Tomorrow morning I’m going to be speaking at LinkedIn, at a CMO breakfast seminar for global heads of marketing in the recruitment sector, on the subject of Using Social Media For B2B Business Development.

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The event is part of an ongoing series, offering insight into a variety of topics.

This subject is an interesting and undoubtedly tricky one. There’s no simple answer, clearly, but having given it a good deal of thought I think there are (at least) three major considerations:

1. Know your audience. In our experience, many brands and businesses simply don’t understand their audience well enough, which has a resulting effect in the ability to target, measure and monitor effectiveness.

2. Tailor your content. Following the above, create content based on your audience’s profile. Moreover, particularly with B2B audiences, long form content is a successful yet largely under-utilised strategy. I read one report that said less than 85% of content in LinkedIn is 1,000 words or more, whereas that same content type consistently receives far more comments, likes and shares than shorter content. Obviously it’s about getting the balance right.

3. Optimise your distribution. Again, this is essential. Organic content reach is typically in the low single digits, so complementing this with either/both paid support or earned (blogger/media/influencer relations) is highly likely to significantly improve the impact that a content strategy has. Also, consider your in-house team as potential re-distributors of your content, to reach new audiences.

Finally, whilst it’s not one of the above points – perhaps because it’s simply too obvious – we still prize measurement very highly with all social activities. Moreover, rather than simply looking to generate data, we look for actionable insight, which can quickly be turned into the next phase of the content strategy. 

As with any other business development exercise, the challenge is in finding the right person, in the right place, at the right time – and for that person to be in potential buying mode. However, when set against the people cost and financial investment of other services, social media can be both an efficient and an effective route to business development.