It’s a common story. Inbound marketers do their diligence developing buyer personas; cultivating content plans informed by keyword research throughout the buyer’s journey designed to attract and convert B2B leads. We launch our campaign to the world. Check for form notifications. Hours go by. Days. *DING* WE GOT ONE! – oh, wait… it’s a guest blogging service in Croatia.
Well, shoot. Here’s the deal: it’s not that the inbound research is necessarily wrong. But the content and conversion paths are a long game. Driving B2B leads with content can’t always rely on the grit of our organic and earned efforts. Especially in the short term. Take this data from Hubspot for example:
It usually takes 3 – 6 months before we start seeing the blogs we’re posting today really start picking up steam in attracting the contact volume that can start to scale our business. It takes 12 months to really go crazy.
So what’s a marketer to do? Help crush your B2B lead gen goals with some help from the social network built for B2B. LinkedIn. If you sell B2B, you should already consider LinkedIn marketing. What we’re going to look at today, is sponsored content.
Get to Know LinkedIn Sponsored Content
LinkedIn Sponsored content is the promotion of a post from a page that appears natively in the LinkedIn feed [psst, here are some post ideas.] You can include a link to your site or landing page or build a lead generation form within LinkedIn that lets LinkedIn users request content, information, or other contact from your organization with the click of a button. The form will automatically populate with information from their LinkedIn profile.
Because it behaves like a native post you get the benefit of the engagement functionality resulting in brand awareness via the social nature of the network. This reach is extended beyond that of your company page with the assistance of an ad budget.
Setting up Sponsored Content
Getting your sponsored content campaign up and running requires a LinkedIn advertising account. For a complete guide to doing that, check out the Getting Started with LinkedIn Advertising chapter in our LinkedIn Marketing Guide.
Some things to consider as you plan your advertising strategy.
LinkedIn, like most online ad platforms enable total and daily budget parameters. Bids can be set per click or impression if sending InMail. Because of the niche element of LinkedIn (focus on work) costs are generally higher than you’ll see on other networks.
There’s a multitude of options for targeting ads from audience development around LinkedIn profile parameters like job title, professional interest, industry. etc.. But another powerful tool is combining LinkedIn with your own data whether using matched audiences like those who visit your website or for account-based targeting. All of this is covered in depth in our LinkedIn Marketing Guide.
Aligning Sponsored Content with Inbound
The LinkedIn B2B lead generation goal crushing comes in when LinkedIn sponsored content aligns with a well crafted inbound marketing program. If your marketing plan and website is built to be a lead gen machine, give the machine some extra horsepower by plugging in another channel.
First, look to your personas when you build out your audience targeting in LinkedIn advertising. Structure campaigns around them, their stage in the journey, and use the LinkedIn Insights tag to create audience groups for people who engage with content as they move through the funnel, adjusting the content you show them during their journey.
Second, make sure that the audiences are aligned with the timing delivered in your email nurture sequences. The goal is to create a multi-channel soft touch to attract and nurture your prospects along their journey.
Historically, construction and engineering companies have been known to heavily utilize one-way advertising including TV and radio ads and billboards, as well as offline face-to-face interactions and word of mouth. These may still work to an extent, but they are limiting in how far they can reach.
An active social media presence allows construction and engineering companies to reach a wider, more receptive audience than traditional marketing. Consumers are spending the majority of their time online. When they are looking for project ideas, answers to questions, or firms to partner with, they are turning to their online communities to find information and engage in conversations. Make sure your firm isn’t overlooked by putting the following social media marketing ideas for construction and engineering companies to work.
1. Build Lasting Connections by Being Engaged in Industry Conversations
The construction and engineering industries are constantly evolving. The professionals involved have great stories to tell whether they’re about exciting industry innovations, successes throughout projects, or admirable firm culture. There are many ways to engage with your industry and your target audience using social media; here are a few.
Regulations are constantly changing in the construction and engineering industries. Social media is a great medium to have discussions on how to best handle those changes. Make an effort to become actively involved in Groups on LinkedIn or Facebook that address regulations specifically.
Once you’ve started to build a reputation as a thought leader in your Groups, begin creating educational content such as blogs, videos, and infographics that will help others address the regulatory compliance issues your team has conquered. Share these resources in your Groups as well as across all of your social media channels in order to spread their potential impact to a wider audience.
