B2B and social media. Boy, were there ever a couple of terms that just don’t seem to play well together. Even in this day and age, ask the average B2B marketer about a social strategy and you’re likely to end up on the end of a slap even if you weren’t using a really sarky tone of voice.
Well, you can slap ’em right back (not that I’m advocating undue violence in the workplace, of course) because social media for B2B is alive, well and frankly just as valuable as it is to B2C audiences. What a lot of people seem to forget is that all marketing is H2H, or “human to human,” regardless of the setting. Sooner or later your brand is going to hit a decision maker and if you haven’t wooed them on all channels, especially for what can often constitute a significant investment on their P&L sheet for your products or services, then you’re not going to get them to sign that dotted line.
Let’s start with the obvious one – LinkedIn.
LinkedIn Company Page SEO
A lot of this may seem blindingly obvious but it is amazing how much can get forgotten. Consistency in tone of voice and accuracy on minor details like how many people your company has and what fields (and locations) it operates in are a must. Don’t be that funky new data quality and governance tool on your website and then Mr-Dry-And-Stuffy on LinkedIn, or indeed vice versa. Like any other touchpoint, your LinkedIn company page needs to accurately and fairly reflect your brand – values, tone, content and plain old facts.
Writing that description? Guess what: keywords matter. Just remember that the audience that might look for you on LinkedIn are potentially a bit different to those looking on general search channels. Professionals looking for other professionals might look for more specific, technical or specialist/jargon type terms, so don’t just rinse and repeat the semantic research for your website.
Keep this appropriate query targeting in place for all your product descriptions, career work and post updates to get the most out of it. You’re putting a “theme” to your company on LinkedIn in the same way you “theme” your website in terms of the content you post and the topics you talk about. So don’t go on about nothing but the CEO’s latest fun run escapades. Unless you’re a fun run organiser, I guess.
Take full advantage of the various bells and whistles that LinkedIn offers – hashtags, specialties, all that malarky, and fill out that company profile as completely as you possibly can. Get the right button (or buttons) onto your banner to take people to your website or brochure download or wherever else is most appropriate.
Most of the rest is actually down to content sharing and – bizarrely – network influence. Especially if you’re a big company, get the bribery box out to make sure every employee properly links to the company profile so everything wires up nicely and nobody has accidentally listed themselves under the slight spelling variation which is actually an unrelated business two towns over.
Share content. Obviously. Blogs, infographics, video (especially), white papers etc, the same as you would on any other social channel. Get your senior leaders putting digital pen to paper and writing articles on LinkedIn which your company page can latch onto and share for extra oompf, which benefits everyone.
B2B Social On Other Platforms
Here’s where it can get trickier, of course. A lot of people despair at the idea of giving their B2B brand a social “voice” because the product or service is “boring” compared with, say, dogs dressed as Superman.
Fie, I say! Defeatist! If you think the company you’re working for and everything their potential audience and customer base is interested in is boring then find another company. It can be tricky, yes, with stuffy corporate guidelines and the legal team breathing down your neck, but B2B brands can build success on platforms other than LinkedIn. Shocker, right?
Twitter, for example, can often be more successful for B2B than it can for a lot of B2C. Hashtag friendly content and the various #chat tags allow brands to get involved in topical discussions, and offer a great way to share thought leadership content in a contextual way to an audience already interested because they’re monitoring the damned #CRM hashtag anyway to keep up to date with stuff on it that could be useful. Say, in their job.
Facebook can also work surprisingly well for B2B if you get the approach right. Video (uploaded to native) works incredibly well, especially with a dash of humour and self awareness. Take the stuffy talking heads away and get some more entertaining explainers done (don’t forget to put subtitles on though – a lot of people browse with sound disabled). That’s probably long overdue anyway. What about email capture for ongoing marketing and lead nurture? People are still people and putting a human face on your brand is pretty essential these days regardless of channel or engagement platform.
What about a more visually driven platform like Instagram? Surely your Super Important Operational Software Services brand has no place in the midst of all that frivolity and pictures of unicorn frappes? Nope!
As well as (again) showcasing company culture, putting a human face on your brand, Instagram is an amazing place to share customer case studies, thought leadership, talk about your values and generally tell the stories that drive your products and services. Nobody wants to see twenty screencaps of a new feature. Not when you can show off something cool about your history, or some nifty facts about the sectors you operate in, or failing that just a cool or funny quote covered in appropriate hashtags. Take a look at what MailChimp and HubSpot are doing for some ideas, and a quick poke around Google will find you plenty of other showcase examples for inspiration.
There are plenty of others out there of course – SnapChat, Pinterest and Tumblr are three more that spring to mind – which offer their own particular audience eccentricities and niches. Not everything will be right for every brand, of course, and better to do one or two channels very well than every single one of them poorly, but don’t write stuff off just because your audience is more likely to be found in a board room than on the board walk.
So go get ’em, B2B marketers. Lean on the data, see where the engagement comes in, and start closing those data loops to see how every little bit of brand boosting activity contributes to the bottom line. Last click attribution is so 2005, after all.
Plum out of ideas or just not (quite) mad enough to give it a try solo? Check out my other posts on growing social media organically; Facebook & Twitter, and Pinterest & Instagram. Or just give me a shout and let’s throw some ideas around, see what we can come up with.