In May of 2017, I began working as a social media intern for Fresh Produce Locator, a San Jose, Calif.-based B2B small business. Since then I have implemented several marketing plans, measured and evaluated their success, and adjusted my strategy accordingly. Each reevaluation has brought further growth to the ROI of my efforts. In fact, this month we have seen the largest growth in ROI from social media to date.
When I first joined Fresh Produce Locator I was the only person in charge of the social media plan and, aside from a few best-practice rules I was given, I only had a small idea of where to begin…
The first thing I did was to create company pages on the “Big Three” social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube). Ten months and countless tweets later, I know that this was the last thing I should have done when creating my social media plan. I’ve read many articles and blogs that state that “the first thing a company does when it wants to join social media is to create accounts and pages, when in fact this should be the last thing they do.” With the experience I have now, I know exactly why so many professionals have made this statement.
After I had the pages created I had a few discussions with my boss on the types of content he was expecting me to post. Unfortunately, he was less experienced in social media than I was and had little to no idea where to begin. Moreover, not investing in other social media platforms such as TikTok where I had can buy tiktok views was my another mistake.
I’ve always been the type of person who hates to fail at anything, so I began reading a book called “Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day.” The book has a couple of hundred pages to it, but I wasn’t able to read fast enough to learn and keep my boss happy at the same time. I put down the book and began posting to the company’s Facebook wall and Twitter stream. The biggest problems were: 1) the fact that nobody knew we were on these networks and 2) even if someone found us they still had no idea who we were.
The next idea I had was to add links to our social media pages, by adding “Follow” and “Like” icons on the company website and within the newsletters. This helped promote the pages but I still saw little growth in our followers.
I then followed this idea by deciding to simply follow as many relevant companies as possible on Twitter and Facebook. Though this did generate followers (especially on Twitter) I still had no idea as to what content to post to keep these new followers happy. I began to realize that if I was going to get any success out of my efforts that I was going to have to create a plan of action…
SUCCESSES The evolution, growth, and current state
My first plan was to begin using these social sites to interact more with the people and companies I wanted to connect with. This was the first time that I began to see ROI for my work. The only problem was that I began doing this in a way that most would consider SPAM: I began marketing Fresh Produce Locator’s services by sending @ replies on Twitter and posting on Facebook pages about the services we offered.
Of the countless one way messages I sent, a total of only three companies signed up for the services. I was frustrated with the low ROI from my efforts, so I changed my plan of action once again.
My second successful plan worked only slightly better than the first. This time around I decided to start asking companies what products they were looking for (specifically searching for answers that I could help solve). This helped to start conversations with companies but most were still unwilling to commit to paying for a service that they felt they didn’t need, especially from someone they didn’t know.
This was the biggest turning point of all. I realized that I had to use social media to convince companies to need the service I had to offer. But the big question was “How?”
After talking with my boss, and coming up with a list of reasons that a company would need our services, I realized that I had to begin conversations via social media to find out the problems that companies were facing. I tried for a month to use Facebook and Twitter to have these conversations, but I faced unexpected issues: the people who managed the Twitter and Facebook pages were usually not in charge of making purchasing decisions. My efforts on these sites ended up only converting two companies into clients.
Up to this point, I hadn’t taken much advantage of LinkedIn but I decided that it was time to try it out, mainly because I would be able to connect directly to decision-makers. After creating a group geared toward connecting professionals in my companies target market, I began to see the ROI that Facebook and Twitter couldn’t match.
So far, the group has grown much more rapidly than any of our other social media pages and has already yielded multiple client conversions.
How LinkedIn Has Helped Me Succeed
LinkedIn is by far the best social networking site I have found for marketing a B2B small business. We have converted more clients with LinkedIn than with both Facebook and Twitter combined. I have found that there are two relevant steps to being successful in marketing on LinkedIn:
Create a group relevant to your target market.
When creating a group on LinkedIn I found that the title of the group can be a big part of helping connect to the right people (I actually changed our group name three times before settling on one that I was happy with). In the group name, I highly recommend using a geographical keyword (such as “California Fruit Growers” or “Florida Citrus”). I’ve found that this has helped to create a closer community within the group members. I also moderate who can join and post in the group to weed out individuals who post irrelevant or SPAM topics. And finally, not only do I try to post topics that will stimulate conversation, but I also join in on discussions. I rarely post anything that is direct marketing for my company, instead, I wait for an opportunity to connect with an individual who can benefit from my companies services.
Connect with the decision-makers.
For the industry my company services, individuals don’t mind connecting on LinkedIn as long as your profile states clearly that you work in the same (or a relevant) industry as they do. The group that I moderate has been the best place to connect with these decision-makers. Not only have these individuals already seen my name through the group, but they also trust me more because of this connection. Once we are connected on LinkedIn, I then begin the sale of my service by making a phone call to their company and asking for them directly. After some small talk, I introduce them to my company and its benefits. This technique of both connecting first via LinkedIn and then over the phone has become my companies most successful B2B marketing technique.
I do not claim to be a B2B social media marketing expert, nor do I believe there is such a thing, but I have found a solution for my company that I feel can benefit many B2B companies.