It may be a great way of encouraging loyalty, building reputation and increasing market visibility but for many marketing managers, or at least the board of a company, the end-goal of PR is to stimulate sales.
In B2B comms, social media often gets a bad wrap for being a “fluffy” luxury which lacks tangible results and doesn’t bring in business. B2B marketing managers run the risk of underestimating the potential that social media can have in attracting new customers, but also the time, focus and strategy needed to use social media for this purpose.
It’s true that social platforms will be crammed with people who have no relevance to, or interest in, your business and are far from potential customers for you. But, if you were shown a room with 100 people in it and 10 of those people were potential customers, would you say that the room was not worth entering? Or would your business instinct start trying to identify those people in order to communicate with them?
Social media platforms are just like a room full of people. You need to accept that not everyone you will reach will result in a sale, but that making the effort to find the right people can be worth it. First, it’s important to find the room, or social media platform, that contains the most potential customers for your business. Research where your current customers are active online, check out where the key publications are most active and where there is the most discussion on topics that are relevant to you.
Some people fall into the trap of thinking that a social media strategy involves signing up to all of the different platforms and posting content on each of them without considering who is viewing it. That is the equivalent of writing lots of interesting and useful content, then instead of sending it to people who might be interested, pinning it to your door and waiting for people to seek it out themselves.
Once you’ve researched where your audiences are – get posting but don’t just stick with company updates and news. Customers are hungry for expertise to solve their problems and online forums are a great place to do this. Posting questions or answers in LinkedIn groups or Google+ communities engages potential customers and also gives you a chance to prove your expertise and explain to them why they should be doing business with you.
Imagine you’re an industrial automation company and your products solve problems frequently encountered in manufacturing plants. If you identified an arena in which the managers of manufacturing plants discuss their industry, you could enlighten them as to how your product can help – making you visible to potential clients and potentially increasing sales.
Including links back to your product and purchase pages, or to blogs you have written on particular subjects will not only make your audience’s lives easier, it could significantly increase the traffic on your website and generate leads. Using analytics, as discussed in our content strategy blog, will help you monitor this and give you guidance on whether your strategy is working.
Social media is not about ‘posting and praying’ nor is it about nonsensical self promotion, it is about taking your offline marketing communications strategy which is focused and tailored and using that as a template to promote your business in an ever expanding network of potential customers. To underestimate it, or worse still ignore it completely, is a sure-fire way of allowing your competitors to tap into those potential customers that at one stage could have been yours.