Show Off Your Successes
Your clients and prospects want to know exactly how successful your firm is when it comes to completing projects and staying ahead of your competition. In a way, social media was designed around the idea of showing off a bit, and it’s a great medium to demonstrate your full capabilities. Here are a few ideas to get your humble brag motors turning:
Display beautiful photography of your finished work on Instagram, Pinterest, and Houzz
Boast about your team’s diversity and inclusion efforts on Instagram
Do “sneak peek” walkthrough videos of completed projects for Instagram and Facebook
Demonstrate how your firm is innovating using exciting, new tech on LinkedIn
2. Get Creative with Video Across Different Social Channels
Video is one of the most powerful marketing tools of our time. It helps draw in new followers and is an exciting way to provide valuable content that actually gets viewed. If you aren’t currently using video in your social media marketing, here is what you are missing:
Video content is the best performing content type on social and can help to increase brand awareness, interest, and conversions. (SocialMediaToday)
Views of branded video content increased 99% on YouTube and 258% on Facebook between 2016 and 2017. (Wyzowl)
On Twitter, a video Tweet is 6x more likely to be retweeted than a photo Tweet. (Wyzowl)
Video production doesn’t need to be extremely technical or time-consuming.According to HubSpot, 56% of all videos published in the last year are less than 2 minutes long, which happens to be the sweet spot for maintaining viewers until the end. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started with video marketing on your social channels.
Live Stream to Provide an Inside Peek at Your Operations
Outsiders probably don’t know what the day to day looks like in construction or engineering. Even your current clients that meet with you regularly may not fully understand how you make decisions and problem solve. Construction and engineering can be quite technical in nature so providing a raw, real-time inside look gives it a human touch and makes it more relatable.
Live stream content is not only interesting but also beneficial to your curious clients and future prospects as it increases transparency and builds trust with your brand. It is a great way to get useful information to your followers in a way that is easily digestible.
There are many platforms to choose from for streaming. It may be worth it to diversify across several to target different types of audiences. Between four of the major players, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Periscope, there areover 1.1 billion hours of video watched each day.
On several platforms like Facebook and Youtube, when you start a live video, automatic notifications are sent out to pull in followers as you are streaming. A good practice while streaming is to have a moderator prepared to keep an eye on the live chat and respond in real time to questions or comments.
Easily Start a Vlog (Video blog) on YouTube Reusing Your Blog Content
80% of people now prefer videos over blog content and social media posts. All of those people may be skipping past the wealth of information in your blog simply because they’d rather watch or listen to it than read it.
This effort can be as simple as recording someone reading the information out loud. This is a bit more like a podcast because there isn’t a lot of visual value and will be a quick effort but doesn’t take full advantage of the power of video.
To really add value, you could bring in a designer to create a simple but engaging animation that demonstrates visually what is being said in the audio. Another popular strategy is recording a person explaining the content (memorized snippets of the blog) along with intermittent animation overlays to help demonstrate specific points.
3. Amp Up Your Social Media at Expos & Trade Shows
Trade shows and expos can be a powerful marketing and sales channel that allows for informative face-to-face interactions with current clients and potential prospects. In fact, 88% of exhibitors participate in trade shows to raise awareness of the company and its brand.
The key is getting attendees to not only notice your booth amongst hundreds but to be interested in what you have to say or offer. You can use social media to create a buzz and keep people informed throughout the show.
Use SnapChat Geofilters to Draw in a Crowd
You don’t have to have the biggest, most expensive display but everybody knows the booth at the show with excitement and a crowd draws in even more curious people. At your next trade show, utilize a SnapChat geofilter. This can create interest and draw people already at the show to your booth.
You can set your filter for the timing of the show and confine it to the specific location in and around the venue. You can utilize several pre-made SnapChat templates, or if you want to make sure it’s fully branded have your designers create a custom filter. It just needs to follow SnapChat’s custom creation guidelines.
Include your recognizable branding and your precise booth location so people can easily find you. Provide a reason to come to your booth, such as a free t-shirt or some other kind of swag. Most importantly, make sure when people do come to your booth, you help them take pictures using the filter and share to their networks.
If your business will be doing a live presentation or giving a speech, a Live Tweet Q&A is a great way to wrangle questions from your audience while also making them aware of your presence on Twitter.
This will require a well-advertised hashtag for questions to be submitted; make sure it is discussed prior to the speech beginning and is visible throughout the entire presentation.
