Social media is the number one content marketing tactic used by B2B marketers as measured by the 2014 B2B Content Marketing Trends-North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs study.
That same CMI/MarketingProfs study B2B marketers are using many different social media networks, albeit to varying degrees.
As B2B marketers increasingly adopt the use of social media, it's easy to be overwhelmed by all the different networks. This can lead to a tendency to overextend your brand on too many networks.
The problem in trying to have a presence on too many social media networks is that it stretches the resources of your marketing team. It can also prevent you from having a meaningful (i.e. effective) social media presence. As a result some companies end up having a social media presence that is a “mile wide and an inch deep.”
NEWS FLASH FOR B2B MARKETERS – You don’t have to be on every social media network.
Instead, B2B marketers should strive to have a solid social media presence on a few networks instead of a weak presence on many.
To get the biggest bang for your social media marketing buck, focus first on these three:
If you only use one social media network, make it this one. LinkedIn currently has 260 million users in 200 countries (and in 20 languages).
The greatest benefit of LinkedIn is its ability to make contacts and build relationships. And the key to a successful presence on LinkedIn is providing valuable support and information to your connections and Groups.
LinkedIn also enables executives and companies to build their brands and establish thought leadership. LinkedIn Groups is where most of this happens. There are over one million LinkedIn groups, some with a very narrow industry focus, including your own. The best networking happens in the context of comments and status engagement.
From a marketing standpoint, LinkedIn allows you to run advertising that can be extremely targeted by location, industry, title, company and other demographics.
On a company level, LinkedIn has recently enhanced your ability to showcase your firm via company pages feature. This is a smart place to introduce your company, share your content and boost traffic back to your website.
But the most appealing feature of LinkedIn, especially in B2B sales, is the ability to find out most everything on a professional level about a target prospect. And, you can determine if there’s an opportunity for a warm introduction through one of your connections. At that point, you will want to take the conversation from LinkedIn to an offline, person-to-person interaction.
With over 540 million active users, Google+ is larger than LinkedIn and Twitter. And while it cannot currently match the networking strengths of LinkedIn, from a search engine ranking standpoint, you really can’t afford not to have a Google+ presence.
It’s sometimes easier to think of Google+ not as a social network, but as a social layer. When your content is published on Google+ it can rank higher as the content is fed into the personal search results of your Google+ circles. And images and video can gain even higher exposure.
Google+ has also become instrumental to Google in verifying content authorship. When you are a known quantity to the search engine (via the rel=”author” feature), it can further increase your visibility in search engines.
And on Google+ you can have a business page, too. This allows people to follow and engage with your business, which creates opportunities for relationship building.
Over 500 million use this microblogging service that enables users to send and read “tweets,” which are text messages limited to 140 characters. It’s a great way for companies to get the word out and provide links back to their website. All tweets can be seen by everyone – nothing is filtered out like on Facebook. Twitter has essentially displaced the newswires for breaking news.
Think of Twitter as an enormous cocktail party where you may listen in on others’ conversations. That can include thought leaders in your industry, your prospects and even your competitors.
You can build Twitter lists (which can be public or private) of people you want to follow. And it does not require that they follow you back. Lists enable you to filter out all the tweets from your main news feed and focus just on a particular subset. For instance you can build a list of reporters who cover your industry. If they ask a question or need some help, you can respond, help them and be on your way to building a relationship. The same goes for lists of your prospects.
Similarly, on Twitter you can search for mentions of your company or key industry or competitive terms. When someone tweets a question or has a problem, you can respond and help them or otherwise engage in the conversation.
Certainly, there are other networks that make business sense for B2B marketers. But until you have these first three nailed, remember that it’s more effective to have a strong presence on a few networks than a weak presence on many.
Your turn: which three networks do you think are the most important for B2B marketers?