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B2B Branding and Social Media: 4 Simple Truths

By Kristy Gulsvig

In a brand newsroom a short distance from our California office, a Volkswagen marketing team huddled during the recent Super Bowl so they could seize opportunistic social media stardom during the game. Several other marketers had similar set ups so they could Tweet and post Vine videos during the brand bowl.

Most B2B brands don’t need a “war room” operation — and few use news events to promote themselves in real time — but all should have a “social life.” A solid, strategic approach to social media helps boost brand image and stoke brand loyalty.

Some guidelines:

  • Quality trumps quantity. It is very tempting to measure social media impact by blog hits, clicks, followers, “likes” or retweets. Although this may help companies understand their social media reach, it’s important to remember that the quality of a brand’s content and social media interactions is most important. Why? Engaging a few interested and influential followers is better than blasting messages to a very large group of disengaged folks. Take note: How many followers are frequently interacting with a brand? Are they “influencers” whose interest in a company or topic can extend to others? When comments come in from customers, prospects or interested observers, does someone from inside the company or from its agency partner reach out to respond or thank them for their interest? Are posts on the company blog tossed up quickly because there is an internal deadline or are they always thoughtful and relevant to the target audience?When it comes to social media for B2B brands, the quality of posts, interactions and followers matter more than numbers.
  • Ditch the sales pitch. Some marketers tend to emphasize the “media” of “social media,” when in fact “social” is the operable word.In the B2B world, the “social” part of social media feels very consumer-oriented so we tend to ignore it. In reality, the concept fits in perfectly with the relationship-oriented mindset that is often central to the sales strategy of B2B companies. Think of social media as an extension of the personal relationships cultivated by your company’s sales, business development, and marketing teams. Use these interactions to start conversations and make deep connections with individuals in your industry.Engage. Interact. Ask questions.
  • C-suite: Get social! Social media isn’t just for celebrity CEOs with personal brands and big name recognition like Richard Branson, Jeffrey Immelt, and Rupert Murdoch.If you accept the premise that social media should be about creating conversations and developing interactive relationships, participation from everyone — especially company leadership — is incredibly important to an effective social media strategy. Executives from SAP, General Electric, IBM and Dell have a good showing on social media.Many other c-suite leaders are social media no-shows. Why is that a mistake? Having a leader associated with and speaking for the brand gives customers and prospects a “face”. It humanizes the company, which is only going to become more important in the B2B world. Two, executives can connect with other executives on social media outlets. In other words, it’s good for business. Three, social media participation among c-suite executives will encourage employees to embrace social media and, with some guidance, become brand ambassadors.
  • Pick your shots. Intel is a B2B brand that deserves kudos for posting solid, diverse content across multiple social channels — from YouTube to Instagram and Google+. While Intel may have extensiveresources, most B2B companies should focus on one or two channels that are most relevant to their customers, at least to start.Twitter is an easy place to start. LinkedIn is a no brainer. From there, brands can decide which, if any, other outlets make sense.The important thing is to choose channels based your brand’s business goals and target audiences, determine a strategy and dedicate a person or a team to consistently feed your social media channels with quality content aimed at the right audience.