February 8th, 2017 / Posted by
9 Reasons for SMB CEOs to Invest in their B2B Social Media Strategy
Leaders of small or medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have a lot on their plates. Unlike Fortune 500 CEOs, they don’t have the luxury of pushing important tasks down the ladder to hundreds of willing employees. They are often both the decision-maker and the doer, so it is imperative to be steadfast about where and how they spend their time. For these smaller-company leaders, spending time on social media—sharing thought leadership on LinkedIn and/or tweeting about the latest award on the mantle doesn’t always make it to the top of their priority lists. In fact, many believe these are quite clearly the Marketing team’s responsibilities…so why spend time on a b2b social media strategy? Below we share some of the reasons that many of our clients have made the investment.
- Generate brand awareness – When CEOs engage on social media in an authentic way, they build their personal brands while improving the company brand.Brand awareness is particularly important in the B2B world where many purchases follow an involved and sometimes long, sales cycle. Not having awareness or credibility in the market means a company doesn’t even make it into the choice set in the first place.
- Demonstrate thought leadership – According to HootSuite, the world’s top 100 CEOs on social media share valuable content. Inc.com states that, “this can include industry insights, leadership tips and advice, commentary on news and trends, video Q&As with followers–and more.”Content is king in B2B as 69% of B2B buyers use social networks to gather information in advance of making a purchase. As a social CEO, you have the opportunity to share your unique message while supporting your firm’s other sales and marketing efforts.[iii] One of our clients, the CEO and Founder of a high-growth B2B SaaS startup, was initially reluctant to post thought leadership articles as an influencer on LinkedIn. Dipping her toe into the world of being a social CEO turned her into a bit of an addict. She came to appreciate and value the engagement from her network, as her customers, employees and others would actively like, comment on, and share her posts. She was able to reactive a valuable network that helped support her company’s growth trajectory, and she quickly learned to balance the time she invested herself while leaning on her marketing team to extend her reach.
- Build greater employee morale – Leadership teams with social CEOs say their leader’s social media presence makes them feel inspired (52%), technologically advanced (46%) and proud (41%). In fact, 70% of executives would like to see their CEOs use social media even more often.[iv] Increased employee morale positively affects the company culture and reduces the company’s spend on hiring and replacing top talent, which is critical for many smaller firms—in particular those entering a rapid growth phase.
- Proactively manage crisis situations – Social media can be a powerful tool for CEOs to share important messages quickly and efficiently during a crisis situation. It’s important to remember that the message must be genuine, professional, and actionable. CEO of Delta, Ed Bastian, shared a powerful video apology on Delta’s Twitter account after a massive IT failure left thousands of people stranded. His three-minute message humanized Delta through its honest, sincere approach, and while he acknowledged the problem was still ongoing, set expectations about what Delta was doing to solve it.[v]
- Bolster search results – A social CEO’s activity should be considered part of a comprehensive B2B marketing program because of its impact on areas such as search engine optimization. While many marketers believe that search engine optimization is all about keyword usage, in reality, there’s much more to it. For example, Google’s “Knowledge Graph” connects not just terms, but people, places and things and their connections to each other. Put simply, this makes the CEO of any brand likely to show up in a search of the company name. Social CEOs contribute to brand visibility and vice versa, which can help to elevate the brand’s organic search ranking.
- Showcase innovation – Many innovative firms today have interesting and impactful stories to share about how they got to where they are—and where they’re headed. Showcasing a firm’s innovations in the right way can catch the attention of potential customers, industry influencers, investors, and other key audiences—in ways that can even surpass what the largest paid media budgets can accomplish.
- Build trust and credibility – Particularly for smaller or younger firms competing against more established players, CEOs can use social media to help establish themselves as a credible option in the market. CEOs can showcase their industry knowledge and expertise. They can also use their smaller size to their advantage—perhaps building up their brand as an accessible CEO who is responsive and pays close attention to what’s happening in the market.
- Build better relationships with media – Many writers, bloggers, and influencers use social media as a key source of information for data and building out their own networks. CEOs who are actively engaged—sharing and creating content and insights—are more likely to build an authentic relationship with the types of influencers that can help land quotes in national publications, bylined articles, and invitations to speaking opportunities. This is often most likely when paired with at least a basic influencer or media relations program, but a CEOs engagement sets a strong foundation.
- Attract new investors, employees and other stakeholders – CEOs can use social media to strategically release information about new products, events, leadership changes, and other company-related announcements. Done right, these CEOs can add personality and intrigue to the way people receive company information. It can help support a company’s efforts to drive more inbound opportunity their way.
Because of these benefits, it’s no wonder that social CEOs are on the rise. In a recent survey of small businesses, 37% of CEOs spend six or more hours per week on social media – almost the equivalent of a full day of work. Only one-third of all CEOs surveyed want to spend less time on social media, which means two thirds feel that their time is well spent.[vi]
Like our client who was hesitant to make the leap, being social isn’t something most CEOs inherently jump into. Many haven’t received coaching or training on social media best practices and shy away from it. Others don’t understand how they can best lean on their marketing team to build a genuine voice while getting support to offload the time investment.
For those B2B SME CEOs who are taking advantage of social to spread their message, they realize it’s a highly effective way to communicate with clients, employees, stakeholders, investors, and others.
Are you interested in how to get started the right way? Are you unsure of the best practices across each channel? Contact us to get the conversation rolling or to learn more about our “Social Media for B2B SMB Execs” workshop, customized to each client’s unique environment.