (as an individual, not a business entity) and creating video content. In fact, video content on Facebook outperforms text and images by 1,200%.
- Twitter: 87% of B2B marketers use Twitter as a content marketing tool; however, Twitter is also an excellent place to build relationships with customers. This platform is ideal for social listening to gauge how customers are talking and interacting with the brand. The best way to make an impact on Twitter is by developing a distinct brand identity, keeping up with trending content, sharing videos, and Tweeting at the right times.
- Instagram: Last but not least is Instagram, an excellent tool for B2B businesses to promote their brands. To get results on Instagram, businesses should ensure they’re setting up a business account and create content that’s specifically tailored for the platform. Sharing client success stories and testimonials goes a long way, as well as giving the audience a sneak peek into the company’s corporate culture. Posting stories is also a must in order to achieve platform success.
A skilled B2B marketer will be able to assess the social media marketing objectives and select the platform that’s most closely aligned and tailored to their specific needs. After these two items are accomplished, businesses can begin to determine a budget for their social media marketing efforts.
Understanding When to Use Each Targeting Method
It’s not enough to simply understand the target audience: Brands also need to understand when one targeting method is the better choice compared to another. Many mistakenly believe that a lookalike audience always makes sense to use. Why wouldn’t you want to target the people similar to those who already know and love your brand?
The problem with this strategy lies solely in how you built your existing following. If you’re a small business owner whose following largely consists of paid followers, friends, and family members, your lookalike audience probably doesn’t match your ideal buyer persona. Instead of reaching customers that meet a specific demographic, your ad spend gets wasted delivering materials to a large group of unrelated individuals that may not be in the market for your products or services.
Likewise, interest-based targeting can present its own set of problems. In order for this method to work effectively, companies need to have an airtight understanding of their target audience. The more granular and detailed your parameters, the more likely it is your ad will be delivered to the right individuals.
Setting a B2B Social Media Marketing Budget
It goes without saying that a great B2B social media marketing strategy needs funding to support it. While throwing a set dollar amount at a campaign might seem like a good idea, marketers must be more strategic in determining their budgets. There are a few different ways in which B2B companies can set their budget for social media marketing, including:
- Annual Sales Percentage: This involves taking between 5 – 30% of the business’ desired gross revenue goal and setting it aside for total marketing efforts. From there, take 10 – 25% of the total marketing budget and allocate it to social media.
- Social Media Expenses: Consider the total costs associated with the marketing plan, including in-house team members, outsourced work, paid media expenses, and tools and technology. In general, companies spend 22% of their budget on agency fees, 26% on marketing technology, 26% on media, and 25% on labor, according to Gartner’s 2019 survey.
- Programs & Campaigns: Perhaps it makes more sense for the business to set their budget based on a project or campaign basis. If this is the case, most strategists will recommend a 60/40 split of the social marketing budget: 60% towards brand-building and 40% towards sales activation.
Especially for B2B businesses, social media marketing success is largely based on the quality of content produced and the budget that backs its promotion. Even if a business allocates a large sum of money towards their social media marketing needs, poorly produced content will always lead to uninspired campaign results. Therefore, it’s a good idea for B2B companies to invest in the right talent to create the content that will ultimately drive campaign success. Outsourcing to a social media marketing agency is an excellent way to ensure that campaigns contain high-quality content that resonates with the target audience. Plus, the right marketing agency will be able to further assist with campaign management, platform selection, budgeting, and defining goals so brands can experience ongoing success.