Socialites: B2B Marketing

How to use social media when marketing to a business audience.

Scott Mason, head of content strategy at Brawl.

A lot of business-to-business (B2B) companies neglect social media. But in today’s social media-saturated environment, B2Bs can’t afford to fail.

For some reason, B2B companies have lagged behind business-to-consumer (B2C) in both the adoption of social media and its effective use. Here are five tips that will help any B2B pull out of the social media doldrums, and get results.

1. Figure out an unboring angle.
A lot of B2Bs are boring. At least they think they’re boring to the uninitiated. A team’s own perception of a boring company becomes self-fulfilling. Because they believe that they are boring, they act boring. They write boring. They do social media boring.

Every company can be unboring — even the most “boring” B2B. Let’s take an example business. It sells misting systems to zoos, animal theme parks, and research universities.

It may seem dull but this is where the company needs to get creative.

The misting system helps reptiles to survive in an environment that is different from their native environment. It’s going to help pythons thrive in a research environment so scientists can understand them. Do you see the non-boring angle emerging?

There may not be a lot of people interested in misting systems, but there are a lot of individuals interested in pythons, or rainforest preservation.

Each B2B with an unintelligible product or service needs to develop an angle that is both understandable and appealing to a broader audience. It will allow them to create an initiative or idea that can gain traction on social media.

It is always possible to find a non-boring angle. Once found, you can roll forward with your social media efforts.

2. Feature a real person.
One of the major shortcomings of many B2Bs, especially in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, is the lack of a genuine human backing their efforts.

The lack of real people makes the B2B company seem so distant and unreal. It’s like talking to a robot. It just doesn’t feel right.

Every B2B needs to make an intense effort to humanise the brand on social media and content marketing. Use real people with their names in customer service. Initiate engagement and outreach from a real person.

3. Hire someone good.
B2Bs are often challenged in social media because they don’t hire the right person to manage their social media efforts.

B2Bs try to hire someone who has experience in their niche, not someone who is an expert at social media.

It is important that anyone who’s leading a social media initiative needs familiarity with the industry. But B2Bs also need someone who is good at social media. Why? Because B2B social media is a hard nut to crack. It’s not inherently sexy or awesome. It doesn’t automatically generate buzz. It takes a social media expert to unleash the hidden power in B2B social media.

B2Bs often hire someone to do social media functions rather than to create a social media movement.

Social media is not just about posting Twitter updates twice a day or updating a Facebook status once a day. That’s a short sighted view of social media.

Social media is about much more. Many B2Bs, unaware of the deeper complexity of social media, are looking only for someone to update their status. That’s not going to cut it.

Instead, the company needs someone who can develop a movement on social media, shape the brand voice and expanding its reach. Often B2Bs engage social media with the objective of leads first, rather than brand awareness.

If creating leads is the first goal of social media, then things have gotten off on the wrong foot. Leads don’t come first. Engagement and presence come first. If a B2B can develop a compelling angle it is well placed to use social media effectively.

The ultimate objective of most social media efforts is leads, but that doesn’t mean that gaining leads should come first of all. First of all, the company should aim for presence. Leads will follow.

Here are a few tips to help a B2B hire the right person for social media:
Hire an expert in social media. Look for someone that has social media success in a similar niche, but not necessarily in your niche.
Hire a social media consulting company or agency, not just an individual. Companies often have more resources at their disposal. For a lower price, they can help you engage on a lot more levels like creating social media graphics, writing content, etc.

4. Back your social media with your content marketing.
There is no such thing as a successful social media campaign without a successful content marketing campaign. They’re like two links in a chain.

Most B2B are already doing content marketing, according to the Content Marketing Institute. There’s a reason for this: LinkedIn is effective at securing leads.
LinkedIn does for B2Bs what Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest have all failed to do. It forms professional connections based on a single goal.

It’s not that Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest are more personal and less professional than LinkedIn. LinkedIn brands itself as a professional networking site. On LinkedIn, you see fewer baby pictures, fewer cat videos, and nothing about “Dave just checked in at Downtown Bar.”

LinkedIn, devoid as it is from issues like “relationship status” and “favourite TV shows” is much more appealing to the world of B2B exchanges.

Conclusion

In the next few years, we will see more B2B markets become really good at social media. Already, there are a few bright spots in the B2B social horizon. By advancing these five tips, you can take your social media efforts to the next level.