How to Create an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy
Dreaming of turning your social media marketing into a lead-generation machine? Then it's vital that you have an effective social media strategy in place.
Published: 17 Jul 2015
5 minutes read
Social media is transforming the way businesses interact with prospects. B2B marketers are quickly adopting social media into their marketing plans, with 84% using social media in some form. However, new platforms bring new challenges. The very nature of B2B can sometimes be difficult to translate to a social format – where humanisation and personal interactions are key. A common trap that some B2B marketers fall into is viewing social media as yet another promotional tool – churning out blatant sales pitches without a second thought. This approach in most instances doesn’t work, explaining why more than half of B2B marketers struggle to prove the ROI generated from social media marketing.
Social media marketing requires an entirely unique approach that focuses on humanising your brand and creating genuine interactions with your prospects. If you dream of turning your social media marketing into a lead-generation machine, then it is vital that you have an effective social media strategy in place.
Step 1: Research and discovery
Before you begin tweeting away, set aside some time for in-depth research…
What does success look like to you?
Don’t view social media as a box ticking exercise to keep your boss happy. Have one, specific success metric to aim for in order to keep content focused. Say for example, your main goal is lead generation. Your social media content would ideally be focused around sharing educational blog content that educates prospects and propels them to continue through your sales funnel.
Listen and monitor
HubSpot’s monitoring tool is an often overlooked, but fantastic tool that every B2B marketer should use, especially during initial planning stages. With monitoring tools, you can identify the types of conversations your prospects are engaging in, what advice they’re seeking and content types that receive the best response rates. Armed with this information, you can shape and adapt your own social media content.
Step 2: Plan
Once you’ve conducted some prior research, it’s time to build the foundations of your social media strategy…
Enforce your brand voice
Remember, social media is an extension of your business and so requires a brand voice that is in line with your other marketing activities – both on and offline. Brand voice inconsistencies can confuse prospects and damage your business’s reputation.
Your brand voice on social media, however, will differ slightly from other marketing activities. As Buffer summarises: “We don’t want brands talking at us as if we are dollar signs. We want authentic communication.” Therefore, present a voice that is human and relatable, while retaining your brand’s core values.
Regardless of who is managing your social media marketing, clear guidelines need to be enforced to ensure a consistent brand voice. Guidelines should instruct on writing styles, personas, jargon and formality.
Now you have a voice, you need to identify its purpose. What exactly can you offer prospects on social media that is unique to your business and actively solves their problems? This is what we call your unique selling point and it should help form every piece of social media content.
As a real-world example, our unique selling point would be our extensive knowledge and expertise working with niche technology companies and our ability to market their often complex software and services in a buyer-friendly format. We’ve found that many of our tech prospects’ problems lay with the ineffectiveness of outbound marketing as increasing numbers of buyers head online. Therefore we promote our educational blog posts through social media to effectively solve these problems and present inbound marketing as a solution.
Select your channels
Not every social media channel works for every business, especially in the more complex B2B environment. To ensure that you aren’t spreading your time too thin, pick three channels to allocate the majority of your time to.
To assess which channels are going to be beneficial for your business, think about the types of content you plan to promote. Is your social activity going to be heavily visual with videos and infographics? Then you may consider more niche platforms such as Pinterest, whereas text-based content is better suited to the likes of Twitter.
More importantly, however, which platforms are your prospects actively using? Monitoring tools, customer feedback and search engine research will help you identify where your prospects are most likely to be and therefore where your time is better spent.
When you first get started with social media, it can be tempting to go full-throttle with content publishing. However, frequency and consistency is the key to keeping prospects engaged. Inconsistent posting can cause prospects to lose interest in your business and potentially unfollow your social profiles. Aim for a posting frequency that is manageable in the long-term to ensure a consistent flow of content.
Step 3: Publish
Now you’ve formed the foundations of your social media strategy, it’s time to start thinking about publishing content...
Create channel-specific content
If you use social media for personal use, then you will already be aware that each social channel has a unique purpose, approach and limitations. For example, Twitter has a limitation of 140 characters, meaning tweets need to be short and concise with hashtags used to categorise topics. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is predominantly used by networking professionals and so long-form industry insights resonate best with prospects on this platform. To summarise, content needs to be shared differently on each platform. While the content source you are promoting can remain the same, the language, length and formality of your social post should be specific to the platform’s guidelines and audience.
Bulk schedule content
When social media isn’t managing effectively, it can be a time consuming task. Rather than posting content manually, invest in scheduling tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer or HubSpot. These tools enable you to bulk schedule content by uploading an Excel spreadsheet, saving you countless hours that can be spent on elsewhere.
Social media marketing is just one way to turn your whole marketing into a lead generation machine. Done correctly, it can support your B2B website in also becoming a hugely impactful lead generation tool. Find out more about the optimising your B2B website for lead gen.