6 Ideas to Get Your B2B Social Media Plans Started

Your B2B company’s online marketing strategy needs to incorporate social media. The big question now is, “What, exactly, do we need to do?” The web is chock full of answers to that question. And although no two bloggers, companies or marketing and PR professionals agree on everything, the following six ideas have emerged as the basics to getting started:

1. Keep in touch with your customers with social media
Because of the ease of interactive communications, marketing and PR are more of a two-way street than ever before. Social media outlets allow you to solicit feedback, answer complaints (and compliments!), and generally get to know the companies who use (or should use) your products – all without leaving a desk. What PR or marketing strategist wouldn’t want to do that?

2. Focus your message
Actually, focus all of them. You don’t want to be saying one thing in a blog and another in a news release. Make sure that communications are coordinated throughout the company. More to the point…

3. Be authentic (and specific)
Lots of businesses offer great service and low prices, but only your company does…what? In your communications, highlight the services and products which really add value to another business. Also ensure that those communications are true to the voice of your company and its values. No one is going to fault authenticity. It is when you say or do things which are incongruent with the rest of your story that causes problems.

4. Develop distribution channels
Don’t just write a news release and put it on your website. Don’t simply create blog posts and hit publish. Promote them in a non-intrusive, organic way to people, companies, media and other groups that might be interested. Make it easy for people to subscribe and share all content published digitally. Participate in other networks that might be interested in your content and, very carefully start to introduce your own ideas into the mix after you’ve established initial credibility. If you’re unsure where to begin, PRWeb publishes an entire resource section dedicated to helping create exposure for releases specifically. Check out the latest news release distribution tips for more.

5. Link back to high-conversion areas
Every blog, news release, YouTube video, and other digital communication should have an easy-to-find, easy-to-use link back to your website. Your website, remember, is where you completely control the content and where most conversions happen. Ignore the early adopters encouraging you to give all your content to the stream. This is a mistake. You don’t have control of the signal to noise on social sites, nor are there clear calls to action there.

6. Constantly update and revise your content
Never has it been so easy (and cheap) to learn from your mistakes. All kinds of free analytical tools exist that will tell you how many times your content has been read, and shared, how well your website ranks in web searches, how effective your website is at generating conversions, and other things marketing professionals need to know.

With so many resources to help with your digital education, there really is no excuse not to get savvy. No matter where you are on the adoption curve, you must keep learning and moving forward to not just survive, but to thrive in modern marketing.

This guest post is by Jiyan Wei, director of product management for PRWeb, the leader in online news distribution and online publicity. For more tips on using press releases, follow @PRWeb on Twitter or like them on Facebook.

6 Earned Media Benefits Of B2B Social Media

Do you spend much time thinking about the difference between paid and earned media?

The earned versus paid media debate has long bee an issue in marketing agencies and communications departments. Social media has continued to complicate this issue. For B2B companies I would argue that having a balance of both paid and earned media is an important component in a successful marketing mix.

I have found that marketers that are not familiar with the social web web have difficulty determining paid versus earned media.

How is a paid search advertisement different from from a retweet on Twitter. These are the types of questions B2B marketers need to be able to understand and to answer in order to make the correct decisions about online earned and paid media.

Example Earned Media Word-Of Mouth: You tweet a link to a web page on Twitter for your site, and someone else retweets that message to their followers. The result is new people discovery your web site through a method that had no cost other than the investment in creating the web page and to type 140 characters.

This is earned B2B social media. The person that retweets your link could also say that your site/product is bad. You do not have control over what people say about your content.

It is a different situation with paid media. If you are paying for placement of banner ads or search keywords, your control everything, including the placement, the wording, etc. Sure there is gray area in the online earned versus paid media battle. If you give a blogger a product for review and they write a review is that paid or earned? I believe that it is a paid media mention even though it is not a traditional online ad.

6 Benefits Of Online Earned Media For B2B
Earned media in the form of public relations has had many benefits traditionally, but when earned media happens on the web a new set of positive results are achieved.

1. Mappable Word-Of-Mouth – While paid media can create word-of-mouth, earned media on the social web can generate a higher quality of word-of-mouth in many cases. The issue with offline word-of-mouth has been that it is difficult to measure. The social web helps with this problem, because conversations on the web can be seen and measured.

