A prospective client said to me, “We need a social media strategy. Let’s talk about Facebook.” This comment illustrates a common myth for B2B marketers─ building a social media strategy is primarily about Facebook. This approach leads many marketers down the wrong path.
B2B marketers are having a tough time envisioning their social media strategy for the simple reason that Facebook has become synonymous with social media and Facebook often doesn’t fit their needs. However, the right social media strategy can have enormous impact for B2B marketers particularly if that strategy includes powerful content. Let’s look at how B2B marketers can head down the right path by planning social media in three main steps.
Starting with your objective is obvious, right? But a surprising number of marketers are starting with the idea that “I must be in social media, so what can it accomplish for me?” Fair enough. What can social media accomplish for B2B marketers?
Cisco Systems, the worldwide leader in networking gear, is using social networking for corporate communications. Specifically, they are using social media to 1:
- Project thought leadership
- Amplify the reach of marketing communications and company news
- Extend the voice of the leadership team
- Support community and investor relations efforts
After objectives, comes content planning and this is critical if a main goal is to project thought leadership.
Let’s look at KYDEX, a traditional manufacturer doing innovative things. KYDEX makes thermoplastic sheets that are used in applications like aircraft interiors. Boring, right? But KYDEX is breaking out of its commodity mold using a secret weapon- color. KYDEX enlisted the help of world-renowned design expert David Scott to help them develop a new portfolio of color options that would appeal to designers. Then KYDEX began to tell this story on the web using social media.
KYDEX developed a series of videos on color and posted them at a YouTube Channel. Next, KYDEX delivered these videos on its website in a new “colors page.” Lastly, the company promoted this video content through Twitter and its company page at LinkedIn. The videos have been viewed nearly 4,000 times which is high for a category that has just a handful of end users. And the videos have built the foundation for the company’s reinvention of itself as a value-added innovator.
Amplify The Reach of Content and Messaging
The third critical step in planning a B2B social media program is planning where and how the content will be delivered. Cisco, again, provides a useful guide. Cisco groups social media platforms into three categories:
- Content Repositories like YouTube and Flickr: This is where video and photographic content is housed.
- Communities like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn: This is the place to gain friends and followers, have conversations and promote your great content.
- Experimentation platforms like Pinterest and Google +: These are emerging social media platforms that are worthy of experimentation but not yet part of the core program.
Social media platforms are the last planning step, not the first. The core of the program needs to be content, video content in particular. Video is especially powerful as a way of projecting thought leadership and creating the type of sharing and pass along that makes social media really work.