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B2B social media – a beginner’s guide

For those who are new to the social revolution, it can seem a bit of a minefield, yet burying your head in the sand and hoping it will all go away is not the answer. The truth is, if you fail to engage with social media you are giving your competitors a significant opportunity to steal a march on you.

With the correct approach, however, engaging in social media and social networking can deliver a whole host of benefits to your organisation – from building brand awareness to garnering feedback on your latest products.

As an integrated communications agency, we see social media and mainstream media as fundamentally connected. So to get you started, here’s a few of our top tips for getting your B2B social media strategy underway:

1)    Define your objectives
If social media is going to work for your organisation, you need to be clear on why you are doing it and what you want it to achieve. Who are you trying to reach? Are you trying to build a community? Are you trying to change opinion? Is it for brand loyalty and wider awareness, or simply to improve SEO? Giving these things some thought right at the start of your campaigns will pay dividends later down the track, especially when it comes to measurement. Once you identify objectives you can start to put in place a clearly defined strategy.

2)    Consider introducing a social media policy
By its very nature, social media is a much more informal means of communication than traditional media. With this informality comes risk. It’s therefore advisable to define and communicate a corporate-wide social media policy, so that employees are clear about what they may and may not say about the organisation online.

3)    Match cost with benefit
It’s easy to get drawn into the vastness of the social media space: there are literally thousands of social networking sites and blogs on the internet. Ensure the time you are investing is matched by the benefits you reap. This is easier to do if you have clearly defined your objectives (as above).

4)    Match your social media channel with your target audience
Not all social media sites will be appropriate. You need to have a clear understanding of the audience you are trying to reach and how they engage with social media. If you have defined different buyer personas, you may be able to define different objectives for different channels.

5)    Social media is a two-way conversation and listening is paramount
With social media you need to build a following and not spam people. Begin by encouraging a dialogue, or listen to conversations and respond to what other people are saying. Retweet regularly on Twitter and comment on posts to begin conversations.

6)    Remember SEO
Social media is a great way of driving traffic back to your own website and boosting your SEO. Social content that cannot be discovered via search is a lost opportunity to reach an audience that is actively looking, so you should use keywords in social content and back-links to your site wherever possible without reverting to spamming.

7)    Measurement
The only way of discovering whether social media is working for you is by measuring it. Once you’ve got a clear understanding of the investment and the desired returns, you need tools to track the results. The KPIs for social media aren’t all that different from how you would measure traditional media, but the key factors to evaluate are social media exposure, influence and engagement. Nowadays there are a wide range of tools available (both free and paid for) on the web that can help you measure the success of your social media campaign.

8)    An integrated approach
A common industry misconception is that social media is completely different to mainstream media. In reality, many news stories originating in the social media space are picked up by mainstream journalists, while those from the broadsheets frequently go the other way and are tweeted and blogged throughout cyberspace. Successful social media strategies therefore work best as part of a wider, integrated PR campaign. When incorporated into a more strategic approach to PR, social media can – and does – produce stellar results.

And remember…

Anyone can ‘do’ social media. But doing it well will be the key differentiator between the leading PR agencies and the rest of the pack.

Good PR should get people talking about you. Good social media is just the same. If you would like to take some professional advice on how to manage your B2B social networking strategy, why not get in touch.

We currently manage social media campaigns for a number of our clients across the B2B technology, engineering, events marketing, energy and financial services industries. We would be happy to share more with you on our approach and discuss a strategy that works best for you.