“This is big-kid marketing.”
That’s what I always tell new hires at my agency, because no matter how hard B2C marketing gets, it can feel like it’s nothing compared to marketing to the enterprise. So what social tools can help do the heavy lifting for B2B? You might be surprised by the number of tailor-made tools out there for communication and engagement. Here are some recommendations based on six goals for B2B marketers:
1) SEO Boost: Unlike some other social behemoths, you’re rewarded for all your hard work with serious organic SEO. Google has been trying to break into the social game for a while with a lot of misses and a few hits. Google+ is just such a hit. From an SEO optimized business profile page to custom distribution of content and events to your circles, to using Google authorship to make your content shoot to the top of search engines, Google+ is a B2B marketer’s heaven.
2) Direct warm marketing and secondary website: LinkedIn is a bit of a double-edged sword. While a good chunk of many of our clients’ traffic seems to come from LinkedIn, it’s less effective as an advertising medium. But LinkedIn’s free offerings are a veritable treasure trove for marketers. Not only do they offer their own content platform and authorship status, their company pages can be highly customized; but my favorite feature is reaching out directly to those who have viewed my profile.
3) Crowdsourcing and competitive pulse: B2B marketers like me need a good platform for professional chats, that’s where Twitter comes in. These rapid-fire Twitter chats continue to be great, low-cost options for building a brand, an audience and fodder for future content ideas. Twitter used to be a like a megaphone, you could shout as loud as you wanted, but had no idea who heard you. Today, Twitter offers in-platform advertising, native demographics and many third-party tools that make it easy to advertise, promote, distribute and segment, all from this text-based social network.
4) Long-tail content distribution and automation: For the busy marketers who don’t want to flood their social streams with content in the morning, Buffer is a godsend. Instead of blasting the first 15-minute window, Buffer allows you to fill up a queue with interesting content and manage up to 10 profiles (for free!). You can also schedule, take a gander at analytics and see retweets from a convenient dashboard. Buffer’s blog is a frequent stop for marketers looking to better understand the social landscape.
5) Reporting, analytics, and planning : When you work with companies with sales cycles measured in weeks or months, it’s important to be able to tie social activity to sales or client nurturing; with a Google Analytics integration, Sprout Social does this. It is the engine that keeps social marketing outsourcing agencies (like mine) running. What differentiates SproutSocial from TONS of other companies we demo on the regular? Reporting and analytics are two key features that this platform provides. B2B customers care about branding, conversation and engagement, but they also really need to see bottom-line results.
6) Scheduling and conferencing: If you count a social calling service as a social tool, there is none I recommend more highly than Speek. This easy conference calling service allows you to schedule, call, share files, record calls and chat on the side. Plus it has a handy URL customization feature and a bookmarklet for on-the-fly scheduling or quick calls that weren’t previously scheduled.
Of course, there are tons of other tools not listed here that we use for social marketing — including Facebook, YouTube, Slideshare, Google Analytics, SharpSpring, and more — but these six are absolute must-haves for the B2B marketer. What are your essential tools or platforms?
Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors and has been a contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B marketing agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the human resources and global workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.