Doug Wendt is a co-founder and senior partner with Wendt Partners.
Social media has evolved into a mature and widely disseminated channel, but the question is how to integrate it effectively into your marketing program, while generating results. Here are five steps to launching a new B2B social media program for your company:
1. Start with Strategy
If you don't possess a clearly defined marketing strategy, you can't possibly develop a clearly defined social strategy. Therefore, the first step is is to develop an effective strategic marketing plan and value proposition for your business. These need to be focused on specific target markets, buyer personas and sales processes.
2. Content is King
Social media is not about the latest tweet or the most current post -- it's about the best content. Tweets, posts, likes and follows come from quality content whether it's written, visual, audio or video. Focus on developing high quality content and then deploying it through a variety of tools and methods, both social and non-social.
3. Integrate through Inbound
Inbound marketing is a highly effective methodology that takes content and online marketing to new heights. The centerpiece of inbound marketing is an integrated approach to content strategy that ties together keyword research, business blogging, social media and more. Take the same approach by developing and deploying your content within and across these methods, in ways that resonate with your target audience.
4. Inform in Order to Engage
If you reliably inform your audiences, your social media strategy will grow and you will be well ahead of most competitors. But to gain the biggest benefit from your efforts, engage in two-way conversations online through LinkedIn Groups, Twitter conversations and Facebook discussions as well as blog comments and online forums. By creating conversations, you effectively move past the traditional line between buyer and seller, and instead develop a dynamic relationship.
5. Set the Stage for Social Selling
Social media for B2B has the unique advantage of setting the stage for effective social selling. Qualified prospects are online and often accessible through social channels. By engaging your social audiences in two-way dialogues, you begin to move some of these contacts into the active sales lead column, thus pulling your sales team into the social space as well. In the future, more and more selling will be performed through social channels, so you are setting the stage for ongoing sales success.
By following these five steps, you'll set your B2B social media program on a path to sustainability and long-term results in lead generation, brand awareness, market positioning and customer loyalty.
Image credit: PyryM on Flickr (Creative Commons).