Mentors and role models have played important roles throughout history.
Often the best learning experiences we have are from learning from those that do what we want to do well.
Apprenticeships and internships sometimes get bad reputations, but what better way to learn than to learn from someone that is skilled at something?
The goal with this post was to figure out lessons that B2B companies can learn and apply from other B2B companies that have had success with social media.
So I looked at collections of B2B social media case studies and pulled out 7 lessons or things that most of the companies seemed to do with their social media strategies.
Here are the case studies I looked at:
- B2B social: five case studies from brands achieving great results
- 12 B2B Content Marketing Examples and Case Studies for 2014
- 15 B2B case studies prove Social Media ROI
- 50 Social Media Case Studies You Should Bookmark
- Marketing case studies from LinkedIn customers
And here are the lessons.
Lesson #1. Target Customers On Social Media
The first thing that sticks out to me on a few of these case studies is the research some companies did on their target customers before or during their social media efforts.
This is important especially for B2Bs because there is an extra step with identifying the target customer.
First, you figure out the business that your company targets. Then you figure out the person at that business. Then you have your target customer.
But a few of the companies in these case studies did really smart things. They looked at how their target customers were already using social media.
That research helped form the strategy of what the company would do with their own social media efforts.
Let’s say you find that your target customer (the person at the business) subscribes to blogs and maintains active boards on Pinterest. That’s a clue that your efforts might best be done with a business blog and most of your social media focus on Pinterest and building your profile on that platform versus other platforms.
If you’ve already started your social media efforts you can still do this research. Talk to your current clients and ask how they use the Internet and social media. You can lead them a bit to get better information like asking if they read blogs. Ask how they use social media. Look at their profiles and learn for yourself too.
And if you don’t have that many clients you can still do this by identifying your top 100 business clients and look at the people in those businesses (use LinkedIn or the company about pages).
Lesson #2. Useful And Interesting Content
I don’t like using that headline because it’s too vague. Obviously you don’t want to post just any content on social media, but let me go on with this point.
And it’s something that came up in a few of these case studies.
The B2B companies in these case studies started with the target customer. Or in the case of B2Bs, the target client.
Then they mostly looked at two types of content: Useful and Interesting.
Useful content is content that answers a question a person has. Useful content is content that helps a person with a challenge they have. Useful content can come in many different forms and channels (blog post, guide, Twitter post, video, etc.).
When you hear that you need quality content that is what we’re talking about.
The other type of content is interesting content. I would place it below the value of useful content. Interesting content might be a funny cat video. Yes, your target customer is probably interested in it and that’s fine, but using this type of content might not be how you want to portray your brand.
But a good mix of both useful and interesting content can be a good social media strategy.
With useful content you’re helping your customer. You’re earning their trust. You get your customers thinking that you’ve helped them with one challenge. Maybe you can help them with even more if they become a customer with you.
Interesting content can get attention. It can make people feel good and they associate that with your brand. And that can get them started at the very early stages of a relationship with you.
Lesson #3. Building In Word Of Mouth
It’s certainly not easy to build word of mouth into your business and into your social media efforts.
But there were a few companies on the case study lists that were able to do it. They did it with a few campaigns and it seems that they look to make it part of their ongoing efforts.
In this case, word of mouth means getting other people involved in something. The example I look at most is this example with Callaway.
The idea was that Callaway would use LinkedIn’s API to help people find foursomes for golfing. The synergy was there because many professionals are also golfers and the golf course can be a great way to network or to have business discussions.
I’m a golfer and I know that if you want to get to know someone you go golfing with them because golf puts you in some frustrating situations. For example, if someone throws their club after a bad shot how will they handle a difficult business situation?
So it was a cool way for Callaway to get people interacting with each other. They could build their own foursomes. They could invite others to try it and that’s where the word of mouth came in.
There were other examples of this. The main idea I guess was trying to make the efforts viral in nature where people were encouraged to bring others into the mix.
It’s not easy to do, but this was a good example of it. The effort hit on something that was beneficial to all involved and it was something people were passionate about.
It’s not always easy to find that synergy, but if you can it can lead to some great engagement.
Lesson #4. Make ‘Em Laugh
This was an interesting one that emerged from looking at a couple of the studies.
It is common for both B2C and B2B brands to use humor to stir up some engagement on social media. It seems like a good strategy for B2Cs, but B2Bs might be more hesitant. But remember that when you’re marketing to B2Bs you’re marketing to the business, but also to the people within the businesses.
So making them laugh can work really well.
One of the goals with social media is engagement and getting word to spread or getting something to go viral.
Laughter can be a great way to engage your audience and get word to spread.
A key to using humor in social media is to try to make it relevant to your business and industry. Random funny videos might make people laugh, but if you can tie it to your industry or brand it’ll seem more clever and you’ll remind people what it is you can provide for them.
Memes and images with your comments are great ways to make ’em laugh.
Just use common sense so you don’t offend anyone…too much.
Lesson #5. Getting Leads To The Site
Social media is great for reaching your target audience especially those in the audience you may not otherwise reach.
With social, the reach often mentioned for B2Bs is the discovery stage of the sales cycle. Many of the people that first interact with you on social media have never heard about your brand before.
Maybe they’ve seen someone they know share something about your brand. It could be one of those funny memes you’re now going to share that one of your followers shares with her colleagues.
Since most interacts are about discovery, the goal for B2Bs with social is to get potential clients to take the next step. And in many B2B social case studies the next step is to get the person from the social channel to the company’s website.
Many companies make this step happen by offering even more valuable content (see above) on the website than followers get on the social channels. Maybe it’s even a guide or something your followers can download. Or it could be something simple like a blog post on your company blog.
Lesson #6. Sometimes You Already Have The Content
Earlier I mentioned that you’re looking to often answer questions your target customer has or you’re looking to help them with a challenge they have.
What you’ll often find is that you already have that content in-house at your company. You don’t always have to create new answers from scratch specifically for social media.
And that came up a few times in the various case studies. Some businesses would reuse and repurpose the content they already had so it would work well on social media.
I think that’s a great idea. If you have it already you might as well use it.
Over time you’ll still probably create new content for social media, but look to see what you already have.
When it comes to answering common questions you can start by working with your team members that work with your customers now. Talk to your sales team and your support staff. See what your customers are asking in relation to the industry; before they would know about your brand.
Your salesperson might say that your customers really want to know about economic indicators. The salesperson might already be sending out an email newsletter to certain clients. You could repurpose it for Twitter and Facebook to lure in other potential followers and customers.
Lesson #7. Tracking New Clients
Something that kept popping up in these case studies is perhaps the most important lesson…
The businesses that credit social media with being a positive for their business are the ones that look at how social media efforts lead to the number one goal of the business: getting new clients.
It’s not always easy to track sales directly from social media. In fact, it’s might not be often that a person sees what a business is doing on social media and then buys directly from that business. That doesn’t happen in the B2B world where the sales process is usually longer than the B2C world.
However, it can be the first step in the sales process and that’s important. And you can track things back when you bring on new clients. You can make it part of the sales process to ask how your new clients and inquiries found out about you. You could even ask them if they happened to see that you’re on social media. Or ask if that person uses social media.
This can give you insight into how the inquiries and new clients found out about you. You can track that back to social media to see if your efforts are working.
Hopefully this will help you with your social media efforts. If you’re starting out with social media or even if you’ve been doing it a while there is always room for improvement. These lessons are proven things that companies have done and have had success with. Use them as your mentors to show you the way that you can become successful with social media too.