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I think I’ve finally recovered from the non-stop action of the Social Media Marketing World conference. But the learning hasn’t stopped – with many more sessions from the conference to review. (I have to say it was nice to escape the 13 inches of eastern Pennsylvanian snow for mostly-sunny-but-still-cool California!)

As you might expect, I focused most of my time on the Blogging, Corporate Social, Content Marketing and Measurement & Analytics education tracks.

So let’s dive right in, shall we?

2017 Social Media Key Takeaways

Here are some of my key takeaways, a few of which impact my clients and others which do not. Remember not every channel and content type works for every audience!

1. Integration
Whether you’re a business to business company or a B2C company, social media is no longer a standalone – or distinct – marketing channel operating independently of your other marketing efforts. Social media requires strong integration into your sales, marketing and customer service functions. If you’re still not thinking about your social media program as an integral part of your SEO, PR, content promotion and lead generation, you are missing a critical element in your integrated marketing plan.

2. Video
Talk about the use of Video – and in particular Facebook Live – dominated many of the sessions. I’ve written before about how video doesn’t work as a content form for every industry (Pharma comes to mind), but overall video remains a critical format for social media success.

3. Storytelling
Telling stories
Period. Whether you’re using the written word, video, podcasts or photos is irrelevant – as long as it’s a content format that your audience prefers. It’s the story that connects your audience to your company. Stories help your customer relate to you. And if you have a story in your content, people are more likely to stay engaged and remember your company.

4. Analytics
are increasingly playing a role in driving strategy and channel selection, but remain elusive for B2B companies trying to definitively measure ROI. Why? Because the sales cycle typically stretches well past a ‘Buy it Now’ button. It can be difficult to attribute a sale to social media (or the web in general) when the buying decision takes place over the course of 18 months and across trade shows, conferences, business development efforts and RFPs. B2B companies continue to seek analytics data to quantify the ROI – but with only partial success. Often, it comes down to having an active presence on the channels where the competition – and clientele – are participating.

5. Blogs
Yes, it is noisy out there. And you may be asking yourself if a blog is still relevant. Is it still a good investment? Yes, absolutely! Blogs remain one of the most trusted sources of information for consumers on the web. A blog attached to your website is the home for all of your information. It’s the one destination where your potential customers can dig deeper to find out more about you and your company’s product or services, more about who you are, and how you help people like them.

6. Dominant Channels
Dominant social media channels
for B2B remain LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – with Pinterest, Instagram and others playing a lesser (or more specialized by industry) role. (Some businesses are still seeking a business case for Snapchat – in some cases with success, and others not so much.)

7. 7 Things to Know About the Buyer’s Journey

  • B2B: have delayed sales cycles and conversion events typically happen offline.
  • A buyer’s journey is mostly complete before the customer reaches out to you, so you need to be one of the first three to four vendors they’re looking at.
  • Decision makers consume five to ten pieces of content before making a decision & expect new information.
  • 84% of C-level decision makers use social media for B2B purchase decisions.
  • These buyers are not looking for the best deal – they need to solve a business problem and will spend more to get the right solution.
  • Businesses need to provide more education for their customers than competitors.
  • The five subjects that move every buying decision in every industry: Cost, Problems, Comparisons, Reviews and Best Option.

What are your questions about B2B social media in 2017?