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B2B social must go 'micro' if brands want results

Katy Howell, CEO of Immediate future, argues that, in order to get big on social, buisnesses need to think micro

Social media connects in excess of 2.34 billion people worldwide. That makes it tempting for businesses to target reach, particularly when mass marketing appears the easy option. But are you really connected to all those people? More importantly, does social give you quality leads?

The answer is probably no, since only 10% of B2B marketers can quantitatively show the impact of social media on their business.

In order to be big in B2B social you need to go small. By small I mean micro. Think of social like the online equivalent of a business handshake. You’d never dream of going to a trade show and shaking everyone’s hand in the building. You’d segment, by which I mean you talk to the people who visit your stand, and use networking events and roundtables to target prospective leads.

And when you talk to prospects or clients, you’d ask about their pain points. B2B is all about business pain and how you can fix it. Each prospect is on a journey. They start with the thing that has become such a big pain they must fix it. They research and solicit peer advice and recommendations, then meet a solution provider and make a purchase. This means that 78% of B2B sales decisions are made before someone picks up the phone.

Yet 86% of B2B buyers say they see no real difference between their suppliers. What makes the difference – an emotional connection, or at least that’s what two thirds of B2B buyers say. So how do you create relevancy and that elusive emotional connection at scale in social media?

Micro-targeting

Fine slice your audience around behaviours, language, and interests. Effectively look through the “lens of your audience” to create small segments, so you can tailor content.

The target might be Bob, the Financial Director. Not all FDs have the same pain point. Some might worry about managing spend, others have a commitment to reduce carbon emissions, and yet others might be upgrading their services to meet company innovation plans. Add to the equation that each might also be at a different stage of the purchase journey.

If you slice your content into a matrix or hierarchy you can select only the parts relevant to Bob and his purchase journey, and package several chunks of content that are interesting and show an understanding of what Bob is experiencing. If he finds two elements interesting enough to visit the website, you can start micro targeting even further, honing down his lead potential.

Geo targeting is also good for events, trade shows, forums or press events. Smart segmentation and geo-targeting increase content resonance – and frankly ensure you get more bang for your buck with paid.

Micro content

Whatever you do don’t send Bob a 20 page white paper. He won’t read it. Chunk up the information against your micro target matrix and send it to Bob as a teaser. Like any good story it should hook him in, but the landing page should not just be your home page, it should continue the story. Maybe show a video or a summary of different areas Bob can explore in his next steps.

B2B can do more to squeeze the pips out of their content. Your shattered content and small segments become the cogs in your engine. Create a rhythm to your social that shows you are the expert at addressing buyer pain points.

Micro communities

Engagement rates in B2B stand at 0.12% (in other words nobody’s engaged). But if you use smaller bespoke communities with a loyal fan base you can combat engagement fatigue. Facebook groups, Tweet chats, even Instagram hashtags, all allow your audience to self-select their interests and help you to be more relevant and get more from your engagement. A word of warning. Don’t expect any community to run itself, not even a micro community. Always prep your editorial for your chat/debate and tie it back to your contents matrix.

Micro influencers

Well known influencers are expensive but micro ones (think here less than 10,000 followers), have defined audiences which allow you to really focus and target your content. Employees as brand advocates are often your fastest route to gaining loyal micro-influencers. Why not tap into your excellent subject matter experts? Reposts and shares on their networks will elicit a few high grade clients, and often those clients have influence too.

Introducing the micro (the “handshake”) in social media is one of the best ways to generate leads. The right audience, the right groups, the right content and the right influence will gain momentum. Trying to make friends with 3 billion people is impossible. But if you wave at someone across the street, they’ll wave back. And after a few weeks they’ll cross the road to get to know you better.