By adaptive - March 20th, 2013

Content is as important to B2B social media as it is for B2C. The content you create is a powerful ally in creating a brand story that appeals to your stakeholders and identifies new markets.


Seventy percent of the buyer’s journey is complete before it gets to sales.
Businesses don’t invest in social media and content marketing because they like seeing their names on Google search. It’s all about sales. 
Every step, every plan, every strategy is plotted along a graph of building brand identity, brand loyalty, and return on investment, which all equals sales. Great social media content is an art. It can be used to sell without selling, and become an incredibly useful tool in ensuring your brand is seen as trustworthy, reliable and worth investing in.
How social is B2B? [SOURCE]
This sounds great, but how can you achieve this nirvana? You need to create a brand story, inspire your stakeholders, create content that’s valuable and interactive, and use the right channels to talk to the right people. In this, our second part in the series analysing B2B social media, we ask the experts how this should be done, and what considerations are in play.

In context

“Social business is about understanding how to cultivate stronger relationships between the players that can improve your business outcomes,” says Stuart McRae, Executive Collaboration and Social Business Evangelist for IBM UK. “By understanding the customer journey from your customer’s perspective you can make contact points on social media between you that are personal, productive and persuasive. And this builds customer loyalty and, ultimately, advocacy.”
Social media is being used by around 87% of B2B content marketers, according to Marketing Profs and is now the most popular content marketing tactic. Sure, social media is powerful tool, but only in the right hands. You need to determine who your stakeholders are, and what is important to them. When you understand your audience, you can deliver content that is cultivated to achieve specific results.


Percentage of B2B Marketers Using Social Media to Distribute Content [SOURCE]
This knowledge puts you in a position to take your brand and create excitement around your industry, using the social media tools best suited to your market and audience. B2B social media is about creating dynamic conversations across the right platforms with the people that matter to your business.
Challenges that B2B Content Marketers Face [SOURCE]

Understanding the stakeholder

How can you identify your stakeholders and ensure that your brand delivers content that’s relevant to them so you can capitalise on these stats? 
“Find the key people that are already in your corner,” says Jessica McEndoo, Executive at Experience iT and Social Media Strategist for Digital Solutions Group, “Then ask yourself: who is influencing my brand – good or bad – and who is interested in my brand? These are important stakeholders who can influence future success.”
Sue Edwards, Managing Director of Aspen Legal says, “Pick a target market and do your research. Does their demographic engage with social media? Where do they hang out? Who are the thought leaders, and can you join their groups to reach your targets? Use all the tools to make social media work for you.”
Map your content to appeal to your diverse audience, make sure that it is designed to lead and influence your target market.

Develop your story

Laura Foster of Prezzybox says, “When planning content for your B2B social media strategy know how you can build a relationship from it and how the content will be interesting and valuable to your client. Create engaging content appropriate to your target and look at similar B2B business that have been successful so you can replicate it to suit your needs.”
Engaging content. Those two words are vital to success. B2B communication can, by its very nature, run the risk of being too dry, too wordy, too sales oriented. There needs to be balance, trust and, for retention, interaction. Content is a developing art and there is no perfect road, but getting your stakeholders involved in your content is definitely the way forward.
“Your brand language reflects your background story and intent, and is used across profiles, social media, websites – everywhere you appear – so you build a solid story through all social media interactions,” says Edwards, “Followers want to see congruent, trusted messages built on a solid platform. Fail to get your story straight, and work it through all your online and offline activity, and your business fails the trust test.”
In order to develop a cohesive and brand efficient B2B social media content strategy you need to consider:
  • Market research – focus groups, analysis, and surveys.
  • Identify your audience.
  • A strategy – defined objectives and planned content over the long and short term.
  • Measurement – how you will assess the success, or failure of a campaign.
  • Internal social media guidelines.
  • A clear business performance objective.
  • The channels – maximise your conversations.
  • A two-way conversation – be ready to respond to your customers.

Interaction is key

Stakeholders are invaluable to building brand awareness and generating excitement about your business. Get them involved in your content, encourage communication and interaction. The Marketing Profs report highlighted that in-person events are seen as the most effective tactic by 67% of respondents, and the types of social media – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter – are those that have the highest levels of audience interaction.
“Each stakeholder needs to be seen as an influencer, which can be critical to your brand’s success in the market,” says McEndoo, “Audience expectations are increasing and delivering great experiences and relevant information means selecting a platform that’s purpose built and designed through the lens of your target audience. Create content that adds value to your brand through your stakeholders’ social networks.”
“We are big fans of making content as interactive as possible as this is the best way to ensure the retention and resonance of information,” says Nick Imrie, MD of What Users Do
Foster seconds the motion and adds a thought that’s almost obvious, but often neglected, “Create content that clients will want to share with friends and their business.”
In 2010 businesses spent around $100 million on gamification. This number is set to rise to $2.8 billion by 2016 thanks to social media. As a way of building awareness and grabbing your market’s attention, this is a compelling tool. And it can be used to enhance loyalty programs, improve user experiences, and drive sales. 

In the end…

Content is an art. It can be manipulated to fit your business like the proverbial glove and create excitement about your brand. However, it must be controlled and delivered in a way that will inspire your stakeholders to believe in your business, and end in sales. 
Creating a B2B social media experience asks you to write a brand story that taps into your market, reveals your sound understanding of their language and needs, and gives them interactive content that’s so engaging that they feel a part of your story, and your business. Easy to do? Not so much. However, it is now an essential tool in the B2B arsenal that will translate into fiscal reward if done properly.
In the final part of this series you will see how to use brand advocates in B2B social media marketing. How to build a network of influencers: Identify who should become a part of your brands voice. And understand how to develop relationships with these high-value individual influencers.

Next Reads

The Corporate Social Media Summit New York 2014

June 2014, New York

Become a social business: For superior marketing response, sharper corporate decision-making, enhanced innovation and a happier, more loyal customer

Brochure Programme
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