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Forgive me, blog readers, for I have been out of touch. It has been 4 weeks since my last posting.

But this is just one of the many lessons I learned from the last seminar I attended during Apple Expo 2010, which happened to be only one well worth my time. Humphrey Ho of Agile Dudes Inc. presented an engaging and information-packed session on why and how to use social media for business-to-business communications and marketing strategies. Instead of regurgitating Ho’s presentation, I will simply share the points that rung true for me.

So why would a business want to jump on the social media band wagon? Studies have shown that an increase in social media activity results in increased revenue, while a decrease in social media activity results in decreased revenue. It’s time for businesses to stop limiting their marketing campaigns to advertisements, print pieces, direct mail-outs, and PowerPoint presentations and to start adding business-to-business (B2B) social media campaigns. While the traditional marketing formats may still work, it is the social media that will reinforce the marketing messages and increase loyalty among existing clients.

How to use social media in the B2B world

Just like any other marketing piece you are creating, you first must have a clear purpose. Creators/copywriters will need to know the following:

  1. What you are doing
  2. What the goal is
  3. Who the audience is
  4. How you will measure whether you’ve met your goal
  5. How the social media project fits in with other branding/marketing strategies
  6. What social media tool(s) you are using (eg, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog posts, Facebook, forums, YouTube, etc.)
  7. What the SEO terms are in your industry

The important thing to remember is that social media is changing all the time, and you will need to have a backup plan for new and emerging trends in technology. However, social media is also a great way to keep in touch with trending among your clients/fans, whether that be  a trend toward using one type of editing or graphic design software over another, or a trend toward patients requesting a specific drug instead of physicians prescribing the drug at their own discretion. Social media tools can be used not only to create a network of existing and potential clients, but can also be a way in which businesses can create a more personal connection with those clients.

Points to remember when using social media tools

While many of us may already use some form of social media on a personal level, there are some things to keep in mind when launching your business blog or Facebook page.

Stay in line with your branding. Ensure you use the same colours/logos and terminology on your social media project. Social media tools should reinforce your brand and straying from the core messages of your business or even the look can create confusion among your customers. Hire a copywriter to write the copy to ensure it is professional and that it addresses the target market effectively. Remember, your media tool should always offer interesting and relevant information to your target audience.  Once the piece is written, employ an editor to review the social media elements and to cross-reference them with other published elements. A strong brand will be consistent in message, values, organization, and style.

Post regularly. This is where I have been found guilty. But seriously, a business wanting to use a blog to generate traffic to its website or its client’s website, or to get people discussing a certain topic needs to post new content on a regular basis. The frequency of posting new content will depend on the type of social media tool being used, the purpose of the tool, the target audience, and your topic. Remember that social media acts in real-time and posting content about something that happened 6 weeks ago may not be relevant to your target audience anymore. Whatever your needs, it is best to set up a social media schedule. Since the most difficult challenge businesses face with social media is creating enough copy, search out and hire a writer to do so for you. Your freelance writer can also re-purpose existing materials for the Web or for social media content, and turn existing online content into brochures and white sheets, etc. Professional writers and editors also have knowledge of SEOs, so be sure to hire out this task.

Get your legal department involved. As instant as social media is, remember that it requires much work on the back end. It involves handling highly personal information and requires that you secure that information. Ensure your business not only has an Internet policy but also a social media policy. If your media tool is for internal personnel, the tool will definitely need to be secure to protect proprietary information.

Monitor or hire a company to monitor your social media networks. What good is it to have launched a social media strategy and not be able to determine how effective it is? Applying tools such as Google Analytics can reveal key information about your audience, from how they got to your page and the length of time spent there to your visitors’ geographical location and service provider. With this information you can get to know your clients/fan base a little better and you can provide them with more engaging content and information that meets their specific needs. Set a schedule to review this data on a regular basis and explore how it might impact the content or the next steps in your social media B2B strategy.

And there you have it, folks: all the points to follow when engaging in B2B social media. Since attending this seminar, I have applied Google Analytics to my website, I review my blog and website stats regularly, and I am exploring how I can get more relevant content to you, the readers, on a more regular basis. If you would like to see a certain topic discussed, please let me know by posting a comment below. Thanks!