By now, most companies know that social media is a great way to create exposure for a brand.
But what if your brand markets to other businesses?
In the not-so-recent past, a business-to-business (B2B) company’s marketing strategy leaned heavily on methods like cold calling and print advertising.
Today, B2Bs are finding that tactics like optimizing their websites for search and building strong social media campaigns are more effective.
B2Bs have social media advantages
More than 93% of the B2B companies surveyed in last year’s Social Media Examiner study said they use social media to market their businesses – a number just below their business-to-community counterparts.
And B2Bs may have a social media advantage in some respects – the same survey showed that B2B marketers are more likely to acquire new business partnerships through social media (56% as compared to 45% of B2C) and are better positioned to gather marketplace insights from social media (nearly 69% vs. 60% of B2C).
The social media advantage of B2Bs may be the fact that most have a defined niche they’re working in, making it easier to hone in on a specific group of potential influencers, followers and community members.
If your social media strategy includes putting your brand before a specific audience, here’s a 4-step strategy to find, monitor and engage industry influencers on Twitter.
Step 1: Identify your targets
The first step is to create a social map of those you want to see and know your brand. This social map can include everyone from buyers within a corporation to those who influence the buyers.
To begin your social map, first build a list of keywords relevant in your niche. Include industry lingo and buzzwords, competitors names, all the companies that you want to target and the titles of their employees.
For example, if you are targeting the food industry and people who package foods, your keywords might include phrases like:
- “automated packaging”
- “packaging machinery”
- “shrink wrapping”
- “packing machine”
And your list might include brand names such as:
- Frito Lay
- Del Monte
Step 2: Locate your target audience
Type in one of your keywords or a combination of them and examine the list that results. Some tools allow you to reorder this list by members’ influence score, number of followers, number of tweets, or even how old their account is.
How you reorder this list will depend on what is important to you. I like to find people who ratio of followers as people they follow back. Don’t focus just on those with hundreds of thousands of followers – it’s often easier to catch the attention of mid-level influencers. Sometimes a nice combination of people who have a mix of followers, small, medium and large, is nice.
You can also search relevant people’s “followers” lists or use a tool like Listorious to search the lists of influencers to find more people to add to your circle within your industry.
As you build out your list of targets, place them into a Twitter list. You can make this list private (and therefore hidden) and label it according to the keyword you used. This will help you keep track of the types of people you are following.
Step 3: Monitor your targets
Now it’s time to get to know your targets a little better. One tool to hone in on people talking about your keywords is Raven Tools’ Social Monitor.
With Social Monitor, you list your keywords and search terms and Raven Tools pulls from a number of sources from social media to new sources to social bookmarking sites. You can specify a source, like Twitter, or allow Monitor to pull results from all over the web.
With your Social Monitor set up, you’ll be able to see anytime your keywords are mentioned. An icon to the left of the image shows whether it was from a Twitter account, Facebook page or web search, which can include Google Plus, Youtube and more.
From there, use Raven’s QuickViews in the Social Stream to take action on your results. See who posted the article, tweet or video and choose whether you want to add them to your social map. You can also use the small cogwheel in the right corner of the entry to retweet (if it’s a tweet) reply or favorite a tweet.
If the entry is a posting from another source like Youtube or a blog site, you can choose to post it to your Twitter Feed or Facebook.
Step 4: Listen, join, create and repeat
So what do B2Bs – or anybody who has a company for which they want to promote their product or service – do with this list of potential targets? Once you have placed yourself inside the circle of influence you have built, your next steps are simple:
1. Listen to what people are talking about
2. Get to know those on your list and their content. Retweet their comments, answer their questions or join in on a discussion. Thank them for valuable information. Be genuine and respectful.
3. Make note of topics of conversation, questions, or concerns people have.
4. Use the information you glean to build content ideas for your blog or white papers. Strategize topics and write about them.
5. Begin putting links to your article topics in front of your readers.
5. Go back to step 1 and repeat!
The idea is to build relationships one person at a time while solving problems and fostering discussions through your writing. This will in turn establish your brand and company as an authority on your topic, attracting the type of leads and business every business wants.