(Updated September 8, 2015) It's not even debatable anymore - government buyers use social media to learn best practices and keep up-to-date in their fields of expertise. In the 2015 Federal Content Marketing Review by Market Connections and the Merritt Group found that 47% of government buyers surveyed use Google+ to stay up-to-date, while 32% accessed YouTube videos and 31% were active on LinkedIn. And that number will continue to grow. So if you're not yet using social media in your B2G marketing efforts, now is the time to start.
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 to get found when government buyers and M&A firms search for your solutions.
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 find partnering opportunities
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 find M&A opportunities
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.
Be consistent with your social media marketing
Many contractors think that social media marketing is like a spigot. Just start doing it 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.
Pick the right person to manage 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.
Measure your efforts and iterate
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 many government contractors don't have inbound marketing 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.