It is an accepted fact that social networks are here to stay however many companies are still trying to figure out how to use social networks in an effective way. There are many conflicting opinions on how an organisation should deploy the use of social networking, the reason being that each opinion revolves around that particular individual’s area of expertise or comfort zone.

While social networks can be used for research, public relations, branding, marketing or as an extension to your corporate enterprise resource planning systems, I am going to focus on the use of social networks for business-to-business marketing. Here are some things to consider if you are planning on using social networks as part of your B2B Marketing strategy.

Develop your strategy first

Before doing anything, spend a lot of time developing you B2B Social Media Marketing strategy. Too many jump in head first without having a plan in place and then give up because they are not seeing tangible results. B2B Social Media Marketing, just like any other project, is a strategic initiative and should be treated as such. You wouldn’t embark on an enterprise resource planning implementation without a proper strategy, would you?

Get “buy in”

Once your strategy has been developed, ensure that you get an executive sponsor and owner. For the best results get your CEO involved and make sure that the entire board and senior management know that he/she has endorsed the project.

Do your research

With any marketing intervention, it is always a good idea to do your research first. If you plan to use social networks as part of your B2B marketing strategy, find out:

- If your target market actually use social networks
- Which social networks they participate on
- If the business publications your target market reads use social networks
- Which social networks do the business publications participate on
- Who are the potential brand advocates and social media influencers

Resources and budget

If you think you are going to execute your B2B Social Media Marketing strategy with one person and “free” online tools, you are sorely mistaken. A sound B2B Social Media Marketing model requires a number of specialist skills (internal and external) and tools. The important thing is that if you spend wisely, you will reap the benefits.

Measurement is important

The sole purpose of a B2B Marketing plan is to generate sales leads and prospects. Very early in your project, you need to identify what you are going to measure, how it will be measured and how you will report progress to the relevant stakeholders within your business.

Don’t do it on your own

If you are going to deploy a B2B Social Media Marketing model effectively within your organisation, you need participation from a wide audience. I am not saying that every person within your organisation should be participating on the relevant social networks, however there should be a notable online presence from key individuals, especially the relevant thought leaders.

Get help from the right people

If you are going to do it right, make sure you get the right people to help you. The B2B Social Media Marketing specialists are out there, but word of advice, choose wisely! This is all around generating leads and prospects to fill your sales funnel so it is advisable to speak to experts that come from a sales background.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Do you agree or disagree with anything I have mentioned? Do you have any personal experiences or advice? I would love to hear from you!

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