There is an inherent flaw in the way businesses approach their social media strategy today. Thanks to the glorification of what I call the "Buzzfeed-syndrome," businesses measure their social media success by the number of shares and likes they get and not by the actual conversions that such social media engagements bring.
But the trouble does not start there. Most businesses initiate their social media strategies by asking, "We have created a Facebook and a Twitter page -- now what?" And this is where the problem lies. A lot of businesses are on Facebook because their competitors are already using the platform, and there is a feeling of being left out or being too late in the game. This results in a half-baked social strategy where you are on Facebook and Twitter for the heck of it -- not because you find potential in the platform.
This problem is exacerbated in a B2B industry where sales cycles are longer and the typical consumer is not watching cat videos on Facebook. Unless you run a B2B service targeting the tech savvy younger customer, your memes and fun graphics will be lost on your customer. You need to be professional and straight-forward, even if the platform is fun.
A lot of marketers do get this, and that is why they end up making boring, redundant Facebook posts about how good their service is every second day. That is not a social media strategy. Rather, it's just wasteful expense of your resource bandwidth. Every campaign you run must either help get the word out, or help your customers get one step closer to initiating a discussion with you. It's no different for social media campaigns. The objective should always be: Have I either reached out to more prospects, or helped existing prospects arrive at a better decision through this Facebook post? If not, rethink your strategy.
Let us take an example of a B2B industry like invoice management. The typical customer is the CFO of a mid-sized firm that deals with thousands of invoices every year. At the outset, there is not much scope for targeting prospects via Facebook posts. How many CFOs regularly check their Facebook pages, let alone make purchasing decisions from them?
The trick is to create helpful content that can be distributed socially. Take the example of ADP.com, a pretty well-known resource management solutions builder that includes invoice management. Their strategy revolves around creating success stories, case studies and how-to videos for YouTube, and presentations on Slideshare. Facebook and Twitter, in this case, are mere channels that complement their outreach strategy.
Another great example to consider is CrazyEgg. This is a company that offers heat map analysis for business websites looking for enhancing conversion rates. Instead of promoting their tool in their social media posts, the company chooses to solve the other problems their prospect faces. Since their customers are typically those with an online business, the typical problems include search engine outreach, social media growth, increasing conversion rates, content marketing, etc. CrazyEgg addresses all these problems through high-quality blog posts, which are then shared over Facebook and Twitter for additional outreach. As more and more prospects are funneled in to the blog, the word about the core offering increases, which helps increase sales.
The take-away is this -- Facebook and Twitter cannot operate in a silo. By design, these channels only help users share content that exists already. The success of these platforms for your B2B business depends on the kind of compelling content you can build over other platforms like YouTube and Slideshare, which are designed to host such content. If you are a B2B business that does not have too many new things to talk about every day, choose a strategy similar to CrazyEgg, where you can target the host of problems faced by your typical customer. When you do this, you help your customer. You offer them an incentive to like and share your content. And when this reaches out to more prospects, your sales funnel fills up and ultimately leads to more customers. And this, is the ultimate criteria to measure your success.
Frank Gothmann is a marketing consultant.
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