In a world where consumers rule and the ability to reach them now extends through hundreds of disparate social media tools, it’s almost never a question of whether to use these tools — only which ones. As a PR professional focusing much of your time on reaching businesses with brands, you are probably finding it increasingly complicated to navigate the social media landscape and determine the best tools to use for reaching your audience. But there is good news: It is, in fact, possible to harness the power of social media in your B2B campaigns, much as B2C campaigns do.
Outlined below are six ways your B2B campaign can leverage the power of social media in 2014, taking advantage of some very obvious “best practices” you may have already included.
- Be authentic and true to your brand values. We’ve heard it a million times, and we get it: These days, authenticity rules. And a great way to bring this to life in your B2B social media campaign is to leverage the power of the Facebook Timeline. Major companies like Oracle and US Foods have taken advantage of the Timeline “Milestones” feature to bring to life important moments in their brands’ history. If you’re not sure Facebook is the right place for B2B communication, just remember there are over 750 million people on Facebook every day on average. Chances are, your target audience is there, just waiting to be engaged.
- Share your best assets. We’re sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this advice. For B2Bs in social media, it couldn’t be more critical. Given the wealth of content at your fingertips, it would be a mistake not to share just because it’s not something you normally do. Through the use of Facebook, you can now visually communicate your brand’s best attributes through recipes, spokesperson statements, research results, case studies, important initiatives, sales team member or chef “candids”, new brand packaging, and launches. Layering in a Twitter approach to share similar content will also help further tell your story. General Electric, Kraft Foodservice, Food Fanatics, and McCormick for Chefs have set great examples for how to take advantage of this visual storytelling landscape.
- Build a network of brand ambassadors. It’s become a basic requirement for all B2B campaigns: Before anything else, get a LinkedIn company profile setup. An extension of your company website, your LinkedIn profile allows for more of a dynamic flow of content. Additionally, you can extend the discussions surrounding your campaign by creating a LinkedIn group. This will give your target audience direct access to key brand experts, as well as giving the brand direct access to its audience. Companies currently using LinkedIn to great advantage include US Foods and IBM.
- Be edgy with your brand. As the “business” behind the brand, you probably haven’t always been given the green light to be fun and experimental. But the tide has most definitely turned. Today, thanks to the use of social video tools like Instagram and Vine, gone are the days of “boring.” In just 6 seconds on Vine or 15 seconds on Instagram, you have the ability to bring a corporate interview, culinary demonstration, product launch, or even news announcement to life. The benefit of video is that it makes B2B less “technical” and more human — even slightly warm and fuzzy. Hewlett Packard and General Electric are great examples of B2Bs using Vine. For Instagram, again General Electric is a great example as well as Bart Fish Tales , a series of 15 second cooking shows (which could be considered B2B or B2C).
- Open your doors — be transparent and real. Looking for a way to get more exposure for your B2B executives? Immediately, the traditional mindset may jump to press tours and trade show interviews, but don’t overlook the advantages of leveraging a tool like Google+ Hangout, which will get the message and connection made for a fraction of the cost. This is especially beneficial in B2B campaigns, where customer testimonials and product benefits are information critical to making purchase decisions.
- Stay organized, and don’t get overwhelmed. OK, so you have all this information and are ready to press “Go” — but suddenly, you feel slightly overwhelmed. Don’t worry: You don’t need to hire a team of 10 to manage. Instead, consider a tool like HootSuite. HootSuite takes the work out of community planning by allowing you to schedule posts/tweets/updates across a multiple number of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
Although this blog post only scratches the surface of potential awareness-generating opportunities out there in the social media world for B2B campaigns, it should at the very least restore your confidence in your ability to create B2B campaigns that engage and sparkle as brightly as many of the very popular B2C campaigns.