Even the most seasoned business-to-business companies need help with their online marketing strategies. It’s not for lack of trying, as an increasing number of enterprises are turning to social media to expand their Web presence. However, exceptional online marketing solutions begin with understanding your customers and plotting a course of action that will strike at the heart of their preferences and leverage their digital habits.
A study from January 2014 found nearly half – 46 percent – of business owners in the U.S. planned to increase their budget for social media marketing (1). Another 93 percent will maintain their current spending levels. At the same time, organizations will likely need to spend more time dedicated to managing their social presence. For this reason, many organizations will likely move from handling social media marketing as a collaborative effort to entrusting the channel to individual specialists or teams.
Even with all of the movement toward social media marketing, there’s still significant room for doubt in many business owners’ minds regarding how these platforms are best utilized. For instance, B2b Interactive Marketing Inc. owner Brian Basilico wrote “It’s Not About You, It’s About Bacon; Relationship Marketing in a Social Media World,” which aims to educate business owners about what they can and should be doing with social networks (2). Basilico’s book earned recognition for helping to explain to business owners how social networks are portals – communication channels – that helps companies develop trust and stronger relationships with customers. The author accomplishes this by trying to put readers in the shoes of customers.
This can be one of the biggest challenges for business owners hoping to take advantage of social networks. Accordingly, LinkedIn looked into the behavior of more than 2,700 of its members and found there are extremely active individuals, which the social network has dubbed “content revolutionaries.” The site supports more than 1.5 million people who publish content by linking from their personal or organizational websites, essentially using LinkedIn to expand the reach of their content marketing strategies (3).
But who are these hyperactive content consumers?
They are drawn to information that is relevant to their professional lives and careers. Compared to the average LinkedIn member, they spend vastly more time each week looking at this information. In fact, content revolutionaries allocate essentially a workday – eight hours – to consuming relevant content. Compared to other social networks, LinkedIn is the No. 1 resource for professionals searching for content. On a weekly basis, 91 percent of these individuals use it to find career-enriching articles, infographics, eBooks and white papers. On the other hand, only 29 percent and 27 percent seek out the same information through Twitter and Facebook, respectively.
However, it’s not enough to simply publish content on LinkedIn and expect these revolutionaries to share it as it spreads like wildfire. Specific kinds of content tend to resonate with users more than others. For instance, new research gains the most number of clicks and nearly an equal number of shares. One reason for this is because business decision-makers often look for insight that can help guide their thought processes. In the same way that many people refer to advice from a trusted colleague or friend, research delivered on LinkedIn can help customers and other professionals be more confident in their choices.
Other types of information that content revolutionaries actively seek out and share include case studies, career advice and other items produced by business leaders. These items can act as a springboard to create conversations among community members, breeding commentary, likes and email sharing.
How does LinkedIn sharing benefit professionals?
Developing a greater knowledge base through the social network is one of the most important aspects of the online network. Among active content sharers, 78 percent explained they can keep up with the latest news and 73 percent said they discover new ideas. At the same time, it provides opportunities to build relationships with customers and colleagues by engaging them in relevant discussions.
There’s no room in the digital world for little mistakes that can rapidly become big ones. This is why testing plays a big role in making sure B2B marketing tactics are effectively implemented through social media channels. However, 66 percent of companies don’t perform customer research or test their content before they distribute it. While the majority – 84 percent – keep track of how effective their content once it’s published, there aren’t many that look into hard analytics, such as sales impact and return on investment (4). Instead, most companies look at click-through rates and sharing trends, which can help keep business owners informed of what content starts a conversation but doesn’t show how content leads to increased revenue.
1. 14 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2014
2. Author’s First Book Wins Two Honors in the 2014 Small Business Book Awards
3. The 2014 Professional Content Consumption Report
4. Social Media Content on Rise for Brands, While Testing Remains Low