Speaking with business owners it’s very easy to get confused with social media.
On the one had “everyone’s doing it” and you’re bombarded by “experts” who are trying to sell you their latest book or training course on how to make millions through social media. On the other side you’re stretched already running your business, focused on your customers, so how can you have the time to play with this new social media thing?
No wonder when I talk about this with clients they all nod in agreement that they need to do “something” but their eyes glaze over when it comes down to actually taking the first step.
So where do you start? And how can you put something in place that’s effective?
Maybe I’m old fashioned but I’m from a school that thinks marketing should be about results. At this time, for many B2B brand, results for social media are hard to quantify.
But there’s no doubt that it cannot be ignored.
In my experience, social media isn’t directly about lead generation, so don’t expect to have an easy to quantify ROI. However, social media does affect things like SEO, web traffic and brand awareness but it’s not always easy to track tangible results beyond stats that, for many businesses, are frankly a bit meaningless.
So, again, where do you start? Well, it all starts with “content”.
If you want people to pay attention and follow you then you need something to say. And, for many companies, we recommend starting with a blog post.
Below is a diagram illustrating a simple social media strategy which integrates blog posts, email newsletters and social sharing.
This isn’t an exhaustive example as you can also integrate social media to offline marketing activities as well as creating rich campaigns using social advertising. But for many B2B businesses it’s a good start.
You’ll see from the diagram that it all starts with a blog post. If you make an effort to post frequently you will start to build the content that’s essential for success with social media.
Blog content can be varied, from an opinion/comment piece about industry trends through to a deeper thought leadership article. You can blog about case studies or best practice examples. Think about your audience – what are they interested in? And, guess what, that’s often what they’re searching for so you’ll automatically enhance your search engine visibility with this approach.
Many companies struggle with this point as they find it hard to come up with ideas for suitable content.
This is an area where we support clients with a managed blog posting service. We chat with you at the beginning of the month to brainstorm ideas and then draft an agreed number of posts per month. This process ensures that the content accurately reflects your business; the knowledge is all in there, you just lack the time to get it all out!
Make sure that each blog post includes social sharing widgets so that visitors to your website can share this content. Plus, this is how you (and your team) can also share the content on social media.
You can then also link to the content by tweeting, as well as posting a link on your Facebook and Google+ pages.
Ideally, we suggest getting into the habit of daily activity on social media sites. You can tweet about the same blog post multiple times over the course of a few weeks, using different hashtags and a different angle on the piece. Even if you are a small business with just a few employees you can create a culture where everyone participates, particularly all customer facing members of the team as well as senior management. This last point is particularly important for sites such as LinkedIn.
Finally, in this example, since the content is up there it makes sense to leverage it as much as possible. A branded email newsletter is an ideal way to do this.
You can link to a number of the blog posts with a teaser opening paragraph and encourage readers to click through read the full post. Sent out to customers as well as opt-in subscribers this is a very low-cost marketing tactic. And since you’ve already invested in creating the content then it’s effectively a free-hit.
And, don’t forget that when your newsletter readers click through to the post they can also share the content with their own followers, which re-enforces and boosts your social media impact.
A social media strategy such as this doesn’t have to be expensive.
For many clients we manage this service for as little as £300-500 per month depending on the number of posts and social sharing activities.
Like many things in life, social media comes down to making a start and having the discipline to keep going.