For a smaller audience, you could have the speaker keep an eye on the hashtag and try to catch questions coming in real-time and work them into their presentation. But, this can be quite distracting for someone who isn’t well-versed at multitasking.
Another option is to have a moderator keep an eye on the incoming questions, they can sort them into categories, get rid of duplicates, and choose the best questions to be addressed at specified times throughout the presentation.
Pair this Q&A effort with a giveaway where a winner is chosen randomly out of new Follows from the audience throughout the presentation.
As you can see, there is a multitude of ways to creatively engage with and market to your target audience using social media. The most important thing to remember is it is all about making and building upon connections and being present, so don’t go in halfway. Committing to being fully engaged on one channel is better than being partially present across several.
Creating LinkedIn posts for B2B can be a challenge when competing with all the other noise on social. However, unlike some channels that are heavily influenced by friends and families, research from Marketing Profs found that while individuals have a slight advantage, brands bring a fair degree of influence on LinkedIn, making it a key part of your b2b marketing.
Additionally, MarketingProfs found that LinkedIn members will engage with content when it’s educational or informative, relevant to their specific interests, and related to industry news and trends. 89% of people said say they are interested in industry news, and 86% said that want tips and best practices. Here are a few of our recommendations on how to create LinkedIn posts for B2B to drive views and engagement while giving the people want they want.
Create Posts That Give How-tos and Tips
As mentioned above, people use LinkedIn to learn more information. They go to the platform to stay relevant in their fields and competitive with what their colleagues are doing. They want to learn from their peers and find interesting, useful tidbits of info that are applicable to their own careers.
B2B posts centered around giving your audience just that- useful information- will go far. Make your audience feel smart with posts that fuel their natural inclination to do their job better.
Create Posts about Your Company Culture
B2B companies have a much larger opportunity to be seen and followed on LinkedIn than any other platform. This is simply because many professionals still want to keep their work and personal social channels separate. That being said, LinkedIn is a great place to showcase your business’ culture.
Create posts that show what your culture is about. Please don’t just spew culture-related buzzwords all over your audience. Post photos of your team, congratulate your employees on their successes, showcase how you’re putting your mission into action by serving the community.
We love this example of how our partner Beehive Strategic Communications used International Women’s Day to showcase their culture through dedication to gender equality.
Create Posts Giving Predictions and Unique Points of view
LinkedIn is a great platform for your company to strut its stuff, so to speak. You’re experts in what you do, right? Use LinkedIn to prove it. Make your proclamations and show your audience that you know what you’re talking about. They likely are following you for exactly that reason already. Don’t be afraid to make bold statements about your industry.
Furthermore, since we’re talking B2B here, your prospects are likely looking to work with a company that’s confident in their assertions.
On that note, the average LinkedIn scroller will be looking to engage and interact. They are eager to offer their opinion and sound smart. This is partly due to the fact that commenting gains them visibility, which you can use to your advantage. By declaring your own point of view or making predictions about the state of [insert topic here], you have the opportunity to open up a dialog. Ask questions, invite feedback, and inspire your followers to give you their opinion, too.
Make it a point to write specific posts geared toward igniting discussion on a weekly basis. The more engagement you get, the more likely you will be to show up at the top of the newsfeed.
Create Posts Using Your Company Influencers & Thought Leaders
Because “B2B” by definition is Business-to-Business, we tend to forget about the humans actually running the businesses. So, even though we’re talking about posting on a company LinkedIn page, you can absolutely let individuals speak through your company. Especially when it comes to video, which we’ll talk about next. Your employees are brilliant authorities on your core topics. Allow them to generate, lead, and influence the conversations you want to have.
Here’s an example from HubSpot. They’ve showcased VP Katie Ng-Mak. She’s breaking through barriers about what it means to be a ‘salesperson’ and opening the door for other like-mind individuals to do the same, sparking a dialog in the comments. This video really hits on all the sections above, too.
Create Video Posts
How far can you get in your own LinkedIn feed before you see a video? Starting at the top of my feed, I got to post #5 and it was a video of a dog hugging a goose. Can’t make this up. Maybe not the most relevant subject matter for LinkedIn…? BUT right below that was a video on personal branding and authenticity. She recorded it on her own personal device- no budget, no frills, no extra equipment. You bet I watched the whole thing, took mental notes on it, and went on my way. Note that this wasn’t a paid spot, either. But here is some info on using LinkedIn Ads if you’re interested!
