Posted in Social media
With 77% of marketers using at least one social media channel to market their business (source: Forbes), it is clear that a large number of business-to-business (B2B) companies are seeing value in investing in a field that was originally dominated by their B2C counterparts.
Yet, the problem that many B2B companies are still facing is a lack of knowledge and awareness, with many of them continuing to argue that social media is not for them, and that it is using up resources while not being able to target the right audience.
There’s no denying that social media appears to provide a greater challenge for B2B companies because their messaging may not resonate with a large demographic, while B2B marketers are not selling their products or services directly to the average social media user.
However, developing a B2B social media presence increases product awareness and builds a stronger brand in ways that are simply not available through other channels. According to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 report (p. 28), 83% of B2B marketers say that social media is the tactic their organizations use most.
Why invest in social media marketing?
Most companies will answer that they are seeking to improve brand recognition and reputation, and to enhance customer relationships. But doesn’t that function fall under the responsibility of traditional public relations?
One answer is that both conventional public relations and social media proactively engage in reputation management and identify potential issues in a business’s relationship with the public. However, social media adds value to PR by eliminating the boundary between the brand and the public, by providing channels to engage with influencers, and by securing an opportunity to influence relevant stories. In this way, social media offers the tools to support what is considered more nuanced PR.
With this in mind, it is essential to create a social media plan that is in sync with an organisation’s PR and communications strategy, so that one can support the other.
Key messaging and refreshed content…
Online content is sometimes portrayed as ephemeral but the lifespan of the traditional press release can be very limited, while social media engages directly with the target audience in a way that can be developed and updated. Here, tone is critical because the ‘human touch’ can determine whether an organisation is seen as approachable, whatever its business. Social media content is by nature more engaging than PR, since it is specifically created to urge responses that include but are not limited to liking and sharing content: here, as well as written content, insight into the videos, images and infographics that inspire comment is invaluable, because the responsive audience spreads the word with each response to an organisation’s social media campaign.
…and different personas
If PR is traditionally aimed at reaching specific individuals such as investors, business partners, and customers, social media also allows PR to reach a wider pool of influencers whose followers are within the target audience. These engagements can be used to build, consolidate or protect brands and reputations, especially as B2B marketers and PR specialists ought already to be listening to online discussions to understand what people are saying in their market. Only by participating in the conversation can one hope for one’s point of view to be considered.
Don’t underestimate the role of analytics
According to Winston Churchill: “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results”, and social media offers the kind of metrics that have simply not been available to traditional practitioners of PR.
However, while fewer likes, followers or impressions mean that your content is not engaging enough, developing successful social media campaigns demands realistic metrics and constant performance analysis of the same calibre that is applied to any other target-driven B2B activity. As elsewhere, the ‘easy fix’ is also usually the wrong solution: it takes experience, research and rigour to develop productive social media campaigns that target the right audience at the right time and in the right way.
If you would like to discuss how JLA Media can support your business with our comprehensive social media portfolio of services, please get in touch.