It’s no surprise that we’re big on B2B here at HN. But we’ve always maintained that the one thing that underpins all our communications is that Holy Grail of marketing: H2H, or human-to-human interaction.
It’s also no coincidence that the rise of social media has corresponded with this more personal way of doing business, but it hasn’t escaped our attention that not everyone ‘does’ social. So what are the barriers to social media and how can you go about breaking them down?
Quite possibly one of the greatest barriers to social media — and the reason many companies turn to us — is time. Particularly when business is good, social media can seem like an unnecessary distraction. We all know about the dangers of neglecting our human relationships though, and it’s no different in business.
Hand in hand with lack of time goes lack of inspiration. It can be hard to be creative, witty and social every day.
The scheduling and curation tools mentioned above will help — you can create a bucket of great content when the ideas are flowing. You can then drip-feed it out over the following days, weeks and months as you see fit.
Websites like Days of the Year offer a more useful, if quirky, source of inspiration — we’re particularly amused by the upcoming ‘No Beard Day’!
Number three on the list — and possibly the hardest to overcome — is culture.
We often hear that “this company will never be social”, but, when you look at the figures, it soon becomes apparent that social media can help you:
- drive website traffic and sales
- slash lead-generation costs
- provide great insights into your audience
This is where you need to educate and motivate your workforce. You could even gamify the process, creating internal leaderboards for those who are most socially active.
Want to read more about the inherent value of social media to your content strategy? Why not check out our article on why social posts are such a vital part of content success. Or, if you want to carry on the conversation feel free to share your thoughts, questions and tips in the comments section below, or tell us about it on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Question: Who can help develop your company’s social media profile?
Answer: Almost anyone in your organisation.
Whether a part of your marketing, sales, customer support or even financial teams, your organisation is full of people with ideas – and many of them will already be avid social media users. By sharing your social media strategy you can get ideas out of their heads and supercharge your social media strategy.
You need to create a space where people can share information and ideas in a collaborative fashion. If you’re using a system such as Lync, Yammer, or any tool that can host a chat room or forum, that’s the place to start. Invite the people you want to get ideas from, share your strategy with them, and see how they react. If your organisation doesn’t use these tools, then you could hold a face-to-face meeting to brainstorm ideas and responses to your strategy. You can use email as a last resort, but it’s much harder to be collaborative via email – not to mention heavy on the inbox!
There are more than a few benefits to getting social media enthusiasts within your organisation to comment on your plans, but these are HN’s top three:
1: Spot hidden pitfalls
Other people in your organisation who know how social media works may see hazards that you or your team have missed: openings for people to hijack your campaign (like the ill-fated #waitrosereasons campaign from a few years ago, for example), or important calendar events that aren’t in your schedule, but really should be. Not an opportunity to be missed!
2: New angles = new opportunities
The fresh perspective that people from other parts of your organisation bring to your strategy isn’t just good for spotting problems. Someone in sales might know about some content that would be perfect to build into your campaign; someone who uses Pinterest regularly might show you a feature you hadn’t known about before, but would be perfect for your strategy. A few little tips like these can make a big difference to the success of your strategy.
3: Harness the power of your people
Getting internal teams to support campaigns, or even the day-to-day activity on a feed, is one of the trickiest things we see organisations attempt with their social media. By sharing your strategy with social media enthusiasts within your organisation, you show them exactly what’s coming, when it’s coming, and how they can support it. Make them feel a part of the plan, and they’ll be much more likely to engage with it – and to encourage others to get involved, too.
Making jokes, actively selling products, chasing opinions, are all things you should avoid as a B2B social media marketer.
Or are they?
It’s fair to say that activities such as these are regarded as risk-taking behaviour when it comes to B2B social media, and so are avoided for fear of landing your organisation in hot water. But, by avoiding some of the potential pitfalls of social media, many businesses are failing to realise the benefits of this enormously powerful tool — opportunities to engage, impress and make the most of your social media following. Of course it’s never a good idea to invade threads and conversations on social media to try and sell your products, but here at HN we’ve chosen the top three risks you should take on social media — and how to take them as safely as possible.
