Hello, this is Leanne Green with a guest Technology Marketing Center blog on tips to make B2B social media marketing less painful and more productive. I’ve been dabbling in technical marketing for the last 20 years as an independent consultant, with a passion for market research. I am naturally nosy and will instinctively interview anyone willing—so was eager to dive into a recent project for a client to help its sales teams engage more profitably with LinkedIn and Twitter. I needed to uncover the secrets of social media in the B2B segment, so did what I do best … interview those in the know. Here’s what I found out.
B2B social media use today sucks. I apologize for being so blunt, but am sure you get it; or, at least feel the pain. Compared to the more traditional tricks of the trade that we mastered years ago in our technical marketing careers, social media use really can suck. I’m seeing some of my more shrewd and savvy marketing mentors throwing wet noodles onto the social media wall to see what sticks. Most of it doesn’t. It’s often inconsistent. Misused. Irrelevant. Intimidating. Unproductive. But, it can’t be ignored. As of last year, Millennials now outnumber Baby Boomers in the workforce. We must use social media marketing to reach them. It’s where they hang out.
Recently, I grilled a handful of my peers who play boldly in the B2B social media game and asked for simple tricks of the trade, most specifically with LinkedIn and Twitter. These are my B2B kin who claim social media really does work in technical marketing to:
- Create awareness and improve reputation
- Uncover prospects and nurture leads
- Engage customers and foster industry alliances
- Build thought leadership and influencer marketing
Social Media Made Simple
My research was surprising: so unscientific and so simple, their methodologies sounded like a list from the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Robert Fulghum was a best-selling author overnight because he reminded us that the credo of life isn’t complicated. Relationship rules are simple: Be kind. Be a friend. Listen. Respond. Add value. Remember your manners.
According to my colleagues, the tenants of successful B2B social media use are just as simple: Be kind. Be a friend. Listen. Respond. Add value. Remember your manners.
Social media, after all, is about relationships. It’s social. The more you engage with people in a friendly, conversational manner or even through a simple retweet or “like” of a post, the more likely you are to have people engage back with you. It’s everything you learned in Kindergarten.
For your reading pleasure and hopefully, a little ammo to kick your B2B social media results up a notch, here’s my simple list for better engagement on LinkedIn and Twitter, as gleaned from those who are making it work:
Tips for Better LinkedIn Group Engagement
- Be selective. Choose a few main groups and engage in them consistently.
- Be relevant. Become an active and helpful group community member with applicable content.
- Participate. Post your own content that is valuable for the group (minimize product content, eliminate sales pitches.)
- Be generous. Click “Like” on other posts – it helps build community and spread the word.
- Reciprocate. Comment on another member’s post with your observations.
- Earn respect. Support the community by answering questions.
- Provoke conversation. Ask a question or ask for input on a specific topic.
- Be helpful. Repost external content that you think is valuable for the group.
Tips for Better Twitter Engagement
- Be strategic. Follow your prospects, customers, coworkers, partners, competitors, industry groups, etc.
- Be professional. Fill in your profile and biography so that other people know more about you.
- Be consistent. Update your status or retweet at least once a day.
- Listen. What is your Twitter network saying?
- Respond. Interact with your Twitter followers when you can add value to the conversation.
- Build relationships. Whenever you're referencing another Twitter user, use his name with an @ sign in the front so that the user can see that you mentioned him.
- Make it easy to be found. Use hashtags to give context to updates that may not make sense otherwise. This makes your tweets searchable by anyone.
- A simple “like” on a post takes just a second, and adds a lot of power to your relationships.
The bottom line is that social media is a reality and is here to stay. It takes effort, time, commitment and relationships. If you aren’t ready to nurture it with the due diligence it requires, I’m sorry to be so blunt (again) and say it’s going to continue to suck.