Why social media for B2B is about more than just lead generation
(4 minute read)
How do you measure B2B social media success?
Many would say that success is found in demonstrable ROI, and they’re not entirely wrong there. But is it all about leads and revenue? The short answer is no. There’s more; so much more.
As with most marketing channels and tactics, B2B businesses must look to the bigger picture to get the maximum benefit and yield from each. While directly generating leads and driving sales is undoubtedly important, businesses should not underestimate the importance of building a solid brand identity and voice, nor the effect this can have on overall business performance.
“It’s B2B, so it’s about sales”. This is the trap that many fall into when devising a B2B social media marketing strategy. It’s easy to forget, while we’re swimming in figures, data and sales targets, that the people at the receiving end of any piece of marketing are still human beings. This means that your business needs to retain its human touch throughout all marketing channels; especially social media where this approach is both accepted and expected.
In the same way a consumer doesn’t appreciate the ‘Hard Sell’ in a B2C situation, your B2B audience doesn’t want invasive, overwhelming, direct sales messages clogging up their social media feeds either. Lead generation will always be the ultimate goal, but to get there you need to build an appealing brand that can truly speak to the people you’re targeting.
Here are the key things all B2B businesses should be focusing on with social media strategy, besides lead generation:
Sharing thought leadership
You are experts in your field, so shout about it. In most B2B sectors the customer is super savvy and the competition is fierce, which means your business needs to be seen as one step ahead at all times. Social media is the perfect platform for sharing thought leadership pieces, which in turn demonstrate your business’ authority and expertise in your particular market segment. Thought leadership pieces include everything from white papers to reports, research, interviews and blog posts, and regular publishing of such content will soon position your business as the go-to experts in your market.
More authority means more leads.
A huge part of marketing and brand-building is gaining the trust of your audience. The need for a solid level of trust is somewhat amplified in the B2B sector, with discerning clients expecting a high standard of service from any business they interact with. Social media is a fantastic tool for building trust with, as it allows you to share insights into your business, customer reviews and the authority-boosting thought leadership content we just mentioned. Regular (but not too frequent) social posts packed with authoritative information, an approachable voice and genuine client feedback will reassure potential new clients that your brand is a brand to be trusted.
And more trust means more leads.
We’ve all heard the term ‘vanity metrics’. This term is responsible for putting off many a B2B business from counting follower numbers, likes, comments, retweets, shares and other engagement metrics among valid KPIs. Sure, likes and retweets do not necessarily contribute to your business’ bottom line, but it’s not the engagement metric itself that’s important in this case. The important part is the content and the reasons behind the achievement of the metrics. If your business can produce genuinely engaging content, not just sales messaging and promotions, it will contribute to the positive growth of your overall brand image. If you can spare a little budget and time for the creation of valuable content that’s going to get people talking, clicking, watching and sharing (without expecting direct monetary gains) you will find yourself talking to a perceptive, eager and engaged audience with a higher inclination to buy into your business.
Ultimately, an engaged audience means more leads.
Connecting with influencers
The social element of social media can be leveraged by B2B businesses for immense brand image boosts. Influencer engagement and relationships can make incredible differences to clients’ perceptions of your brand, and one good word from a top influencer can send leads skyrocketing. (Joe Wicks’ recent restaurant recommendation on Instagram is a shining example of just how powerful influencers can be for business success). Whether it’s a big name on your client list, an endorsement from an industry-leading, authoritative body or a big brand partnership, all of these relationships can be started with a little clever communication and engagement on social media, and all of these relationships can lead to bigger and better things (including, yes – leads)
Social media-based brand building and awareness campaigns are all about the long game. You won’t see the immediate, traceable sales and ROI that you might see from a traditional marketing channel, but all of this will eventually come if you play your posts right. A strong brand identity and high level of customer awareness in your business sector is essential for setting your brand apart from the competition, and simple sales-driven posts will not be enough to build this on their own.
Set a strategy, execute it and be patient. The leads will come.