Social Media Roadmap for B2B Marketing

Social Media outreach and engagement for B2B Marketers can be challenging.  In the swirl of hype, and trumpeting by Gurus, often smart tactics are overlooked — or worse, not tried and tested because ROI is not yet proven.  Not yet.  So, let’s look at some recent data, then consider a roadmap for results…

The Current State of Social Media Marketing for B2B…

“…each venue (yes… even Twitter) brings opportunities for B2B Listening, engagement with Klout leaders, SEO bumps (each tweet is indexed, and search engines increasingly look to “social signals” for ranking), and targeted traffic to your website.”

First, let’s get a quick overview of what’s been happening, socially, in B2B in the past year.

  • B2B benchmark survey:  The Optify 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report shows low numbers for Social Media Traffic, but does note that conversions do happen.

    Social Media B2B Leads

    This snippet from the Optify infographic that goes with the report shows leads do result from social efforts.  See the full graphic here.

  • Where you focus Determines Results: Unlike Optify findings, our own results in B2B marketing for Webdirexion show LinkedIn as the clear winner in terms of conversions. This is because we focused primarily on LinkedIn (mostly in Groups) during 2012 — we’ll spread out wider in 2013.  Note carefully that you must put conversion goals (when a visitor becomes a prospect, lead or customer) in place in order to determine ROI for your social marketing efforts.

    Social ROI in Analyitcs

    Our own review of conversions resulting from Social Media traffic shows LinkedIn the clear winner — because we focused on it.

  • Optify’s study missed the second most popular social network after FaceBook — Google+.  That’s right, according to media reports like this one from Slashgear, Google+ has moved into the second place slot — it’s now more important than Twitter.  Small wonder.  Have you checked out the free tools like hangouts and communities available to marketers on G+?
  • Too many Content Marketers think social media is for robo-posting of links to their site.  This is not “social” and it fails at authentic engagement with real people.  People buy from those they feel they know.

Roadmap to tactics for B2B Social Marketing Results

Your prospects are social, and a significant number of them engage in regular social activities on the big four social venues — LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, and Google+.  So each venue (yes… even Twitter) brings opportunities for B2B Listening, engagement with Klout leaders, SEO bumps (each tweet is indexed, and search engines increasingly look to “social signals” for ranking), and targeted traffic to your website.  And, you can study and prove out efforts for ROI.

Given the above, here’s an outline of steps for your marketing department to take:

  • Form a team for your social road-trip.  Just like you need an editorial team to set objectives, create content, and edit articles, you need an executive editor, strategist, and content creators for your social media push.  For those of you stretched for time, Webdirexion will be pleased to team up with you for social media marketing
  • Set the social policy.  You do want to set some parameters and directions for who focuses on a particular Linkedin Group, and what products and services you’re focusing on.  Set time limits, like 1 hour max per week per team member.  Don’t get “social paralysis” fretting about “what if we say something wrong”.  You employ adults, right?  Trust them to engage intelligently just like employees would do at a reception at a tradeshow.
  • Set engagement objectives.  Know precisely with whom you wish to connect by defining target personas, the groups and locations (hashtags on Twitter) where they hang out, and how much Klout (Google “Klout”) they should have.
  • Determine solid ROI measurements.  Here, I recommend you set meaningful goals in Analytics, and also review custom reports in your Social Media collaboration tool — we use the pro-dashboard at Hootsuite (we’re solution partners with them).
  • Socialize about business topics.  Don’t robo post your content links.  Talk to people.
  • Make smart plays on each of the big 4 Social venues.  Each venue is slightly different in terms of protocols and how and where your targets hang out.  On Google+ you can create your own circles and communities.  Twitter organizes threads using hashtags.  Linkedin has groups.  At Webdirexion, we have a team of four where each one specializes in a particular network.
  • Listen. Engage Klout leaders. Study results. Repeat.
  • Discipline.  Devote 1 hour per week (broken into three 20-minute sessions, ideally) per team member on a routine basis.