"Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology." - Brian Solis
For a few years now, social media has completely revolutionised the way businesses work. It has allowed them to market themselves in a way they have never done before; they can communicate directly with customers, receive instant feedback on products and services, as well as use the platforms for lead generation purposes. Given how entrenched we are in the digital age most, if not all, businesses should be utilising social media. Social networks give businesses an opportunity to speak to their customers in a way they have never done before, they can build a relationship and their own little community. However, some businesses are better at this than others...
Let's be honest, a lot of B2Bs suck at social media, they haven't figured out how to be both engaging and relevant to their customer base. But with the digital age's heavy reliance on social media, B2Bs need to embrace what everyone else is doing and improve their social presence. B2Bs know why they're successful, they know why they're relevant to their consumers, but some are yet to learn how to properly communicate this across social platforms. Why haven't many B2Bs fully embraced or successfully utilised social media marketing? Is it pointless to their goals? Are their customers not on social media? Is it a waste of time? No. B2Bs are just boring.
Okay, I take that back. The problem is they think they are - there is also a resounding stereotype supporting this self-prescribed hindrance. Because B2Bs think they are boring, they act boring. That's not necessarily the company's fault, there's this stigma surrounding B2B companies that they have to be "professional" at all times. What B2Bs have failed to figure out yet is that "professional" doesn't have to be boring it can still be exciting - the two options are not mutually exclusive.
Boring is subjective, what one person finds mind-numbingly dull, another might find exhilarating. Everyone finds something exciting, from clever gadgets to classic stationery and this is why, no matter what your business offers, there will be an audience out there in the social world for your business to tap into and engage with.
So now we've established B2Bs aren't actually boring, what can they do to develop their social media presence and prove to the world they can be exciting?
1. Develop your social persona
This should be one of the first topics of discussion when developing your social media strategy. It's important you figure out what sort of persona you want your business to portray and then stick with it. These personas can be tested, however if you feel your current approach isn't working, then don't be afraid to try something new. Give it time, don't constantly chop and change as you will confuse your consumers and will make it difficult to build a rapport. Once you have found the style that works for your business, building a consistent presence will drive brand recognition and increase awareness.
2. Post engaging content
This sounds obvious and all businesses should be doing it. What is the point in having a social media presence if you aren't going to post regular content? Content can range from articles, top tips, case studies and blogs from your own website to shared content from market leaders and industry news. However, don't just post for the sake of posting; only post content that is relevant to your audience. Consumers or business professionals will always want to engage with companies that address their needs or share their values, so always make sure you are reaching them by telling a story.
3. Be real
A major issue B2Bs have on social media is their inability to show a genuine human presence. This makes followers and potential customers see the company as distant and unreachable. B2Bs often think that regularly posting content is enough. It's not! It's just going through the motions and makes the company seem like a bot. B2Bs need to humanise their brand; this can be achieved by using a first person voice when publishing updates, asking questions, showing some sort of personality or by simply engaging with other users. Hire or give an individual responsibility to manage the social media. They are more likely to understand the brand persona and your target market if they are working on it every day.
4. Explore your audience
Just like old-fashioned market research, find out what your audience wants, likes, needs and engages with. Conduct research to see what buzzwords your audience responds to and what sort of content makes them tick. If your audience responds to media driven content, don't post text heavy articles. Once you have figured out how to interact with your audience, it becomes easier to build a rapport and your own online community. This builds trust between you and your consumers.
5. Join the conversation
Social media, especially Twitter, is essentially just one big conversation that users can drop in and out of as they wish. If you aren't interacting you are missing out - you wouldn't go to a networking event and just stand in the corner talking to yourself so why would you treat social media that way? Both LinkedIn and Twitter are designed to engage users in conversation, don't be too "salesy" with your message. Publish posts that your audience will find useful and appreciate. Set up social alerts to your accounts so you can respond quickly when your business has been mentioned. Whether this is a complaint, compliment, question or general comment, by responding quickly it shows you care and actually want to engage.
6. Have fun
One of the biggest problems B2Bs face on social media is fear. They believe, because they are a serious business, that they can't have fun on social media. But it's important to remember that business audiences are people too and people don't want to be treated like robots who you just sell to. Media, such as videos, images or gifs are very popular, so don't be afraid to use them. Join in on hashtag trends, use humour, publish different types of content every now and then, and post something you yourself would find entertaining.
Don't want to be perceived as boring? Then it's about time you start having fun and build your social media presence. Find that magic something that makes your business exciting to your customers and followers then run with it.
The IDM offers numerous courses to help you develop your understanding of the social media landscape. Our Social Media: Strategy course will teach you to create a results-driven social media strategy that's effective, measurable, and accountable and contributes to the long-term success of your business and our Social Media: Strategy, Tools and Tactics two day course gives you the skills, tools and confidence to create and execute the very best social media strategy for your business. The IDM also offers a best-selling course in Copywriting for Social Media and Blogs, where our expert will teach you to create compelling social media copy and blogs that engage, encourage shares, drive conversation and prompt action.