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Friday, 16 January 2015

Friday Guest Blog: Choosing the Right Social Media Networks for Your B2B Business

By Christian Michaels

An effective social media campaign is one of the most important ways of connecting with your audience. However, it’s important you choose the right platforms and this is even more relevant for B2B businesses than B2C businesses.

There are many benefits from social media marketing such as brand awareness, connecting with people, and driving traffic to your website and more that any B2B firm can tap into. If you want to run a successful social media campaign then your first step is choosing the right network and that’s what we’ll go into here.

How To Find Out What Social Networks Your Audience Uses
It is quite simple to determine what social media network you should be using and it’s by analysing data.

Depending on where your business is in the social media lifecycle, you can use different sources of information to determine what social media network to focus on. If you use data you can reliably determine what platforms your audience is most engaged with and these are the platforms you should focus on.

There are some key factors you can observe to determine how engaged your audience is and you can take it from there:

Current Profiles:
Look at which of your current profiles is getting the most traction. The easiest thing to do here is look at growth factors and measure traction in this way. A great social media tool for measuring traction, growth and engagement is Hootsuite. For more information take a read of our blog detailing the ten best social media monitoring tools; Hootsuite is number one.

Followers and How Engaged They Are:
Look at how many followers you’ve got and how engaged they are with you. These two variables don’t necessarily mean much but they can give you an idea of where your brand interacts within the context of social media. Look at factors like shares and likes to determine engagement.

Generating Traffic:
Look at your analytics to determine what social network is sending you the most traffic. Even if you’re not spending much time on your social media platforms they still may be sending you traffic so it’s important you pay attention to this factor. You may be suprised at this but LinkedIn is the best social media platform for driving traffic to your website, as this post here details on LinkedIn marketing statistics.

Conversions and Determining Customer Value:
It’s important you look at customer value and conversions from social media. Do readers leave your page as soon as they land? Do they stick around and sign up to your newsletter? These are the kinds of things to think about when determining customer value.

Current Content Strategy:
Certain content is going to help you more than others. Some businesses find that specific platforms work better than others so what you need to do is find out which one has a greater connection for you and focus on developing it.

Customer Preference:
Look at what your customers prefer. You can determine this based on their conversations. Do they spend hours on Facebook? Do they use LinkedIn everyday to get industry specific information? You can always ask if you’re unsure and this kind of self-reported data can help you fill in gaps your analytics may have missed.

Synergies in your Industry:
Some industries tend to have a bias toward B2B such as LinkedIn. Others like retail and hospitality tend to have a bias towards Pinterest and Instagram. If you look at these specific kind of niche industries then you may be able to determine what social networks would best serve your business.

Analysing The Relationship Between Content Type and Social Media Platform

There has been an evolution recently between both content marketing and social media marketing. Now the key to both of these is to get them to match up so there is a synergistic relationship between the two. This should be the goal for your business.

We all know about how popular social media is and it’s only going to grow more popular each year. Each of the social networks is improving their functions and this is only going to attract more businesses to their services.

The recent Google Panda algorithm update is also a key factor in this as well and it now takes into consideration things like social media presence of a business when looking up search results. There are many types of content marketing and you need to find the right one that will work well with your desired social network. This is key for developing a synergistic relationship between both your content marketing and social media marketing.

There are three major types of content:

Written:
Written content is one of the most popular and flexible types of content available. It is very easy to break down because you can do it in the form of status updates, blog posts, and many others. Without a doubt written content is one of the cornerstones for every B2B business’ content marketing strategy.

Video:
Video is proving to be quite useful for a range of B2B businesses. There is wide variety of video content you can produce ranging from how to videos, expert interviews, and much more. Video is a medium that can be great for many businesses and is ideal for people who aren’t great at producing written content.

Visual:
Visual content encompasses a range of things such as infographics, images, and various other branded content. Visual content is a great way to add an extra dynamic to your content marketing.

