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If social media marketing were to be Cinderella, who would be the cruel stepmother? Most of the B2B organizations out there today. Unfortunate, but true. Why you ask? Well, social media management is usually the first thing to be handed off to an unsuspecting intern and given very little attention by organizations. This ‘step motherly’ treatment that social media receives can largely be attributed to the fact that for B2B firms, it is not considered to be a source of revenue. But what if we told you otherwise?
With competition at its peak, marketers now have a challenging task at hand. The growth in ad blockers and the constant need keep consumers interested has created the necessity for new, innovative marketing ideas. The same old marketing strategies, in a world with an increasing online presence will eventually leave your business out to dry. If you are responsible for all the marketing that goes into your business, then social media is something you should start paying more attention to.
So let’s tackle the pertinent questions at hand. Can the power of social media be leveraged to drive in business? That too specifically for a B2B firm? If so, then how? To answer these, let’s look at a step by step approach to get your social media marketing plan in place.
1) Lay the foundation:
Before you dive into social media activities, it is imperative to do your background research, set your target market and then set your objectives. A campaign without a set target is like an archer without the board, he can shoot the arrow but he doesn’t know what he’s aiming at. There are three stages in the preliminary planning phase:
- Doing your background research:
Research is key to any plan. As a marketer, you cannot fathom the amount of information there is out there. Before delving into the world of social media, you need to do as much research as you possibly can. Break down the information and take what’s relevant. Here are some points you can consider looking at:
- What is social media marketing all about?
- How do your competitors use it?
- What specific information do your customers look for?
- What are the platforms they’re present on?
- What are the tools available?
- Defining your target market:
As a B2B firm your target market is narrower than the usual consumer audience on the web. Based on your target demographic, you will define your objectives, therefore finding the right audience is imperative. Research should continue even after you have set your target market and has to be specific like:
- Which companies will you be targeting?
- What size should the company be?
- Where are these companies located?
- What sort of social media are they on?
- Identify what motivates these companies?
- What sort of information will they look for?
- Setting the objective:
Every marketer’s objective is to position himself uniquely in the market, ahead of competition. Before devising your actual strategy, you will need to set the objectives of your social media marketing plan. Here are some of the objectives you can potentially set for your company:
- Generating quality leads
- Generating sales
- Increasing your website traffic
- Gaining marketplace insight
- Increasing your market exposure
- Building a loyal customer base
A combination of these objectives can be used depending on the industry you operate in. The objectives need to be set based on the overall image you want to project to consumers.
2) Pick the right team:
Picking the right talent to drive your social media marketing efforts is important. The idea is to select an entire team of people that are not only good at what they do but also work well together. So how do you do this? You basically need to look for four types of people:
- The passionate one:
The best way is to find passionate people is to look for people who are zealous and excited about social media. They may not necessarily be the most experienced or have the best credentials but sometimes passion can override experience. They will be keen learners and find new ways to do things.
- The ‘digital gurus’:
Next, focus on the ‘digital gurus’. These will be people who are actively present on social media and may even be bloggers. These folks know exactly how to get followers.
- The experienced one:
You will also need to have someone who knows your product, sector and industry fairly well to know what will work and give a sense of direction to the rest of the team. The previous two roles were focused on the social media aspect. The role of an experienced person comes into play because he brings in a fair amount of B2B knowledge that the others may not have.
- The communicator:
The communicator will be someone who knows exactly what to say, how to say it and what it will sound like to the outside world. As a B2B firm, what your company sounds like to other companies is very important. Find a writer or a communicator who knows and understands how B2B firms work.
Also, don’t be afraid to seek help from experts outside your firm when you are lost. The more you talk to people the more you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t!
Now that you have formed a well-rounded team, gather them around and let them brainstorm. Any ideas that they have could help. Look at what other companies do. For instance, GE’s social presence is astonishing. Not only do they come up with social media strategies around their brand and product, they also make use of niche social media platforms in the most striking way. They use Vine to showcase #6secondscience experiments like – What happens when you mix hot and cold water in a container at room temperature? You should look them up to get the answer to that one.
Also, you should mix it up. Have a couple of strategies around your product, company and industry that are targeted, engaging and fun!
Come up with a cohesive step-by-step plan that works well for everyone. Ask yourselves as many questions as possible and seek to actively answer these questions. Here are some questions to get you started:
- How will approach your target audience?
- Which all platforms will you use to reach out to them?
- Do you have the right mix of platforms?
- What sort of content will you be pushing out?
- What hashtags are relevant to your business?
- How can you use your hashtags best?
- What’s the expected outcome of these posts?
- What’s the expected timeline?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have an idea where you’re headed.
Picking the right mix of social media platforms is something we recommend you focus on. From what we gather, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are most widely used by B2B companies in their social media efforts. These platforms have worked wonderfully for B2B companies. Infact, statistically, 88% of B2B marketers use Facebook and LinkedIn in their social media marketing strategies. You could also do A/B testing to figure out which mix fits best.
4) Execute and Review the strategy
This is where your strategy really starts to take shape. You have a plan? Great. Now put it into action and improvise as and when you find it necessary. Timely execution is essential and once executed, you have to regularly review your social media marketing plan. Here are some things we recommend you do in this phase:
- Explore social media management tools – Keeping track of all your social media platforms will drive you insane. Social media management tools such as TweetDeck or Buffer will make your job a whole lot easier. They help you manage all your platforms from just one focal point.
- Keep Track – Keep a track of who is handling what to avoid confusion, doubling of posts, and untimely announcements. If there has been any, make sure you take note of it. Also, make sure your employees aren’t sending out contradictory posts as it can end up being detrimental.
- Report your results – Make sure you report all your results. Report specifics with graphs, charts, tables and trends. Having summaries of your data will also help.
- Monitor your plan – Constantly monitor your plan to see whether or not you are on track. Tweak the plan as and when you feel the need to improvise.
- Measure your success – Based on what you have monitored and reported, draw inferences to measure success. You need to see exactly where you stand in terms of your social media marketing. Determine the level of participation from your customers.
Once you adopt, implement and master the art of social media, you can be amongst the brands that have been rocking the social media canvas! May the force be with you.