This is a guest post from Roxanne Roark from Heroic Search.
When I first started out in social media marketing, my first client was an industrial electronics repair facility. Since there were no expectations, really, of what brands should or shouldn’t do on social media at that time, it was a time of experimentation for everyone. The brand was already as un-sexy as you could get, (do you even know what industrial electronics are? I didn’t either. Check out this link for an example.) being industrial in nature, but add to that fact that the customers were other businesses, whom were also mostly industrial, with little chance of many of them ever even considering social media and you had the trifecta of difficulty. It was my job to figure out how to gain followers, “likes”, shares, engagement and even website traffic for the website pages. I had to figure out how to connect with other businesses that also had no idea what they were doing, if they were on social media to begin with! So, with all of this in mind, I wanted to share with you my Top 5 Social Media Tips for Business-to-Business (B2B) Companies. Let’s begin.
In 2011, before I was with my current company, Heroic Search, I began to run the Twitter profile of this industrial electronics repair facility. Man! This account taught me a lot of lessons. I started off by simply staring at the feed, trying to find anything that I could “relate to” as the facility. If someone said something about the weather in the area, I tried to retweet it and make a comment. If there was something even remotely industrial, I would “like” it and retweet it. Eventually, I fell into a pattern. Every 10 minutes I would post an article of something related to our industry or to something closely related to our industry, since at this time, there wasn’t (and probably still isn’t) much to share about industrial electronics, aside from the same old product catalog pictures. I followed anyone that would talk to me, especially if they were in the industrial sector and eventually, it led me to create my first few Twitter lists. Which brings me to my first tip:
Tip #1: Create and maintain Twitter lists of vendors, partners, and customers.
When I was running this company’s Twitter, it became very helpful to have different lists of the people I was speaking to, and it made it infinitely easier to keep up with their posts after I had followed over 1,000 accounts. When you create and maintain these lists, it allows you to follow along with the accounts solely added to this list. So, by interacting with, say, all of your customers online, you have a “pulse” for what they are up to and you can engage with them, keeping you top of mind, or at least, open for opportunities such as guest blog posts or a shout out to their customers or networks. By following my lists, I was able to build a network of people that would help me share my articles, any company news, as well as send other accounts my way that might need the services we provided. It was — and still is — very effective! Below is one of my lists of partners that I recently started, and you can see the feed is very filtered for me to keep up with just these accounts, rather than everyone I follow.
I keep most of my partner and customer lists private, so these lists are only for my viewing and no one else can see who is in the list. You have the choice to make them public, as well.
Tip #2: Teach people your jargon.
I didn’t have a lot to talk about when it came to us, and the 80/20 rule was ALL over the interwebz at that point. It was almost the universal law. If you weren’t abiding by it, you were shamed. Haha. Well, perhaps not shamed, but definitely looked over. So I set my new rule for the account. I would share 8 articles from around the web, or retweets, etc. to every 2 “promotional” posts. And I classified promotional as anything that talked about ourselves. But what do you share when you’re a B2B company and you don’t have sales going on or press releases to talk about? Well, friends, I started teaching people. The jargon used around the company was not something everyone understood, and I shared that with them.
As you can see in this tweet, I shared not only the name of a piece of equipment, which very well may have come up in a phone call with a salesman, but I shared a link that led to a Wikipedia page so the customers, or potential customers, could get even more information. And it did more than just give me content to share, it proved to the public that we knew what we were talking about.
Tip #3: Talk to your Salesmen.
Talking to your salesmen can be invaluable when you work on social media. You always want to provide value to your customers and you want your prospective clients to see you as reputable and trustworthy; they want to know that you know what you’re talking about and that other people feel as though you are worth their time or money. By talking to the salesmen at the repair facility, I was able to glean what questions they were always getting asked and what answers they were always giving. Some of these can even come from your FAQ page, if you need a place to start. Here is a post I recently shared on LinkedIn for a Heroic Search client:
This little tip (still) helps me create posts for social media as well as brainstorm content, which I’ll talk about next.
Tip #4: Create Good Content.. Even if You’re in a Boring Industry.
Your posts on social media, the blog post you just scheduled, that video your boss asked you to create.. Everything is considered content. And it’s easier than you think to create good content for your B2B audience. Take this video for example. It’s from one of the companies I kept in touch with over social media (through my lists!) and I remember when she made this video in 2012. She did it on a whim, not knowing if anyone would care, and as you can see from this tweet in 2015, she nailed it (construction-related pun totally intended):
So, when you’re thinking you’re in a boring industry and there’s nothing that anyone would want to know about your company, do what she did. Come up with something simple. I’ve used little known facts about the owner and the business, little known uses for a product the company sells, “this day in history” information that related to the company, as well as answers to FAQs! It doesn’t have to be difficult.
Tip #5: Listen In.
Many of you probably already know about Google alerts and services like Mention, but I want to talk to you about using a tool you probably use daily, and you just don’t think about. Social Media. My boss, Jared, has written about using Twitter to find opportunities, but you can use Facebook in the same way! And since Facebook has one of the largest audiences available in social media, this could be a gold mine for a few reasons.
- You could find new content topics.
- You can find people that need your help.
You’re probably thinking, “Need my help?”, and that’s right. People that need your help. Thousands of people ask social media questions every day. If you’re not there to answer, your competitors might be. Heroic Search is a digital marketing company, so let’s use this search for “Looking for SEO” on Facebook, as an example:
These top two results show you just how effective a search like this could be. Just be sure to think like your customers when you type in a search.
So, that’s it! Those are my Top 5 Tips to anyone that is managing the social media for a B2B business. It can be tough, but if you get creative and use these 5 tips, you’ll be able to keep your social media accounts alive and thriving.
Roxanne is the Siren of Social at Heroic Search, providing SEO, Content Marketing, and Social Media Services in Tulsa and Dallas. When she’s not managing social accounts, she enjoys writing, tweetchats, and sushi. You can connect with her on Twitter.