In just a few years, social media marketing has evolved from a niche practice to an essential component of any B2B marketing strategy. Publishing relevant, engaging content on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks has become standard practice for B2B brands looking to grow their thought leadership, increase brand awareness, and engage prospects from target accounts.
A strong social media presence can help any B2B brand build a loyal following … if you put out messages that resonate with those you’re trying to reach. Before sending a single tweet, it’s vital to know exactly who your targets are, what interests them, what their challenges are, and what they’re doing to address those problems. Fortunately, if you’ve incorporated intent data marketing into your strategy, the answers to all those questions are at your fingertips.
Intent data gives you real-world insights into what your targets are thinking, based on what they’re actually doing on the web. By analyzing your targets’ online footprints, you can gain the intel you need to create impactful social media messaging, delivered at the right time, in the right place, and in the right format for engaging those hard-to-reach B2B target audiences.
Refining Your Personas
Before digging into the “what” of social media messaging, it’s vital to understand the “who” — the individual whose eyes and ears will be absorbing your messages.
Many B2B marketers have a clear idea of the organizations they’re targeting, but haven’t yet drilled down to the individual level. This is a crucial step that can make or break your marketing campaigns. Think about it — a CEO and a mid-level manager could have very different perspectives on the same problem. So if the company is dealing with, say, an outdated HR management platform, the HR manager would see a frustrated staff that spends too much time re-configuring reports, while the CEO would be more interested in the overtime dollars being spent for HR staffers to get all their work done. Same problem, different perspectives.
Intent data lets you learn more about the individuals looking for the answers your products and services can provide, and you can then use that information to take your personas to a whole new level of detail. By tracking your targets’ online footprints and analyzing the blogs they read, the resources they download, and the terms they enter into search engines, you can better understand who they are, what they’re trying to accomplish, and the roadblocks that are standing in their way. With this information in hand, you’re ready to create some high-impact social media messaging.
Analyzing intent data can also offer insights on where you social messaging should live. Every audience has different social media habits — some are active on Twitter, while others prefer LinkedIn, Facebook, or even Instagram. By following their online activity, you can get a glimpse at the social networks where they spend the most time and plan your publishing schedule accordingly.
Crafting Your Message
Successful B2B marketers know that intent data offers valuable insights on how to shape their social media messages. By analyzing your targets’ online activity, you can gain valuable clues on the words, phrases, and styles that resonate most strongly with them, and you can then incorporate those insights into your own messaging.
Look, for example, at the titles of white papers and e-books your targets have downloaded, and look at the landing pages where those resources are being offered. Notice the tone of voice. Is it straightforward and professional? Edgy and irreverent? Caring and comforting? Notice the words and phrases that appear in the copy. By identifying trends, you’ll gain a new understanding of the messages that get a positive reaction from your targets. And by incorporating that intel into your social messaging, you’re increasing your chances of attracting engagement on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks.
Timing Your Posts
By analyzing your intent data, you can isolate times of the day when your targets are most active on social media, and what you learn may contradict some of the assumptions you’ve been making. For example, you may have been scheduling your tweets throughout the 8-to-5 workday, but intent data may show that your targets’ most relevant activity occurs before or after business hours.
So analyze your intent data and look for times of day when your targets’ activity tends to spike on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks, then schedule your posts accordingly. As an added bonus, you may identify time slots where your targets are active, but your competitors are not. Less competition for your targets’ attention means a greater likelihood that your message will be seen.
Bringing It All Together
No single marketing activity exists in a vacuum, so it’s important to incorporate social media with the other components of your B2B marketing strategy. Here are a few best practices for “bringing it all together” in a way that will attract and engage your target audience:
- Focus your social media marketing on those networks where your targets are most active.
- Make your messaging consistent across your social media posts, emails, landing page content, website content, and all other platforms.
- Don’t schedule social media posts and emails for the same time. Space them out to create a consistent flow of messaging at times when your targets are most likely to respond.
- Pay special attention to intent data from users at specific target accounts, and look for opportunities to leverage social media as part of your account-based marketing (ABM) strategy.
- Format your social media messages according to the preferences you uncover in your intent data. If, for example, you notice that your targets engage frequently with video content, you may want to incorporate more video into your social posting practices.
- Conferences, trade shows, and other industry events tend to attract high volumes of social media traffic. Keep track of the events that interest your targets and look for opportunities to jump into the social conversations around them.
As in all other approaches to B2B marketing, the key to success in social media is knowing your target audience and responding to their interests and preferences. The intent data you collect offers a treasure trove of insights that can fuel engaging social media content designed to attract a response from your designated targets. By using intent data to shape the content, the location, and the timing of your social media posts, you can cut through the noise and build a solid social media following that will continue to feed your funnel with fresh new prospects.
If you’re ready to learn more — and to get some practical advice on adding intent data to your marketing strategy, download a copy of our ebook Quick Start Guide to Intent-Based Marketing.