When generating LinkedIn Posts for B2b, if you’re an expert in your field, which we already assumed you are, people want to hear from you. And video is one of the easiest, fastest ways to accomplish that task. We can guarantee that almost everybody (save for those people who really want to be actors deep down) are going to be camera shy at first, but the reward of video is worth feeling silly at first.
With more than 500 Million users, nearly half of which use it daily – LinkedIn offers a unique reach for B2B marketers and salespeople. Because of its emphasis on career, LinkedIn attracts often hard to reach buyers. If you’re looking for a niche channel and considering adding LinkedIn Marketing to your mix, you might be wondering specifically about LinkedIn lead generation tactics. Here are 6 easy to implement LinkedIn lead generation activities to boost your B2B sales and marketing on the business social network.
Hubspot gave us a nice Valentine’s day gift today – integrating LinkedIn ads to their ad product. As inbound marketers who look at a multichannel approach that includes ads – this is welcomed news (especially because we found a lot of problems with alternative solutions). On this Valentine’s day, we’re swooning over this product update. So what does this mean for B2B marketers looking to add LinkedIn marketing to their mix? What’s got us all excited about the Hubspot LinkedIn ad integration? Let’s break it down.
Seamlessly sync Linkedin leads with Hubspot CRM
This is probably the most exciting thing we’re looking at. Historically, you’ve either had to use third party tools like Zapier to connect Linkedin and Hubspot or assign someone manually to go in daily to download your lead list and update your CRM. Yuck! With the native integration to Hubspot, when a prospect submits a lead gen ad, they get created as a new contact in Hubspot (winning!)
Easily report ROI through the CRM
LinkedIn’s ad product is coming along from where it was even last year, but reporting ROI is still a struggle. Now, closing the loop at the contact level, you can report ROI either by assigning a static value to all contacts or with real data from your CRM’s pipeline and opportunities that flow into it from your LinkedIn marketing activity.
Another area of challenge with LinkedIn ads, is referral sourcing and tracking. Ads don’t always seem to get tracked well in Hubspot – now, campaigns are auto tracked. Of course, you can still append additional parameters, but if the idea of tagging a bunch of blogs that you’re running as sponsored content sounds laborious – take a breath.
Close the gap on remarketing
Similar to Facebook, reaching customer and prospect lists with audiences is even easier now with a direct connection between your CRM. Shortening any step in a day full of tasks is a welcomed event.
Very B2B friendly
What we’re most excited about, is that while Google and Facebook have their place, for B2B clients who really benefit from inbound, sometimes Google and Facebook is hard to advocate for in aligning with inbound further up in the funnel. Now, with the LinkedIn ads product for Hubspot, it feels truly useful across a customer’s journey and fully aligned with the mantra of being helpful.
Word of caution
When connecting, Hubspot will sync past LeadGen Forms. This has caused some weird timeline details on some portals we’re working in. The benefits of the sync going forward far outweigh any quirks with some of the retroactive data, but if you see some historical changes to the way you were tracking your Lead Gen Form contacts, be aware there is a historical sync that takes place.
LinkedIn marketing holds a key place in a modern marketing strategy, especially for B2B marketers. With more than 500 Million users, nearly half of which use it daily – LinkedIn offers a unique reach that other social networks struggle to compete against. Because of it’s emphasis on work, LinkedIn attracts often hard to reach buyers. Whether in niche industries or by titles – or high net-worth (41% of millionaires, have a presence on LinkedIn!).
It’s no wonder that marketers flock to LinkedIn as an acquisition source. In 2017, Social Media Examiner found 81% of B2B Marketers and 44% of B2C marketers are leveraging the network in their marketing programs.
So with all this opportunity, you’re chomping at the bit to get a piece of the pie for your business. We get it. That’s why we created Lake One’s guide to marketing on LinkedIn.
Crisis lurks out there. It can be man-made or an act of God. Social media, unfortunately, is a risk factor. However, it’s also one of a crises best cures.
Last week, an employee at Max Credit Union sparked a controversy when they shared personal information about a member on the credit union’s Facebook page.
Policy guides use, but not all use can be pre-conceived
Well-meaning social media policies and guidance can protect organizations, guide use and mitigate risk. But in the Max Credit Union case, this was a case of a Common Sense gap.
