Well, the good news is that businesses have finally come around to the idea that social media is a ripe playing field for their B2B marketing goals. Don’t feel bad if you were late to the party; any place with such an over-abundance of cat videos and Justin Bieber fans would confuse anyone as to whether or not it was the proper arena to conduct business. But the diversity of content and audience is all part of the charm and potential of social media, and when navigated properly, the potential ROI for almost any industry is huge.
Unfortunately, the whole B2B/social media relationship isn’t without its own set of growing pains as well. Which is, naturally, to be expected; as exemplified by the aforementioned cat videos and pop stars, figuring out exactly how your business ought to engage on these platforms isn’t perfectly intuitive, nor have these channels been around quite long enough for their to be a widespread, well-established protocol. As a result, a great many businesses are not only failing to maximize the benefit of being present on social media, but they might also be hurting themselves.
Here are a few common mistakes in B2B social marketing and how you can avoid them:
- Problem: Treating social media like other marketing campaigns – Probably one of the biggest mistakes B2B companies make in their social media efforts is following their usual route of one-way communication. You take your product, and your message, and put it out there for public consumption, and call it a day. In social media, no matter how well-developed or well-styled that message is, if there is no true engagement with your audience, you’re essentially spamming them. And nothing turns off a social media crowd like spamming.
- Solution: Talk to people – Obviously, you still want to get your message out there, but in the social media world, there is more to successfully doing so than standing on a soapbox and shouting into the open air. Instead, engage with your followers. Ask them questions, and respond to theirs. Follow other businesses whose success on social media you would like to emulate and pay attention to the language they’re using, and the structure of their outreach.
- Problem: Being impatient – Building up social media audience takes time. Seeing a real return from that audience takes even more time. A lot of businesses dive into the social media fray with gusto, only to become quickly disheartened by a lack of response.
- Solution: Be patient…and consistent – Just because your Twitter account has only 50 followers right now doesn’t mean that A) those 50 people aren’t worth continuing to offer engaging, diverse, great content to; or B) that you won’t one day have more followers who will benefit from seeing a well-established history of activity on your end. When producing social media content, don’t just think of it as offering something right now to your existing followers. Think of it as developing a back catalog of material for future followers to peruse. Building up a real social media personality and presence will always take time. Be patient – it can be worth it!
- Problem: Not knowing your audience…or yourself – Two important points to consider. First, knowing your audience is key to social media success. If you are trying to sell them something they don’t need or don’t want, nothing you say or do is going to change that, or make you seem anything but annoying. It’s always better to play to people who are actually your audience than to waste energy alienating people who never were your audience to begin with. Second, you must know yourself. The word “social” cannot be ignored in social media, so if you are not a social person – meaning you don’t want to engage and talk to and respond to your followers on these channels – then either hire someone who is strong and enthusiastic in their interpersonal communication, or don’t waste your time with social media at all.
- Solution: Be aware of what social media really is – and how you’re supposed to use it. If you want to see a considerable return on the effort you’re putting in, then you have to put in considerable (and well-timed, and researched, and strategic) effort. The bottom line: you have to be willing to not just put your same old marketing campaigns into a 140 character format, but completely embark on a whole new, multi-layered way of communicating with your target audience. And just because that doesn’t mean expecting social media channels to conform to your marketing strategy, it also doesn’t mean completely changing your company, your voice and your message to fit the medium. At the end of the day, it really just means being present and conscious of the forum you’re now functioning within, and learning how to find a happy balance between what will garner attention without losing your message. Hey, no one said it was easy!