Business to Business, or B2B Social Media Marketing, may not seem as straight forward as other types of social media engagement. You may wonder how successful social media can be for a product which isn’t all that compelling?
However, social media is being adopted by many companies who have less-than-sexy products. Look at industrial companies like Caterpillar, lawyers like eMediaLaw blogger Travis Crabtree or Katie Sunstrom, and service professionals like Laura Davis (architect) and Jessica Merrell (HR). All of these people have a strong communities around them in social media, some with more followers than others. Here is a pretty good list of service professionals you can check out as well.
Social media which is well planned an implemented can be advantageous for niche topics. A research report by Hubspot showed that B2C customers who use Twitter generated two times more leads than those without a Twitter account. Twitter users with several hundred followers had approximately twice as many leads as Twitter users with followers in the double digits. A recent post by Gini Dietrich breaks down the numbers from that study further.
Social Media for Service Companies
In order to explore how service companies can succeed using social media, we invited a panel of experts who specialize in working with these types of clients to share their secrets with us at the Social Media Breakfast in Houston. We were lucky to have Nicole Buergers, Marketing Manager for TopSpot Internet Marketing, who puts together social strategies for Industrial and B2B companies; Christine Hollinden, who runs a marketing firm for professional services marketing; and Stacey Burke, a lawyer who specializes in marketing for law firms (pictured below from L to R next to Zoetica’s Kami Huyse) to share what they are doing for clients who are the typical Business to Consumer (B2C) focus.
5 Social Media Strategies for Service Companies
The panel yielded some very interesting insights, tips and tools on this topic that are worth distilling and sharing here (full transcript here). We have taken what the panelists said and added some thoughts and observations below. You can also check out Mandy Graessle’s (@favouritethings) curation of the event on Storify, another great tool for service companies to use as they share on social media platforms.
Pick Your Battles
It's better to select what you can reasonably take on, and do it well, then to do a lot of things halfway. During the panel, Christine Hollinden emphasized this for service professionals and companies. When you are doing social media for B2B it is sometimes better to determine who you want to reach and pick the social networks and tactics based on where that audience is most prevalent. Moreover, you need to pick something that makes sense based on your time and resource limitations. If you are a recruiter, LinkedIn may make more sense, if you are a lawyer SlideShare might fit in with your workflow better. If you are a busy executive, maybe quick YouTube videos that can be embedded on the website, blogs and social sharing sites are more suitable.
Create Smart Content
One of the hardest things for busy lawyers, industrial companies and service professionals to do is create compelling content, and to find the time to do it regularly. It is a challenge, but it can be overcome with a content strategy and persistence. Stacey Burk works with busy lawyers who charge by the hour. However, lawyers often speak at industry events, make PowerPoint presentations and write papers. She works with her clients to repurpose previous and current presentations to spin out multiple blog posts and other content. Using SlideShare, she can also help a lawyer build up a library of work showcasing their expertise. Most companies have content that could be re-written and repurposed for social media, especially as blog posts and in Facebook. If you have brochures, whitepapers, or other kinds of text heavy information, you can have it broken down and create graphics to make boring information visually appealing. One great tool for making quick social media visualizations is Visual.ly. Here are a list of visualization tools we have curated over time. When no one is cooperating, Christine Hollinden recommends guerrilla tactics to get content from your team. She shows up with a notepad, recorder and cookies (the eating kind) to get the content she needs.
Make It Easy to Share
If you are taking the time and expense to create content, be sure people can share it. Many webpages and blogs have missing social sharing buttons or ones that are broken. Make it simple for your readers to share the content in their own networks. If you run a WordPress site you can use plugins like Sharaholic or the Digg Digg. But even without WordPress, you can spend relatively little money to hire a developer to make retrofit your website with social sharing capabilities. Don’t forget to add share buttons to your products and services if it makes sense. Here is an article that gives more detail on how to add buttons to your site.
If you have taken the time to put together a blog for your company, Nicole Buergers reminded everyone to make sure to have all of your team apply for Google Authorship. They will all need to have a Google+ account and then link to the blog from the Google+ account and to the Google+ account from the blog. Here is a great post from Kissmetrics that describes the process to set up Google Authorship in detail. Here is another post by Social Media Today which describes how to set up Google Authorship for multiple blog authors. According to one test, this kind of “Rich Snippit” info can increase clicks by as much as 150%, but it does take time.
Show That You Care
But don’t take too much credit. Remember the often cited 80/20 rule of social media, which states you should only post about yourself or your company 20 percent of the time, and about others the other 80 percent. Don’t always promote yourself, but look for ways to showcase your community. For example, Eric Tung in Houston authored a post listing the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in Houston, as a way to connect a with other social media experts in his local market. Since Eric generally was connected at the national level, this was a way for him to make inroads locally. Consider how your company can serve your community, be it international or local. Do you have data you could share? Could you conduct research that would be interesting to a wider audience in your field? Can you organize a local meet up over breakfast or lunch to discuss issues then publish what you learn together, like in this post? Stacey particularly emphasized that you need to humanize yourself and show people that you care about others in your industry.
These five takeaways were not all that was discussed, you can check out the full transcript here. So, what are your tips be for companies and individuals in B2B businesses that are not the most compelling? We would love to see your comments.
Photo Credit: From the Rebus Agency http://instagram.com/therebusagency