I've always felt that there was a lot of hype behind social media marketing that wasn't reflected in real world business results. And a lot of CEOs agree with me. In the 2015 HubSpot State of Inbound Sales, only 8% of CEOs agreed that social selling was a top priority in their sales efforts.
Social media is not a stand-alone marketing channel for B2B businesses. In reality, social media is one of several communication channels that should be part of an effective B2B inbound marketing strategy. When you use it as such, you will find success.
Here are 3 effective ways to use social media in your professional services marketing.
Use social media to promote your marketing content
Using social media to promote your marketing content is a great way to share your thought leadership beyond your known audience. If you're creating great content that educates and helps people in your target audience, it will be shared and amplified to a whole new audience. But you need to be careful - if your content is salesy and self-promoting, you will turn people off. And they will remember you the next time they see you posting.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when promoting your content on social media:
- Post new content several times over a 4-5 week period. Social media timelines go by so fast that if you only post your content once, you will only reach a small percentage of your potential audience. We recommend posting weekly for 4-5 weeks, trying different times and different days of the week. Review your analytics to see what works best.
- Include images in your social posts. HubSpot found that social posts with relevant images got 94% more views than those that didn't include images. Use tools like Canva to create images that will attract your audience.
- Post third-party content that will appeal to your target audience. Don't just post your own content, post content from industry sites and general businesses that will help your target audience be more effective in their jobs. There are different recommendations for the mix between your own content and third party content, but we recommend a 50-50 mix for those businesses that have a deep library of content those businesses that have a deep library of content. For businesses just starting with content creation, we suggest the 10-4-1 rule: for every 15 social posts, post 10 third-party items, 4 blog posts and 1 of your premium content offers.
Use social media for lead intelligence and qualification
Social media offers a huge amount of information that professional services businesses can use for lead intelligence and qualification. One of the first things that we recommend to our customers is that they follow their target prospect list on all of their social media channels. It's a great way to keep on top of what's important to them and what's going on with their companies.
Here are some ways you can use social media for lead intelligence and qualification.
- Have a meeting with prospect? Prepare by checking out their LinkedIn profile. This should be a no-brainer. When you're preparing for a meeting, a review of the prospect's LinkedIn profile can tell you where they went to school, people you both know and the kind of content that they are posting. You should also check out their company's LinkedIn profile to supplement your research on their website.
- Use social media to help compile your target prospect list. We are an advocate of account-based marketing, where you identify a number of good-fit prospects and develop specific marketing strategies for each account. An advanced search on LinkedIn can give you a sorted list of potential prospects by geography, industry, company size and other demographic factors.
- Join LinkedIn groups where your target audience congregates. Be respectful and helpful and recognize that LinkedIn groups aren't the place for hardcore sales pitches. But if you're helpful and respectful, you may develop relationships with people that can impact your business results. You can also see what your competitors have to say.
Whatever you do, don't do the spammy connect-and-pitch approach that too many people use today. You need to develop a relationship with the person and help them in some way before you earn the right to pitch a solution to them.
Use social media to educate yourself
Social media is a two-way communications platform. And one of the things that every one of us should do is to constantly be learning. If you're an old dog like me, you need to learn new tricks or you will die. Rather than just shout at the world through your social media channels, listen to what others have to say. You just might learn something.
- Turn the mirror on your sellers. All of the things I mentioned about helping others applies to you as well. Look for people that are out there educating people like you when you're in the need for services.
- Keep up with your professional network. LinkedIn is a great place to stay in contact with your own professional network. Say happy birthday, congratulate people on new jobs and accomplishments and look for ways to help people that need it. People remember those things.
- Watch what your competitors are doing. Keep up with your competitors on their social media channels to see how they're approaching the marketplace. You can bet that they're watching you.
Social media has established itself as an important communications channel in the modern buying process. But you need to view it as just one component of an integrated inbound marketing approach. When managed in an integrated fashion with other channels like content marketing and email marketing, it can produce impressive results. The integration is the key to success or failure with professional services social media marketing.