By Samson Lam, Digital Strategist, The Hoffman Agency Singapore
When you think of brands that are absolutely crushing it on social media, the top 10 names (or 20) you think of are probably B2C, so there is little to no point in B2B companies embarking on them, right?
I don’t blame you for thinking that. In fact, most B2B companies are guilty of subscribing to that school of thought. And they aren’t necessarily wrong — it is more difficult to grow and reach your audiences in a “boring” industry like IT enterprise infrastructure or sustainable building construction.
But before you dismiss a B2B social media presence altogether, think about this — more than a billion people are communicating on social media daily, so there’s bound to be a fraction of them who would be interested in your industry.
The challenge for B2B companies then is to find these people and convert them to be active leads.
So, here’s how B2B companies can refine their social media strategies to do just that:
1. Curating content
They say that content is king, but I prefer the analogy that curating the right content for the right audience is even more imperative. No one likes to be inundated with self-serving content with links to your product in every single post.
For example, if you manage a ship-building company, you will not get far with sharing links about ship-building all day. Consider who your target audience is — in this case, it is the maritime industry business owners — and explore topics like maritime business marketing, financing, or even insurance, which can significantly open up your content sandbox.
Contrary to popular belief, self-serving content can also be a necessity, but it is not always a necessary evil. If you package it with the right storytelling foil, the community might be more receptive to it.
The bottom line is figuring out specifically what content and content mix resonate with your demographic, instead of forcing your content upon an audience that has little to no use for it.
Granted, the magic mix is not something that can be determined overnight, but experiment and see how certain content, even sometimes self-serving ones, can help unlock their community engagement potential.
2. Expand beyond LinkedIn
LinkedIn has been THE go-to channel for B2B companies looking to gain leads, and they are not wrong — it’s certifiably proven to be the most effective way to do that.
What IS wrong that they just stop at LinkedIn.
While LinkedIn is fantastic for lead-gen, other channels like Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram can augment this initiative with brand building.
A good example is the IT enterprise company, @Oracle on Instagram — their feed gives followers a look at not just the events/conferences around the world, but also the people and faces behind the IT monolith. One of the key campaigns is to have their employees use #proudtobeoracle to reinforce the passion, dedication and enthusiasm to be a part of the company. And this transparency has helped build their brand and their following to more than 74,900 followers to date.
These brand-building initiatives on other channels can then drive traffic (and leads) back to LinkedIn or any other digital channels to engage with and convert leads.
3. Have a (human) personality
Even though it’s right there in the name, people tend to forget — social media is inherently … well, social. And that means engagement.
Unlike their B2C counterparts, B2B companies often forget injecting a human touch when engaging with the community, and it’s simple once you think about it. People (your customers) want to speak to other people, not Skynet or some faceless corporate entity.
It’s important to bear the following in mind when communicating on social media for B2B companies:
- Speak like a human
- Don’t weave in your brand name every chance you get. Humanise yourself by using pronouns like “We” or “Us” and build your connection with your followers.
- Have two-way conversations
- Engage with fans in dialogues instead of thumping your chest and shouting about your own messages. Talk to them or even ask them questions to better understand your audience.
- Why so serious?
- Inject some light-hearted content into your mix, because no one likes talking to a Serious Sam all the time. It’s okay to let your hair down every now and then. It is a social channel after all — so be sociable.
4. Don’t hard-sell; social sell.
Let’s face it — the buying and selling process has dramatically changed in the digital/social media era. Buyers are now conducting their own research online through channels like social media or reviews. By the time they decide to engage with you, chances are they are keen on giving your solutions a shot.
It’s easy to fall into the hard-selling trap when this happens. Instead of doing that, you should try social selling, where you build a connection with the prospect through sharing of valued content and then subtly introducing them to your services. See the example from Sprout Social in 2013 below.
Additionally, these forms of social selling also improve intangible metrics like building brand loyalty and trust.
In today’s digital era, there simply is no question about whether or not to create a social media strategy for your B2B company. Nor is it a question about the effectiveness of developing and executing one.
We should now ask about how one can fine-tune the strategy for maximum business results. Has your B2B company optimised its social media strategy yet?