A common complaint children have is that, while there’s a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, there’s no “Kid’s Day.” What’s worse, parents will always answer the same thing – “Every day is Kid’s Day!”
Why shouldn’t there be a “Kids Day”? There should be a day, week, or month to reflect on, or celebrate, any aspect of our lives that brings us great joy.
Do kids not bring us joy?
With this thought in mind, Oktopost (the company I work for) decided to take one month of the year and use it to reflect on the awesome benefits that social media provides us B2B marketers.
And thus was born Oktober.
So why would B2B social media marketing warrant an entire month? Think about how far we’ve come since the “old” days of B2B marketing. Think about the things we do today that could have never been done before. Think about the speed at which we can send out content to thousands of people, the doors that can be opened with the simple click of a button, the pinpointed audience targeting that we are able to achieve. None of these things would be possible without social media.
So what really makes social media so great for B2B marketers?
Let’s me count the ways:
In business it is often more about who you know, rather than what you know. As such, networking was, is, and will most likely continue to be, the backbone of business. Historically, building a network required world travel, industry events, and requesting intros from friends. With the advent of social media, B2B marketers can grow their networks of connections from the comfort of their own homes.
They are called social networks for a reason; they are meant to be a place for people to connect with other like-minded people. It is certain that Mark Zuckerberg did not predict Facebook would one day become a channel for B2B marketers to distribute content and network with potential customers, but that’s exactly what happened.
People use the word “Rolodex” figuratively now, as in “He cultivated a huge Rolodex of connections.” The modern day Rolodex, at least for the individual, is his or her contacts on social networks (for a company, this would be its CRM).
For example, even with a network of 500+ connections, LinkedIn makes it extremely easy to sort through relevant contacts and reach out to them. Also, direct messaging your contacts through social networks can help you bypass the “gate-keeper” at the office.
It could be said that social media is the great equalizer. Just a few years ago, if you wanted to schedule a meeting with a CEO at a Fortune 500 company, or a top tier venture capitalist, unless you were “somebody,” this was highly unlikely to happen. You could stalk said person, or even try to approach them on the street, but that probably wouldn’t have gotten you very far (though you might have ended up in jail!).
With social networks such as Twitter, you can engage with, and get the attention of, anyone on earth. With Twitter, a simple “@” before a person’s handle could score you an interaction with someone you would never have been able to engage with previously.
If you sit back and think about it, it is truly amazing. The doors broken down for us by social media defy anything we could have imagined only a few years ago. For B2B, this means that connecting and engaging with a major thought leader in your industry is easier than ever.
For this, we must be grateful.
3. Content Distribution
It’s hard to fathom what marketers used to do with their content to get it in front of the right people. Before email, before social media, before the Internet – how did they do it? Branded magazines, even soap operas, were a few of the tactics used.
My how the times have changed.
The definition of “content,” in relation to B2B marketing, has changed significantly in the last two decades. If you had asked Don Draper from Mad Men what a blog was, he’d look at you like you had two heads. Nowadays, you would be hard pressed to find a marketer on earth who isn’t using a blog in one form or another.
We put the vast majority of our marketing resources towards content. Content creation is a cost-effective strategy that can boost lead generation and awareness far more than any other strategy. Writing one blog post a week doesn’t cut it thought. You have to put time and effort into all the various types of content that exist today. By doing this, you are casting a wider net to attract potential customers who consume different types of content.
It’s not only blogs; many other forms of content have been born as a result of “the digital age.” While white papers existed previously, in their digital form they’ve taken on a new dimension. Printing and binding costs for white papers have disappeared, and distribution can be done at a fraction of the price. What’s even better is that white papers can act as gated content, meaning potential readers have to fill out a form and submit their contact information to download and read it.
Did you know that 87% of B2B marketers use social media as a distribution channel for their content?
Think about it, “social media” as we know it has only been around for 12 years, and B2B marketers have only utilized it for half that time. In less than a decade, nearly every single B2B marketer has embraced social media for content distribution.
All of these users are potential consumers of content that is distributed through social media. A mind boggling one fourth of the world’s population is on one social media network or another. Even if you can get your content in front of .01% of that, you’ll get 1,780,000 people to see your content. That is un-freakin-believable.
LinkedIn is not the only social channel for B2B social media marketing. Believe it or not, Facebook is emerging as another great tool for B2B marketers to utilize.
In recent months, there have been reports of a monumental demographic shift happening on Facebook – teenagers are leaving in droves and are being replaced by an older, more business oriented crowd. This benefits B2B marketers because the audience we distribute content to is now more relevant than ever, even on Facebook.
4. Lead Generation
When it comes to B2B marketing, there’s really only one indicator of success – leads. That’s the underlying reason behind why B2B marketers have been skeptical of social media, and the value it offers, for such a long.
When asked the question, many people will tell you “there is no way to measure the ROI of social media.” In years past, this was what was taught to marketers, especially B2B.
Given that Oktopost is designed is to allow B2B marketers to manage their social media activities and measure ROI, this isn’t an answer we accept.
Social media is a lead generation tool, there is no denying it. Of all the social networks, LinkedIn reigns supreme for this purpose. We did some research earlier this year, and found that 80% of all leads generated from social media by B2B marketers came from LinkedIn.
Similar to other aspects of B2B content marketing, thought leadership is an extremely important goal to strive after. All too often, marketers will only share promotional content about their product or service. Not only will fail to benefit their marketing activities, it’s also counter-productive. Thought leadership is about providing value, and pushing blatant promotional content doesn’t accomplish that.
In addition to creating original content, content curation is now another powerful tool for marketers to use in their social media activities.
Content curation, in the context of social media, refers to the distribution of external content through your social networks. This is done in conjunction with the distribution of original content, in order to form a holistic content distribution strategy.
If you want to establish yourself as a thought leader on social media, curating valuable content is one of the best things you can do. If people see your social channels as a place where they can learn about important aspects of your industry, they will continue to come back for more. Given the longer sales cycle, this practice will keep your company at the top of their minds until it comes time to make a purchasing decision.
Social media makes it incredibly easy to carry out a successful content curation strategy. Twitter, in particular, is essentially the perfect outlet for content curation. It’s an “open” platform, meaning anyone can see your tweets – not just your followers. You can research valuable content on a regular basis and then, utilizing a third party platform, schedule tweets distributing that content over a period of time. This will increase your social presence and make you seem more active on social media than you already are.
We have come so far in such a short period of time; imagine where we’ll be in the next decade! Just as no one could have foreseen the current impact of social media on B2B, we are likely to encounter new tools for marketing in the next few years that none of us could have anticipated.
Regardless of what changes occur in the next few years, social media for B2B is here to stay, and will doubtlessly provide more and more value to B2B marketers as times goes on.
Have something to add? Comment below!
About the Author: Mark Lerner is the Director of Marketing & Head of Marketing Agency Partner Program at Oktopost, a social media management tool that allows you to bridge the gap between your social media programs and your ROI.