This week's guest post is by Billy Mitchell, president of MLT Creative based in Georgia. Read on for the first in his multi-post series on how to succeed with social media marketing.
My B2B marketing agency is often tasked with assessing the social media landscape for new clients and prospects. In some cases, the company is well on its way with a strategy and commitment to social media as an important part of its inbound marketing mix. Unfortunately, others blast out of gate too fast and run out of steam due to lack of results, resources or commitment. Others, let’s call them the turtles, are taking their time and moving very slowly or not at all.
If you’re a turtle, you’re running out of excuses not to engage in social media and ceding valuable ground to your competition. It’s time to come out of your shell.
Here’s a quick-start plan for B2B social media marketing success:
- Follow the Leaders –Listen and learn.
- Basic Training– Research and prepare.
- New Outlook –Realize there’s no finish line.
- Content –Create, curate and convert.
- Commitment– Once you start, don’t quit.
In this post, I’ll focus on the first step: Follow the Leaders.
It’s a common mistake for an experienced professional industry leader to be a reluctant to follow.
But in social media, there’s nothing sheepish about being a selective and engaged follower.
Here are six ways I suggest you follow:
1. Use the Search Function
I consider LinkedIn and Twitter to be to the two most viable social media platforms for B2B, and recommend you think of them first as search engines. Plug in the key terms that best identify your industry, your products and services, and your customers. You will be surprised at the number of groups, individuals and discussions that show up in the results. Make note of what you discover and select those you find most interesting.
2. Identify Yourself
Take time to carefully complete your profile on any social network you join; there is no reason for it to be half-baked. Be professional about it, but share some of your personality. And definitely include your picture as your avatar. It’s okay to add some personality with your photo too. This is social media – it’s good to smile.
3. Follow Influencers
Your industry still has trade publications and associations. The thought leaders who contribute to those pubs are now blogging and probably tweeting, too. It’s the same with the top organizations and associations. Find at least five influential individuals in your business who blog or contribute articles to online sites associated with the leading publications. You can usually subscribe to these sources via email and/or an RSS feed.
Slowly and steadily expand your network:
- Join at least five Linkedin groups related to your industry.
- Find and follow at least five relevant new people on Twitter each week.
- Request to connect on LinkedIn with at least five professionals in your business each week.
You didn’t get where you are without reading and forming opinions – why stop now? Once you find a few influencers who already have a following and a blog you can relate to, it’s time to dive in. Speak up, question authority, spark a debate or add to the conversation with an idea of your own. Commenting on blogs you follow is a great way to express yourself in social media. Remember, it’s social, so behave yourself and, if you must disagree, enjoy the debate but don’t be a jerk about it. Most bloggers welcome a lively debate, and new ideas just make their comment section more dynamic.
5. Filter the Noise
Social media has as much or more spam than your email inbox. The secret to success is filtering. Join only the LinkedIn groups you find interesting, and elect to receive daily or weekly updates. If you find that you’re attracting nonsensical Twitter followers or receiving too many Linkedin requests, simply ignore them, block them or segment them using lists. The point is that by using services such as TweetDeck or setting the pace at which you receive updates, you can filter out noise and focus on updates of value to you.
6. Follow the Savvy B2B experts. You’ll stay on course and be passing rabbits in no time.
If you’re reading this post, you’re on the Savvy B2B site, one of the starting points that helped me the most. All the points I’m making are covered in depth by the Savvy Sisters and, if you don’t already subscribe via email or RSS, I suggest doing that right now. You’ll be well on your way to success.
Stay tuned for future posts in which I’ll cover the remaining steps in my quick-start plan for B2B social media marketing success.
About the author: Billy Mitchell is a partner and senior creative director at MLT Creative, an Atlanta-based B2B marketing agency with a Northeast office in Rhode Island. As a B2B marketing specialist for more than two decades, Billy brings creativity and leadership to his team while serving national clients. He contributes regularly to the B2B Ideas@Work blog for MLT Creative.
Photo image sourced from istockphoto.com.