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We are way past the point now in 2018 where marketers can claim that B2B social media is unimportant to their company’s marketing strategy. Anyone still clinging to that notion has long since been left in the dust. But keeping up also matters.

As companies make bigger investments in social media brand domination, it’s vital to stay on top of how social is being used by their prospects and buyers— as well as competitors. Here are seven key insights for the state of B2B social media in 2018.

 

Beyond marketing, Social Media is becoming integral to business

While most organizations typically first adopt and implement social media within a marketing function for branding and lead gen purposes, the use of social media management technology has expanded to include sales, product, customer support and HR teams.

Savvy B2B organizations have increased their adoption of social media tactics, and in response, social media management technology providers have added to their functionality to serve more B2B needs.

This is why organizations must be strategic in their selection of the social media management technology they’ll be using to manage the company’s overall social presence. They should first understand the capabilities needed from each team member who will use it (technical skills, SM etiquette, good spelling and grammar, knowing the types of content to share, etc), and make appropriate assignments based on a coherent organizational strategy.

Bringing these teams together early in the process ensures that all needs are addressed. It is also critical to keep open lines of communication between these teams to ensure that the company continues to speak to its customers with a single personality and voice, even when there are multiple people doing the talking.

 

B2B researchers are mostly Millennials

While the traditional B2B model was about targeting the traditionally more senior B2B buyers and purchasing managers, the reality is that today just about every B2B prospect employs younger managers who research online.

Typically  Millennials, they are digitally savvy and mobile-first. Before they will even consider an offering, they first look up the vendor’s digital assets to develop a clear picture of the vendor’s commitments to things like customer service, its ease for digital-only transactions and messaging, and whether its social presence has a modern “face” and personality.

This steps up the pressure on marketers to ensure that all this introductory browsing meets expectations. You can’t risk looking old and crusty, with an outdated website, lack of mobile apps, or a boring, tired social media presence or you will be dismissed before you can even pitch your offer.

 

Mobile-first goes hand in hand with active social media.

Younger B2B customers are most likely to spend more time on their mobile devices for work than they do at a desktop computer. That’s why you also need a Mobile-First strategy for all digital assets that you link to your social ads or postings. Researchers are finding, for example, a strong trending preference for vertical-only video — people don’t want to turn their phones 90 degrees to watch. And of course, you’ll need mobile-responsive formatting, emails and menus for all your digital assets.

 

All the kids – young and old — love video

In a mobile-first culture, video has become our main consumption. In 2017, 90% of all content shared by users on social media was video. The biggest challenge is how you can capture your audience’s attention in the first 3 seconds.

Not doing short video is not an option any more. Brands who are not yet using video as part of their social media strategy need to start.

A key differentiator will be the creation of high-quality, relevant video. On LinkedIn especially, with its exploding video usage, it’s a guaranteed way to position your business as a vendor who offers value upfront. Statistics back this up: 66% of B2B marketers find LinkedIn very effective.

 

The often forgotten power of Direct Messaging

With over 1.2 billion people on Messenger every month (according to Facebook), marketers using Messenger, especially those who are first on the trend, can expect explosive reach and engagement rates. Smart Replies, chatbots and embedded apps create a trifecta of marketing opportunities on Facebook Messenger.

Facebook reported that they now see 100,000 monthly active bots on Facebook Messenger, offering another new platform for marketers to connect with audiences.

The quickest adaptors to chatbots are currently millennials, with nearly 60% having already used chatbots and 71% saying they would like to try a chatbot experience from major brands.

And now that Google is working on perfecting its AI-driven voice calling, there will be a whole world of new opportunities for marketers to bake in key marketing and sales cues to bots set up for taking customer questions and processing orders.

86% of millennials agree that brands should use chatbots to promote deals, discounts, and offers. The future is now, so if you don’t already use chatbots as part of your marketing strategy, don’t wait.

 

The growing influence of Influencer Marketing

With the continued democratization of content publishing, traditional marketing channels have less influence while social media users and content creators have more. All it takes to become a social media influencer now is passion for the subject, social media agility, and a devotion to uploading daily videos that entertain or educate their viewers.

Given the rise of micro-influencer marketing, brands no longer need to depend on million dollar marketing budgets and top celebrity influencers. Marketers can now instead tap into the power of micro-influencers. These influencers are not only more affordable but often have more time and are more eager to partner with the right brands, big and small, that are interested in collaboration and serving their audience incredible value. This can bring a high ROI for brands, since 82% of consumers follow recommendations made by a micro-influencer.

 

Renewed Focus on Analytics That Matter

One of the core benefits to social media management technology is actionable insights. Social media management technology provides measurement and analytics that track the impact of social content.

Successful companies will implement robust measurement systems that create a direct link between social activity and predetermined goals – whether it’s email, sign ups, e-commerce sales or spreading a specific message. Social media analytics platforms such as Sprout now provide the tools and expertise to help companies do this. Increasingly, reliance on vanity metrics like retweets, likes and follower count will no longer be enough to please clients and/or senior executives.

Analytics apps can also be used to help inform what content is performing best by channel. Additionally, social listening and analytics are key inputs into understanding audiences and market trends, and planning a go-to-market strategy.

B2B social media in 2018 is very different than it was in, say, 2015. If you need some help planning a targeted social media strategy, Leadit Marketing has a crack social media team with a young staff that’s brimming with ideas. Contact us if you’d like to us to hook you up!

 

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Shannon Prager is recognized B2B marketing strategist and the President of Leadit Marketing. She is responsible for the daily operations and management of Leadit Marketing as well as the long term vision for the company.

A marketing leader with over 19 years of B2B demand generation and marketing experience, she understands the importance of a fully developed integrated marketing strategy. Shannon’s background includes demand generation, marketing automation, social media, digital marketing, customer marketing, account based marketing and marketing operations. You can follow her on LinkedIn via https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannonprager or Twitter @ https://twitter.com/LeaditMarketing

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