B2B: Carpe social.

Social media naysayers balk at the importance of social for B2B companies. I don’t get it. Your company sells to other companies but it’s humans within those companies you need to reach. The vast majority of them are using social every day. When you choose not to join them, you’re also choosing to look less credible than any of your socially active competitors. What? Your competitors aren’t on social, either? Even more reason for you to start. Lead the industry. Carpe social.

A recent survey by Ipsos OTX shows the top content types individuals share on social media. If you just said, “Yeah, but, these are people in their personal lives, not our business customers,” you’re only partially right. With mobile technologies, the lines between personal and business communications are blurred, extending your customer outreach way past 5 p.m. And, the types of content we find appealing as people are appealing to business. Great marketing has always been about solving customers’ problems and showing them the benefits of working with your particular brand. That’s where social can let you shine.

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The survey and how it relates to you

43% of respondents share pictures. Think about what pictures will best resonate with your customers. Some companies post pictures of a room full of people at a training session. Not helpful. Instead, how about offering a preview of your new product design to your LinkedIn connections? Everyone wants to be the first to share something on social, so give them something new to share and your business becomes the headline to their networks.

The next eight items on the survey list – from “my opinion” to “status update of what I’m feeling” is information others can only get from your company. That’s called “thought leadership.” Thought leadership means you’re one of the smartest folks in your industry. Your opinions are sought after. You read articles and have an interesting perspective to share. Impart your knowledge via social channels to make it easier for your followers to share it with their networks. Seriously – extra exposure because you finally started using social.

17% of survey respondents share video clips. If done well, video can be a dynamic vehicle for B2B marketers. Think of video for showing a short product demo which leads your customers to more information on your website. But, please use video well and sparingly. Keep it short, meaningful and worthwhile. Your customers have other ways to spend their time.

9% of survey respondents share future activities, trips and plans. For B2B marketers, this can be upcoming product releases or trade show exhibits. Keep your customers interested in knowing what’s next for your company, and where they can connect with you in real life.

Other things to think about

Now that you’re ready to embrace (or at least try) social for your business, there are things to do before you start posting.

First, learn what you can about which of your customers you can best reach on which channels. For example, reaching C-level audiences is most often best on LinkedIn. The media are heavy Twitter users. Choose one or two channels and do them well before you branch out.

Second, set objectives for what kind of responsive action you want to see from your audiences. Include calls to action in your posts. For example, if you’re sponsoring a webinar, use LinkedIn to post a link to registration. You’ll be able to track how many people came from LinkedIn versus from the email you sent out.

Third, stay with it for the long haul. Because social is a fast-moving channel – type and click – there’s often an expectation that results will come just as quickly. Not so. Social is a fast way to share content and have others share it on your behalf. But, at its core, it’s just marketing. Don’t expect social to build relationships for you. Social is the channel. It’s the humans on either end that make it work.

 

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