Social media is no longer the new kid on the block in the world of B2B marketing. The days when businesses put interns in charge of social media (because they must know how to use social networks, right?) or when companies could get away without any social presence are long gone.
Over ten years after the launch of Facebook, we have YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram and more — enough social channels to make your head spin. Along the way, businesses have gotten more strategic about how they use social media for marketing and seen high levels of success as a result.
However, many companies still have a long way to go when it comes to getting B2B social media marketing right. To make sure your business is on the path to success, be sure to avoid these all too common B2B social media marketing mistakes:
Mistake #1: Not having a clear social strategy
The mistake: Far too often, B2B organizations do social media marketing “because it’s irresponsible not to.” While that statement may be true, it doesn’t suffice as a strategy.
Why it’s a mistake: Without a strategy, you’ll have difficulty determining which social channels to use, what activities to engage in on those channels and how to measure success. And when that happens, your efforts likely won’t amount to much.
How to avoid it: Just like you would with any marketing activity, take the time to document a strategy for social media marketing that outlines what goals you want to achieve, how you plan to achieve those goals, how you’ll measure success and how all of that will support larger business objectives.
Mistake #2: Taking a one-size-fits-all approach across channels
The mistake: Many businesses share the exact same messages at the exact same time across all of their social channels. In other words, there’s very little that distinguishes their Twitter account from their LinkedIn account and so on.
Why it’s a mistake: Every social channel has different audiences that use the channel in different ways for different purposes. For example, you might find that your target audience uses LinkedIn on a daily basis to keep up with industry news and engage with their network whereas they use Twitter to keep up to date at events and share images and quick ideas that resonate with them.
How to avoid it: Similar to how you should develop marketing personas so that you can speak to different audiences on a more 1:1 basis by tailoring your content and outreach to their interests, you should also develop unique plans for each social media channel. For instance, you might outline which of your target personas use each channel, the purposes for which they use it and how they want to engage with businesses on that channel. You can then use that information to map out your activities on each channel.
Mistake #3: Not mobilizing your employees and other advocates
The mistake: Too many businesses do all the right things when it comes to developing a clear social strategy and tailoring their approaches for each channel, but fail to think beyond the company-branded social account to bring employees and other advocates into the fold.
Why it’s a mistake: While social media users certainly engage with and appreciate branded content, they always take it with a grain of salt when it’s shared by the company itself. Additionally, many social networks now use algorithms for displaying content that favor updates from individuals over updates from company accounts.
How to avoid it: Don’t stop sharing content from your company account, but do take a few extra steps to bring employees and other advocates along for the ride as well. Specifically, encourage your employees to share your content and make it as easy as possible for them to do so by giving them suggested updates, gamifying the process or even using an employee social enablement tool. Along the same lines, make sharing your content on social media as easy as possible for your customer advocates by including social sharing buttons alongside your content.
Mistake #4: Pushing your own agenda only
The mistake: Social media marketing happens in a vacuum far too often in the B2B world. In these cases, businesses have a clear agenda that they want to accomplish and they push messages in pursuit of that goal — and that’s it.
Why it’s a mistake: Social media marketing should be less about what your business wants to accomplish and more about what your target audience wants to hear. While there are certain messages that your business may need to push from time to time, you can only talk so much about yourself. At the end of the day, people will engage with the businesses that engage with them and share content they want to see.
How to avoid it: First, be sure to share a mix of content from your company and others and to engage with what your target audience shares. Some recommend the rule of thirds, meaning ⅓ of your content can promote your business or be branded content, ⅓ should be curated content from other sources and ⅓ should be engagements with others. Second, be sure to engage in social listening so that you can understand what your target audiences want to hear and what they’re saying. This listening should also help you engage in “pull” tactics in which you pull people in by responding to them rather than just “pushing” messages at them.
Mistake #5: Relying solely on vanity metrics
The mistake: There are a lot of ways to measure B2B social media marketing success, but vanity metrics are not one of them. Vanity metrics include surface-level data such as number of followers and likes.
Why it’s a mistake: There’s nothing wrong with measuring vanity metrics, but they can’t be the only metrics you measure. And you certainly shouldn’t use them as an indication of success. That’s because having 100 people “like” your recent update is great, but it doesn’t actually move the needle for your business. It’s certainly a stepping stone, but it doesn’t indicate that you’re bringing in new leads the way tracking the number of contributed social conversions might.
How to avoid it: As part of your social media marketing strategy, be sure to indicate what metrics you will track and how you will use those metrics to measure success. Additionally, think about how you can look at metrics beyond each social network. For instance, you might want to track how many conversions on your site you can attribute to traffic that came in from social media and/or how many closed-won deals were originally sourced from social media.
Mistake #6: Getting Complacent
The mistake: Finally, too many brands fail to evolve their social media marketing strategy over time and get complacent with the goals and social networks they already have in place.
Why it’s a mistake: Social media changes often and those changes take hold quickly. As a result, getting complacent with social media marketing can be a fatal flaw. As capabilities on social networks evolve, so do how people use those networks. If you don’t change your social media marketing tactics as well, you’ll likely get left behind.
How to avoid it: Keeping up with the latest social media trends isn’t always easy, but it is necessary. To do so, you should regularly evaluate and update your social strategy (which you should also do in light of changing business objectives), pay attention to evolving social media marketing best practices and consider your channel mix. When looking at your channel mix, you need to make sure the social networks you’re using currently still make sense and learn about new social networks that crop up to determine whether or not they’ll be a fit for your business (if they’re not, that’s okay — you shouldn’t be on every network, but you should at least take a look).
Give Your Social Media Marketing a Leg Up
At the end of the day, remember that even though you aren’t likely to make a sale from social media — no matter how strong your B2B social media marketing strategy — you still need to dedicate time and effort into getting your strategy right. That’s because when you do, you can move the needle for your business by bringing in new leads, building awareness and fostering trust.