A few times now I have heard someone ask if I/we have BtoB social experience. In a way I get that. Clients always want to find people and agencies with relative experience. However, in the social world my belief is that is not the question one should be asking.
After all, there is an active social conversation happening about nearly every possible topic. So how do we engage in that? How do we provide content and information that is relevant, interesting and constant to that community? Whether they are making business decisions or personal decisions they want to have a discussion.
As always, one needs to decide why you are spending time and money in social. If it is to connect with decision makers in the business world consider where they want to have these conversations. And what type of content can tell your story best?
For example a BtoB play may have a Twitter play to engage in conversation. There could be LinkedIn content in your calendar for paid reach and targeting. This is longer content than Twitter and can should be very specific to the business goals. Next there should/could be a YouTube effort. Creating content in here gives you many benefits. It helps by telling the story exactly like you want it told due to video. It is the second largest search engine behind Google Search. And Google indexes this before most all other content and gives it a higher “rating” due to it being video content. Speaking of search, there should be a Google+ page. This is also indexed immediately and given preferential treatment by Google Search. Links to dot com order pages or location pages are always great to pepper in your calendar. Repurposing good content from other platforms is acceptable. Next level and usually more intimidating than even YouTube is a blog. Creating long form content for brands has always been difficult. But can the agency do it? Maybe you need to hire subject matter experts to do it on your behalf.
Notably missing from the list is Facebook. It may or may not be relevant. There is no advertising platform available that can give you more data on the consumer or potential consumer than Facebook. They can target like nobody else and they can give reach in scale that very few can. Consider the context for the target. If, in general, they use this to share kid photos and connect with relatives this is likely not the place to sell them on how awesome your widget can be for their fleet. And keep in mind this will cost. Facebook organic reach is essentially at zero now. So a budget is needed.
I suggest giving different levels of possible engagement. In sequence from above it would be Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and a blog. Move the consumer up the ladder of content consumption. Help them and make the life easier or better. Tell them stories that you want but make sure it is relative to them and not a big-company message that you bark out.
As with all marketing efforts decide on KPIs. Set goals and run towards them. Use micro and macro insights to adapt. There are infinite possibilities but typically they should ramp up to business objectives.
So after the whole rant I come back to connecting and story telling. The question that should be asked is, “how do we connect with the target in an already-active social community?” Stop getting hung up on the industry or the product. If you are willing to engage in conversation there is a place for you and your brand in social media.
I am amazed at times at what brands feel appropriate to post about and engage in on social channels.
A solid strategy should outline what you should be posting about. That should be places you can make emotional connections to an already-active social community in and around your product, offering or service. Anything outside of that is strategically off base.
Holidays seem to be the times where every brand feels they need to give a shout out. Because everyone appreciates a good “Happy Holidays” from a hotel chain or a clothing company. We all know this comes from a sincere spot in the company’s heart, right?
Even more interesting are the times that a tragedy defines a day. #BostonStrong was a social movement that most everyone remembers. For many it made them, personally, feel better to engage in it by using the hashtag. It made the country smaller. We all cared about that city and wanted Bostonians to know we were behind them and proud of how they acted. How does a brand feel that way? A brand that may have a store or few in the city. A brand that may sell things there. But really? Is that the right time or place for a company that is obviously in social channels for marketing to make a statement? I say no way.
The trend extends into the urge for brands to be relevant in the moment. Twitter is where most of this happens. Community managers cannot fight the urge to dive in on Trending Topics. Many times not knowing what they stand for or who “should” be engaging in conversation.
Case in point is #WhyIStayed. When the spotlight was pointed to the issue of domestic violence many use this as a platform to help themselves and others. To help them have a discussion about what happened to them and why they stayed. The point I am trying to make is not anything about how that played out but the fact that mistakes were made by brands trying to engage. Below is the DiGiorno mistake. The brand manager had no idea what it stood for and dove in. Crazy-bad mistake. But this is a trend.
#WhyIStayed – Digiorno http://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/digiorno-whyistayed-you-had-pizza#cgwnf2
So I ask all of you brands to stay in your lane. Talk about what is relevant to you AND your consumer. Stay in the place where you have expertise and can be of use to them. That is not in #BostonStrong or 9/11 or breast cancer. The only caveat is if you are DIRECTLY tied to those causes.
This concept is such and integral part ot a robust social strategy. Social media began with the concept of human connection.
Many brands still look at social as another medium simialr to the traditional broadcast channels. A one-way message. Another way to bark out their tagline or latest slogan in hopes that consumers all over are just waiting to hear from them.
Of course we are trying to sell something. We all know that. The agency does and the consumer does. Why else would a major brand spend money on something. So stop with the horrible CTA’s that embarrass your brand and insult the consumer. Instead engage in conversation.
Humanizing your brand is a scary thing. Who would your brand be? One person? But we have 5 target segments that we sell to. They range in age from 18 to dead. How can one voice work here?
It can. You will need to begin with what the role of social is in your marketing mix. Is it to win back consumers you have lost for some reason? Is it to change your brand image? There are infinite possibilities but the one you choose needs to define your ROI.
Does your voice need to be a peer to the community or a leader? Does your audience respond better to their friend giving advice or a subject-matter expert? Your research has told you, I’m sure.
Once you come to this you will know what attributes this person needs. How often would they respond? Do they drop in an “LOL” or no way. Think of them as a real person. Give them a name. Everyone that touches social needs to understand them. They should ask, “Would Jane say that?” And it should be very obvious when Jane should not say that.
In the world we live in there are countless potentials for social engagements. There are the “big guys” of the social world such as YouTube, Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Then, depending on audience, we have Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and Tumblr. And let’s not forget the “new guys” brands and agencies are ecperimenting with such as Snapchat. All of these posts have a lifespan. And we should account for that in our social strategies to begin with and then in our content calendars when time.
It’s pretty easy to figure out the lifespan when you stop and think. YouTube, Pinterest and Tumblr have the longest. In some cases these posts may be evergreen. These platforms are made for finding and collecting thoughts. Search and repurposing is easy and the standard.
When content ties to a campaign they may be far more time stamped. Even still, we should have a mix of Posts, Boards and Playlists that are there to be used for a very long time. They should be relevant when posted but may resurface in a few months to get some new attention. That may happen due to a product taking off, or a paid endorser finding a spotlight or because an unpaid influencer comes across it and introduces it to their social circles. This is social gold.
Some ideas we use when thinking about this are larger stories. Overall brand stories. What overall business goals or pillars does all of your marketing work towards? What is core to your sales or image? Incorporate them into the always-on calendar and build a war chest of go-to content. And keep adding to this list. LTO’s come and go and are critical to the bottom line. But overall company goals typically are far more important.
Fleeting thoughts are the norm of social and usually the most glamorous. Use the long-term content to build a base for those channels. Have these assets for community managers to link to when asked questions. And show up in search when the time is right.