Social networking platforms are powerful communications tools that any organization – B2B or B2C – should use to spread its message and expand its reach. The growing influence of social networks has made “social” an integral part of any online marketing strategy.
When consistently executed, social marketing creates online visibility and authority; increasing the likelihood of further interaction with prospective customers. Hootsuite recently published a list of the latest social media statistics, and some of the insights in the report are:
- 97% of digital consumers have used social media in the past month
- 84% of people with access to the internet use social media
- 43% of internet users use social media when researching things to buy
In the early days of “social media”, the primary activity was posting content and hoping people would engage (like, share, comment, etc.). This is a somewhat passive and “hope for the best” approach.
Today, simply committing to using social tools to post content is not enough.
A strategic approach is required:
- Social activities must support specific and tangible business development goals.
- Use the right platforms, with the right content and the right frequency.
- Be proactive rather than passive; initiate an online dialogue with decision-makers and influencers.
- Use evolving capabilities that support “micro-marketing” for lead generation.
- Integrate social activities with other online, as well as offline, marketing initiatives.
- Incorporate social advertising; the networks are favoring “paid” over organic content.
- Measure effectiveness and make adjustments to optimize social’s impact on marketing and sales.
To take full advantage of social marketing, Core applies social marketing tactics that are best suited to each of our client situations.
Social posting is foundational and a good starting point for engaging on social networks. Be strategic in sharing content types that align with your business goals. Some best practices for posting social content are:
- The goal should be to build and foster a community of engaged followers.
- Maintain a healthy balance of promotional and educational content.
- Share a mix of original and curated content.
- People use social media to be inspired or entertained – be conversational and offer compelling content.
- Posts should be visually consistent and make use of various content formats; videos, images, GIFs, curated articles, infographics, audio, etc. The most effective approach is to use a combination of formats.
Social engagement is integral to building loyalty among current customers, and for “warming up” potential customers. Active engagement demonstrates a commitment to customer service, and a willingness to commit to an on-going, value-based dialogue with prospects.
There are two types of social engagement; “reactive” and “proactive.”
- Reactive engagement activities include community management – acknowledging an online audience by responding to comments, questions and direct messages.
- Proactive engagement entails seeking out opportunities, and participating in, relevant online conversations; groups, forums, hashtags, advanced searches, twitter chats, location tagging, etc.
Growing a social media following without investing in some level of advertising has become extremely difficult. Social media organic reach is in decline; according to Facebook, only 6% of page fans will see a brand’s organic content.
As a result, social media advertising should be used in combination with organic efforts to maximize content visibility and increase website traffic.
Each platform offers different types of targeting options, so choosing the right social advertising vehicle is key – some are better suited to B2C, others B2B. As an example, Facebook has a look-alike feature, an advanced option that allows businesses to identify and target new prospects using an established audience such as an email list or website visitors.
Social selling has evolved from telephone calls to making engaging connections on social platforms. Each platform has its own history with social selling and various effective tactics. The strategy and platform you choose will depend on your goals and where your audience is.
Social selling on LinkedIn is particularly well-suited for B2B and uses social networks to find, connect with, and nurture target prospects.
A tool such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be used to identify people based on specific criteria, for researching their online activity, and to establish a direct connection with these individuals.
Once the connection is made, salespeople can further develop a trust relationship by sharing value-based information and subject matter expertise. Organizations report social selling results in double the revenue, making it a must in any B2B marketing plan.
Consumers have shifted away from traditional customer service channels like phone or email and are increasingly using social platforms such as Facebook or Twitter for support. A solid reputation management strategy will keep a brand in good standing with its customers.
Reviews have become an important business development tool for both B2B and B2C. Ratings, testimonials and reviews lend credibility to a business – a lack of reviews can have a negative connotation. Businesses must proactively ask for, and share, this type of information as it is an important source of social proof.
Reviews are also viewed positively by search engines, which can have an impact on search rankings.
Some influencers have a significant following on social media, and their opinions can have a strong impact on purchasing decisions. By endorsing a product or service, influencers give credibility to brands.
Establishing an online relationship with influencers can lead to increased brand awareness and website traffic. 74% of people surveyed trust social networks to assist them with purchasing decisions, and 49% rely on influencer recommendations.
The key is to find, and collaborate with, influencers that attract followers aligned with a company’s target audience.
Employee advocacy is about empowering employees to share company information with their social networks. Employees are often an untapped asset; by leveraging their connections, content has the potential to be viewed by exponentially more people.
Encouraging employees to share company content builds brand awareness and trust with prospective customers. Employees will also benefit by building their personal brands and establishing thought leadership.
Social networks are no longer just used by young people to stay in contact with their peers. They have become powerful communication tools that, when used strategically, can have an impact on your business development outcomes.
Being passive or reactive on social is not enough – a proactive approach is required. Determine which social tactics and platforms are most appropriate for your business and build a plan to consistently execute these activities.
Be relentless, measure results and make the necessary adjustments to get the most out of your social marketing efforts. This will ultimately have a positive impact on your revenue growth.
Core Online Marketing is an outsourced online marketing agency for small and mid-sized businesses. Contact us to accelerate your online marketing activities!
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