According to Social Media Examiner, 83% of marketers believe that social media is important to their business, and nearly 60% of marketers spend six hours or more using social media platforms each week.
Given those statistics, you'd think marketers would place a premium on finding experienced people to man the social media ranks.
During a recent stroll through the freelance jobs section of Craigslist, I was struck by how many companies are seeking unpaid interns for their social media marketing!
Yet, many find it difficult to resist snatching up a low-budget intern to get the job done. Is it wise to leave the fate of your social media marketing in the hands of an intern?
How Many B2B Companies Find Social Media Marketers
Check out this ad:
The call for someone to do social media marketing in his or her "free time" of 10 hours a week without pay sends a red flag that this company doesn't believe that social media is worth spending money on.
Companies mistakenly believe that because someone is young they are digitally savvy. Yet, it takes a lot more than being able to post on Facebook or Instagram to do social media. You know to have marketing smarts and judgment that comes from experience.
Can you rest easy entrusting the performance of your social media marketing to an intern with no real experience under his or her belt.
Then there's the low ballers:
My 86 year-old grandmother knows how to post to social media, but I wouldn't want her running my b2b social media campaign. Likewise, there are countless people who know how to post to social media and are happy to work for $10 an hour. However, do you want to leave your marketing in the hands of someone who meets those basic qualifications?
In many ways, learning social media marketing is like learning a new language. As someone who speaks French fluently and has been a student of the language for several years, I realize that no matter how I try to keep up with the latest expressions, or perfect my accent and my grammar, I will always be a learner. But I love the language.
I feel the same about social media marketing. You may be fluent in the use of one platform or tool, but because the landscape of social media changes frequently, as a lover of all things marketing, you will actively seek to broaden the scope of your understanding of social media. And that's not something that can be done in your spare time.
The point is, that you can be a learner, and, in fact, you have to be a learner to be successful. However, you can't take a haphazard and, frankly, cheap approach to social media marketing. A social media user is not the same as a social media marketer. Posting a few interesting links every day will not take the place of crafting an effective social media campaign.
The Real Deal About B2B Social Media Marketers
So what makes the difference between a seasoned social media marketer and a newbie? I turned to Pinterest freak, Tina Gammon, who has run many a successful marketing campaign, for her insights.
Here's what she had to say:
"I think it all boils down to expertise. Social media brand presence is a competitive and complicated niche. Sure, anyone can get post to a page, but if you want results you need a SSM.
Does your intern have a clear view of your brands buyer persona? Do they have a knowledge of which image dimensions work best on individual social platforms? Do they know what to avoid to keep platforms from shutting down your contest or promotions? Doubtful.
Brands that are generating leads and customers from their social media efforts are leaving social media management to a pro. Period."
"Would you have an intern or someone who is the "cheapest available" to speak for your organization at a conference or represent you at an event?"
"The majority of social media crises we observe are not from customers using social media to voice complaints, but poorly qualified social media marketing personnel making mistakes that negatively impact brands."
Yes, a social media marketer's priority, first and foremost, is marketing, and they must have a multi-layered comprehension of how to use social media as a valuable marketing tool.
What are some tricks of the trade that you can expect from an expert?
6 B2B Social Media Marketing Tips from the Experts
1. Blog posts and other original content are the seeds from which great social media marketing grows
It's not an unusual sight to see. Companies will post to, let's say, Facebook, that they have a new blog post on their website. Upon following the link, you are only able to read a couple of paragraphs before you come across a button that says "finish reading on such-and-such a website."
The company is actually directing you away from its website!
In fact, I recently saw one Facebook post promoting a publicity piece (Check out how we were featured in...). However, you had to be a paying subscriber to the publication before you could read the article!
Yes, the point is not just merely to share pieces of information, although that has to be part of the plan. The idea is to direct people to your website and hold their attention long enough for them to see you have valuable content.
2. SEO Matters
Creating content for readers that is optimized for search engines is a top priority when it comes to developing shareable content. If you are a freight company located in Connecticut, you'll want the name of your business to come up on the first page of a Google search. This is done, in part, by sprinkling a healthy dose of keywords throughout your website, and including appropriate hashtags in your social media postings.
For example, the keyword in this post is "B2B social media." I have sprinkled my keyword throughout my post in strategic areas that will make search engines happy. It's not merely about repeating the same word several times. In fact, too many times and you'll be considered spammy.
3. Social media postings should feature a fair balance between original content and curated content
This balance may vary depending on the type of industry. The standby rule has traditionally been that 80% of your content should be curated, and 20% should be original. However, if everyone applied this rule, the content well would run quite dry.
The truth is, a seasoned marketer will use industry knowledge and buyer personas to determine the right melange of content to share.
4. It's all about the CTA
Quite likely, if a college kid can write 500 words about political science, they can write 500 words about your industry.
However, you're not looking for a term paper. You're looking for compelling content that motivates the reader to take action based on the information he or she just read.
Creating a compelling call to action is essential for any piece of content. It's that button (like at the bottom of this page) that the reader clicks to find out more information. This is an important way to receive leads.
And, there's a bit of a science to it. For instance, did you know that Twitter posts that use red, purple, and pink receive far more shares than those that contain green or blue?
5. Be alert to engage in dialog
An unpaid intern, or someone who is getting paid only slightly higher than minimum wage is unlikely to take the time to engage in conversations online. And if they do, you must ask yourself if they are the voice you want representing your company.
Not only are dedicated marketers alert to joining conversations, they start them. They actively search for ways to engage in dialog with industry partners, customers, and leads.
6. Know which platforms to use for your industry
Having a presence on several social media platforms is crucial. However, it's likely that one or two will stand out as being more engaging for your particular industry.
For instance, did you know that:
At the same time, younger platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat are quickly becoming front runners for the B2C community.
Stellar B2B marketers keep up with these trends and adapt their ways accordingly. They don't try to squeeze their social media marketing agenda into an mold that doesn't fit.
How to Partner with the Right Social Media Marketer
Gems of talent of course can exist in interns or those willing to work for slave wages.
We all have to begin somewhere. In fact, being a relatively new industry, social media doesn't have a lot of white-haired old timers. That said, can you afford to leave an essential part of your marketing to someone just learning the ropes?
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