Government contractors have been slow to adopt social media marketing. Many government contractors incorrectly assume that government buyers dont use social media to research solutions for their programs. Examples to the contrary can be found in Market Connections 2012 Federal Marketing Study. Among other things, the study found that LinkedIn usage by government officials doubled from 2010 to 2011. We will cover the 2012 study in detail when its released this spring. It will be interesting to see how the usage of social media by government officials has changed over the past year. Its also a safe bet that government buyers are researching solutions with Google searches.
Executing an effective social media marketing process can create a competitive advantage for government contractors. This article will provide social media tips for government contractors to consider as they develop and execute their growth strategies. Let's start by defining the term "social media marketing process." A social media marketing process is a series of tactics designed to promote your company as an industry influencer and to generate leads for your products and services using your website and social media. This broad definition of social media marketing is also termed inbound marketing. Inbound marketing tactics include:
- Developing a keyword strategy to define the phrases buyers and potential M&A partners use to find companies like yours on the web.
- Optimizing your website so that you are found when government buyers and M&A firms use your targeted keyword phrases.
- Creating blog articles and premium content offers like eBooks, whitepapers and videos that educate potential buyers and help move them through the stages of their buying process.
- Using social media channels like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to promote your content, monitor conversations about your company and industry and to communicate with customers and prospects.
- Converting website visitors and social media followers into leads by using calls-to-action and landing pages.
- Nurturing leads through the stages of their buying process with permission-based email marketing.
- Optimizing your website and social media channels for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
- Analyzing the results of your efforts and using data to refine and improve your social media marketing process.
Here are 5 ideas for government contractors to consider as they introduce and optimize their social media marketing process.
Use Social Media to Help Get Partnering Opportunities With Prime Contractors
Prime contractors like Northrop Grumman, MacAulay-Brown and Attain LLC look for teaming partners with professional social media programs. At a recent Northern Virginia Technology Council event, these three contractors provided advice to small businesses on teaming best practices. All three of the presenting companies agreed that having a professional social media marketing process was an indication of how well your company is managed. They further agreed that social media wasn't an option - it was "table stakes." Having a social media marketing process will help you get found by potential teaming partners and show them that you're managing your company to grow.
Use Social Media to Get Found by Potential M&A Partners
I recently had a conversation with a senior manager at an investment bank active in the government contracting sector who told me, "I can't tell you how many times someone mentions a company to me as a potential M&A candidate and I can't find their website." Similar to teaming partners, M&A firms looking to match buyers and sellers need to be able to find you on the web and see that you have a social media marketing process in place. Not only will it help you get found, it could help your valuation by demonstrating that you have a modern marketing plan to produce revenue.
It Takes Time to Develop Your Social Media Marketing Process
Many contractors think that social media marketing is like a spigot. They think that you start with social media marketing and get immediate results. It takes time to develop critical mass in your social media marketing process. Search engines need to index your website and see that you update it frequently by blogging on the keyword phrases your targeting. It takes time to develop an audience for your social media channels. In most cases you'll start seeing a noticeable increase in website trafic in six months. Web traffic and leads really start taking off after twelve months. If your competitor starts their social media marketing process six months before you do, they have a serious head start on you. Don't wait! Start today.
Don't Give Your Receptionist Responsibility for Your Social Media Marketing
Many business owners and managers see social media as something that young people do and assign the task to the youngest person in the company. Don't do this! Social media marketing isn't about posting on Facebook asking peope what their favority color is, it's a results-driven process designed to drive the right traffic to your website and convert those visitors into sales leads. Either find someone in your company that can drive results or outsource the task to a specialized agency. To do it right, you'll need to use marketing automation software to tie your program together. There are several cloud-based marketing programs available. We use HubSpot at our company and are Certified HubSpot Partners. I like HubSpot because it has all of the tools that I need in one affordably-priced package.
Social media marketing is great for results-driven companies because you can measure everything if you have the right software. With traditional advertising and public relations, it's hard to measure the results of a given campaign. With social media, you can measure the metrics that matter - website visitors, leads and customers. You can see which of your efforts are working and which arent. For example, you might find that you're getting leads from your LinkedIn marketing, but not from Twitter. This lets you decide whether to transfer resources to the channels that are working or change what you're doing on those that aren't. Again, it's important to have the right marketing automation software in place to track your results.
It's becoming increasingly evident that government contractors can benefit from implementing a social media marketing process. Because government contractors have been slow to put programs in place, you have a great opportunity to get a jump on your competition. If you'd like to find out how to get started, please feel free to schedule a free consultation with us.