Business to Business (B2B) products and services have a reputation for being a bit dull. In “ye olden days,” B2B marketing was all about serious, “just the facts ma’am“, in the weeds text. In the early years of social media, many even assumed that B2B was not a suitable match for the medium.
Those days are long gone. It’s clear that there are many benefits to participating in the world of social media, from improving SEO to improving relationships with the media; from growing a stellar reputation to growing a loyal customer base.
The key is to keep your B2B content marketing efforts interesting. Hey, I see that eyebrow arching in disbelief! But trust me when I say that it’s not that hard. You just have to get a little creative.
Humanize your company
Just because your business sells wires or widgets doesn’t mean you can’t have a personality. You’re not a robot or a faceless logo. There is a person behind the social handle, and it’s only right that you acknowledge that.
It’s all right to have a gentle or quirky sense of humor, as long as you keep it within appropriate bounds. Ekaterina Walters wrote a great article on the value of humor in marketing. My favorite quote from the article comes from master of comedy in marketing, Tim Washer:
“A good laugh is a nice gift to give your customers.”
You can also try playing around with emoticons. Use of emoticons by businesses has been shown to be a great way of humanizing the brand. Without a visual link to a human face, emoticons provide an added layer of understanding and connection to fill the gap.
Not comfortable with humor or smiley faces? Try simply being polite.
Thank followers when they repost your posts. Ask them questions. Find out why they liked a particular post or what they thought of the content you linked to. Draw your followers into conversation to strengthen their connection to your business and their feeling that you are truly interested in understanding their interests and concerns.
Make your employees specialists
Building on the idea of humanizing your business, consider allowing your employees to have their own voices across social media channels. This step is a little more complex, as you should ensure that employees that are going to represent your company on social media have appropriate training on proper social media etiquette. However, the results can be powerful.
Giving your employees a social media voice allows them to build their own reputations as specialists in areas relevant to your business. It will quickly become clear that they aren’t simply spouting marketing material or promoting sales. Instead, they can offer knowledge and assistance that might not otherwise be accessible. They can also build closer bonds with relevant prospects and media representatives.
Be sure that you continue to offer access to in-house specialists through other channels as well, such as phone, chat, video, and cobrowsing. After all, once you’ve peaked prospects’ interest on social media, there’s a good chance that the next move they will make is to explore your website and your business’ offerings.
Showing prospects that your company is full of knowledgeable, friendly and accessible employees is key to getting yourself short listed when the buying process comes to a head. Many B2B sales are long and laborious, the first step of which is to select the top companies to put in the running for a trial. If your employees have been available to answer questions and have proven that they are knowledgable and helpful resources, your organization will be top of mind when it comes to choosing a business partner.
You should offer links via your social channels to high-level blog posts or articles. This is great for gaining the interest of CEOs and top tier management. However, it can be to your benefit to hit your target businesses at other levels as well.
Don’t be afraid to get into the weeds. When a prospect is doing research on which businesses they are going to spend the big bucks with, they want to know that you know your stuff. Prove it by providing detailed information they might not be able to find elsewhere.
- Talk about the materials you source and where they come from.
- Discuss the kind of changes that would need to be made to the network in order to create the ideal environment for your solution.
- Go into detail about the languages needed to develop your software.
- Provide examples of the in-depth training required to acquire the level of knowledge necessary to provide your service.
- Offer links to your knowledge base to encourage deeper understanding about how your product can be used and administered.
All of this information is interesting. At the same time, it shows the breadth of knowledge, skills, and support your business can provide when your prospects are ready to buy.
Hard facts and outside proof are great ways to spice up your social media feed. They are interesting, very sharable, and further proof that your offering is worth a second loo,
Has your company sponsored a research piece? Write a blog post (like this one by Glance Networks) and post a link to the piece so people can get the full picture. Then, post a fact or two a day, teasing out the juciest pieces.
Your clients are also a great source of information. If you have any ROI (return on investment) statistics about a single customer or a group of customers, post those. Are your customer satisfaction or net promoter scores (CSAT or NPS) high? Post them.
If you haven’t done any research yourself, you can even post statistics from other people’s research. Just be sure that you don’t copy an entire article word for word, and that you do include a link to the original research and the name of the company that did the original research.
Want to give those statistics or any other post even more punch? Make each one into a graphic and note the audience response. After all, 40% respond better to visual information than plain text. What’s more, it’s easy to make cool graphics, so what do you have to lose?
Using stock photography for the background is fine as long as you personalize the pictures. Adding stats will do the trick, as will adding interesting quotes or information from your blog posts. You should also add your company logo to each graphic. Then, when people retweet and repost your beautiful graphics, you’ll get the extra benefit of increased brand awareness.
Even if you aren’t a graphic artist, you can easily use a program like Canva to add words to a picture. You can purchase graphics on Canva ($1 for each element) or you can import your own and create fun graphics for free.
There are plenty of great resources for free photos to use as backdrops (try Unsplash, for example).
Going for even more original content? Forget stock photography and take your own pictures. For instance, take a picture of your widget and add a quote from a happy customer or an interesting statistic about the ROI of using your product.
The bottom line is that while any legitimate business should have a social media face, it doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be that of a blank-faced robot.
Take these concepts and build on them. Let me know what you would add to this list to fill your feeds with relatable, trustworthy, and interesting content so your prospects will keep coming back for more.