Why good social promotion is essential to B2B content marketing

Peter Morgan, social and analytics lead at Metia Group, offers advice on how social media advertising can enhance your B2B content marketing strategy

It isn’t hard to sell content marketing to B2B marketers. We all know how it benefits every part of the sales funnel, shortening sales cycles and generating millions of dollars in new business.

And it’s only getting more popular. Recent Content Marketing Institute research indicated that 28% of B2B marketing budget is spent on content marketing, with more than half of respondents expecting to increase their investment in 2016.

We all know that content is king, but when it comes to content marketing that’s really only half the story. It sounds obvious, but a successful B2B marketing strategy not only requires great content; it requires a mechanism through which to seed that content into the right audiences, through which to nurture those audiences over time, and through which to convert them into customers. If you’re not investing in promoting your content its impact will be limited. Content marketing is, after all, only as strong as its weakest link.

Neil Patel of Kissmetrics puts this well: “The quickest way to kill your content marketing is to do nothing after you create your content. Creating content is only part of content marketing. The other half is promoting it… Don’t forget the ‘marketing’ in content marketing.”

So how do we market this content? Given their widespread use, social networks offer such a mechanism. But while organic outreach through social media should form part of any B2B content marketing strategy, marketers relying purely on organic outreach risk wasting the investment they’re making in the content itself.

To maximise impact, content marketing strategies should encompass organic, earned and paid outreach – and this paid outreach doesn’t need to break the bank. Through LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, B2B marketers can find and target niche audiences on modest budgets – and thanks to modern digital analytics, marketers can easily demonstrate the impact their activity is having on their business.

This approach is no secret. Global spending on social media advertising is forecast to reach $36bn in 2017, representing 16% of all digital ad spending. Social media advertising is now an integral part of the B2B marketing mix, and is one of the best tools through which brands can add value to their bottom line. But in order to generate returns marketers need to be able to execute, measure, and optimise their campaigns with a great degree of precision.

To combat these challenges, here are my six tips for a successful social media advertising campaign:

  1. Be clear with your objectives. As with any marketing campaign it’s essential to define what you want to achieve in advance. Be clear on who you’re looking to target, and what you want these people to think or do. Focus on outcomes that add value to your business.

  2. Choose the right channels. Research where your audience are active online, and consider how you can identify and segment them. Understand the cost to drive traffic from each channel – make sure you’re using channels that can deliver leads at a value that’s acceptable to you.

  3. Develop the right content, and deliver it well. If you’re looking to capture leads, you need to offer a fair exchange of value – for B2B marketers this means content that resonates with your audience’s motivations and challenges, and convinces them to give up their anonymity. It’s also important to consider how this content is delivered – don’t forget that the majority of social media usage is now via mobile devices.

  4. Have a plan for monitoring and responding to comments. Agree a response workflow in advance of your campaign, so you can make the most of any opportunities, and deal calmly with any negative responses before they escalate.

  5. Build a robust framework that measures your campaign’s success. Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in advance that measure success against your desired outcomes. Ignore pointless vanity metrics that pander to the bragging inclinations of senior managers. Set clear targets, and set expectations with management on how you will demonstrate success.

  6. Get ready to optimise. Reporting is pointless unless it’s acted upon. Create a reporting framework to measure and optimise your campaigns as they run. Stop activity that isn’t working. Focus budget and effort on activity that is.

While these tips aim to guide a successful campaign, it’s important you understand what you want to achieve, and how you plan to achieve it, before you go anywhere near a social network. Don’t underestimate the detail or trust your intern to run campaigns. You need a team that understands your audience, their pain points and ambitions, and understands in detail the capabilities of the various channels through which to reach them.