Let Fans Help Enhance Sales, Leads, Branding and SEO- The Basics of an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy
At this point, nearly every business has at least some presence on social media. But many of these pages are one-way streets where the company simply posts content and expects viewers to read it passively. This is simply wasting a tremendous opportunity, no matter what type of business you’re in.
To build a stronger fan base, you must offer ways for them to interact with you. Doing so creates a deeper investment of time and emotion in your users, which both facilitates their progress in the sales funnel and encourages them to share your content, thus extending your reach to new prospects.
If you’re a business-to-business operation, you may believe this arena is not relevant because most of the fan engagement campaigns seen on social media target consumers. Why, you may wonder, would a “vote for your favorite flavor” type of contest be of interest to an audience of busy executives? However, there are other methods of community building that are proven to work with professional users.
Showcase Current Customera
People love to be in the spotlight … and get their own business some free publicity at the same time. You’ll be surprised at how many of your satisfied clients would be happy to give you permission to share their experiences with your product and service. These customers can become a loyal group of fans who will forward your content about them to their own customer bases.
You may already have these on your website. If so, it’s a snap to convert them to Facebook posts. If not, consider adding this critical sales tool in both places. The basic format of a case study is:
Problem (that the customer had)
Solution (your product or service)
Outcome (proof of how well the product or service worked)
There are many online sources you can tap for writing a great case study.
This informal version of a case study comes across as more authentic because it’s in the customer’s own words. You may even want to video it for posting on YouTube and, of course, a link to it on your Facebook page.
The interview is also a gold mine of testimonial quotes which support your marketing claims not only on social media but in every channel you use: website, brochures, sales letters, etc. Also, check any letters of appreciation you’ve received for usable quotes.
Your very best, most enthusiastic customers may enjoy writing about you on their own social media pages or website blog (perhaps as part of a reciprocal post deal). Ask them to submit their content under a unique hashtag; this will make it easy for you to track and collect their submissions. Of course, you will link to these reviews on your own social media page.
Social media screenshots.
Your customers may already be talking about you without you even asking. Keep an eye on their Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages. When you see a nice comment about your product or service, grab a screenshot of it and post it on your own social media. Presto: a testimonial with just a couple of clicks!
Invite R&D Input
People love to give opinions. Whether you’ve got a new idea already in the works or you are looking for one, social media is an ideal – and free – way to gauge its viability and uncover problems and possibilities you may not have thought of. Plus, you’ll kill two birds with one stone by inspiring deeply engaged conversations on your social media pages.
As with the above social media marketing strategy, your first line of opinion givers will be existing customers. Solicit their suggestions through email or direct mail as well as on social media so they’ll be sure to see it, and ask for responses to be posted on your social media page.
With the optimal keywords included, a request for input on your social media page can also attract a pool of prospects who never heard of you before. They’ll love feeling that they’re part of the product development process. And they’ll be half way to sold before the product even hits the marketplace!
Start Product Usage Discussions
People love to give advice. Provide your customers with a forum for sharing their creative uses of your product or bugs they’ve solved, and the conversation will never stop. Enabling customers to engage with each other as well as you build lasting relationships and lets you decide how much time you want to put into it. This user generated content is also perfect for both your SEO and your customer service team.
For tangible products, YouTube instructional videos are the way to go. In fact, you may find some customer videos there already, an immediate source of useful links for your social media community.
Also, consider starting a YouTube channel for product demo videos. Viewers who comment here can form their own valuable community as well as joining your Facebook community. These demo videos are also highly effective in landing pages and sales presentations.
The value of educational podcasts and seminars that have to be signed up for is in the relevance of the audience. So, even though the headcount is probably smaller than for a YouTube video, it’s virtually 100% seriously interested in your products and services.
One in five Americans use forums to discuss or recommend products. Register at your industry’s most popular online forums and make sure you’re getting your fair share of attention. Give as much as you get: contribute original content, not just marketing messages, to achieve maximum credibility. And be sure to respond to complaints or criticism immediately.
For an ultimate solution, start a forum on your own website. This will involve you in a lot more administration, but you’ll know it’s all about you, all the time.
It’s clear that social media marketing strategies do have a place in B2B marketing. In fact, because B2B customer decisions are more likely to be influenced by brand reputation and word of mouth, it may be one of your most important marketing channels. Build an active social media community by encouraging higher levels of interaction, creating thought leadership content and turning customers into brand advocates.