I can sense it – some of you read the title and have immediate doubts about social media’s impact on your B2B-focused company. So, I’ll jump right in: social media drives more traffic to your website than search engines do.
That’s right! Each month, social media sends more leads to your website than Google, Bing, Yahoo, and all the other search engines…combined! Over 31% of all visitors to a website originate from social media (Shareaholic).
Social media has been relevant for over a decade and the number of adults using it is staggering: over 70% of all U.S. adults are active on social media and it crosses all demographics (Pew). Whoever your target market is, they are using social, and these platforms bring everyone together with one desire: to be heard. You want to be heard by your audience and they want to be heard by you.
Digital marketing has transformed the way companies interact with their customers and how new customers are acquired. A referral is still the most cost-effective and warmest lead you can receive and referrals are increasingly happening through social media. No generation is more comfortable with using social media for business interaction than millennials, and they are rising to power.
The Rise of the Millennial Decision Maker
The millennial generation, born between 1982 and 2004, is taking new positions of leadership, starting more companies, and is managing larger staffs than baby boomers are. In fact, for every 1 business launched by baby boomers, millennials launch 2 (BNI Paribus).
Their generation is the largest in history and represents over 50% of the workforce. They are also one of the most active generations on social.
Here are 3 ways millennials are using social media:
- 86% are willing to share information about their buying habits and decision-making processes, which is primarily shared with brands on digital platforms (comScore)
- 60% use social media to source information (IDG)
- 34% say they like a brand more when that brand uses social media (Association of National Advertisers)
If you’re still unsure of social media’s importance, here are 13 ways I believe social media engages your B2B audience:
- It personalizes you – Whether it’s a picture from your staff Christmas party or your office manager’s wedding, pictures show the personal side of your business and make you relatable.
- Helps you be discovered – Social media is used as a search engine, and when your page is properly categorized you can show up in a relevant search to your potential audience.
- Shares information about your clients – Facebook’s Insights and Ad Manager platforms, for example, provide excellent data on the demographic and habits of your followers and allow you to create “look-alike” audiences and advertise to them on Facebook.
- Places your message in front of prospects – When you know who your audience is, you can target them via paid ads. One of the most cost efficient, highest yielding, and targeted forms of advertising is the Pay Per Click (PPC) model, which allows you to place your ads in front of people based on what they searched, where they live, what their interests are, and much more. And you only pay when someone clicks on your ad!
- Improves customer service – If there’s an issue, the sooner you know about it the better. People use social media to voice both praise and criticism; and a quick, thoughtful response to their comment can create a big win for your company. Some businesses are hesitant to join social for this reason – they don’t want to be opened to criticism. But, an angry customer is going to voice their frustration regardless, and it’s important for you to have a platform to address it.
- Keeps you relevant – Digital media allows you to post frequently and create your own personal voice on the Internet, which also keeps you top-of-mind.
- Generates referrals – Your social following will include your current customers and as you post valuable resources, the posts will be liked and shared by your audience, which then exposes you to their connections and can lead to referrals.
- Produces trackable ROI – Everyone keeps a close eye on their return of investment. With digital marketing, the ROI is easier to monitor and the data allows you to pivot during an ad campaign. With the Pay Per Click model, you can set daily spend limits for your ads, increase or decrease them at any time, or shift the demographic you’re targeting.
- Drives traffic to your website – Social media is a sales funnel that leads people to your website where they can access more information. Your website is where consumers take the next step and learn more about your company. It’s important to setup landing pages on your website that are trackable and expand on the ad topic they clicked on.
- Improves your SEO – As you drive more traffic to your website, you will also improve your online ranking. Additionally, social profiles show up in related search engine results – the more times you’re listed on Google the better.
- Helps warm your leads – When you begin interacting with a lead, the more touches you have the better. A good social strategy warms a lead and starts cultivating a relationship before you even talk to them.
- Establishes you as a trusted voice – As a business owner, you can command an audience through speaking and writing intelligently about your specific area of expertise. Social is a great platform to share your wisdom.
- Provides a platform to share resources – A part of any social strategy should be sharing free, value-adding resources with your audience. Resources include blog articles or eBooks that your team produced or resources from other thought leaders and vendors in your industry or your customers’ industries.
But It Didn’t Work When I Tried It
Social media is known to be highly effective for industries who market to consumers. It may seem like social is a better fit for the retailer who is trying to promote their newest product. But that’s not the case – the B2C social space is more crowded and you must fight harder to gain attention and engagement. A well-planned and engaging social media strategy for your B2B industry can set you apart from your competition and quickly gain the attention of your customers.
It’s always about the approach.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Identify your customer’s demographic and utilize the social media platforms that most closely target them
- Create a social media strategy for your business that includes the social channels you’re focused on, topics that matter most to your customers, a budget to advertise your posts, and the personality of your social voice
- Be ready to put in the work required to do this well, while not taking on more than you can manage. Start out with 1 or 2 social platforms before adding others.
- Above all, be authentic and remember this is not a sales pitch. It’s an after-hours, grab-a-drink-and-hangout kind of thing.
Facebook and LinkedIn are the dominant social platforms for B2B, but it is also worth considering Instagram and Twitter, and perhaps Pinterest depending on your industry. And don’t overlook YouTube – video is a dominant player in marketing and each day, over 1 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube. Each day! 1 Billion hours!
All That’s Left to Do is Get Started
There’s a note on my desk that stares at me every day: ideas are worthless if you don’t execute.
As business owners, we’re all guilty of having ideas that get lost on sticky notes or dry erase boards. Creating and implementing a social media strategy for your business is far too important to be stuck in the idea phase.
Just remember the numbers. Today, 81% of Americans have a social media profile and by the year 2020, 3 billion people will be using social media. You can’t afford to not engage your audience on social. So let’s get started!
Matthew Michael is co-founder of M&R Marketing Group in Macon, GA. M&R is a full-service agency working with B2B and B2C businesses across all marketing platforms. Their award-winning, in-house team provides web design, graphic design, social media, branding, SEO & SEM, and marketing consultation. Visit their website at mand-group.com or email Matthew.
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