Social media hasn’t always been a popular or obvious choice for business-to-business (B2B) marketing (possibly, according to Oktopost, because of the perceived inability to measure its effectiveness), but like most things in our digital-centric world, this is changing rapidly.

B2B marketing is essentially the targeted communication that your business has with other business clients. Traditionally, it has been about cold calling and boring business networking breakfasts, but now, with a swag of social networking sites at our fingertips, there are endless opportunities to reach your business audience on social media in meaningful ways that convert to actual leads or business.

We’ve seen plenty of SMEs trying their hand at social media and doing a great job of it and there are endless more opportunities for other businesses to be doing the same. So, where to start? It’s a big topic but we’ve put together a few key pointers on how best to approach your B2B social media strategy:

Be thoughtful with your content

Think about the type of content that your audience would like to see. Put your audience first. For example, if you’re an accounting firm wanting to attract small business clients, you might curate interesting articles on entrepreneurship, savings tips, HR advice or quotes from inspiring leaders. Think about making only one in four messages about you and your business, and the other three about things that are generally entertaining/informative/interesting to your clients or potential clients.

Network intentionally

With a whopping 433 million users, LinkedIn will give you access to a massive, interconnected audience of professionals and professional groups but that doesn’t mean you need to be linked into all of them. To be seen as authentic, you want to be purposeful about the connections you create, ensuring they fit with your objectives and target audience. Spend a bit of time reading through LinkedIn’s great resources for small businesses and check out some of the case studies. And think about how you might use B2B specific tools like showcase pages to attract new potential clients.

Work on brand awareness

Rather than focusing solely on lead generation and sales, pour your energy into building brand awareness. Twitter is an awesome tool in this respect. As a small business, your aim should be to participate in conversations that your business needs to be a part of. For example, if you’re a ladder company wanting to reach builders, you might want to wade in intelligently on topics relevant to the construction industry.

Consider paid content

Swing your budget to allow for some paid advertising and get directly in front of your target Facebook and Twitter audience. Target your ads by job title, interests, age and gender demographics, and even behaviours. For example, if you’re a boutique catering company, you might target your ads to event organisers and party planners, people tapped into social networks for popular foodie publications, or other boutique companies.

Make a roadmap

This might seem like a no-brainer but having a definitive plan for social media will set you up for success. This might take some time to formulate, but trust us when we say it will be worth it.

Firstly, determine exactly what you want out of your social media marketing efforts – is it sales leads, brand awareness or online sales? Next, pin down your target audience. Who is your perfect potential business client? Think about what they might be looking for online that you can offer them. Do they fall into the demographic of your existing marketing initiatives, or are they a completely new demographic? Finally, consider where these people might be hanging out online and what connections they may have to your current networks that you can leverage.

Do your research and define which channels will best help you to achieve your said objectives. We’d recommend LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as a starting point but YouTube, SlideShare and Pinterest may also be relevant, depending on the nature of your business.

Think about language and tone, as well as the key messages you’re intending to send to your audience. How often are you planning to create content and can you manage this yourself or do you need an extra set of hands or expertise?

Finally, how are your competitors using social media? Observing their wins (and fails) can be really useful when starting out.

In short, your audience is online and invariably using social media, so harnessing these platforms and respective tools will pay dividends in the long run. The social media offerings for businesses, in particular small businesses, are improving all the time and the opportunities to use them for business-centric sales and marketing are too. Stay tuned for more on our ventures into social media with B2B clients.

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