As more business-to-business marketers embrace social media, the question isn’t how to reach people; it’s how to reach the right people. Knowing your target audience and catering to them makes all the difference in a B2B social media campaign.
A recent survey of the 50,000 members of the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn showed that 82% were planning to increase their content marketing for B2B on the next year.
Why? Because content is a great way to reach and engage the right buyers, capturing their attention and building credibility for your business.
Buyers and influencers have short attention spans when it comes to promotional social media posts. In fact, too much sales-oriented chatter can be a turn off. (A big one!)
When B2B leaders are online for business purposes, their goal is not to buy but to discover value. They want to learn about options, innovations and alternatives that can help them improve the way they do business.
Content marketing for B2B can meet these needs and there’s no better way to get compelling content into to hands of the right people than with social media.
While the endgame may be lead generation (cited by 71% of the respondents as the goal of their content marketing), getting there is a multi-step process. First, you have to reach the people you want to read your content, appeal to their interests and get them to take action.
How does it work? Here’s a quick 4-Step outline of how to put content to work for you, building awareness and interest in your products and services:
1. Start with Strategy
Knowing where you want to get is step one. Take the time to determine who you want to reach and why. How do you want them to view your business? What do you want them to take away from their interactions?
Nailing the answers to these questions is essentials, because the success of the rest of the process depends on a sound strategy. Don’t skip this step!
2. Create Great Content
Sounds like a no brainer, but actual accomplishing this takes work. Publishing compelling B2B content requires truly understanding your audience (see Step 1).
Your goal may be to convey 3 important points about your business, but you must do so in a way to meets the needs of your readers of your message will never get through.
To position your business-to-business brand effectively, think about the mindset of your audience. What are their needs, concerns and aspirations? How can your business fit into that mental landscape?
3. Find the Right Format
Content marketing for B2B takes many forms, from white papers to infographics. What kind of content does your audience consume? Will they take time to watch a video or will they become impatient because they’d prefer to quickly skim an executive summary?
It’s easy to extend the reach and life span of interesting B2B content by modifying it to multiple formats. Consider mixing up video, animation, graphics, webinars, teleclasses, live presentations, an auto-responder series, executive interviews, articles, blog posts and position papers.
All these formats allow people to discover your content in myriad ways, consuming it in the format that is most convenient or appealing to them personally.
4. Get the Word Out
Now we (finally) get to social media! If you were tempted to Tweet first and think later, you might be surprised that social media is the last step in this process. That’s because it’s really the conduit to your content.
Of course, social media will play into your strategy selection in Step 1. You need to know where your B2B buyers spend their time. Most commonly this is LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube, but it might be different for your business.
Once you know which social media channels you want to use, craft your posts to support the wide variety of formats you’ve developed. You can promote a free download, invite people to a webinar and share snippets of content as a teaser.
All of these posts need to be relevant and add value. Be careful not to cross the line into overly promotional messages or you will lose your audience. Adding value means providing quotes, stats and other items of interest right in your post.
Invite conversation and feedback. Ask employees, partners, customers and others to share your information if they find it useful. Reach out directly via social channels to people you know who will appreciate great content.
Do this well and you’ll benefit from the powerful bond between content and social media, two best friends in the world of B2B branding.
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