No one anticipated just how popular social networking would be become. Once viewed with trepidation, small businesses wondered whether social media would ever be something they would incorporate into their marketing strategy. Now social networking has changed the way B2B businesses interact with prospective clients and partners and how they market their brand.
Social media has become a necessity for every business because with the right strategy, it has the power to positively impact the bottom line.
An obvious marketing technique is to go where your prospective clients are and market to them. Well, everyone is using social media and whether your business is engaging in social media or not, people are using it without you. They may be talking about your business — or they may be talking about your competitors! The fact is that they are talking and you’re not there to interact.
An increasing number of businesses are engaging in social media every day and the only way to reach out to them about your brand is to make your online presence known. You can’t run from social media any longer so you might as well embrace it.
Engagement is the key to trust, and conversation and social media gives your business a voice. A few years ago all you needed to do was create a product and market it to as many prospective buyers as possible. Now traditional marketing methods are gone because social media has changed the way B2B businesses market themselves. Many businesses are now using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to engage with their audiences and some use it as their sole customer service function. People want to talk and interact with real people.
Social sharing now also impacts your SEO rankings. If you’re absent from social media, search engines such as Google won’t consider your website as important which makes your website harder to find. It’s important to include social networking in your SEO efforts in order to be a leader on the SEO board.
Social media is no longer a trend, it’s a necessity. It’s a tool that fulfils a need — the need to communicate, interact and share. Interacting on social media platforms can significantly increase your brand visibility. While traditional marketing methods could increase your traffic, social media will bring you fans, friends and followers who are interested in your business and offerings. These can be turned into customer engagement and that will lead to increased sales.
No business can survive without customer and client feedback. Social media is a dialogue where people with similar interests can interact and share things they like and dislike. Consumers don’t limit their online expressions and opinions to those businesses with a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Today, they have their own accounts and blogs for sharing their experiences and opinions about your business. By not engaging in social media, you’re ignoring these discussions and limiting your ability to participate, apologise or defend. Social media is the best way to find out what your customers are saying about your brand.
B2B businesses that continue to conduct their marketing and PR the old fashioned way will undoubtedly find it more difficult to compete. Social media isn’t going away. Businesses that want to engage their audiences need to seriously consider their social media marketing strategies for today, tomorrow and the foreseeable future.
So the key message is — don't get left behind. Social media is not just a passing trend, it can be a bonus for any company if the right strategy is implemented. For a B2B social media campaign to work, the campaign needs the same professionalism that businesses bring to every other aspect of their business.
Blog provided by iBAengage, a global social media service company.
Social media is time consuming, especially if you want to see results. But, as someone who eats, breathes and sleeps social media, I’ve discovered ways to make it a friend in both my professional and personal life, and to avoid burnout.
The key to staying fresh online and avoiding burnout is to establish exactly what you want to achieve from your social media efforts. Do your research to identify which tools your target audience are using, and focus your efforts here, whether that’s LinkedIn and Facebook, or Google+ and Twitter.
Spend time planning content. Think about what to post and create a calendar to schedule your updates. Identify a range of sources you can tap into at any time. RSS feeds are perfect for checking at a time that suits you, and can help to avoid your email inbox becoming cluttered.
Check the latest news each day, and share appropriate posts by those you like, follow or are connected to.
Not only do I plan my content in advance — I schedule posts using timers. Telling new social media users about scheduling feels like sharing a way to cheat, but it’s essential for managing your time, and your online presence.
Quotes, pictures, product descriptions, upcoming event promotion, links to your website and articles about your industry all lend themselves to advance scheduling, leaving you free to focus on the very latest news.
There are a number of tools available to help your scheduling — Hootsuite, TweetDeck and Buffer are popular choices.
Technology is the catalyst behind the popularity of social media and a wide range of free mobile apps let you keep up with the very latest news on your smartphone or tablet, even when you’re on the move.
Even when you’re happy that social media is working for you, it’s important to regularly review your profiles. Check your connections, pages you like, people you follow, and groups you’re in, and de-clutter to ensure you’re meeting your objectives.
And finally, if, like me, you suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) sign up to receive a daily email from NutShell Mail, summarising the most recent activity from Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
No matter why you use Facebook — for business or socialising — there’s no doubt that seeing those Likes rack up next to your latest post feels good, doesn’t it? It’s a fabulous endorsement. It means people think you’re funny, incisive, totally in tune with what they’re feeling — in short, a Facebook Like makes us feel good about ourselves.
