If you’re part of a B2B marketing team, or YOU ARE the B2B marketing team and you want to improve your presence on social media, where do you start? Which networks are best for connecting B2B and, ultimately, lead generation? The answer may depend on your market, product, and marketing plan. Linkedin is where business people network, so it has to be the best place for B2B connecting, right? Yes. Maybe. Not always…

Our marketing team has made connections and generated leads on Linkedin, Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, and we’ve made inroads on Google Plus, Pinterest, and Instagram. We’ve had a modest 10,000 visits to our YouTube account, helping us brand our services. So… where do you start? Know your target audience and determine what networks they visit. To do this, conduct a search (Google and others) for product, target customers, and competitors. We recommend beginning with one or two networks. We began with Flickr and Twitter in 2008, then we added Facebook (and yes, Myspace for a short time). We’ve added networks as our team has grown.

Using Different Networks for B2B Marketing—Some Basics…

A few basics with any network—fill out your profile completely and accurately, including a bio, contact info, and hour of operation. Also, use a consistent username and avatar/imagery across all networks, and select a custom url (where applicable). Regularly seek new people and organizations to connect with, engage with them, and like and comment on their posts. Your connections should be relevant to your business’s market.

Website – You need an up-to-date, easy-to-use website with call to actions and takeaways to inspire businesses to visit your site. If you don’t, STOP – do not read further. Fix your site first. It’s counterproductive to use social networks to drive visitors to a site if it doesn’t capture them.

Blogging – OK, blogging 101 – Publish new, well-written content at least once a week. Three to five posts are better, but consistently posting and writing about topics of interest for your target market are the keys. Although your blog may be hosted elsewhere, it should be linked and promoted on your website.

Twitter – Social media is more about attraction than promotion, especially in a 140-character tweet. Use the 80/20 rule – 80% about others, including RT’s, conversations, and shares – 20% about you, such as promoting your blog. Grammar, courtesy, and avoiding controversy are critical. Here are 15 things I learned on twitter.

You Tube – Your videos don’t have to be perfect. Scripted and over-rehearsed video is often not as believable as unscripted, unrehearsed takes. I recommend posting a new video weekly. I recommend hosting videos on YouTube, while embedding them on your website. We share them on our blog.

Pinterest – The idea is to cross-promote with others, while increasing your exposure. Use this strategy to repin, and post highly shared graphics such as applicable quotes or DIY’s, while also posting your company’s original content and links to blog posts, tutorials, and how-to’s. Remember to use keywords when titling and captioning posts, but because Pinterest uses ‘nofollow links’, they will not have much direct impact on your SEO.

Instagram – Use the geo-location feature to post to the Photo Map when employees travel, or across different offices, to show how widespread your brand is. This feature could be beneficial to connect with users searching for photos from certain events, trade shows, or cities. Let other companies see inside your business culture. Have employees snap pictures on their smartphones, and forward to the marketing team for review, whether it’s daily tasks or attending special events. The marketing team may then filter and post photos that show a different side (and personality) of the brand.

LinkedIn – Encourage employees to share and engage with company content, as well as reach out to professionals they meet immediately after tradeshows, conferences, and events while the connections are still fresh. Establish yourself as an expert. Join groups in your industry, answer Linkedin questions, and participate in discussions without trying to sell or promote your product, until a relationship has been established.

Flickr – Take good photos of your products, services, employees in action, and events. Your photos can be high-end or candid in quality, but they need to be good. Always think–would you share YOUR photos? Title your photos accurately with keyword phrases without being too SEO-ish. Search for people and organizations, relative to your business, and add them as contacts. Send a short, friendly email along with a friend request to open the dialogue. Join groups and submit your photos to them, while interacting with members.

Facebook – Create a “Page” for your business–NOT a personal profile, and choose a username for your Page, thus creating your brand’s custom url. It’s good branding, and it’s easier to remember than a long, nasty default url. Use lots of visuals and photos in updates, as this has a high rate of engagement. Actively seek relevant business Pages to Like and engage with. You cannot “friend” personal profiles from a business Page, but you can Like posts from others and comment on posts, encouraging others to Like your Page. For people to receive your updates, they must first Like your Page, so encourage employees, customers, and friends to do so, but don’t be pushy. Posting great, relevant content will make people brand advocates. Conduct fun surveys, polls, and introduce creative promotions on your Page.

Google Plus – On Google Plus, you can create “Circles,” allowing you to share specific content to certain demographics. For example, if your company sells clothing for men, women, and kids, you may wish to share specific promotions to certain Circles, thus serving content people want, while cutting the clutter. While Google Plus is known for its SEO value, don’t overdo it. Be thoughtful and real about your post and photo titles–people first, SEO, second.

I know it’s trite to say Rome wasn’t built it in a day, but it wasn’t. It’s better to do some of it right, than a lot of it wrong. Find your target market, build a niche, and be consistent. If we can help, don’t hesitate to connect with me on Twitter (@randyclarktko), Josh on Google Plus, or Kristi on Linkedin.