In our digital-first culture, it’s almost unthinkable to operate as a business without having a strong social media presence whether you’re in the B2B or B2C sector. There are 7.7 billion people in the world and over 3 billion of them are active social media users. This means that 57% of the world’s population is on the internet and 45% own at least one social media profile. Quite a shocking but impressive number. Social media should be a true reflection of who you are, what you have to offer and how your services can help others. However, if not done well, it can harm your company image and reputation, so it’s important to map out your strategy first and foremost. Knowing who you are addressing, what you want to achieve and understanding what platforms you should utilise are all pivotal factors of success and some of the key points that we’ll be covering in today’s blog.
Our director, Lyanna Tsakiris, was recently part of a panel of marketing experts at Social Media Week Bristol 2019 where she tackled these issues and shared some insightful tips on how to make the most out of your social media platforms. We know that understanding B2B social media can be tough so we thought we could explain it using analogies from everyone’s favourite topic (at least it is in our agency): food. No, we haven’t gone mad. Keep reading and everything will make sense.
What’s on the menu
First of all, put the wand down, there is no magic formula that will work for all businesses. So, what can you do to tailor it to your business’ needs? Before you even start setting up your social media platforms and sharing content, ask yourself a question: what is your final goal? What are you trying to achieve? In a nutshell, what does success look like to you? Knowing your purpose, your values, your mission and having an overall communications strategy in place is crucial to developing successful B2B social media channels. B2B social media is just like cooking: you wouldn’t buy the ingredients before deciding on what dish you want to prepare (or maybe you would, but the results can be a bit hit and miss with that approach!).
Guess who’s coming to dinner
You should also identify your audience before diving into the world of social media. Why? According to the audience that you want to target, the choice of the most suitable social media platform will change but we’ll go into that a bit later. Even in typical face-to-face interactions, being aware of who you are talking to is at the heart of any conversation. Allow me to go back to the cooking analogy. Let’s say you are hosting a party and you need to cook for 20 people. You would ask them if they have any particular dietary requirements and then, provide the best option for them. The same concept applies to B2B marketing. To provide the best content, you need to understand your audience’s behaviour, their likes and dislikes and where they are most likely to get their content and how they prefer to engage. Doing your research and having some insights up your sleeve is an important step not to be missed.
Don’t set up the table in any room, choose the best one
This may come as a surprise but not all social media platforms will be suitable for your business. Choosing the right platform will mainly depend on your communications strategy and on the audience you are targeting. In the wise words of our director Lyanna, “Don’t use social for the sake of it, make sure it fits with your wider strategy”. So it’s important that your social media channels support your brand purpose and business goals so choose your channels accordingly. One thing to bear in mind is that for most brands, social media doesn’t work on its own so don’t rely solely on them. We’ve seen many social media platforms come and go over time, so, before jumping on the social media bandwagon, make sure it’s right for you and your business. Also, be prepared to invest some budget in paid campaigns, something that a lot of people don’t see the value in, but it is key to ensuring your content is seen. [Algorithms…that’s another blog!] This approach to social will allow you to be more strategic and narrow down your audience too. For example, you can pay to reach a specific industry, job title or geographic area. So, choosing the right platform is essential if you want your audience to engage with you.
Spice it up…but don’t overdo it
In a world where we are served somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 brand messages a day and can access content on-demand, it is important to communicate with your audience in the right way. Diversifying your content is essential to being visible in a sea of brand messages online. However, make sure you stand out for the right reasons. In 2019 we have already seen some examples of campaigns gone wrong and I’m sure you don’t want to be on that list. To stand out, your content needs to inform, entertain and showcase your expertise. B2B social content should demonstrate how you can solve a problem for your audience – have a conversation with them rather than simply broadcasting. To go back to how it can relate to cooking, think of spices. They are a perfect addition to your dish and give it a special twist. However, put too much and they’re going to ruin it leaving you without guests and leftovers for days.
Eat with your eyes
Statics show that when people hear information, they only remember 10% of that information three days later. Put an image next to it and your percentage jumps up to 65%. People respond better when they see something appealing, so creating an engaging and unique visual content for your business can help drive more traffic to your website. With the rise of social media platforms like Instagram, which is heavily focused on images and now video, it’s time to ‘beautify’ your content. If you think that the average attention span for people is 8 seconds, powerful visual content can capture a consumer’s attention in maybe less than that. However, it is important that the content is authentic and offers people a glimpse into your business and your team. So why not involve all your team? As Lyanna highlighted, “Get individuals in your business involved – it’s not just about using the company social media channels.”
The proof is in the pudding
So you have your strategy in place, you’ve created awesome content and engage your audience but don’t forget to measure your results using data and insights through the use of Google Analytics or social analytics tools and, if necessary, refine your strategy to target people who are interested in knowing more about you, your products and business in general. Essentially do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t. Make sure you are measuring your activity consistently – we recommend doing this at the end of every month at least so that you can understand how your content is performing, the impact this is having on your business and ultimately if your audience is engaging.
We can all agree that social media is a powerful tool to help increase brand awareness, build relationships with other like-minded companies and help your business grow (if done well). However, one thing is for sure, there is no set formula that will be successful for all B2B businesses and social media is certainly not the be-all and end all of communications. It should be used and seen as part of a communications strategy. Creating a strategy and having a clear understanding of who you are as a brand and what you want to achieve is the first step to take before setting up any social media accounts. What you communicate to your audience needs to represent your ethos, purpose and vision. Be personal, connect with your audience on a human level and create powerful and informative content that your audience can benefit from. We can’t stress enough the importance of consistency, without a plan, you can waste a lot of time and money on social media. Be smart and ‘hungry’ for success.