Posted by Megan Lane Patrick on Friday, July 18, 2014 - 00:00
Just because your client markets chemicals rather than cupcakes doesn't mean you shouldn't sell them social media services. Learn how to help B2B brands make the most of these powerful promotional tools.
Big brands are all over social media today. You can't check Facebook to see what your friends are doing without being blasted with sponsored posts from clothing retailers and pizza chains. Soft drink companies tweet everything from links to coupons to jokes about their rivals. And Pinterest just announced native advertising on their platform.
But what if your clients don't court consumers directly? Just because you're doing creative work for B2B companies doesn't mean you can ignore the power of social media. In fact, many B2B businesses now realize they need to budget for digital spending – and there's no reason why you and your firm can't be the ones to profit by helping them make the most of the social space. (Or, if you're an in-house designer, you could lead the social charge for your firm and come out looking like a hero.)
The goal of B2B social media is to build an engaged audience of potential customers who are at different points in the buying cycle and prove or remind them why you or your client is the expert who can provide the best solutions for their business needs.
Here's a breakdown of how some B2B brands are making social media news today.
LinkedIn: This popular business-focused site is an ideal place to help B2B brands build credibility by posting links to white papers, blog posts and presentations. Other businesses that are considering your services can subscribe to your feed so they don't miss any updates.
Tip: Post at the right times for maximum impact. For LinkedIn, the best times are generally 7 a.m.-9 a.m. and 5 p.m.-6 p.m., according to this insightful post by SEO strategist Bill Hartzer.
Example: GE Healthcare keeps its page updated with links to product announcements, original articles about healthcare technology and commentary about stories from other industry sources to keep in touch with their 279,000+ followers.
Facebook: While the social media giant is home to countless cat and baby photos, it can also be a powerful business tool if you focus on sharing interesting statistics and stories that resonate beyond your industry.
Tip: Invest in high-quality, relevant and real-life images to make your posts stand out.
Example: How does networking-technology company Cisco keep more than 600,000 fans interested? By sharing its vision of the future through links to original articles and other content that addresses the evolving nature of our digital world.
Twitter: B2B brands can use this platform in much the same way as their consumer counterparts do. Smart brands use the tool to start conversations with potential customers, gather feedback, answer questions and keep tabs on the competition.
Tip: Don't shy away from sharing the same piece of content multiple times across multiple Twitter accounts and on multiple days. Because Twitter streams move so quickly, it's unlikely that your followers will see the same tweet (or a similar one) more than once.
Example: Global chemical and materials company DuPont maximizes its impact on Twitter by managing specific accounts for different regions and segments of its business, including DuPont Packaging, DuPont Africa and DuPont Refrigerants.
SlideShare: You probably won't catch your best friend or kid sister on this social media site, but you will find savvy B2B marketers who use it as a thought leadership and lead generation tool by scouring and posting industry-specific presentations.
Tip: Looks count! Good design will make your information more share-worthy and attract attention to your business.
Example: Inbound marketing software company HubSpot is a SlideShare master with more than 26,000 followers and 650 presentations (and counting). They maximize the impact of their presentations by following simple rules like incorporating good design, links, tags, and audio and video elements.
Google Plus: No, it's not as popular as Facebook, but Google Plus comes in second in number of users. More important, posting articles on this platform will automatically rank that content higher in Google search results than content posted on other social sites. You can also use the Circle tool to easily segment potential customers and deliver more tailored content to them.
Tip: Utilize the Hangouts feature for customer support, product demos and virtual meetings.
Example: Tech powerhouse Intel uses Google Plus to promote webinars, offer product demos and sneak peeks, share new blog posts and interesting infographics, and more. Their efforts have garnered them more than half a million followers.
Even if your company or client isn't in the business of talking directly to consumers, you certainly are in the business of communicating with other people in your industry. Don't miss out on the opportunity to build your reputation, connect with potential buyers and convert prospects into customers.