Despite social media’s ubiquity and adoption by people, there are a lot of B2B companies that have not done much to leverage its power. Most of those companies want to do more, but haven’t had the time or are uncertain of how best to get started to use social media to increase traffic, convert leads, nurture those leads toward a sale and delight their customers.
That hesitation is not a bad thing, actually. A lot of companies want to avoid the “ready, fire, aim” approach to social media. What’s worse, actually, is companies who take the “ready, fire, aim” approach, get lousy results (if any) and then sour on social media and its potential to help grow their business.
So what’s the best way to avoid a “spray and pray” approach to social media that irritates people, makes your company appear clueless and unprofessional and, worst of all, doesn’t generate results?
First things first. Before building a social media strategy, you need to have great content on your website. Content that is helpful and of interest to your ideal customers just when they want it during their increasingly non-linear buyer’s journey. Content examples include a blog, videos, ebooks, webinars, etc.
Without your own content as the foundation of your social media strategy, you’ll being throwing bait to the fish without it being connected to your fishing line. The fish will appreciate it, but there won’t be much return for your company.
With content, however, your social media strategy will be much more likely to succeed. Social media can vastly extend the reach of your site’s content, get it shared and draw more traffic back to your site. As marketing expert and author Jay Baer famously says, “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.”
So before firing away with a social media effort, here are the five “must-do’s” to ensure you’ll have proper aim and profitable results:
"It’s an archetype, a composite picture of the real people who buy, or might buy, products like the ones you sell."
Think about your ideal customers who don’t know your company. What information would they find helpful that you can provide? Keep in mind that they are much more interested in themselves and their problems or aspirations than your company and its products.
Which social media platforms do they tend to use? Think about fishing. Don’t chase the fish; fish where the fish are. Gain a presence on those social media networks where your ideal customers already gather.
Does your buyer persona use one of the big social media networks or perhaps a niche site targeted at people in the same industry or with a similar interest? You may not need to be on as many social media platforms as you think.
Why do they use the social media platforms that they do use - business or pleasure? What sort of content do they tend to consume and share?
Each social media site that you use is a brand embassy, and should represent your home country (i.e. website) to the fullest extent available. Include your company’s logo and get all the related graphics and dimensions correct for each platform.
Just like with your main website, use keywords to get your social media profile found via search. Search engines crawl most social media networks. And always include a link back to your site to make it easier for visitors to find out more about you.
“Reach is a measure of potential audience size,” according to Kissmetrics. So, it’s not just how many follower you have, but how many followers your followers have.
That’s why you’ll want to start following and connecting with prospects, customers and thought leaders. Keep in mind, however, that your social media presence is only as good as your engagement and your content.
Let’s talk about “engagement.” Have you ever been to a cocktail party and met a guy who only talked about himself and never showed any interest in you? Don’t be that guy on social media.
Instead, follow the 80/20 rule: share helpful, interesting content at least 80% of the time. Post pictures, videos, ebooks, blog posts, contests and questions. The other 20% of your social media posts can direct people to offers and other more promotional content.
No matter how great your content is, when it’s distributed on social media it’s only meaningful within the context of where it appears.
Have you ever seen a Twitter post with hashtags that has been posted to LinkedIn? Or perhaps a tweet that was cut off because it was autoposted from Facebook? It demonstrates laziness, a deaf ear for social media (and customers?) and resembles a foreign movie with really bad voiceover dubbing.
For each social media platform, present your message in the context of the platform on which you’re communicating. Here are examples of the types of customization you should do for some of the major social media networks.
Twitter - Think of Twitter as a living, breathing conversation. Keep your tweets short, engaging and easily shareable. While you get 140 characters, your posts should be less than 115-120 characters. Use hashtags to connect with an audience or tap in to relevant trends. Also, don’t start a tweet with an @ symbol because it will only be seen by mutual followers of the sender and receiver, thus diminishing your reach. And as with so much of social media, make it visual. Tweets with pictures have 50% higher click through rates.
Facebook - This is where you can show more personality than just about any other social media network. From a frame of mind, visitors to Facebook generally want to have fun and be entertained. This is not the place for serious content. And while there’s no limit on the number of characters, keep your posts under 250 characters. Use as many visuals as possible (but make sure they are properly sized for Facebook).
LinkedIn - Looking to find and share serious content? Here’s your network. If you think about the body language of someone on Facebook, envision someone leaning back in their chair. For LinkedIn, they are leaning forward, searching and ready to learn. It’s OK to provide more in-depth content here. You can post content to your company page and to relevant LinkedIn groups. But when posting to groups, it’s best to listen first to the questions and conversations before offering up your content. Again, keep the context (and the cocktail party rule) in mind.
Google+ - Google plus is great for posting images, video and educational content. And while it may not have the engagement levels of other networks, it can help with getting your content found through search engines like no other social media platform. The +1 buttons showing up next to results can improve your click through rates on Google searches.
That which can be measured can be improved! That’s how you will know if your content and social media strategy is on the right track in support of your business goals.
Some basic metrics to monitor include:
More important than the number of social media followers you are gaining is their level of engagement:
photo credit: Lord Jim via photopin cc