This is the 35th post of a 50 article series for new marketers at B2B startups.
Social media is an important distribution channel for inbound content. Depending on the target persona, social can also be a fantastic way to communicate, drive word of mouth referrals and generally build brand recognition.
There are plenty of great guides to effective social media and community management. Let’s focus this post on building the foundation of a social strategy at a B2B startup:
1. Lock down the right handle for all channels
The first step for social media is to identify a handle (i.e. username) that can be consistently used across all digital properties. This may be difficult as many handles are already taken. In general, try to keep it short, avoid hyphens, underscores and random numbers.
It may not be possible to get the best handle on every channel, and that is acceptable as long as the most important channels have the right one. For example, my team has the Twitter handle @netpulse, Facebook page facebook.com/netpulse but Instagram handle @netpulseapp.
2. Test channels to see what works
Social media is made up of an ever growing roster of channels, also known as digital properties. From Facebook, to Twitter, Linkedin to Pinterest, there are a myriad of places that your targets may find themselves online. Since each target persona and industry is different, it’s important that the marketing team experiments using different channels and measures response.
My team has found that Twitter is less important for us, but we do get a healthy amount of traffic from Facebook. We built a presence and even paid to advertise on both in order to get to that conclusion. Now, we focus our marketing dollars on Facebook.
3. Focus on view-through conversion
For many B2B products, social channels are not likely to lead to a direct conversion: someone clicking a Facebook post, going to your website and then requesting a demo.
Instead, social posts are likely to influence the purchase decision over a longer period of time. A target may see several posts on social media, then end up on your website, read a blog post, click a CTA button and download a piece of content, thus becoming a lead. The attribution is spread across multiple marketing activities, with social being a key supporter.
4. Balance organic and paid social
One of the beauties of social media is that at the base level, it’s free. If you create great content and distribute it via social, there is no incremental cost. However, you may find that paid social (i.e. advertising) can be an effective way to supercharge your content distribution. Facebook ads are known for effectively hypertargeting content to a specific audience and driving clicks and page traffic. Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram offer similar programs.
To initially build your presence on the right channel, consider investing in social advertising to make targets aware of your page and get likes / follows. The cost per acquisition is relatively low and once you have the like / follow, you can continue to push messages to distribute content at a very low cost.
5. Build social into the content schedule
Similar to blog posts, social posts should also align with the premium inbound content your team is producing. If you are writing an ebook about gym marketing, then the blog posts and social posts should promote similar topics and drive targets to that ebook’s landing page.
6. Maintain a consistent voice
You will communicate across many social platforms, so it’s important to keep your voice (i.e. the style that you write in) consistent. The company’s voice should be documented and defined with its own persona. How do you respond to questions or complaints on social media? Do your Tweets sound like your blog posts?
7. Ensure unity across digital properties
Similar to the voice, you will likely share similar content on each of the social channels that you deem effective. Each time we are promoting an ebook, my design team creates “sharables,” our nickname for graphics that are sized for each social channel to promote content. Our followers on Facebook and Linkedin will see the same core message and graphics to maintain a consistent, unified message.
8. Leverage interns for support
Especially in the early days, interns can make a strong impact on social. Once you have rules of engagement defined and a clear voice, an intern can run with it to create a calendar of social posts and reply to inquiries via your social channels.