But is it enough when marketing your business on Facebook?
I’ve recently started working with an ecommerce business. My client has a Facebook business page and is very active in posting new information and gets lots of Likes as a result. The problem is that those Likes just aren’t translating into sales and what’s happening on Facebook is failing to drive traffic to my client’s website or generate increased revenue.
Sadly, this is an experience shared by many small businesses — and, for that matter, much larger brands too. Getting Likes just isn’t enough to positively impact on business growth and actual sales — it’s just the start of the Facebook journey.
Research has shown that a mere 1% of fans of brands’ Facebook pages actually engage with those brands. Think about the effort required to Like something on Facebook — you read a post on your news feed, one click of the mouse and you’ve added a Like. It’s minimal; it’s momentary; it’s relatively non-committal.
This does not constitute positive engagement. Even worse, even fewer of that 1% will bother to create content themselves or take the time to revisit specific brands’ business pages.
Well, your foray into social media doesn’t have to be consigned to the back of your virtual drawer of ideas that didn’t work. But it does require a little strategic thinking.
Any time I’m asked by a client to use Facebook as part of their marketing strategy, the first question I always ask is: “what do you need to achieve?”. Once I know that, we can then work together to find effective ways in which the objectives can be translated into useful content to engage with my client’s Facebook fans.
We all know that funny pictures, videos and thoughtful or provocative quotes have universal appeal on Facebook. They get people clicking the Like button and they can all be used to some degree.
But as a means of generating sales, this type of content is relatively ineffective. It can be great for awareness and brand building but you need to translate it into sales and often using Facebook to capture an email address through a competition or promotion and then following up with an email campaign can be more effective as a way of moving customers up your sales pipeline or funnel.
Similarly, don’t just push out your sales messages all the time; ask a question of your Facebook fans, invite them to share their opinions, vote on something and start to encourage a dialogue to strengthen the relationship.
Adding value is just as important on social media as anywhere else. Always think about the benefit to your fans when you write a post. Be helpful, offer good advice and give tips. Then, when you are promoting a new product or service, they will be more likely to buy from you.
The big hot topic in ecommerce at the moment is personalisation. Through intelligent integration of Facebook Login, online retailers can access data on likes, interests, friends, even photos — a much greater wealth of more truly personal information.
In order to make the most of this information, follow these five tips so that you can provide a tailored experience to your customers:
The world’s biggest social network is essentially offering retailers access to the largest bank of personal data ever created. So, as online retailers are looking to create personalised ecommerce experiences, it would seem to be a given to take advantage of this opportunity.
Many online retailers implement Login with Facebook for account creation, but not account linking. Quickening the new user sign-up process is one benefit of Login with Facebook, but it is really only scratching the surface in terms of making the most of the benefits. Make sure to take advantage of Facebook Login for account linking.
Put the Login with Facebook option front and centre so your customers can’t miss it. Highlight the benefits for the customer of signing in with Facebook too. Rather than the long forms users are often expected to complete during registration, with a couple of clicks and a redirection to Facebook permissions, the registration process can be made dramatically less complicated. However, gaining your customers’ trust is important when requesting access to personal information they share on Facebook.
What do you need to know about your customers to help you deliver a truly personal experiences? Access to a user’s friends list and other information on their public profile will certainly be useful, but think what can be achieved using data on their Facebook Likes and Interests. Ensure you have a clear strategy from the start, as you cannot send permissions to a user through Facebook twice.
You have the data, so use it. If you are a music retailer, recommend a new artist’s release to customers who like that artist, or similar artists, on Facebook. If you stock tents or rucksacks, promote the product on your home page to users whose interests include hiking. Show your customers what their friends have bought, reviewed or liked to turn their online shopping experience into a truly personal one.
Providing a tailored experience to your customers will allow you to build relationships, loyalty, conversions and ultimately, revenue. With personalisation shaping the future of ecommerce, make sure you are not missing out on this valuable opportunity.
Declan Kennedy is chief executive at Betapond.
“Increasingly, the internet has become the place where we live our lives. But in the end, a small group of American companies may unilaterally dictate how billions of people work, play, communicate, and understand the world.”
