7/6 #ThreeMinutesADay: When Social Media May Produce a Positive ROI
Three minutes a day takes bad business decisions away.
Today's tip: Social Media can be a useful tool for B2B firms when marketing themselves but only if used in a specific way and as part of a larger mix of marketing strategies.
In a hurry? Just watch the video below.
You’ve seen the articles. They have headlines like “3 Reasons B2B Businesses Need Social Media Marketing” or “Why Social Media Marketing is Not Just for B2C Companies”. Many so-called “experts” tout the fact that B2B firms should use more social media marketing.
The unfortunate truth is that too many of these articles are written by executives who make their living providing B2B social media services to businesses. They want to sell you on the importance of social media in the B2B world because that is the product they are selling.
That said, social media can be a very valuable tool in any marketer’s toolbox if it is one tool among many. If you are using social media as a part of your overall B2B marketing mix, then it can be effective. If you are doing everything else you should be doing and making social media part of that strategy, B2B marketers will see positive ROI on their B2B social media marketing.
On the other hand, if you are just running social media ads or posting randomly in the hopes of directly generating sales, you can get into trouble with social media and end up wasting both time and money.
Content Is King
Social media should be just one part of your content strategy. In fact, most successful B2B marketers who use social media and get a positive ROI simply use it as the means to broadcast the high-quality content they create. This helps with brand awareness and thought leadership but may not create the one-to-one correlation of marketing to sales that many people expect from social media marketing.
You can create all kinds of marketing content that will benefit from social media. Spreading your content through social media channels can help you expand content reach and get found by more potential customers. It can help draw consumers to your website, as well as help them learn more about and engage more with your brand.
Maintaining good quality content makes a ton of sense and blasting out on social media amplifies its reach. The focus should be on the content though, not the social media piece.
Some of the best types of content to put out on social media include:
- Articles – Create articles that are engaging and useful to your customers and that are more than a sales pitch. They should offer content of interest to the readers and entice them to become more engaged with your brand.
- Thought Leadership – This is all about becoming known as an expert (or “Thought Leader”) in your industry. This type of content should be educational and help build a community around you and your brand as a top resource.
- White Papers – These in-depth reports are a combination of articles and thought leadership. They offer a deep well of information to potential customers that is incredibly useful (like articles) and will position you as an industry expert (like thought leadership).
- Infographics – Who doesn’t love a good infographic? This visual, snackable content is great to share on social media and is almost guaranteed to get people to stop scrolling and at least glance at the interesting, informative, and engaging graphic you have created.
The Octopus Analogy
The problem is that many companies don’t see social media as a tool to help spread content and raise brand awareness. They see it as a sales tool for advertising and believe that posts about deals and offers will magically get sales. Some B2B companies can spend $50 - $60,000 on social media and have very little to show for it.
The analogy I use is that B2B marketing is like an octopus. If you are using social media as your one and only marketing strategy, you are like an octopus trying to survive in the wild with just one tentacle. You will not last very long and you certainly won’t have much success hunting.
When you create a comprehensive marketing strategy with multiple tentacles of which social media is merely one of several approaches, you can become a giant, fearsome octopus who rules the deep sea. This is what you and your brand should strive to be when thinking about B2B marketing.
The Other Tentacles of B2B Marketing
So, what are the other octopus’ tentacles you should use in conjunction with social media to create a great B2B marketing mix? There are many tools you can employ to grow and strengthen your brand and see more ROI for your marketing efforts. Some of the best tools include:
- Website – You need a website that is well-designed and clearly shows your value proposition to the end-user. It is your number one tool for B2B marketing.
- Search Engine Optimization – The stats on how people use search engines and how important SEO is are staggering! Yet only a small percentage of businesses even have an SEO strategy.
- Landing Pages – One of the best and most cost-effective ways to actually capture B2B customers and turn them directly into sales is to create compelling landing pages that are optimized to convert.
If you are a B2B business and you want to use social media, do it. Just do it in a smart and responsible way. Use social media as part of a greater marketing and content strategy in conjunction with other marketing tools. Use it to do what it does best: amplify your message about yourself and your brand. Do not use it for covert ads and with the expectation that posts will go directly to sales.
This is how you can use social media to produce a positive ROI.
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