Stop and Rethink B2B Social – Part 1

Speaking in the Experience track at Ignite 2017, I challenged B2B marketers to take a step back and rethink their approach to social media. After 8+ years’ working in B2B social, I’m frustrated by the lack of innovation and the fact that in so many cases, social’s role within the business has yet to be clearly defined or understood.

Arguably, many B2B brands have lost perspective (or never really had it!) on the game-changing role of social as a one-to-one, real-time engagement channel. Scratch the surface of a typical B2B social media strategy and you’ll find little more than a content calendar and short-term tactics to drive one off engagements.

What’s needed are clear plans, with definable roles for each platform, across paid and organic, aligned to PR, marketing and event calendars, which can be articulated back to the business.

Sounds straightforward right? It’s not!

Social is a really complex and misunderstood area of marketing: across organic and paid, across many and varied platforms, formats and targeting options, factoring in integration with CRM systems and MA platforms, as well as opportunities for data capture and business intelligence…

It’s hard graft that requires clever thinking and a greater investment than most B2B businesses seem willing to make. Which is why we need to take a step back and start over with defined strategies by platform, clearly aligned to long-term business objectives.

It’s time to move beyond content calendars and tactical asks around short-term engagement with the latest blog post or eBook, and start building our social strategies around the functionality and potential of each platform, across paid and organic, taking into account the make up and behaviour profile of our followers, and respecting that the platforms have different strengths and different roles to play.

In B2B, social still gets treated like a junior partner in the business but social is not a junior partner – it is the business! Social is the best scale contact opportunity the business has. The social department could be driving as many conversations as all the best sales rep put together, but how many B2B marketers are giving social the opportunity to achieve that ambition?

It’s an exciting time in B2B social as the platforms compete to launch features that help brands expand their presence, reach the right audiences, and measure success. LinkedIn Lead Forms and Matched Audiences are game changers for B2B, but LinkedIn is only playing catch-up with Facebook who introduced lead forms in 2015.

B2B brands tend to lean heavily on Twitter and LinkedIn, a fact that was confirmed by a live survey at Ignite 2017.

In this blog series, I’m going to focus on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook (because let’s face it – Facebook is too big to ignore). I will look at the different roles each platform can fulfill in a way that will help you deliver better brand experiences and more real-time, personal engagement with your followers.

Ultimately your social media strategy will only ever be as good as the sum of its parts and in B2B, we’re just not focusing enough on the individual parts.

Read the second blog in the series.