Sandra Stewart | February 13, 2013
There’s enormous interest in social media among small to medium-size B2B companies—along with a lot of confusion and anxiety.
That’s my take, anyway, based on a recent San Francisco Business Times B2B social media workshop. I went thinking I’d pick up a new idea or two—and I did—but I was most struck by how, even in the belly of the social media beast, businesses trying to use these tools to their advantage are perplexed.
And I’m not talking about the woman who asked for a definition of “blog post”—though that was startling—but about the majority who have Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook pages, or more, and were thinking, Now what?
Have a plan. Presenter Michael Neuendorff told attendees they need a social media content strategy defining the who, what, when, where and how of posting. That’s excellent advice, and not just because we also always give it. Without this foundation, social media efforts are likely to flounder after the initial burst of enthusiasm.
Create high-value content. In the long term, content creation is probably the most challenging aspect of social media for most B2Bs—but it has to be tackled and it has to be done well to make a mark. How good should content be? “Really good,” Neuendorff said—the type of content businesses used to charge for.
“Aren’t professional service firms offering free content like that giving away the store?” one participant wondered. That’s a fear we’ve been hearing for years, even before social media took off, but it’s usually overblown. Quality content demonstrates in-house expertise and enhances credibility. Many people will read an expert piece and realize they don’t want to (or can’t) do that themselves. And there’s no need to get stuck on how-to articles—analysis and trend-spotting can be just as valuable.
Start a tribe. Building a community that will share your posts (as you share theirs) can be an effective, efficient way to expand your social media reach.
Keep at it. Neuendorff suggested committing to a social media strategy for at least a year—you need time to get in the groove, build a following, and see results like a rise in your website search rankings or payoff from slow-to-develop leads.