Get your audience’s attention — don’t talk about yourself
“That content isn’t about us, so why are we posting it? We want our audience to hear about us, not about trivia and current events!”
A common complaint, but think — would you normally talk only about yourself in conversation? Social media isn’t like advertising, or an email, where the focus is all on you — it’s a tool to have conversations with your audience, so you have to talk about stuff that interests them. Of course, you want your organisation to be of interest to your audience, but realistically you won’t be the only thing that lights a fire in your audience’s belly. In fact, some of our clients devote as much as 80% of their social media time to talking about relevant events and topics that will interest their audience. It helps them become established as a good place to go for information, which at the same time increases the visibility of the content they do put out about themselves.
How to stay safe:
• Scan content before posting to make sure it isn’t from a competitor’s website, or badly written (otherwise people may associate the bad writing with you).
• Always try to mention your sources – it can widen your audience, and makes it clear you are not trying to pass off someone else’s content as your own.
Win them over with your sense of humour
“We can’t post that, even though it’s funny — what if someone finds it offensive?”
There’s no escaping it — injecting humour into your social media can backfire (does anyone remember this example from KLM?) Get it right, though, and your audience will respect you for it, and you can sometimes get a big spike in your engagement. If someone tries to engage with your brand in an amusing way, then by ignoring them you could come off as stuffy or lacking a sense of humour, which could be more damaging than having said something.
How to stay safe:
• Understand your audience’s sense of humour — if they don’t get the joke, then there’s no point!
• Test any potential humour you intend to post with people both inside and outside your organisation, to get an objective view on whether it could be misinterpreted or just isn’t funny.
• Avoid controversial jokes — there’s just too much potential for someone to get upset. If your mother wouldn’t approve, it’s probably safest not to hit ‘send’.
Put your audience to work — interact with your followers
“Best not to talk to our audience — I don’t want to see our company maligned all over social media!”
Your followers are the lifeblood of your social communities, so if you don’t engage with them you’ll never be able to properly leverage the power they have to offer your organisation as a source of insight, feedback and brand-building opportunities. It can be a scary thought that people can say what they like about your brand, but giving them that freedom — and responding appropriately if they choose to say something negative — will win you the approval of your followers.
How to stay safe:
• Monitor your channels so that you can respond to engagement in a timely fashion — nobody likes to be left hanging.
• Word any questions you plan on asking your followers carefully, to minimise the opportunity for negative comments (test your posts with the same group you tested your jokes with if you’re unsure).
• If you do come in for some criticism, handle it honestly, proactively and without delay. Your followers will notice and respect you for it.
• Avoid getting embroiled in online slanging matches though — if someone won’t respond to reason, you can always report them to an administrator.
It would be wrong to say that, just by following these tips, you’ll automatically be safe from any negative experiences on social media. It takes practice and experience to get a feel for what risks you can take and which ones to avoid for your organisation. If your social media channels already have a well-established voice, then you may also want to think carefully about how you take these risks — especially with humour, if your brand isn’t normally one to crack a joke. But, by following these tips, you can reduce the chances of a social media disaster while getting the most out of your social media presence.
Have you taken risks on your social media? How did it go? Let us know in the comments section, or on our Twitter feed @hnmarketing – it would be great to hear from you!
In my recent post about how to create an effective social media content strategy, I touched on how to determine posting frequency. What I didn’t talk about was what you can do once you’ve hit a good rhythm.
Don’t miss chances to post in the moment to really grab your readers’ attention.
The social media team at Oreo did this oh so well during the power cut that halted the Super Bowl XLVII. By the time the lights came back on in New Orleans, Oreo had racked up over 10,000 RTs, thousands of Favourites and overwhelmingly positive replies — all with a single tweeted image.
