Written by: Austin McNair
Any executive or marketing director working in professional services knows how rapidly change occurs in B2B marketing. And of the various spaces included in most marketing plans, B2B social media wins the superlative for most likely to change again tomorrow.
The world of B2B social media is frustrating — often leaving marketing directors disoriented because what was working three months ago doesn’t work anymore. Professionals building their personal brands face a similar challenge. An endless stream of new features… More ways to analyze data… Emerging platforms to join… How can you keep up? Inevitably this means that a good B2B social media strategy requires constant attention and experimentation.
But what if there were some foundations you could always rely on when building your B2B social media content strategy? In this article, we’re going to look beyond the unpredictable updates that each platform releases and focus on two evergreen rules that are here to stay.
Rule 1 – Be Human.
Professionals who spend time on social media are doing so for a variety of reasons, ranging from researching competitors to recruiting new employees. But one business purpose for being on social media stands taller than the rest — networking with people you know and people you want to know.
Put another way, the chief business purpose of social media is to connect and engage with people. These people include potential and existing clients, referral sources, other thought leaders and possible recruits. Social media is so effective because we are always curious about what certain individuals are doing, experiencing, learning and accomplishing. So if connecting with people is the driving force behind social media, why do so many firms neglect to humanize their brands in this space?
By humanizing your brand on social media, we mean bringing a human touch to every piece of content you share.
For example, the articles you shared were all written by individuals. Have you tagged them in your post, highlighting their individual expertise?
And what about your firm’s news? Aren’t most of these updates related to the achievements of individual people? Have you shared a picture showing them in action?
And finally, are people on social media interacting with your posts? If so, have you responded to them? All of them? And have you reciprocated the interaction?
On this point we are inspired by the work of Mark Schaefer, who authored the book Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins. On his blog, Schaefer writes, “In the past, our businesses were built through an accumulation of advertising impressions. Today, our brands will be known, at least in part, though an accumulation of human impressions.” What Schaefer wants business leaders and marketers to understand is that the future of marketing is being driven by authentic human expression.
So when it comes to your B2B social media strategy, highlight the humanity behind your brand. Allow the voices behind your content to be heard and bring visibility to the individuals at your firm doing excellent work for your clients.
What to do:
- Encourage thought leaders at your firm to become Visible Experts®.
- Tag individuals in every post you share on social media and list them as authors on your website
- Celebrate and promote the achievements of your business partners and clients
What not to do:
- Maintain overly rigorous standards for sharing content
- Hide who authored content on your page
- Forbid staff from using social media during business hours
Rule 2 – Be Helpful.
Want to know the fastest way to get ignored on social media? Publish a steady stream of posts about your service offerings and current promotions. Nothing leads to fewer impressions, less engagement, and fewer shares than self-promotional posts about your business. The faster you recognize this fact, the more successful you’ll be on social media.
This behavior is the equivalent of delivering a canned elevator pitch over and over again at a networking event to as many people as possible. Have you ever called one of these zombies to help you with your business? Have you been their referral source? Probably not. So if that kind of behavior turns us off in person, why would it not turn us off online? Well… it does!
When you share content on social media it’s always worth asking, “Could this piece help my audience?” Sharing helpful, relevant, and inspirational content makes you a trusted voice to your audience. Rather than being overly self-promotional, pushy, or boring, you will develop a reputation as a leader in the digital space. And at the end of the day, being a trusted voice to your customer is what we all want.
Messaging consultant Donald Miller reminds us of the importance of being helpful to our customers — or what he refers to as the hero of our brand story — when he writes the following:
“When we position our customer as the hero and ourselves as their guide, we will be recognized as a sought-after character to help them along their journey. In other words, your audience is Luke Skywalker. You get to be Yoda. It’s a small but powerful shift. This honors the journey and struggles of our audience, and it allows us to provide the product or service they need to succeed.”
By developing a mature and helpful voice on social media, you make space for your target clients to be the hero of the story — and for you to be their potential guide.
What to do:
- Post helpful content you’ve written for your audience
- Share relevant content written by other experts outside of your firm
- Engage your audience with polls and comments about topics of their interest
What not to do:
- Repetitively post about your service offerings and accomplishments
- Directly message new connections with your elevator pitch
- Only share content produced by your firm
Missing the Forest for the Trees
If there’s one other evergreen fact to write about it’s this: social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook will continue to change. And while it is important to stay up to date on these changes and their implications for marketers and business leaders, don’t lose site of the principles that will establish your brand as a trusted voice. Those fundamentals rarely, if ever, change.
Too many professionals stress about staying up to date with a platform’s latest features, while failing to recognize that they are turning off potential buyers with their barrage of self-promotional, corporate, and pushy content.
It’s all too easy to get drawn into the mechanics of social media and miss its larger purpose. Remember to build those all-important connections. Humanize your brand by promoting the thought leaders behind the content that makes your firm so excellent. And be relentlessly helpful to an audience that is searching for trusted voices in a forest of noise. Keep these two rules in mind as you establish your B2B social media strategy and you’ll continue to see the visibility and reputation of your brand flourish.