Data-Driven Marketing

How to Create a Winning B2B Social Media Strategy

Key First Steps to Social Media Success

In this bold era of digital disruption, successful B2B marketers have embraced the far-reaching power of social media. A recent IDC study reports that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level/vice president executives said they use social media to support purchase decisions. During the final stages of the purchasing process, online professional networks and peer-to-peer recommendations are the #1 information resource preference of top-level buyers. And in these uncertain times, with a majority of B2B employees working from home and live events postponed, establishing a social media presence is more critical than ever to building and maintaining relationships.

The right social media strategy can be a game changer. But before you take the field, you need to write your playbook. Ready to find your brand's social sweet spot? Read on.

Set S-M-A-R-T Goals from the Start

When crafting your social media strategy, begin with the overall goal or purpose for each campaign and share that with stakeholders on your team. This might include creating brand awareness, generating leads, or increasing engagement. Your purpose then serves as the springboard for setting S-M-A-R-T goals that serve the greater good.

When a marketing goal is S-M-A-R-T, it's specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound:

Specific: Clearly defined
Measurable: Can be tracked and measured with social media metrics
Achievable: Possible based on your resources
Relevant: Matters to your business
Time-bound: Completed within a certain time frame

Here is an example of a S-M-A-R-T goal:

Purpose: Increase social media reach on LinkedIn.
SMART Goal: Increase active followers of our LinkedIn company page to 650 by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

Once you've set your S-M-A-R-T goals, identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure progress and refine your strategy. Some big ones to consider:

Engagement: Clicks don't always translate into conversions. But clicks, likes, comments, and shares actually serve as the foundation for your entire social media strategy. If your posts are not resulting in engagement, they are simply not doing their job.

Website Traffic: Your website is at the very core of your brand, so it's vital to know if your social media campaigns are actually driving leads to view your online assets.

Conversions: Your conversion rate depends on your SMART goal. For instance, if your goal was to register 250 leads for a webinar, your conversion rate is the percentage of people who actually registered.

"Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed."

-Dan Zarrella, Social Media Scientist

It's wise to invest in a social media management platform that combines data, account targeting, campaign execution, and measurement to give your team a bird's eye view of how your campaigns are progressing — and help you improve them as you grow your presence.

Choose your Platforms

If you want to reach the right buyers at the right time with the right content, you need to know where they are. For instance, in a recent Sacuna survey of 2000 millennial professionals, two thirds reported they are involved in purchasing decisions, and Facebook was their social network of choice.

A recent Wpromote "State of B2B Marketing Report" sheds some light on how marketers are using the top social sites:

"While LinkedIn remains one of the best ways for B2Bs to network, advertise, and market themselves, a staggering 80% of B2B digital marketers are building their brands on Facebook. Even Instagram is commanding an impressive B2B audience, with about 40% making use of it and 33% saying the platform drives leads. Key to note here is that B2Bs aren’t just building their brands on social media; significant percentages are saying that these platforms actively drive leads for their businesses."

Deciding where to post your content and when can be a bit of a learning curve at first. It's better to establish a strong, consistent presence on a few networks than to scatter resources across the board. Depending on your goals, different channels work better than others. Check out these quick tips by channel:

LinkedIn: Hands down, LinkedIn is the top networking site for business professionals. Focus your content here on company culture, long-form content, thought leadership, talent recruitment, and building community.

Suggested times to post:  8 am, 10 am-Noon, 6 pm Eastern Time

Facebook: Think of Facebook as both a link to and an extension of your company's website. It's a great place to build your fan base and offer customer support. Use the Stories feature to highlight day to day happenings and humanize your brand.

Suggested times to post: 9 am to 4 pm, especially 3 pm to 4 pm Eastern Time

Twitter: Consider this the "speed dating" of the social world. Best for breaking news, building brand awareness, sharing customer stories, and joining industry conversations.

Suggested times to post: 7 am-8 am, 11 am, 6 pm, 9 pm Eastern Time

Instagram: This is a visual platform best suited to short, colorful content. Videos beat images for engagement here, and meme sharing can add a touch of welcome humor to your brand image.

Suggested times to post: 12 pm-1 pm, 5 pm-6 pm, 8 pm-9pm Eastern Time

These times are, of course, just a suggestion. See what your data is telling you to optimize the timing of your posts for your audiences.

"Why use social media? Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell."

-Seth Godin

Your Brand Voice: Tell a Unique Story

When it comes to social media, showing up may be half the battle, but it's how you show up that wins the game. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, all sales are P2P: person to person. That's why marketers who use social media simply to promote their products are missing the most vital component of a successful social media strategy: human connection.

“Reinvent every way you interact with customers. Think human-centered, not buyer-centered. Close the experience divide between how business buyers and consumers consider, evaluate, and purchase products and services.”

-Brian Solis, Digital Analyst

Now, if you're marketing products or solutions traditionally viewed as "boring," the right social media content might be harder to conceptualize — especially if you're just getting your strategy off the ground. But by its very nature, social media itself is an insight gathering tool if you know what to look for.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you build your social media strategy:

Plant Organic Seeds First: Although "pay to play" is here to stay, organic social is the heartbeat of brand awareness and community management. Running relevant social ads then allows you to skirt ever-changing algorithms to get in front of your target audience.

Learn from the Success of Others: Take some time to check out what's working for your competitors, or other B2B marketers. What resonates with you? What falls flat? How did their posts relate to their products and solutions?

Before You Post, Listen: Billions of social media conversations are happening across the globe every day. A social listening tool helps you keep pace with the ones you need to hear: brand and executive mentions, industry trends, influencers, target accounts, competitors, and hashtags relevant to your business.

Share Your Blog: Let your archived content go to work for you. Identify blogs that are relevant to a trend or conversation happening today. Write a catchy introduction and link the post back to your blog. Not only are you driving traffic to your website, you're positioning your business as an expert.

Share the Limelight: On social media, flattery will get you everywhere. When you repost, retweet, or mention a potential or current client, you not only create goodwill and boost loyalty — you reach their followers too.

Make a Movie: Video is the fastest growing online content category. Client testimonials, explainer videos, short tips, and employee spotlights all work well. If you don't have resources in place to create new video, repurpose old webinar recordings into shorter clips.

Join the Conversation: Use your posts to ask questions that will intrigue your audience and encourage more personal engagement. Reach out to new followers, acknowledge likes and comments, and send birthday greetings. In other words, put the social back in social media — and watch your relationships grow.

We hope you've found this helpful as you develop your social media strategy. If you'd like to learn more about how quality data and analytics can turbocharge your efforts, Dun & Bradstreet offers a range of solutions that can help. Learn more about our Sales & Marketing Solutions.