‘Shall we use social media for our company?’
‘How can I justify the spending to my boss?’
‘I don’t want to start any social media activities before I can figure out our resources?’
‘How should I respond to negative comments on our company page?’
These are questions that frequently came up during meetings with B2B companies 5 years ago.
Today, the questions have evolved to:
‘How can I use social media to engage my target customers?’
‘What kind of content is the most engaging?’
‘How can I convert online engagement into real-world leads?’
Using social media for marketing or communications is already a given at this point, but how can we drive effectively towards success and deliver impactful results? I’d like to share some thoughts and observations through this article to inspire communicators and marketers to rethink their social media strategy.
Think about this: are social media platforms the end point of where you want your customers to go? Probably not. In most cases, the goal is to drive customers from the social platform to the company site. It is here that you will want to track traffic numbers and analyze data for further engagement, or even lead generation. With that in mind, always include call-to-action links in your posts to direct visitors accordingly.
Deciding on the frequently of posts on LinkedIn, Twitter etc. is a common question and be prepared to be overwhelmed by the number of experts weighing in. To me, it depends on the platforms you use. At the end of the day, the key is not the quantity but rather, the quality of the content. I’d say the golden balance of content for B2B companies is at least 60 percent about the industry, and 40 percent or less about the company. Unlike B2C companies, whose posts can be a lot more company specific, e.g. sales promotions, games and contests; B2B companies need to share informative and thought-provoking content in order to actively engage people.
Building your own company pages is fundamental, but don’t forget the power of your executives. LinkedIn is first designed for people, not companies. Using a figurehead to engage with people is always sincerer and more impactful than a nameless voice behind a company. Given many executives, especially those in non-marketing or business fields, may not regularly use social media, you can help ‘ghost manage’ their accounts. This is even more important for companies that have centralized management over social media accounts as it is a challenge to receive permission to execute regional or country-based social media strategies. Leveraging your executives is a solution to build your social media presence in the region.
The worst outcome after developing great content is the lack of views or response. Joining discussion groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to your business is an effective way to ensure more people read about your company. In addition, being active in these groups and offering advice helps enhance your executives’ credibility as a subject matter expert. However, never post sales-oriented content on discussion groups as it can all too easily backfire.
A key social media shift in the past few years has been the move from an entirely organic social media strategy to a combination approach which pairs organic posting with social advertising. Advertising is now crucial for getting your content seen. One example for an ad could be having a sponsored tweet show up when someone searches your competitor’s name on Twitter. Ads have the additional advantage of providing analytics that really help you measure your success and plan for the future.
Measuring results not only provides you with metrics to show to your management team, but also helps you review the effectiveness of your social media strategy. From studying the data, the platforms and content types that drive the most traffic and enquiries becomes clear. Right from the start, measurement should be part of your strategy as understanding your objectives and knowing how to measure them are the cornerstone of a successful social media plan.
Perhaps the above observations seem very elementary, but in reality, not all marketers and communicators follow them. Many started posting on social media without a well thought-out plan, driven by the need to keep up with their competitors, or because senior management instructed them to. Social media can be a powerful platform to build your brand, but at the same time, it can cause a detrimental effect if poorly done. Always plan methodically before you start posting and regularly review your strategy to maximize your success.
Annie Ho is the Technology Director at WE Communications Hong Kong.