Ads! What are they good for? Absolutely nothin’

Hold on just a moment. For B2B marketers, the value of social media advertising continues to increase.

In fact, according to Leadtail co-founder and CEO Carter Hostelly, social advertising is now as important for driving results as search engine optimization (SEO).

“The way I always frame it up,” Carter says, “is you can think about paid and organic social the same way we’ve learned to think about, you know, paid search versus SEO, which is if you need to make a quarter, you better be doing paid search, but if you want to build a business, you better be doing SEO.”

It’s been a long time (at least in marketing years) since companies began to think of having a website as a cost of doing business. A website is essential to forming a brand. But, of course, simply throwing a homepage on the world wide web doesn’t do much to promote a business.

B2B marketers have learned that there are few tried and true tactics that leverage web content to promote a brand and drive leads. Generally referred to under the umbrella label of “content marketing,” these tactics include creating blog posts, ebooks, reports, landing pages, and other types of content that perform well in getting a website to rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

By leveraging search engine optimized website content and strategically buying paid search ads, marketers have been able to get leads into the funnel fairly effectively. And the data from website analytics and paid search reports helps them hone these efforts even more.

Social vs. SEO

Today, most B2B marketers agree that, much like a website, having a social media presence is an essential asset for any business. But, like a website, simply posting a few things on a social platform each week will not drive the results you need.

You may have noticed recently that most of the top results from a Google search are paid results. As time has gone on, Google has optimized its own business around the advertising services it provides. That means that SEO content, while still important, is not the panacea it was once thought to be.

“So ten years ago now, the strategy was to build mountains of content,” Carter says. “And so every little mound, every little thing gets a little bit of search engine results.”

The thing is, in the best of scenarios, SEO won’t drive massive amounts of leads. “You’ve got to be doing aggressive demand gen campaigns,” Carter says.

“If you’re selling something that’s a highly specialized product to B2B, even if you’re on page one, you’re not going to drive the volume you need to feed your sales team.”

In the same way, social media requires a balance of organic content and paid ad investment to drive the most success.

“The nice thing with social at this point is it’s kind of like a website,” Carter says. “You know you need a presence. And we also know, just like with a website, if you’re not really doing anything to drive traffic to it, if you’re not doing anything organically other than doing six tweets, or whatever, it’s almost like, you don’t need it, because it’s not doing anything.” 

Optimizing for Paid Social

Brands that prioritize social in their marketing efforts will see results because buyers are looking for information everywhere, and that includes social media, Carter says.

“If I think about the next inbound notion, I truly would say, you’re going to switch your viewpoint from optimizing around Google search to optimizing around paid social,” Carter says. “So that’s one part of the equation. The other part of the equation is even when you get leads in, how do you how the sales teams follow up—there’s a nurturing piece in there, too.”

Nurture Leads with Social Selling

Your brand’s social strategy has a lot to do with the nurturing side of the equation as well as the lead generation side.

“There’s a nurturing path that can tie back to content,” Carter says.”There’s a whole nurturing that comes out of social selling. Step one is get them to connect with you. Now once they’ve connected there is a set of things that we can do to move them from discovering us to becoming interested in us to finally having some intent.”

When B2B marketers thoughtfully balance content strategy, social media strategy, and a robust paid program, they can create the conditions that help sales people succeed in closing deals.

Marketers can no longer rely on a “build it and they will come” approach to content marketing. Now is the time to get active on social media, create compelling content, and use a smart paid promotion strategy to help your buyers find you.

Ready to get started with B2B social? Let’s talk!