Social Media Marketing 101

shutterstock_89057599Social media has become an important avenue for brands looking to reach their prospects, connect with their customers, and stay ahead of the competition.

While social media was previously considered a waste of time by most B2B companies, nothing can be further from the truth today. As companies realize their customers are hanging out on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, they have no choice but to take their message to them on those platforms.

Social media marketing has become an integral part of inbound marketing. Ideas and discussions are taken from the blog and continued on social media, with enquiries being made that can result to sales. With social media marketing, it’s all about making meaningful conversations with industry peers and potential customers to build trust about your brand.

People are likely to buy something that a person they know recommends. When customers engage with your company, they can start conversations about your awesome products or customer service. These conversations may be picked up by other prospects that may be looking for the solution you are offering. This is the power of social media.  It is the new word-of-mouth marketing, but on the Internet.

Get Started with Social Media Marketing

Before you jump into social media marketing, you should have a strategy. Your strategy should cover the avenues you will use, the message you will provide to close leads and the metrics to track regarding your marketing efforts.

Choose your Avenues

There are many social media sites you can get started with. However, you do not need to have a presence in all of them. The only social media sites that matter are those where your potential customers hang out on. For B2Bs, LinkedIn is a must. For B2Cs, Twitter and Facebook are crucial.

Identify your target market behavior and determine which social media networking site they spend most of their time. Focusing your efforts in two or three social media channels will help you build your brand, generate, and close leads quickly.

Determine your message

Decide the message you will be offering on your social media channels. Developing a voice for your organization is important to building your brand. Moreover, you should have clear rules on engagement with leads and other connections on social media. Here are some ideas on the messages you can provide:

  • Offer customer service and support for sales
  • Provide teaser content to drive traffic to your website
  • Prospect for new leads from your competition
  • Provide educative and entertaining content in your industry

You can have your whole team participating in communicating your message on social media. Employees can connect with potential prospects and lead them to take the next step.

Tracking your social media efforts

Tracking your social media marketing will help you know whether you are getting a positive return on investment (ROI) from the different avenues you are engaged in. You can use different benchmarks to determine success of your marketing.

Some of the metrics you may want to measure include:

  • Percentage of traffic generated to your blog
  • Number of new inquiries and leads
  • Number of new sales
  • Brand mentions and interactions

Tracking should be done on a determined cycle, for example every three months. Your social media marketing campaigns should help you in the overall goal of generating leads and closing sales.

How to Close Sales on Social Media

If you are jumping into Twitter or Facebook with the hopes of selling to your customers directly, you are in for a rude shock. Yes, B2C companies get a pass because they offer coupons on ice creams and the like. But for B2B companies, direct selling will not help in your social media interaction.

The best way to use social media is to identify the unique needs of your customers and find out how your solution can help them. You can use your Twitter or LinkedIn page to provide great content that will educate your audience on matters about your industry.

If you have to sell, follow the 80:20 percent rule. That is, 80 percent of your content should be non-promotional while only 20 percent should be promotional. Social media is best used to build relationships with prospects to break the ice that can be making them hesitate to take the next step.

Social Media Marketing Best Practices

The first rule of social media marketing is “be social”. Don’t speak to yourself. Speak to your prospects, partners, and competition. Yes, you can have a healthy discussion with your competition in a manner that will portray your brand as an authority in your industry.

When prospects contact you, make sure you reply. There is no need to tweet and not engage with prospects when they tweet back. Build relationships with your prospects before you try to sell to them.

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