A lot of our clients are struggling with the speed of change — in social media, in marketing and in customer behaviour. They are also struggling with innovation.
A friend (thanks Alan Boyd) recommended Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser. Boy am I impressed. It is a book that covers the impact of the introduction of personalised search. My search results on “soccer” will be very different than yours — and that has all kinds of consequences.
This book touches on privacy, data, innovation, culture, the role of news, democracy, marketing, selling, tracking and much more.
What this book shows is that Big Brother has arrived and he is called Acxiom (billions of data profiles), Bluecavia (database of every computer, mobile device, piece of hardware), Google and Facebook.
Thanks to this book I have learned lots of new terms and concepts, including: attention crash; click signals; retargeting; advertar; and information obesity. I have also learned some interesting facts — for instance, did you know that:
We are literally becoming what we click. As with food, you are what information you consume (information obesity). The ultimate consequence is the threat of monoculture (1984).
Through manipulation, curation, context and information flow, you can be managed. Imagine a world where Google searches, Facebook likes, your e-mails, your documents (Google docs!), your DNA, your location data from your smartphone, radio frequency identification (RFID) on all the items you bought, the data from cookies on your computer and more are all combined and are then used to: sell, manipulate and influence.
Increasingly, the internet has become the place where we live our lives. But in the end, a small group of American companies may unilaterally dictate how billions of people work, play, communicate, and understand the world. Protecting the early vision of radical connectedness and user control should be an urgent priority for all of us.
The lessons for business; opportunity, threat, be aware, take a position.
Whether you’re tweeting, pinning, blogging or composing the perfect Facebook update, it’s essential to make sure your social media copywriting is up to speed.
How to write a good tweet
If you’re new to Twitter, you’ll probably already be familiar with the most common problem — fitting everything you want to say into 140 characters. Writing short copy is a great discipline and a skill all of its own. Any online copywriting agency will tell you that whittling down an idea into a short, clear message is tougher than writing a long piece.
Make sure you’re using the shortest and most straightforward words you can find, and strip out any unnecessary adjectives. Get right to the point, and keep each tweet centred on a single theme. Don’t forget to add a link if you’re talking about something people can read about elsewhere — especially if it’s a link to your own site. Hashtags can help you connect to other people writing about the same things.
What makes a good Facebook update?
Facebook is probably the most widespread and best-known social platform. It gives you a bit more wiggle-room than Twitter in terms of word count, but it’s still a good idea to keep your posts punchy and to-the-point, especially when you think about how many other people’s messages yours will be competing with in any one user’s news feed.
Facebook users love to chat, so invite comments by asking a question or posting a picture or video for people to share their reactions to. The more reactions your message gets, the more “newsworthy” Facebook will rate it, so that it appears in more of your users’ news feeds.
It’s also worth thinking about when your user base is most likely to be online, so you can schedule or post your updates at peak times. If you’re in the UK for example, you might post at around 13:00 GMT to catch people on their lunch breaks at work, or at 20:00 when they’re sitting down with their laptops after dinner.
Spreading the word on LinkedIn
Writing on LinkedIn is all about showcasing your strength as an opinion leader and curating content that shows your credibility within your industry.
Post hot news stories about your area of work, and make sure you preface them with a quick comment showing your own opinion on the subject. Asking a question in your update is also a good way to start conversations with like-minded people who might comment on your post.
LinkedIn is an ideal place to share news about your company, especially if you’re hiring new people or expanding your business.
If you’re looking for a new job or you’re a freelancer, treat it as part of your job application or pitch process — keep the tone of your updates professional and keep an eye on your spelling, grammar and capitalisation.
Writing content that’s shareable
Even if you’re not actually writing on a social media platform, it’s worth remembering that your content is likely to be shared across social channels. It might be via an automatic feed to your corporate Twitter and Facebook accounts or shares by interested readers who are posting your content to their own social streams.
Headlines are the key to shareable content. A strong, self-contained headline that gives a clear idea of what your article is about, and also gives the reader a good reason to click through and read it, is your goal. That’s because on Twitter, the headline is all they’re likely to see.
It might sound like a tall order, but there’s a lot you can learn from an online copywriting agency like Sticky Content. The trick is to think like your users. What do people want to read? What are their motivations, pain-points and goals?
Charlotte Rivington is a freelance writer on social media and marketing.