In our previous blog Recharge Your B2B Social Media Game, we discussed the importance of social media for technology solution providers. We also guided you on how you can get started with social media. Now that you are underway let’s address how you can approach social media to support marketing and sales for complex IT solutions.
Selling in a technical setting requires understanding your customers’ pain points and working with them to demonstrate how your solution can address their concerns. Use this approach with your social media to:
- Let your customers know you understand their concerns
- Help potential customers find you when they are searching for information and solutions
- Demonstrate that you have the knowledge and expertise customers require
Here are the steps you can take:
Review your objectives/goals and target market. If you haven’t done so already, establish goals and objectives for your social media channels. Do you want to promote thought leadership to drive interest in your company? Or discuss product benefits and customer success stories to support a complex sales cycle? Or perhaps your primary objective is to get potential employees interested in your organization.
Next, determine how you will measure the success of your objectives. Via newsletter subscribers? Lead forms completed? Calls to your call centre?
Also, have a clear picture of who you’re targeting on social media. What is their job title? What are their concerns? How can you help them?
Optimize all your content. You need great content to tell a story on social media. As a technology company, you may already have a vast amount of accessible content in the form of sales brochures, white papers, technical briefs and presentations. However, the availability of an abundance of material can be a double-edged sword for those in the B2B tech world. You have the content, but it may not be in a form suitable for social media.
If you have too much content: Assess everything you have and re-purpose it if necessary, into digestible chunks for social media. For example, a white paper could be repurposed into blogs, short videos, infographics, interactive quizzes or even slide share presentations. These formats are easily shared on social media and can drive traffic back to your website for more information.
Create a social media calendar. Now that you have everything organized, tallied and measured, it's wise to build a social media calendar and allocate everything you and your team have created, in to different social media platforms. Include in your calendar:
- Important dates such as new product launches, events, holidays, etc.
- Campaigns/themes you want to support
- Information about your company such as new hires and executive changes
- Links to your short form content
A calendar is critical for your social media channels to ensure optimal content is posted. It should support other marketing content such as newsletters or website updates. It should also allow for flexibility, in case other priorities come up in your organization and timelines need to be delayed. Once your content calendar is set up, put it into a scheduling tool such as Hootsuite, HubSpot or Buffer so that it’s ready to go.
Post, post and post even more!
At this point you know what your objectives are, and you have created content and a content calendar. The next step is to allocate your content to different platforms. Each major social platform tends to attract a different audience or demographic. LinkedIn is primarily targeted to professional users, Facebook, to the general public, and Instagram is more lifestyle-focused due to its visual nature. Twitter’s fast-paced, high-volume nature makes it suitable for updates, breaking news and customer service. However, the best social platforms to be on are the ones that your customers use. And the best way to determine which channels your customers use? Ask them!
As for the type of content to post on each channel, it really depends on what your audience is looking for. However, there are general guidelines for what performs well on each channel:
Facebook: Videos and curated content
LinkedIn: Jobs, company news, and professional content
Twitter: News, blog posts, and GIFs
Instagram: High-res photos, quotes, Stories
Google+: Blog posts that you want to rank on Google
Share, engage, be present!
A really important way for IT solution providers to leverage social media to support the sales process is by listening, monitoring and engaging. Follow your key customers. Set up lists and monitor industry leaders, your customers and the competition. Jump in and engage with customers and potential customers when they make comments or ask a question. Share relevant content to your followers to add value and establish yourself as an industry thought leader. Ask questions or create polls and share the answers.
What we’ve learned along the way
At GamePlan Marketing, we’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of North American technology companies on their social media strategy and implementation. Incorporate these steps to improve your social media approach:
- Social media requires a plan of action and an investment of time. Consistency is key and depending on the size of your organization, we recommend budgeting a minimum of an hour a day to posting and monitoring of social channels. That’s in addition to content creation and management of your content calendar.
- If possible, get your senior executives on social media. Help them set up and use their Twitter and LinkedIn profiles as a starter.
- Have a dedicated employee or trusted vendor manage your social media accounts. Having a point person who understands and supports your social media efforts goes a long way when creating a successful campaign.
Need some help creating your content and content calendar?