The Social Business Journey
How does a 300 person B2B technology company compete against global, established brands with thousands of employees and much bigger marketing budgets? One such company who is nameless in this article to protect their digital strategy asked themselves this question and became a social business along the way.
Recognition of Social Media Trend
Approximately five years ago they recognized a growing trend toward the use of social media in business. They were already very intent with SEO best practices. Their CMO shared a key stat with the CEO and the rest of the organization: As much as 90% of B2B buyers conduct extensive research online about prospective vendors before they are willing to engage in a sales conversation.
But, just SEO alone is a tall mountain to climb particularly when your competitors are 20 times your size. So, they set out to develop a content strategy that would create a relevant connection with their audience. A connection that would build trust and create sales opportunities. Every piece of content they set out to produce has two criteria: 1) it must be high quality, relevant content for their audience, 2) it must focus on a keyword that has search relevance.
Their CEO was very supportive from the get-go. He recognized the growing popularity of social media and encouraged experimentation with social technologies to help support their content strategy.
A Private Community
Naturally, they use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn to engage and share content. LinkedIn in particular is a key aspect of their social business strategy. Many of their employees are active in LinkedIn groups where they participate in discussions and share links to their blog with industry peers. The big differentiator is their own private community. They created an online community hosted on their website where industry peers can join in on technical discussions and support each other. This vibrant community is over 5,000 strong at the time of this writing.
Content Requires Planning
As their content strategy evolved, they created an editorial calendar and assigned articles to subject matter experts (SMEs). Each article is focused on one keyword. The SME authors the article. An editor reviews it and helps to turn it into a white paper. The white paper is made available via a download form, which creates top of the funnel leads. The white paper gets re-purposed into blog posts and in some cases a video interview is conducted with the author, as yet another piece of relevant content.
Once the content is published, the author and many of the other employees share it through their social network, particularly through LinkedIn. It’s interesting to note that the employees who contribute content have come to value the recognition and social influence they are developing within their industry community. This is a natural evolution in social business as employees become very active with their participation in online channels.
The C Suite Gets It
As mentioned above, the CEO quickly recognized the adoption of social media in business and that it might have marketing potential. He was very willing to embrace it early in the adoption curve in order to establish a quick and significant presence. This first-mover mindset proved fruitful.
This is a real company with a marketing department of five people. I am not disclosing their name out of respect for the privacy of their strategy in a very competitive industry segment. I will point out that the CMO is always marketing their strategy to its employees to get them to embrace their role in marketing. In other words, Marketing (the department) is marketing the importance of marketing and how each employee can contribute. This company is a fine example of a B2B organization well along their journey as a social business!