It’s a sad truth that many B2B companies either ‘do’ social media half-heartedly, or ignore it altogether. For some, it’s difficult to accept that social media isn’t just about lead-generation. But there are several other benefits of social media, especially as it can be a very effective way of enhancing other B2B strategies.
Having said that, building a suitable social media strategy can be a bit of a minefield. There are so many aspects to it, from paid advertising, to ‘reach’, making it hard to figure out what’s important. As long you can find your audience, and post valuable content, being successful on social media is a breeze.
Why Social Media?
Often in B2B scenarios, social media is a bit of an afterthought. The truth is, when used effectively alongside traditional campaigns, like thought-leadership pieces, blogs and event attendance, it can be very valuable. It’s a great way of driving traffic to your website, for example, by linking to recent blog posts and announcing news. It’s also a good place to share articles, tell people about an upcoming webinar, and highlight any industry events you’re attending.
A social media presence is also an important factor in improving Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). After all, the more links that point to your site, the higher Google prioritises your content. Of course, there are other ways of using social media in its own right, but I’ll come back to those later. What’s probably most important of all, before even thinking about what you’re going to post, is your audience.
Finding Your Tribe
It’s absolutely integral that you find the right people to target on social media, but also make it easy for them to find you. To this end, several strategies can help. One is to use relevant hashtags, but this must be done effectively as it’s easy to overkill the hashtag. Less than a handful per post usually work best, anymore and your posts begin to look spammy. A well-used hashtag can make it easier for ‘tribes’ of people to find your account, i.e. those groups of people who are interested in the topic of the hashtag and may be searching for content on the social platform already.
Our own experience has shown that hashtags do increase engagement, and this in turn has a positive effect on reach. By engagement, we mean the number of people who like, retweet, share or comment on a post, and reach means the number of people who saw the post. On Facebook and Twitter, a retweet or share broadcasts a post to that user’s follow base, which increases the amount of people exposed to the post. Even a simple like can boost a post, as this can sometimes cause it to appear on the user’s friends’ page too.
LinkedIn has now introduced searchable hashtags. Even if they aren’t as effective at growing an audience as those on other social platforms, hashtagging a word on LinkedIn causes it to become highlighted within a post and makes it more obvious what the topic of the post is at a glance (which is often the way people scroll through social media platforms).
The goal when it comes to growing an audience on social is to build a follow list that is comprised of your target audience. Then, once you’re ready to share all of the traditional content you’ve worked so hard to create (articles, blogs etc.), you have a ready-made stage from which to shout from. It’s the same for events. If you already have an established following (which should always include journalists), you can easily show your presence at an event which also lets people know you’re keeping up to date with the latest industry trends.
In B2B, it can be very helpful to encourage your own employees to engage with your social media content and pages. As we have already mentioned, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter will assume that content which has a high level of engagement is genuinely interesting and will ‘boost’ it so that it appears higher up in users newsfeeds. Employees engaging with content also boosts SEO. According to Forbes: “to search engines like Google, any indication of a verifiable external source [that’s your employee] validating your brand [that’s their like or retweet] or your content is grounds for a small improvement in domain authority.”
When capturing the right audience, it’s also important to think of the time difference in regions. If you’re posting something that you hope will appeal to the Asia audience, remember that they could be asleep. Although most social platforms have done away with chronological timelines, they will prioritise content which has had high engagement levels. This means that if you miss your audience and few people engage with something, the post might not appear on newsfeeds long enough for it to reach the right audience.
Offering Genuine Value
It’s pretty obvious that if your social media channels offer something that your audience is genuinely interested in, then there is more impetus for them to follow you and want to keep up with your updates. Sadly, many forget that even in a B2B environment, your social media pages are still communicating with the people behind the keyboard. Content doesn’t always have to relate directly to your business either, it can be interesting news, or an illuminating report on the state of the industry for example. The golden rule? AVOID SALES-SPEAK, and don’t big up your own products/solutions constantly.
Secondly, if you want to offer a genuine incentive to be followed on social media, post regularly, especially on Twitter. It is possible to overdo this, however, but tweeting twice a day is fine, maybe even more around an event or launch. Just be sure to tone this down once it’s over. It’s easier than you think to annoy people, but if what you’re posting has a genuine value then it’s okay to post on the regular side of things.
It’s always good to include an image with posts too. On many social platforms, this makes the post bigger in size within someone’s news feed and it more eye-catching than text. In B2B, we can’t recommend videos on social media enough. Especially in technology sectors, videos can help explain complex topics, and are more likely to be watched than a blog post is to be read. If you can use video, or live video which is even better, broadcasting talks or Q&As with company CEOs can help humanise a brand, and remind followers that your organisation is more than just a business.
Building A Tone
Every social media platform is different, which means you should ideally alter your tone to suit each. LinkedIn, for example, is where most B2B companies say their leads come from and is much more professional, while very few seem to come from Facebook in comparison. At the same time, it’s still worthwhile to have a presence on Facebook if not to remind your audience that you exist. But the worst thing you can do is have a Facebook profile which is not up-to-date.
Twitter is the home of more light-hearted content, and is where the personality of your business should shine through (although this does depend on the type of business). Don’t be afraid to use emojis or gifs, for example. This is a way of humanising a brand and showing you are following cultural trends.
As a rule, Instagram has not been very friendly to B2B companies, primarily because it’s been dominated by consumer brands. It is, however, useful for several things. Firstly, it can build company culture and be a place to share internal images from office life and so on. This can, in turn, help attract employees, especially as it has an aspect of transparency and offers people a genuine sense of what it would be like to work for you. They can visualise where they would eat their lunch, and where they would brainstorm ideas, for example.
Instagram stories is great for showing your presence at an event – if you have more than 10,000 followers you can also link to web pages in the story, which can be helpful when sharing additional content like blog posts. If your organisation already has an established social presence on other platforms, a good way of growing Instagram followers is by sharing Instagram links via the other platforms so that people are directed back to the page.
If you’re going to do social media, make sure you do it properly. It can be difficult to figure out if what you’re doing is working or if you’re targeting the right audience. So be sure to check your analytics on each platform (they’re free), and if you’re not sure, consult the experts.
Radical Moves PR has over 10 years’ experience managing social media platforms for B2B companies. We can help you build a strategy for a one-off event, or give you more long-term assistance to help grow engagement and build a following. Just get in touch if you would like to know more.