27 September 2021
Anu Noto-Menon, Digital and Content Specialist, Singapore. A digital marketing professional, Anu specialises in digital marketing, content strategy, social media, online reputation, SEO, SEM, digital asset development, e-commerce and project management.
Social media content is often a challenge for B2B brands. Whether it’s dealing with explaining a technical product or solution, or establishing an engaging tone of voice, B2B brands may find it difficult to generate engagement, build audiences and demonstrate a return on investment. Cutting through the sheer noise on social channels is challenging, and many brands opt for a ‘vanilla’ approach, which does little to help them get noticed. While a safe and steady content gets the social media box ticked, it can be too strong on brand messaging and lack the audience understanding that followers want. However, when taking a strategic and audience-aligned approach, there are tremendous opportunities for B2B brands to make an impact and build trust via social media.
Having a well-prepared strategy is the best way to reach an audience and outshine competitors. Especially if a competitor’s content creation is not performing well, this can open up an opportunity for brands to gain trust. Speaking directly to consumers provides instant feedback and insight into their behaviour and preferences, which can inform broader marketing strategic decisions. Along with being a platform for brands to start a conversation with consumers, it allows businesses to share their brand values and align with communities.
Producing regular social media posts demands a level of investment in time and resources. But the potential it has to increase brand awareness, build trust and, most of all, directly impact sales and profits far outweighs the costs and initial hurdle of getting started. Content marketers reap the benefits with almost six times higher conversions than non-adopters.
For brands that commit to content marketing and enact a strong strategy, the return on investment is far higher. Growth per annum for unique website traffic is 7.8 times higher for content marketing leaders than followers. When social media content is created in line with a brand strategy, it leads more of the target audience to the business.
People are spending more and more time online, so their exposure to and appetite for quality content is growing. With around 60% of consumers being inspired to search for a product after reading related content, it makes sense to implement a carefully planned content marketing strategy to capture this traffic.
Along with providing an improvement to website traffic, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing while being around three times more effective. Executed well, it presents a tremendous opportunity to reach more people and make a larger impact.
A powerful B2B social media content strategy begins by asking simple questions, because the ideal way to plan content that will connect with an intended audience is to get to know them.
The first step is establishing social media objectives, such as: to expand into a new market to build brand awareness to be seen as thought leaders
Think about how the audience interacts with the brand: When do they engage with the business? For example, home buyers contact a mortgage broker when they are ready to purchase a home. Where do they engage with your business? Touchpoints vary depending on the audience a brand is targeting. Some common touchpoints are on the website, via social media, in-store, at an event or over the phone. Do they prefer to email, direct message or talk on the phone?
It’s important to understand why audiences may engage with the brand. Do they need help completing a tax return? Are they hosting an event and looking for suppliers? Have they recently learnt about sustainability and are looking for an environmentally-friendly solution?
Knowing why they want to purchase from the brand makes it easier to know which messages they will resonate with. One of the best ways to find out why consumers behave a certain way is to conduct social listening. By reading through social media posts and comments from people within the target audience, businesses are able to discover what matters most to their consumers.
After conducting target market research, it’s time to start testing. Testing content to see how an audience reacts to it is the only way to know if a strategy is aligned with consumer beliefs, desires and fears. It is common to get waylaid with over-researching, as there are endless opportunities to gather data in all sorts of niches. But, once a clear picture has been formed of who they are, what they want and how they look for it, it is best to step away from researching and start putting the learnings into action.
When there is a lack of knowledge surrounding the positive impact social media content can have on a brand’s growth, social posts are often seen as a part of marketing that just needs to be done. Businesses make the mistake of taking action to be seen as keeping up with trends and competitors. But hasty action without a strategy in place can be a waste of time or even have a negative impact on the brand. Without knowing which messages audiences will resonate with and which will turn people away, brands risk jumping into content creation without a clear strategy, and therefore a clear understanding of what success looks like.
In a rush to just publish something, companies often use the same content across a variety of platforms. Each social platform requires a slight alteration to the content to ensure it performs well. Without editing content to suit, captions may be cut-off, faces may be out of the frame and the most important aspect of the message may be lost. Social media users are looking for quality content from brands they love, not just a high quantity of posts.
Another common error is focusing on vanity metrics such as the number of followers on an account or likes on a post. These figures don’t provide a true reflection of how people are engaging with the content. Paying attention to the comments, post shares and click-through rates will provide a much clearer picture of how social media content is performing.
Developing a strong tone of voice, no matter the industry or type of brand, is crucial to making a big impact on social media. Audiences are looking for a brand culture that resonates with their own language, so hearing a voice that sounds like them is much more likely to make them loyal followers.
Other common social content marketing mistakes are: Not segmenting audiences properly and talking to them as a whole instead of individually Having too narrow a niche – there needs to be a big enough target audience to make producing content for them viable Excessive red tape and control over the message which slows down production and reaction to events Focusing only on LinkedIn as the go-to channel for B2B – many businesses successfully connect with their audiences through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter Giving up on social media because it didn’t yield results after a few weeks — it takes time to gain a following
Businesses need to start by researching each of the social channels to develop a thorough understanding of how they work. Then they need to look at where their target audience is spending the most time. There is no point in posting regularly on Facebook if the audience is hanging out on Instagram all day.
Once the appropriate channels have been chosen, it’s time to decide on the content pillars. These are the core topics which the brand will talk about. Around three to four pillars are best to maintain audience interest while ensuring the content production doesn’t become too complex. These content pillars need to be discussed and explored frequently.
The next step is to create content tailored to each channel. Senior executives are ideal interview candidates for creating thought leadership articles. To ensure each piece of content remains on brand, it’s best to develop brand guidelines covering tone of voice, use of brand assets and the brand’s mission. This way anyone in the company producing content knows which words to use, which to avoid, which images are approved and the style of content that suits the brand. Having a distinct brand voice is the best way to stand out from competitors.
A social media content strategy also details what audiences want to hear. This way brands can run A/B testing, offering up two similar types of content to see how they perform and document their success. As a business tests its content, it’s important to remain flexible, because the only way to know what works is by continual evaluation. Constantly changing trends means statistics are fluid and the only way to be confident of a strategy’s success is to keep monitoring it.
When it comes to B2B social media content strategy, so many brands are getting it wrong. So there’s ample opportunity for those who take a more innovative approach to grab a disproportionate share of the audience. With a flexible yet strategic approach, the benefits of investing time and resources to build audiences are considerable.
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