I was asked by a listener to discuss how to build a social media marketing plan for B2B, and frankly I’m not sure you should. Social media, like any other set of tactics, should be seen in context. Firstly, it needs to be sales and marketing plan. Secondly, your sales and marketing plan can’t just deal with a single set of tactics. All of the tactics connect. What’s going to happen before, what’s going to happen afterwards, what’s going to happen alongside, in the buyer’s journey.

Contextually, we need to see the social media plan in the broad context of generally what you’re doing for sales and marketing, but you still do need to have a plan for what you need to do with social media. That’s what we’re going to discuss this week.

The primary aim of a content strategy is likely to be positioning in category. Reach the audience where and how they want to be reached. There might be functional reasons why they actually prefer to get their content in a certain way. Track known movers and reconnect with them. Track new movers, that is people who are moving into a new role. Consider LinkedIn posts for discussion, rather than your blog for discussion, but also you can trouble buyers a little. Make your content lead to a gap they need fixing, and selectively trouble them a lot. Cold outreach to new movers based on a researched Valid Business Reason.

Let me share with you five articles that we looked at this week on how to create a social media marketing plan for B2B, and explain how I got to those conclusions. The first result I want to share with you is the one that was the most shared, rather than the top Google result, and ‘How Social Media Can Be Your Best Source for Leads,’ from Mike Templeman. Thanks Mike, published on Forbes. It’s a good article, quite long, and what it goes through is that basically the argument about why social is still important to B2B. That’s a relevant starting point, so thank you for that. He argues strongly against the trying pitch, but it should be about beginning a conversation. Clearly, I would agree with that.

Now, he does go into suggesting that we try to make the content original, and not repurpose from the blog or other website. That’s a little bit scary because that’s definitely what I do, and I haven’t the capacity to write lots of blogs on LinkedIn, as well as on the blog. It’s a huge commitment already. Good advice, I’m not sure how to follow it, given that the cost of content creation is already so high for so many people.

Next one from Alan Narcisse. It’s published on Content Marketing Institute. Excellent publication. He makes a couple of key points. It’s about building brand awareness, now I’m going to disagree with that slightly in a minute, only in terminology, not in intent. For the moment, I’ll say I agree with him. It’s about showcasing your expertise. Yeah, maybe, maybe.

Talks about the necessity of discussion, rather than posting. I think that’s a really strong and important point. Now he concludes by saying, ‘Show them what you’ve got to offer.’ I couldn’t disagree more. I reckon the article’s a good one, generally, just I don’t agree that you want to use that language about ‘show them what you’ve got to offer.’ When you’re posting in social media, it’s absolutely not about you, or your product, it’s about having a decent conversation, and evidencing your expertise, not what you have to offer. Subtle, but I think important distinction. Otherwise, have a read of this article, it’s worth checking out.

Next one. Here’s ‘Creating a Social Media Strategy for B2B Audiences, Products, and Services’ by Rene Power. One of his key points is basically meeting the market with where they are and I strongly agree with that. It is important to recognize that some of your audience will prefer to consume content in one medium, and other of your audience will want to consume it in others. Good point.

Now, he talks about taking an approach using CARE. I hate being a slave to acronyms so I’m automatically sensitive to it. I did generally agree with the conclusions, but I think it’s the wrong way around. Basically what this is arguing is, what do we want to say to our audience? What do we want to share with them? I think that’s the wrong way around. Think from the buyer’s perspective. What do they want to hear? What will they find relevant? Not what do I want to share? Start with them, not with you. I think.

His specific tips I thought were quite good. His pitfalls … here we go. Here are his tips. Good points, I read through those and quite liked his tips. I have read that article, I’ll post it in the show notes; it’s worth checking out.

Next, second but last. ’20 Most Compelling B2B Stats.’ I love this. There are some really interesting stats in here. Have a read the whole thing, just for pure geek value, but I want to highlight just one, and it’s the difference between number six, and number seven here. ‘B2B companies will spend 18% of their budget on social media, and service companies will spend 25% of their marketing budget on social media.’ I doubt sincerely that either of those will come true, but let’s … this is a summary of research so it’s not opinion, it’s what marketers are saying they want to do so no criticism to the author of the article, just I don’t think it will happen.

