OK, so you're not Coca-Cola, and you're not selling career clothing to Millennials. LinkedIn aside, you and your team may not be clear on the value of B2B social media marketing or how to optimize your efforts on various platforms to increase engagement.
You're certainly not alone. In its 2016 B2B Content Marketing report, Content Marketing Institute found that 93 percent of marketers use social media as a content marketing tactic. And while average marketers use six different platforms, only three of those platforms — LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube — are rated as effective by more than 50 percent of respondents.
Because B2B companies don't exactly interact with their audiences in the same way that B2C companies do, it can seem more challenging to authentically connect with your audience and potential customers on social media. But that doesn't make it any less important to do so. To help you connect with your audience and improve your social media effectiveness, here are seven ways you can increase engagement on social:
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People are busy, and they check their social accounts on the go. For now, Twitter's character limit forces marketers to be brief, but brevity is just as important on Facebook and LinkedIn. But it's not enough to just think about what you're communicating on social media — you have to think just as critically about when you say it.
In general, B2B customers are on social media in the early afternoon, and weekdays are the best days to catch them. There's a lot of research on the best days and times to post on social media platforms, but you ultimately need to stay attuned to when your audience engages most often.
Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to be shared on social than other types of content, so including it in your social posts is a must. And as Millennials continue moving into positions of greater purchasing power and decision-making within companies, using visuals to appeal to them will be critical.
Photos of your product solving a customer's problem are great, and infographics about your services — how they work and how they compare to other industry leaders — are helpful for your audience to understand what value you can deliver. To take a more creative, authentic approach and communicate what your team truly believes in, try visually publicizing your community involvement with photos and videos. FedEx does a great job of this on its social media platforms.
Spread the love when you share content on social by tagging clients or partners in your posts. If you mention a client or a partner's business in an article, tag the client or company in your post to give a shout-out, increase your reach, and improve your chances for engagement. If your team uses and loves a product or service, let others know you find it valuable, and tag the business in your post.
The idea behind social media is to encourage social interaction, establish trust, and build relationships with others, and that can only happen when you and your audience actually engage in meaningful conversations. Use social media for more than just general updates. Add value to your followers, and start conversations with them. By doing this, you're humanizing your brand and your company, which makes trusting relationships come more naturally.
Also, people like to talk, ask and answer questions, and give opinions, so encourage them to do this. When you share a piece of content, try asking a question directly to your audience within the post, and respond to others when they engage with you. Remember: You're not trying to engage an entire company; you're trying to engage individual company decision makers (such as purchasing managers or IT department managers).
Not only do the results from polls and surveys give you valuable information about pain points and problems, but they also give your audiences the chance to give their feedback and feel heard. This communicates to them that you're interested in what their needs and interests are. And if you offer an incentive, such a discount or a piece of gated content that's worth the download, you can gather even more useful information.
If you can come up with clever word combinations, use them as often as possible. Ask your audience members to use your hashtags, and you can also use theirs in your posts.
The administrator of any social media account has access to analytics. When you access the data and comb through reports, you can gather critical information, including who is connecting with you, when your followers are most engaged, and what types of posts perform better. Use that insight to tailor your social strategy and optimize your efforts. Track your efforts, analyze your successes, and, above all, listen to your audience.
A social media strategy should increase not only the number of followers your business has, but also the quality of those followers. Your goal should be to attract the people who are most likely to find your message valuable and continually engage with them. A strategy like this takes effort, but if you set aside time each week and concentrate your efforts on your most active, valuable platforms, you can increase your social engagement.
Julie Ellis is an entrepreneur, content strategist, and social media expert from Miami. Connect with Julie on Twitter or LinkedIn to learn more about social media in B2B marketing or check out The Unrivaled Guide to Developing Effective Communication Skills.