Yes, B2B companies should be using social media. In fact, it is easy to make the argument that B2B companies are better suited for social media marketing than B2C companies. Think about it: with a relationship-based sales cycle, core subject matter expertise and a legacy of content creation, most B2B companies are a great fit to leverage social media as part of an inbound marketing strategy.
In a world in which 60% of the sales cycle is over before a lead ever talks to a salesperson , it has never been more important for marketing to be involved early in the buying process. Social media, when used for B2B lead generation and education, can help attract, educate, and qualify leads. Regardless of your ninja level of experience with using social media for B2B, many mistakes are commonly made during the journey to becoming a superstar marketer. Here are a few common mistakes I recognized as I was writing The B2B Social Media Book , and how you can avoid making them yourself.
9 Common B2B Social Media Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
1. Ignoring the Social Media Reach of Your Business
Reach is an often overlooked metric by B2B marketers who are focused on generating high-quality leads often at a lower volume due to the high average sale price for many B2B deals. The problem here is that the internet rewards reach. The more social media followers you have, the more your content spreads, and the more impact you have on results in search engines. Not all social media followers can become customers for your B2B company, but many of them might be able to share content or take an action online that could refer a customer.
Fix It: Take active measures to build you social media reach by emailing existing customers and vendors to encourage them to connect with your company in social media.
2. Not Trying To Generate Leads
Social media can have many applications for a business, including customer service, public relations, and recruiting. But when it comes to marketing, B2B social media is about lead generation . Yes, building communities online and educating leads is important, but if you don't present lead conversion opportunities, you will never generate the revenue needed to fund your social media marketing efforts.
Fix It: Include calls-to-action (CTAs) for lead conversion forms in social media updates as well as on web pages that receive social media traffic.
3. Thinking Social Media Will Replace Offline Marketing
Social media is only one piece of the pie. It works best when it's part of an integrated inbound marketing strategy that includes a mix of online and offline tactics. Thinking you can shift all of your traditional marketing budget to social media is a mistake. Solve for customers. Measure every marketing channel by its ability to generate quality customers at a reasonable cost.
Fix It: Take a step back, and look for opportunities to integrate social media with traditional marketing strategies. (Example: Include links to your social media profiles as part of the design for your next direct mail creative.)
4. Not Taking the Time to Measure B2B Social Media ROI
Leads aren't the end goal; customers are. Too many B2B marketers guess about the performance of their social media marketing efforts, or worse, track metrics like followers and likes as the sole metrics of success. Measuring the ROI of your social media efforts isn't easy. It means taking the time to gather specific financial data and looking at that data across multiple marketing channels.
Fix It: Work with your finance department to get clear and accurate data for the cost of customer acquisition and total lifetime value for your business. Using these two key metrics, you can look at ROI for each social media channel.
5. Blabbering About Boring Products
A huge difference exists between generating leads with social media and publishing boring, product-focused content. Social media doesn't make your business interesting; that's your job. While you need to be generating leads with social media, that doesn't mean you should be talking non-stop about your product. Instead, you have to focus on content that relates to the problems your customers are working to solve.
Fix It: Ask your sales team for the top five issues they hear from leads, and build an editorial calendar for your blog and social media updates that provides solutions to these issues.
6. Hiring the Same Old Marketer
The quality of B2B social media marketing is only as good as the team that executes it. Marketing skills today are different. If you interview and hire the same types of marketers you always have, you are setting yourself up for failure.
Fix It: Look for marketers who understand how to tell interesting stories online and have the data analysis skills to constantly optimize and improve their marketing efforts.
7. Failing to Understand the Nuances Between Social Networks
Each social network is different. A great amount of social media marketing effectiveness is lost when marketers fail to understand the differences between social networks. For example, Facebook and Google+ are more visual networks , and content shared there should include more images. Twitter is more about sharing news and information, so most tweets need to include links. Taking the same approach across all social networks will greatly decrease your effectiveness and, worst of all, waste your time.
Fix It: Look at your marketing software as well as analytics provided by individual social networks themselves to gain a better understanding of how the communities on each network consume your content and information differently.
8. Not Budgeting Enough Time to Be Successful
B2B social media marketing is going to take you at least twice as much time as you think. The fastest way to fail is by not budgeting enough time in your schedule to generate results. As a marketer, your schedule is already packed, so it's important to start small and work your way toward bigger projects.
Fix It: To gain the time needed to be a B2B social media marketing superstar, you need to stop spending time on some of the other tactics in your current marketing strategy. Look at the results of your current marketing activities and determine what isn't driving the results you need. Then remove those activities from your overcrowded marketing schedule.
9. Forgetting That Search Is the Glue That Holds B2B Social Media Strategies Together
Search engine optimization and social media are like peanut butter and jelly; they go together. Marketers who fail to align social media marketing efforts with their existing search engine optimization strategies are only getting half the results they should be.
Fix it: Build a unified keyword list that you use across your search engine optimization efforts and your social media content. This list will help ensure that your SEO, blogging, and other social media efforts are all on the same page.
Time is always a scare resource. Use these tips as a way to maximize the results from the time you're already investing in your B2B inbound marketing strategy. What would you add to this list?