To understand what content marketing is about, you have to be clear about what you want (and can) achieve with it and how you can get there with the tight content. The reason why Social Media for B2B seems to be so much harder than B2C is due to the totally different processes in the two.
Where in B2C an advertisement might bring you to buy a new pair of shoes – in B2B you are not likely to choose a business partner because you saw an add. The reason is easy: the wrong pair of shoes will be forgotten in a cupboard after a short while, the wrong business partner in B2B business could easily prove fatal or at least result in significant lower ROI (and some shoes you cannot afford to buy).
The impact of a decision in B2B networking and collaboration on your business can be strong, the bigger the possible impact on your business the more careful you choose and the more certain you want to be, that the person or company you are going to work with, is an expert in their field. That needs more reputation and trust than you will ever be able to create with an advertisement.
Reputation and Expertise:
Even though the main goal for all marketing efforts probably is to increase sales or find new business opportunities, in B2B Social Media and content marketing you have to step back and rethink marketing. In B2B Social Media what you really go for, is to build a reputation as a thought leader and expert in your field.
Unfortunately people will most likely not believe you, if you just say you are an expert. You have to prove/show it. The way to do that is quite similar to the ways you already know from offline work: inform, answer questions, explain, analyse, communicate, be helpful. If you give people the information they are seeking or needing, they are likely to turn to you in case they need something (a collaboration partner or a service provider) in your field.
What kind of content and where to publish?
Where offline you speak on conferences, write articles for industry publications or talk to colleagues and acquaintances on events – online the spectre of possibilities is much wider, the reached audience can be larger and the variety of content you can publish and spread is huge. That does not exactly make getting started easier. There is no right or wrong way to do B2B Social Media via content marketing that can be applied to every industry, every situation and every piece of content. What works one day can be fruitless the next. What works for one business or industry can fail for another. You have to try out, listen and communicate – and learn.
There are uncountable possibilities for content. You can use diverse formats like videos, texts, graphics, and pictures. Some ideas for stellar content you might not have thought of before and some examples of people who do a great job in content marketing are given in this White Paper about Content Marketing “The Social Media Way of Life for B2B Experts and Content Marketers” .
Why are Content Marketing and B2B Social Media related?
Once you have created great content, you want as many people (from your target group) as possible to see it. There is no doubt, that social media can reach a lot of people – if you get it right. Even though there are more factors in the equation why something gets spread in social media than just the quality of the content. But the quality of posts and the value they represent for your audience does not only influence the readiness of people to share and recommend, it also helps you build a following, which is crucial in social media to get more attention.
Social Media is only one channel to publish and spread content – but it is the channel with the largest possibilities. But take into account, that there are great differences between all the social networks out there, not only do they work in different ways, but the users also expect something different. Also some of the networks are good for publishing, some of them are better for spreading the word. For a deeper analysis of the main networks again have a look at the Whitepaper “The Social Media Way of Life for B2B Experts and Content Marketers”
How to get started
Once you have decided on the content you can provide and with which to reach your audience, you have to figure out where to publish it. First choice will probably be your own blog or company blog. Downside of this might be, that visibility for your own page (blog or homepage) does not come for free.
If you already have an active and interested audience for you blog – lucky you. If not, consider using a content publishing platform, that comes with an interested audience. As reader of your blog tend to be from the same field of interest as you, a professional content marketing site is also a great addition to your own blog, if you are looking for new connections outside your usual field of interest.
Once you have published you want your content to spread. You can wait for that to happen on itself. Chances are that you need a lot of good content before you see that happen. So it is a good idea to help your content along.
On all social sites the rule applies: the more good content you have already shared, the more attention your new content will get. So a very important fact about content marketing is: continuity. Having the best of content pieces once, will probably not get you the attention you are looking for. But consistently producing great content will in the end pay off.