It should go without saying “Don’t post account holder’s personal information on social media”, right? Social Media Policies can only reach so far. They can’t conceive of every possible use or human conception.
Said another way. Social Media provides more than a marketing channel. It can be the very tool used to mitigate the crisis a credit union faces, even if IT (social media) caused the crisis.
As such, policies can not possibly conceive all use cases.
Social Media and Crisis, Cause & Cure
While policy can’t prevent all lapses in human common sense, the very channel that caused the crisis is often in demand to help solve the crisis. Regardless of disaster, social media is a powerful tool for your credit union to both mitigate a crisis and serve your members.
Social Media usage skyrockets during crisis events. Expectations on social media are also high. According to the American Red Cross, in times of natural disaster, nearly 3/4 of all adults expect emergency responders to send help within one hour of social media requests being made.
Sure, your credit union isn’t an emergency responder. But you are responsible for timely and accurate information regarding the security the financial well being of your members. Additionally, supporting your community in times of crisis is a strong brand builder.
In their paper, Examining the Role of Social Media in Effective Crisis Management:The Effects of Crisis Origin, Information Form, and Source on Publics’ Crisis Responses, Yan Jin , Brooke Fisher Liu , and Lucinda L. Austin point out that”social media provide emotional support after crises through enabling [audiences] to virtually band together, share information, and demand resolution. This online participation during crises often is replicated in offline participation in crisis resolution.” (2011)
The need to prepare to mitigate crisis, self and nature made
So while a social media policy can’t have hundreds of pages for every lapse in common sense and included lines explicitly saying “you can’t post that,” not that that would be much value anyway, your policy can provide some guidance for situations conceived now and broadly in the future.
Here are a few items to consider in preparing yourself, your team and updating your policies to manage through self-made and man made crisis. No policy at all? Check out our downloadable social media policy template for credit unions to get you started.
This is another one of those areas you can’t account for all possible variables. But try your best. Someone saying something mean about your credit union once on facebook, isn’t really a “crisis.” A one hour power outage on your block, not a crisis. You can use some broad strokes if you want but look at things like:
Reach – How many people are being affected by this event? Is it a significant portion of your membership? It could constitute a crisis.
Severity – On a scale of 1 – 10, how severe are the repercussions of this crisis. Repercussions can be a lot of things. Legal fallout, damage to brand, financial loss, and damage to property to name a few.
Duration – Is this a short lived event or does this event have long lingering effects?
Additionally the folks at Convince and Convert have some guidance on this topic as well. In particular what constitutes a social media specific crisis.
Name a crisis management team
You might already have a crisis communications plan in place for things like natural disasters, data breaches or other catastrophes. When social media is involved, take it a step further. Name a group of people who are responsible for the following things:
Handling public concern. These people will be online and offline. Someone in your branch(es) as well as a social media “command center.” This should be someone more senior who can be trusted and held accountability for staying on message.
Media spokesperson. There should always be a strong media spokesperson. Someone selected who is calm, collected and presents well with the media. This isn’t always your CEO, of VP of Marketing. This is someone who can handle a barrage of questions and put the media in their place when they need to be but also seen as sympathetic and compassion towards anyone affected by the event.
Internal spokesperson. Just like you need someone responsible for communicating with external audiences, you need someone as a point of contact for internal questions and concerns. This person also needs to be able to think fast on their feet and handle anything that might get thrown at them in a dicey situation but also someone who can show empathy when necessary.
Legal counsel. Finally. You need a legal counsel counterpart who can be available with a quick turnaround to provide guidance on statements, strategy and ensure compliance as you navigate the fallout from your crisis.
Conduct a post-mortem
Once the storm passes, and they always do, pull your crisis team together and few members fo you senior management team and those from the front line together for a round table. Here you will discuss the event. What went well, what went badly. The goal of this is to document the experience and produce a post-mortem document to add to your previous memo as continued guidance. The reason? No amount of planning can prepare for every situation. In today’s 24/7 always on world your digital channels serve a lot of masters from cleaning up messes in lapses of common sense to communicating in times of community crisis.
A social media policy can’t prepare and protect against all possible crisis but having a small team dedicated to quick reaction and analysis can prepare your credit union and position you to mitigate risk, reduce fall out and move through the crisis in the best possible light.
Have the last word
What say you? What did we miss or what would you add? Leave a comment and let us know.
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