Social Networking Not Just the 'F' Word Anymore

Article excerpt

Sometimes during meetings I feel like its ground hog day as Im hearing the same objections over and over particularly with B2B businesses. "I dont think my customers are on social media" or "Why do I need a Facebook page?"

In the past few years, many small to mid-sized B2B businesses have not made a significant investment in marketing neither traditional nor digital. In the meantime, the world of marketing keeps advancing, not waiting for anyone to "get it."

What I dont suggest is to create a Facebook page or Twitter account unless you have a plan for how you are going to use it and weave it in to your other marketing efforts. So where do you start? Look at your annual sales goals and the marketing plan you have laid out to achieve them. If the plan is only in your head or has a few holes, I suggest the following:

1. Examine your customers and competitions online presence and social influence. If they are out there, then you should be too. Not only at the procurement level, but the brand level.

2. Interview your clients (both past and present) as well as prospects and see if they think about you what you think they do. Do they understand your mission and know all the products or services you offer?

3. Investigate the industry. Who are the influencers or "celebrities" and what is their social influence?

4. Develop a sales and marketing plan that is layered with appropriate online and offline tactics such as: brand evaluation and update, web experience, advanced content development, social networking, search engine marketing, public relations, targeted sales campaigns and traditional marketing tactics.

Brand evaluation and update

Take a good long look at your logo, tagline, customer pitch and key differentiators. Do they represent your company accurately? Do they target what your prospects are looking for? This will serve as the baseline of your content and will be threaded in all other messaging and media.

Web experience

Is your website modern or does it look like you need to take your leg warmers off? Is it optimized for search engines? Have you spent any time researching the key words and phrases that your prospects will be using in the search for your services? Does it provide value with its content such as case studies, downloadable content, industry news, or resources such as a client portal. Do you have a very clear call-to-action?

What constitutes content?

Each business requires tactics that make sense to their specific audience. Most often the website serves as hub to house your content.

The following are generally the foundation for B2B content:

* Blog Posts allow you to share your ideas on topics in your industry and promote your thought leadership.

* Case Studies share success stories on how you solved a customer challenge.

* Articles and White Papers to educate, support, or clarify your position on an industry topic, product, or service.

* Videos, e-books, Webinars,

See Social on Page 30

tations, Podcasts, Newsletters, are all great examples of digital content.

* Traditional tactics are not to be ignored, being published in any media be it news or trade publications, off or online, creates great content to be shared and enhances credibility.

I suggest developing a content calendar that has the content push coincide with sales promotions/campaigns, trade shows, editorial in industry publications.

How should content be disseminated?

If your website is the hub housing your content then what are the spokes of delivery? The method has to be meaningful to your audience. Additionally, content sometimes needs to be re-purposed based upon the channel. …