For more information on how you can improve your content marketing, take a look at our blog tag for content marketing which will help you make the most of this important marketing strategy.

7 Social Media Networks You Need To Leverage
 It’s important to remember that with social media you need to be using more than one network if you want the best results. When determining which social networks to use, you need to make decisions based on data and real audience insights, and use this to evaluate your social media marketing strategy.

When you analyse data and audience insights you’ll see where there are trends occurring. You will need to consider all 7 of the social networks when devising a social media marketing strategy for a B2B business.

1. Using Pinterest and Other Image-Based Networks
Pinterest is primarily a tool for connecting with consumers but it still has its place in the B2B world. There are ways that you can apply a visual angle for your business and make it work successfully in the B2B world.

• Try to find the visual approach in your work because it can be a great way to supplement your other work. It might be something like showcasing your product and various other ways you can apply a visual angle to your brand.
• Create infographics based on data and case studies related to your business.
• Explore branding for your business to include a visual component. Think about how you can tell your story about who you are, your products and services, and do so in a visual way.

2. Make The Most Of YouTube and Vine
Video is one of the best ways to connect with your audience and there isn’t much better than YouTube and Vine. B2B firms have some great options available for using video content and here are some things you should consider:

• Experimenting with different video lengths and see which ones resonate the most with your audience.
• Cross-promoting video content on mainstream networks by utilising tools like Twitter cards and featured videos on LinkedIn profiles.
• Try using both scripted and unscripted videos. Sales copy can be very powerful when translated into a scripted videos but unscripted can also be just as useful for those moments when your genius can emerge unplanned.

3. Using LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the most popular social network for many businesses and working professionals. There are some great features on LinkedIn that B2B businesses need to be utilising such as:

• Targeting the right people: One of the great things with LinkedIn is that you can avoid the gatekeepers of any business and go straight to the important people making the decisions in an organisation.
• Use LinkedIn’s news feed: It’s important to share great content on here just like with any other social network.
• Publishing your content: You can now publish content directly to LinkedIn’s network. LinkedIn should be an important part of your content marketing strategy just like other social networks you publish content on.
• Targeting LinkedIn Personas: Are you targeting a LinkedIn persona yet? If not, then you should start thinking seriously about who follows you on LinkedIn. Think of the type of people that connect with you and create a targeted persona based around that.

4. Use Twitter and Facebook
Twitter and Facebook are the two biggest social media networks in the world. It goes without saying that you should be actively using both of these networks. Always publish your content on these two networks, and use them as a great way to connect with your audience and build a relationship with them. Using these two networks effectively gives you an incredible amount of leverage in the context of social media marketing.

5. Finding Niche Networks
Your B2B strategy should consist of finding niche networks and targeting them. These communities tend to have some of the best customers because of how specific they are to your niche. They may be generally small most of the time but they tend to be very active communities and may represent a great opportunity to generate a lot of qualified leads.

6. Using Google+
Google Plus is becoming more important as a social network for businesses. Matt Cutts has recently stated that Facebook and Twitter don’t directly contribute to SEO and this just reinforces the importance of having an active Google Plus profile.

• Use Google Authorship. This is one of the big advantages Google Plus has over other networks.
• Be active with hangouts and chats. Get people involved in your conversations and build relationships with them.
• Enhance user experience using communities and video.

7. Don’t Forget Location-Based Networks

Remember to keep a focus on local businesses in your network. They aren’t going to go away and it’s important you keep a strong focus on them. Using a social network like FourSquare could be great here.

In Conclusion
Choosing the right social network for your business is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for your B2B business. You need to make clear choices regarding your social media marketing campaign that are based around solid data, insights into your audience, and from here you’ll be able to conduct a conduct a campaign that’s effective and gives you the best ROI.

What social networks do you find work great for your B2B business? How did you decide what social network to focus on for your social media efforts?

For a consultation on your social media and content marketing strategy why not give us a call on 0161 312 8521 and let us help grow your business efficiently and professionally.


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