Over the past two years, viewability and fraud concerns surrounding display advertising have caused countless B2B marketers to flock toward social media — a venue that’s mostly immune to these challenges. Some studies estimate that up to 90 per cent of B2B companies are allocating more dollars toward social media marketing in an effort to better identify and reach their audiences. According to eMarketer, this investment is paying off. The majority of these brands reported that they closed at least one deal in 2015 because of their presence on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
I regularly witness the power of social media marketing firsthand. Just recently, my team generated a lot of leads for a B2B client by creating a programmatic campaign that integrated a combination of sponsored LinkedIn updates, Facebook links, carousels, and lead ads. In the process, we also decreased the client’s cost per lead by more than 50 percent.
There’s no doubt about it — social media can and should play a vital role in B2B marketing going forward.
Social Is a natural fit
Though social media marketing may seem better suited to B2C companies, there are three main reasons why it’s plenty viable in a B2B context.The first reason is that social profiles are created by individual consumers themselves. Rather than play the guessing game, brands have access to rich, accurate hard data regarding the names, ages, genders, interests, and (most importantly) occupations of their audience members. They can use this information to seek professionals whose brands would benefit from their services and develop targeted messages that speak directly to their needs.
The second reason is that social media marketing yields much higher engagement rates than standard display advertising. It offers an excellent content distribution format that makes it easy for an audience to interact with and share brands’ posts. Ultimately, this provides a powerful amount of word of mouth for the companies that get it right.
The third reason is that it doesn’t take a whole lot of time or effort to begin seeing results. According to Social Media Examiner, 78 percent of marketers reported a boost in traffic after investing just six hours a week in social strategies. However, it’s not as simple as throwing up a few Facebook posts or scheduling a few tweets. If you want to execute campaigns that drive serious ROI, you need to focus on a strategic setup and constant optimisation.
Achieving social success
Many brands fail to implement conversion tracking for their social advertising initiatives. Elements such as lead form completion and on-site video views enable campaign managers to optimise for the best results, so it’s important to build these into your strategies.
B2B marketers also make the mistake of defaulting to LinkedIn exclusively for social strategies, isolating themselves from more lucrative opportunities. Thanks to its targeting capabilities and use of third-party data, Facebook offers greater reach to almost every B2B audience. In fact, B2B campaigns that center on Facebook often outperform similar ones on other channels.
When you’re first transitioning to robust social campaigns, it’s easy to get hung up on these types of pitfalls. Avoid them by keeping the following best practices in mind when building your social strategy:
1. Target a specific audience. Marketing messages are most effective when they reach the right people. Gather all of the first-party data available on your target audience, and integrate that information into your social advertising. Some platforms offer tools to help you organise custom audiences. For instance, Facebook lets you use converter data, CRM lists, and email databases to put your content in front of your intended viewers.
2. Customise your content. Reaching the right people is one thing, but resonating with them is another. Create materials that match your audience members’ interests, values, and needs. If you’re targeting a diverse group of personalities, segment them and develop campaigns for each cluster. Custom messaging will yield higher engagement and more conversions than generic mass-appeal posts.
3. Align your campaign channels with your goals. Clearly define your campaign objectives, and then identify which platforms and formats will help you achieve them. Be aware of audience preferences as well. For example, according to Adweek, Millennials tend to prefer 10-second video ads while older generations favor 30-second commercials. That’s an important distinction to make when developing content. Establishing goals at the outset will dictate which platforms and types of content will earn the best results.
4. Be strategic in your scheduling. Select your attribution window for conversions, and share content consistently across social channels to see where you’re getting the highest ROI. If your business runs on a long sales cycle, you may want to use a 28-day window instead of a one- or seven-day measurement. Analysing the entire purchase cycle will help you nurture leads and improve your social funnel.
5. Track your results. Verify that your pixels and conversion tracking systems work correctly before you launch your campaign. Functional tracking lets you see which aspects of the initiative work best so you can optimise around the most valuable actions. You want to focus on these priority items instead of clicks or other vanity metrics.
B2B decision makers are busy, and they respond best when messages reach them in trusted environments and resonate with their circumstances. That’s what makes well-planned social media campaigns invaluable to B2B marketers. They allow you to connect with people in relevant, engaging ways on the platforms they love. Your potential B2B customers are spoon-feeding you all the data you need through social media channels; it’s up to you to take them up on that invitation.