Have a look at this. If services companies are saying they’ll spend more than product companies will on product marketing, let’s take that as sovereign. Now, 17% of B2B services companies have not been able to show the impact compared to 6% of product companies who have been able to show the impact been able to show the impact. I can’t really see what the impact is, but I’m willing to spend more. It actually gets even funnier. Twelve and thirteen. 54% of product companies have proven the impact and 33% of service companies have proven the impact. Long story short, despite the data, they’re going to spend more. Firstly, you already know, I don’t think they are. Secondly, why would you do that? The data just doesn’t support it.

Final article is a little bit of a reminder of what SMART goals are. Again, I’ve already said I hate being a slave to acronyms, but it’s just a bit of a motherhood statement about goals. That’s all good, nothing wrong with it, just not that interesting. Identify some challenges, I think that’s also relevant to set context, but let’s get to the conclusion. ‘For B2B marketers the ultimate social media metric that holds any real value are the leads that you’re getting from the social media.’ That’s worrying because most companies that I know are not getting a lot of leads from social media. It sort of contradicts what earlier authors were saying about a key value being largely about brand awareness. Interesting.

She had step five, set up a social media editorial calendar. Absolutely, and argue in here that posts should be 30% your content, and 70% curated. I agree with that. I think it was the creator of the Content Marketing Institute who talked about the 4-1-1 Rule, if it wasn’t him forgive me. Basically four pieces of external content, one of your own, and one that’s somewhat self-serving in terms of asking action. That’s not directionally inconsistent with the 30 of yours and 70% curated content. Generally a good idea, particularly if you’re struggling to find enough original content.

What does all that tell us? Before I reach my own conclusions, let me honour the sources and conclude what I think their primary points are.

Make LinkedIn the base. The primary aim is brand awareness. Consider retargeting. Frequent posts equals brand awareness. Be where they are. B2B service companies are less convinced by the data and yet more likely to spend than their product companies, regardless of that. Share both created and curated content.

Whilst I don’t violently agree with any of that, I think there’s another way to look at how to build a social media marketing plan for B2B, and in particular, it hinges around the context of what you’re trying to do to the buyer, rather than what you’re trying to do to yourself.

Firstly, the primary aim of a content strategy is likely to be positioning in category. Recognize it as such, give it only the amount of energy that positioning deserves. Don’t forget your later stage tactics. Now, we don’t use the term ‘brand awareness’ at Math Marketing. A brand is a different thing, positioning is actually more important. Just get on the list. Do they even think about you, is more important than, what do they think about you? Brand awareness somewhat pollutes those two ideas of positioning and branding. In short, it’s likely to be to get you on the list.

In that context, reach each audience where and how they want to be reached. Some of your audience just prefer one medium over another. It might be the features, the content that’s there, who of their friends are there.

Track down known movers and reconnect with them. Track new movers, that is people who shift into a role. Consider LinkedIn posts as an alternative place to have discussion rather than your blog – blog spam is such a problem that some of the world’s leading content providers are actually disabling blog comments now because it’s become such a full time job just to manage the spam. LinkedIn seemed to manage that pretty well, so consider LinkedIn as an alternative place to manage real dialogue, rather than on your blog itself.

Also, trouble buyers a little bit. Make your content lead to a gap that they need fixing, and then selectively you can trouble them a lot. Cold outreach emails, or in mails to new movers who you’ve tracked through LinkedIn need to be based on researched Valid Business Reasons. Now, if you’re not familiar with the term Valid Business Reason, Google ‘align.me VBR,’ that is ‘align.me VBR,’ and you’ll see lots of explanatory articles and Wiki pages.

If you got value from that, then hopefully you get a lot of value from our other articles, too. We do this once a week. Now if you subscribe at align.me/blog, or at youtube.com/alignmeb2b, what you’ll get there is the ability to get notifications of these blogs when they come out. They come out once a week, and choose your poison there. If you’ve done that already, can I ask, plead with you to share it with a colleague who you think will get value from these articles. Again, just send them to one of those two links, or to this article at your preference. If you’ve done both of those, and you’re still enjoying them, firstly, thank you. Secondly, let me know, what would you like me to cover? This was a great suggestion. I enjoyed doing today’s show. If you’d like topic covered, send us an email at this address, [email protected], and let me know what topics you would like covered.

Well that’s it for this week. I hope you got value from that. Lots more to come next week. Until then, may your funnel be full, and always flow.

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