Marketing mantras evolve over time but the age-old saying of, ‘be where your customers are’ has never been more relevant. Just as consumers cherry-pick their channels of choice and the brands they invite into their homes, your customers choose those they do business with. They have high expectations and with Millennials now moving into more senior B2B roles – they’re digitally affluent. It’s essential your business has a presence on the channels they use, from social platforms to email and web – communicating on their terms to build a trusted relationship.
Customers don’t think in terms of ‘communications’, when they interact with you they want a solution, an answer or instant gratification across multiple channels. Their conversations may start via social media (LinkedIn), evolve onto live chat and conclude via email, but at all times they expect consistency with every interaction – and in the language you use. To gain their trust you need to understand their behaviour and needs. You must explore their habits and consider their next steps. You need to build and manage a community for your customers and welcome them to join you. With the right team around you, this could be more achievable than you think.
Creating the right social strategy will lead to business success and build strong relationships that add value to both your clients and theirs. The right foundations will grow an engaged community that helps you achieve your ambitions. Here’s our top tips how:
1. Create your social media strategy
Setting S.M.A.R.T objectives. Smart objectives are goals that help you focus your efforts, clarify your ideas and devote your time effectively to achieve your objectives. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely – smart goals will help you stay motivated, focussed and driven.
Know your customer – inside out. Profiling audience personas allows you to segment them by behavioural preferences and demographics. Together with understanding their motivators and concerns you can identify which channels best suit their needs.
Social listening provides an opportunity to identify your target audience, get involved in their conversations and choose the ways you’d like to respond. Monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors, products and services allows you to track online conversions and improve social engagement with prospects and customers. It gives you the opportunity to respond to negative and positive comments in real time and evaluate your overall presence. It also provides opportunities at a personal level. Hashtags across social media channels tell us what’s popular and what’s trending, yet on LinkedIn specifically, they’re more focussed on an individual level than with a corporate agenda. As a B2B platform, LinkedIn provides a social opportunity for individuals to respond to topical situations, solve problems and position your business as a thought-leader through personal association alone.
Multiple touch points: notably there are more barriers to overcome with the adoption of social media in B2B organisations. With a longer gestation period it can be even more difficult for social media to prove its worth but this is why social media is even more vital. B2B millennials will still look to use the same channels for B2B as they do B2C and this presents an opportunity.
2. Cultivate your content
Content keeps your customers engaged. It also keeps them informed and educated. So, it’s vital to plan your content so that it works in harmony with your social media efforts. Your content strategy should be flexible so it can adapt to trending topics and respond to new developments in the marketplace. It should also include regular content features your customers can learn from as well as seasonal topics and sharable assets – such as video.
Social media enables us to condense complex business ideas and propositions into simple, digestible chunks. Social hooks like these can be integrated across multiple channels to persuade, build trust and enhance the professional development of those that engage with it. They help push your audience from social platforms to corporate sites through animation and photography that intrigues them. A well-developed content marketing plan, with a twelve month vision, will be your greatest asset when establishing your social media presence. Think about the seasonality of your campaigns and how you can summarise your activity to suit multiple social channels and gain exposure.
3. Create a social media universe
It takes time and dedication to build an online community but there are ways you can do this effectively and attract the right audience. Here at Cite we call this creating a ‘Social Media Universe’.
Simply speaking, this involves targeting the social media accounts that benefit your business and building relationships with an audience of influencers and advocates such as:
- Existing customers
- Potential customers
- Journalists and bloggers
- Strategic partners
- Industry/customer news channels/influencers
- Event organisers
Twitter is central to this universe. It allows you to talk directly to your targets and build rapport by liking and retweeting their posts. Relevancy plays a role too and it’s important to monitor your ‘vanity metrics’. Concentrate on the quality not the quantity of your followers. It’s far better to have a small group of loyal and interactive followers who push and promote your content than a large number who ignore it. So how do you attract your audience? For every new follower we attract, we follow them back and create content that will keep them entertained to build relationships. As an agency, we consider your content and make an effort to actively follow others that will support the content we’re pushing. We think about what they want to read, what industry news will resonate with them and how we can solve their problems. Follow this method and you’ll soon have a social community supporting your campaigns.
4. Build relationships
All relationships are built on trust and social connections are no exception. There may be ‘no friends in business’ but a friendly approach is vital in gaining followers. Customers expect fast responses to comments – be they positive or negative – it’s your reply that will determine their loyalty. Keeping a positive and open approach will build trust with your audience and influence the way they interact with your business. People buy from people – from personalities – so it’s essential that you reflect yours through your content. Behind the scenes footage, meet the team profiles and live ‘Q and As’ all provide the transparency that builds trust.
5. Add value
You’ll soon notice trends within your content – of which topics resonate most with your audience and which don’t. Monitor the themes of your content and give your customers information that’s informative, entertaining and adds value to their business.
6. Be a consistent voice
A social presence is something that can’t be maintained half-heartedly. You have to keep a consistent voice and post regularly to stay at the forefront of your customers’ minds. Keeping your social activity regular keeps you on their radar and achieves results.
7. Manage forums
Forums are different to social media channels and require a distinct approach. Customers that post on forums do so out of trust. They’re often looking for peers to solve their problems – and fast. They post questions objectively because they trust the opinions of their audience. When managed well, forums allow your voice to be one of a trusted commentator – and transparency is key. Be honest and open, not pushy and salesy. Establish your voice as an influencer and thought leader through regular posts connected to your business – be clear about who you are and what your business is. Respond to comments with knowledgeable advice and recommendations.
Employing listening tools will also allow you to target the right forums for your audience and quickly address negative comments. Closed B2B Facebook groups also provide a forum for knowledge-sharing, particularly those associated with niche businesses, specific industries and networks. Don’t dismiss Facebook as a medium to connect with your customers, CEOs and competitors are all Facebook users too.
Don’t have time to do this justice?
We can help. For all your social media marketing needs from developing your strategy and implementing measurable goals to managing your social media, expanding your reach and analysing your conversions, our team are just a call away. As an agency we give you objectivity. We plan your objectives with purpose – with a clear goal of what you want to achieve. If you’d like to work with an honest and supportive team that manages your needs transparently, get in touch with us on 0116 254 9888.
Still to come… Learn how to expand your community