Eight social media skills for B2B brands to master

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When it comes to social media, B2B brands aren’t always as sophisticated as their B2C brethren. But with these eight tips, they can be.

In 2016, pretty much every business knows that it should be using social media. But does every business use it correctly?

Aimed at B2B brands on social media,  here are four things to do… and four things not to do.

1. Do: Recognize social’s value

One of the biggest problems with B2B brands on social is that so many of them don’t seem to understand its value. HubSpot isn’t one of those companies, seeing social as a place to meet its customers where they are, rather than trying to force them to come to the company.

“People aren’t sure how to attribute social media to the bottom line. A lot of companies who haven’t gotten into it think, ‘I’m selling to businesses, not teenagers,'” says Meghan Anderson, vice president of marketing at HubSpot, adding that social often results in cheaper leads and more conversions than outbound tactics.

“Thinking about how people make B2B purchasing decisions. There’s a period of research happening well before the buying mode,” adds Anderson. “If you catch people when they’re researching in a casual way, you’re already in their mind during the sales process.”

2. Don’t: Be too short-sighted

Now that we’ve established that social media is a worthwhile endeavor, the first thing you should do is come up with a strategy. Don’t treat it like an afterthought. What are you looking to accomplish? When trying to achieve that, Jasmine Sandler, chief executive (CEO) of Agent-cyrecommends not being too self-centered.
“The biggest mistake I see when it comes to B2B companies doing social is spending too much time talking about their own products instead of taking the time to develop a proper social media strategy that delivers engaging content based on the customer,” says Sandler.
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Take a page from the B2C brands’ book and employ the “engage now, sell later” method of social media. People love Ben & Jerry’s Instagram posts, which always feature ice cream but never aggressively try to sell it.

3. Do: Have a personality

This sounds like a fairly obvious bit of advice, but it’s something that a lot of B2B brands need to hear. Consumer brands like Denny’s and Taco Bell are known for their personalities on social and while their posts may be a bit too silly for a B2B brand, companies don’t need to be as buttoned-up as they are.

Bob Cargill, the director of social media at Overdrive Interactive who knows a thing or two about this, thinks being a little less conservative and formulaic on social would result in more people feeling like they know the brand. And as a result, feeling more positively toward the brand.

“If you think of a big businessman or woman, it’s someone with an authoritative presence: dressed formally and well-spoken with a standard of excellence they’re afraid they can’t achieve on social. With their image and reputation, there’s the perception that the stakes are higher,” says Cargill. “They’re loosening up a little with their corporate culture internally, but they’re very reluctant to share that personal side of themselves.”

4. Don’t: Be a loner

Another way people can feel more of a connection with your company is by actually interacting with it. Far too often, particularly on the B2B side, social media is seen as a one-sided way to blast out content. But if you tag people and respond to them, they’ll love it.

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“Show who you are because people do business with people,” says Cargill. “Social media helps you bond online when it’s not possible to meet in person. People don’t pick up the phone as much they used to. Tag them on Twitter; that’s how you get their attention.”

5. Do: Figure out which platform is best for you

Sandler likes LinkedIn. Cargill thinks Twitter is a good place to start, since it’s an open network that’s easy to learn and easy to measure. HubSpot sees the most conversions from Facebook. They’re all the best platform for you, depends on where your audience tends to be.

Still not sure where yours is? Smart small and don’t try to be everywhere right out of the gate. Master a few platforms at a time; make sure you’re a Twitter master before taking on Snapchat.

6. Don’t: Limit yourself

Yes, Snapchat. Just because Snapchat has a young audience doesn’t mean there’s no place for you on it.

“B2B companies can definitely leverage visual social networks like Instagram and Snapchat as ways to deliver market research and tie their brand into current trends,” says Sandler.

Or you can do what HubSpot does. The company joined Snapchat in March, using the platform as a way to share glimpses of its culture.

7. Do: Jump on the bandwagon

Something many B2C brands do well is join conversations that are unfolding on social media. Yesterday was National Selfie Day, a trending hashtag that many of them – National Geographic, the NFL, Verizon – jumped on. B2B companies can do it, too.

You can also “hashtag hijack” on a smaller, more regional level. Did one of your local sports teams do well? Are there any events going on in your city this weekend? Post about them.

8. Don’t: Treat all platforms the same

The biggest mistake Anderson sees any company making on social, B2B or otherwise, is not being multilingual. Companies will do social just because they feel like they have to, but they don’t always optimize their posts so they work for the platform.

“They do this two-step dance where they’ll publish something on their site and then promote it on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, all the same way,” she says. “The problem with that is, they’re very different channels with very different audiences and different rules for what works well.”

Customizing your content is important. It all comes back to the first point on this list: Do recognize the value of social media.

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