2. Conversions – Social media sells. Earned media often means a higher conversion rate versus paid media. As Paul mentions in his post direct marketing is in decline and inbound marketing shows improved conversion rates. Earned media in the form of B2B social media is the foundation of successful inbound marketing.

3. Search Traffic – Offline word of mouth is great. In fact, 95% of word-of-mouth happens offline, however, online word-of-mouth normally means the spread of ideas through links. While the direct benefit of this is people finding out about your company or product, a huge secondary benefit is improved organic search ranking. Improved search ranking provides a secondary source of traffic and thus can result in increased leads.

4. Opt-in – Offline word-of-mouth can lead people to buy and so can online. However, online word-of-mouth facilitates a secondary level of transactions that may not be purchases, but could lead to future purchases. Word-of-mouth online from social media can increase follower on social networks, subscribers on e-mail lists and other types of opt-in actions.

5. Traditional Media Influence – Traditional media still have a lot of reach, especially in many B2B industries. Media use the web to research stories and find new sources.

6. Permanence – Offline conversations fad away fast. Online conversations last. They are permanent. Sure, topics on the web shift quickly, but the actual dialogue is always there and available to someone else for discovery. Permanence is powerful and is a result that paid media can’t provide. Once an advertising contract is over, the banner ad comes down and the next one goes up.

6 Steps To Getting Started In B2B Social Media

In the first quarter of this year it is likely many B2B companies are about to get started with social media marketing, or at least talking about it. While social media marketing isn’t complex, the amount of tools and ideas can often be daunting. The hardest part is often sorting out all the noise and determining the few things that will actually help drive business objectives.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to help simplify the process and share a simple six step process that would help any B2B company, regardless of industry, get started with B2B social media marketing.

6 Steps To Getting Started In B2B Social Media

Step 1: Understand What You Want Social Media Marketing To Help Achieve For Your Business – Beginning with the end in mind is always key, especially when it come to social media marketing. Let’s face it, the Internet can be a time suck. If you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish, you are likely wasting time. Set one or two clear goals. A goal could be as simple as “increasing lead generation by 20%”. Look at your business plan for opportunities that can social media best support. Focus on those.

Step 2: Find Your Audience
– Think of the social web as a a large ocean. Your customers are likely only a few small schools of fish among countless in the ocean. Finding out where your customers are online and how they spend their time will stop you from wasting yours. To do this you can used free tools like Google Blog Search, Twitter Search, Facebook Search, LinkedIn Search, etc. The important thing to remember is not which tools to search, instead it is making sure you are searching for the right terms. Company names are easy, but you are going to find more value from search of industry related terms that will help identify conversations on topics related to your business.

Step 3: Develop A Content Strategy – Now that you know where your customers are, what do you say to them? Developing a content strategy helps you understand what type of information you business needs to reach your goals. This steps is all about understanding what type of information is relevant and interesting to your customers and what methods of online communication is the best way to distribute it to them. This content strategy also needs to include lead generation tactics and calls to actions. Always think about the answer to this question: What action do I want potential customers to take online?

Step 4: Don’t Forget Search – Search engines matter greatly when it comes to inbound marketing. Regardless where customers are talking, it is likely that most of them are using search to help solve problems and make purchasing decisions. Use tools like Google’s External Keyword Tool to help determine the most popular terms your customers are searching for related to your business. Leverage these words in social media content and on your corporate web site.

Step 5: Establish A Digital Footprint - By now you at least have an idea of a content strategy and how you are likely to engage current and potential customers online. These are important, but we need to remember that B2B inbound marketing is all about getting found. The web is like everything else in life: the more places people can find you the higher the likelihood that they will contact you. Leverage a service such as User Name Check to help you understand all of the social outlets available. While all of these service my not be relevant to your business, building a profile on the ones that are can greatly expand the digital footprint of your business online with only a few hours of work. By including a link to and a description of your business, you will also support your search engine marketing efforts.

Step 6: Hold Yourself Accountable
– While this process could be a 100 steps long, the important thing to remember is that it only works if you hold yourself accountable. At the beginning, establish a regular reporting and measurement process the could be done at the end of every month. Additionally I recommenced keeping track of how you spend your time related to social media for the first couple of months to help make sure you are spending it on the right things and not wasting it.

Are these steps helpful? What did you do to get started with B2B Social Media?