#SMWNYC: Five B2B Best Practices

The following article was written by John R. B. Cudahy, Regional Sales Manager at Starline.

Social Media Week (#smw12) kicked off in NYC on February 13 with a full day of education and networking. I began my week with a session on B2B Social Media Marketing. While every bit of information was useful, I found five best practices that rose above the rest.

1. Know your target audience beyond their demographic. We all know we should be targeting promotional product professionals with our messaging, but we need to dig a bit deeper. As a distributor, if all your messaging is geared for Facebook and your clients are looking for product demonstration videos, your message is unheard. If you’re a supplier posting weekly specials to Twitter, but your target audience mainly uses Twitter to see what Aunt Clara and the cousins are up to, your message is unheard.We need to ask ourselves: What platform does my target audience use for business? How are they engaging in these spaces? Where does my target audience have the most influence? Without knowing the answer to these key questions, a large part of your social message is going unnoticed.

2. Doing one platform at your very best is better than doing five poorly. It seems every day we’re told of the new social media platform that we should start using, but putting a consistent message over multiple platforms may do more harm than good. We don’t know where our audience is and what messaging will get them to respond. By utilizing one platform at a time, you can narrow down your target audience and the strategy that works best. Once you have a loyal group of brand ambassadors, you can leverage their responses to begin other social initiatives. Bring your audience with you, but remember the messaging may change from platform to platform. Your brand ambassadors will help with the transition.

3. Become an expert. Take advantage of Quora, LinkedIn Discussion Groups and Facebook Discussion Groups by answering the questions so many people don’t take the time to do. Not only does this position you as the expert, but it also may turn questions into business. Join a blog or create a blog to generate original content. Leverage Facebook, Twitter and Youtube messaging with similar content (taking audience into account) to reiterate your brand’s expertise.

4. Measure, measure, measure! If you are not measuring your metrics, you might as well stop what you’re doing right now. You have no clue what content works, what doesn’t, who your audience is and what they want. If you are the administrator of your brand’s Facebook or YouTube page, look at your insights. You can see what posts had the most reach and what posts engaged the most amount of people. Take advantage of other free services such as Klout, Bit.ly, Hootsuite or Twitter Analyzer to see who are your biggest influencers. The most important things to remember are: measure, optimize and adapt.

5. ROI does not only mean income earned but also cost deflection. Most professionals want to put up a Facebook special and sit back and wait for the orders to come in. As nice as that would be, it’s not very probable. But don’t let this discourage you from leveraging social media. If you’re posting your online catalog, are you saving money on shipping the physical catalog? If you’re highlighting the features of your website through social media, are you saving time and money from easily answered phone calls? These are great questions to think about when trying to measure your ROI.

These best practices are not the end all, be all to creating a successful social landscape, but they are great ideas to focus on with your brand’s growth.