Are There Any Social Media “Musts” for B2B Companies?
Social media is transforming the world. Professionals are connected to colleagues, extended networks and brands through a constant flow of communication, making their voices heard through channels that have never before existed. And marketers have taken notice.
Today, advertisements frequently encourage audiences to connect and engage with a company on Twitter or Facebook. There are entire marketing campaigns built around hashtags (see: Coca-Cola’s #MakeItHappy Super Bowl ad). Even webinars are going social!
But brands still struggle to measure the impact of social media marketing. To learn more about the current state of B2B social media, we spoke with Natascha Thomson, a Silicon Valley marketing veteran and social media expert who runs her own social media consulting company. (She’s also created some great content on BrightTALK.)
This is the first part in a two-part interview series. You can read the second post here.
What do you do with MarketingXLerator?
I help companies who want to optimize what they’re doing in social media or develop a completely new social media strategy. I also work with small startups trying to figure out how to use social media and individuals (usually executives) who want to build their own social media presence.
Are there any social “musts” for B2B companies?
In general, there are few “musts” in social media. In fact, for some companies, it’s better not to be on social at all. If you don’t have the resources, it’s better not to do anything than to do it badly. It’s worse to have a Facebook page where the last post is three months old than to not have a page at all.
But brands must be social listeners. It’s crucial know and understand what’s being said about your brand on social media so you can, if necessary, put out any fires and minimize poor brand perception. There are social platforms and technologies to make managing your social presence easier, like Google Alerts, Social Mention or keywords on Hootsuite. If you have a dedicated social budget, a tool like Radian6 or Hootsuite Enterprise might be a worthy investment.
You must know who your audience is and where they are. If you’re trying to talk to CEOs of large companies, they’re usually not the kind of people who are all over social media. They don’t have the time. They also don’t engage with Jane Doe, whom they don’t know. In a complex B2B sale, there typically are a number of buyers involved with any purchase decision. Make sure that the content on your brand social feeds speaks to all of the audiences you want to engage with.
What are some of the brands doing B2B social media really well right now?
Here are some of my favorite brands on social media:
- SAP. They’re doing a fantastic job with the SAP Community Network, bringing people together online and offline. Their social channels connect people and answer questions, which saves money for tech support and creates a lot of loyalty.
- HubSpot. They’re using their own technology to promote themselves. Their newsletter is great — if there’s an article that interests you, you read it and it offers more that you might like.
- BlackBerry. A lot of people aren’t really paying attention to them anymore, but a huge number of people follow them from the past. They create amazing content and have expert bloggers.
- GE. They’re really everywhere. Everyone is talking about them. Their Instagram is educational and entertaining.
- Intel. They’re doing a lot around tech in a fun way that interests you even though normally you might not care about that topic. Their blog merges tech-oriented subjects with relatable topics.
Do you have any tips for businesses looking to increase employee advocacy through social media?
In general, it’s a great idea to train your employees on social media so they can use it effectively to help promote your services or products.
But employee advocacy today can often look like spam. Some advocacy strategies use CMS to compose a tweet that everybody can publish, without editing. The result is 10,000 people in a company tweeting the same thing. Brands should train employees on brand social values so they can offer their own social commentary in a responsible and insightful way.
If you educate your workforce, they’ll do a good job. They’ll share what’s interesting or go to one of your corporate channels and not just share it, but add insights to make it a little different.
How do you measure success in B2B social media?
It all comes back to being really, really clear on what the objectives are for being on social media in the first place. Are you trying to create awareness? Convert leads to deals? Generate leads? Everything has to be constantly measured, improved, fine tuned. People can’t be afraid to say, “Maybe this isn’t working.”
But be very careful with metrics. Sometimes when people look at what they measure, they get led in the wrong direction. For example, if you have a blog targeted at CFOs, you’ll find you get a lot of views but almost no comments. You might think the blog is a failure if it’s getting no engagement. But in reality, CFOs are notorious for not sharing — that’s just what they do.
Overall, you need to keep the big picture in mind; it’s not just about counting views and retweets. If you have bunch of followers and retweets go up, great. If your retweets stay at 50 and the industry average is 2,000, be aware of that too. Try something else.