The buyer’s ability to access greater volumes and quality of information, opinions and views about issues, services, products and solutions or even businesses themselves and individuals online has reached a new level over recent years.

The way we work, solve problems and approach our decision-making is experiencing change. A new generation is instinctively using social media channels to research, and share their opinions and ideas. Our own research showed that marketers are embracing this opportunity, but many have jumped to using the channels but not as yet completely understand how to use them to the best of their advantage.

Best practice shows that there are some guiding principles that marketers can use, however, despite the claims of many offering technology and social media services there isn’t a silver-bullet to getting social marketing right.

A good starting point is to look at your SLG and LMA programme and use social media within it. Based on an understanding of the buyer's profile we can understand the type of content that will interest and engage them and also the different information they might need at different points in their buying journey. Initiate a “stay-in-touch” campaign which could include a combination of e-newsletter, blog, podcasts, YouTube content, LinkedIn group, Twitter, and Facebook content.

By using a mixture of mediums you can stay in touch with contacts, create 2-way interactions and provide an on-going stream of relevant content as part of a defined editorial programme using short and topical focused information. By doing this we see marketers thinking more about how they create a conversation rather than just broadcasting information.

Social media is not the answer alone though. As a recent article in B2B Marketing magazine shows, traditional channels have grown up and work long-side, rather than against digital counterparts. The best marketers build their programmes around proposition based campaigns using a mix of social media and traditional activity. The campaigns are supported by information rich assets such as whitepapers to promote targeted propositions to the buyers. These focus on a key period, allowing the build up of activity pre and post specific focal points, such as an event, with the end aim being a face-to-face sales meeting.