It’s that time of year again. Everyone you bump into seems to have a crystal ball on what’s coming next. It’s also a good moment to reflect on what we’ve learned up to this point… and while some B2B social marketing trends have already moved beyond their sell through date, we predict these nine will have staying power in 2017 and beyond.
1. Understand how your buyers engage on social media
The most important thing when developing your social marketing strategy is to understand that it all begins with your target buyers. Whether that’s someone sitting in the C-Suite or one of their direct reports, you need insights into how these decision makers engage on social media. For instance, which social networks are they on, what conversations are they having, which publications are they reading and sharing, and who most influences them? Start here if you’re not sure where to find these social insights.
2. Know which stage of social media you’re in
Yes ROI is important. But when it comes to social media, many B2B companies are still in the investment NOT return stage. Said another way, there are four stages to B2B social media: activity, audience, engagement, and (finally!) ROI. Knowing the stage of your company’s efforts is the key to determining which tactics and KPIs you should focus on… if you want to successfully make it to the next stage. More on that here.
3. Do these five social media practices
How should you manage social media on a daily basis? Always be “listening” for questions, conversations, and insights from customers and prospects. Share third party content that’s especially relevant to your target buyers to build trust. Publish thought leadership content on your social channels to create interest in your business. Engage target accounts and industry influencers. Plus, make sure to track and measure your progress. Simply put, do these five social media practices every day!
4. Fuel social activity with a thought leadership blog
Sure, you can build a social media following from sharing other people’s content. But at some point you’ll want buyers to discover that your company has vision, can be helpful, and understands their pains and aspirations. That’s why your company blog is so important. Thought leadership blog posts are the go-to content for warming up your social audience to trust and engage with your brand. Just remember: if your company isn’t blogging then it’ll be hard to succeed with social media.
5. Think brand awareness before lead generation
Social media is great for building brand awareness with your target audience. And after you’ve built an active social following, it can also drive meaningful website traffic and, yes, leads. But you should approach social media like you do content marketing… nurture, build trust, and then look for opportunities to engage in value-added conversations. Of course, you still need to generate leads now, which take us to the next point…
6. Make advertising part of your social media game plan
It’s no surprise that building robust social channels takes time. Meanwhile, you still have aggressive lead goals to hit. How can you start generating leads faster with social media? Treat social like search marketing by having both an organic and paid strategy, with advertising dollars set-aside for LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook… to quickly engage prospective buyers and generate leads.
7. Keep things visual for the C-Suite
Leadtail has analyzed the social media activity of thousands of C-Suite executives. What’s the one thing they all have in common? They love to share visual content. YouTube videos, Instagram photos, and SlideShare presentations… if it’s visual then they’re sharing it on social media. So if you want to get the attention of the corner office then make sure you’re creating and sharing visual content.
8. Get employees advocating
Whether you’re a startup with fifty employees or an enterprise with thousands, you should be leveraging your employees to amplify brand content in an authentic and cost-effective manner. How to get started? Send out a weekly email with links to your latest blog post, press release, and earned media pickups… and encourage everyone to share. Also consider investing in one of the many employee advocacy platforms to streamline this process. Here’s what else you should do.
9. Build relationships with the right influencers
We’re big fans of B2B influencer marketing. The right influencers can jack-up your social media reach while also passing along an implicit social recommendation for your company’s brand and products. The key is to identify those thought leaders, analysts, bloggers, and domain experts who are truly influential with your target buyers. And then learn the four rules of B2B influencer marketing.
Now it’s your turn. What lessons have you learned, and what B2B social marketing trends do you predict will take off in the coming year and beyond?