The fact that the cost of an ad during Super Bowl XLVII is around $3.7 million makes this social media win all the sweeter.
It’s often said that ‘content is the currency of social’ and I don’t think a truer word has been spoken. Successful social media marketing involves creating content that engages customers, stimulates dialogue and evokes a response.
Here are my four simple steps to create an effective social media content marketing strategy:
1. Determine content themes
Your content needs to have a focus in terms of the topics you plan to cover and the tone it will take. Here are some pointers for determining that focus:
- Know your audience. Who do you anticipate will be reading your content? What challenges do they face, which you could address?
- Stimulate engagement. It could be educational, entertaining, inspirational or promotional. Ideally, it should contain elements of all four.
- Demonstrate knowledge. One way to gain trust is by establishing yourself or your company as an expert. Try imparting advice that’s practical and based on your real-life experiences.
- Be consistent with your business’s proposition. You don’t want content that is out of step with your company’s messaging or personality — it wouldn’t seem authentic.
2. Determine content type
Depending on the channel, social media content can take many forms: blog posts, tweets, status updates, contests, quizzes, poll questions, infographics, videos and photos. So decide which tools are going to make up your kit bag and test each one to see which works best.
3. Determine posting frequency
How often you can post updates? Here are a couple of tips:
- Post at the optimal time. By this I mean post on the days and times when you are most likely to receive responses in the form of Likes, comments and shares. Google Analytics can help to determine optimum posting times.
- Be consistent. Whether you post daily, weekly or monthly, if you’re not consistent, your customers will lose interest. Let’s be realistic, if your favourite TV series was shown randomly each week, would you really keep watching?
4. Create a content calendar
The next step is to develop a calendar to schedule your posts. Calendars can be created on a weekly or monthly basis.
Content calendars can be developed using a spreadsheet; or if you prefer, there are many social media management applications out there like HootSuite, Sprout Social and Buffer to name a few.
To plan even more effectively you might like to try tools like TweetDeck, which allow you to schedule your tweets and keep an eye on your Twitter stream, making it a lot easier to retweet and share.
So let’s get started!
‘Why social marketing doesn’t work’ said the tweet, offering a link to follow. Of course I had to see what that was all about.
Is social marketing only about going viral?
It would follow, if you think that social marketing is all and only about going viral. Clearly if marketing is about reaching as wide an audience as possible and having the desired effect on them, then a campaign that goes viral will do that (as long as it does have the desired effect, and not the opposite effect to that intended). But you can reach new people without going viral. Not as many, not as quickly, not as publicly, maybe; but does that mean there’s no point?
Why repetition in your marketing is important
Use social marketing to strengthen existing relationships
Finally, even if you never win a new customer through social marketing, what about maintaining relationships with the ones you already have? Or with other targets for marketing activity: partners, for example, or the press? Marketing isn’t just about creating new relationships; it’s as much about strengthening the ones you already have. That’s surely where social networking comes into its own. Especially if that’s how those you’re trying to communicate with want to engage with you.
Don’t get me wrong. I can see the worth of social media sites, like Facebook and LinkedIn, as much as the next man. I get that you have to get involved or risk missing out. For example, when having lunch with a girlfriend last week I could sympathise with her situation: she was miffed at not knowing about another friend’s new baby born weeks earlier. My only advice was, you guessed it, ‘to get a Facebook account’. And the more advice like this that gets dished out, the more we feed the social-media fever. No bad thing perhaps, but it’s vital that all that advice remains connected to the need it’s given to address: that’s the ‘why’.
In my friend’s case, there was a community on Facebook that she wanted to be part of. Does your business know where its communities hang out? If that’s Facebook or LinkedIn or somewhere else, that’s where you need to play. It’s exactly the same consideration as choosing to visit a certain exhibition or advertise in a particular magazine: will people you want to influence see you there?