By Jennifer Rideout, Consultant, StrategicAmpsersand, Inc.
In my first blog I discussed the fallacy of followers – the focus on the volume of followers, fans and friends a brand has across social platforms rather than on who those followers are – and outlined a strategy every B2B brand can follow to cultivate quality followers.
But let’s take a step back. What if your brand isn’t on any social platforms yet? B2B brands are moving – in droves – to social platforms, but how do you know which of the (seemingly) endless networks, forums and communities are right for your brand?
In short, you don’t. Many brands have leapt into the social sphere believing it another mass-communication vehicle for one-way messages. It’s not, and in order to cultivate the right followers – and by extension, grow your brand – every B2B needs to take a strategic look at which platforms are right for them. And it starts with determining your social media objectives.
Step 1: Identify
You wouldn’t begin any marketing or PR campaign without first determining your objectives and desired outcomes, and deciding your social media presence shouldn’t be any different. Outline what you want to achieve through your B2B’s social media accounts, and prioritize these with your decision makers.
For example, do you want to raise awareness? Twitter and Facebook might be best. Do you want to demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership? Try YouTube videos. And Quora is great for establishing thought leadership, gauging brand perception, establishing SEO and sales leads.
Step 2: Research
You’ve determined your objectives and the platforms you want to use, but you still need to make sure your customers and prospects are using these tools before you jump into the social media ocean. If you have decided that LinkedIn and Quora are a fit for your B2B social objectives, go onto these sites and look around. Are there conversations taking place between your competitors and potential customers? Are there groups your customers belong to, or questions being asked that you could answer?
Step 3: Prepare
Social media is not short-term marketing strategy. It is a long-term investment, a promise to your customers and audience that you will engage with them on your chosen platform for the next few years (at least). Social media takes a commitment of resources (some platforms more than others), so before you agree to launch your B2B’s YouTube channel, blog, Twitter account and Facebook page at once, make sure you have enough staff in place, or an agency at your fingertips, to make your investment a success.
Step 4: Plan (and launch)
You’re ready to go. You have your objectives identified, account names secured and a team in place to keep your social media presence humming for the foreseeable future. Now you just need content. Before launching your social accounts, plan your entrance. Work with your internal team, or agency, to have at least two months of content in place before you send your first message. And don’t forget to spruce up your accounts with profile photos, custom background images and completed company biographies.
One final thought on the above before I sign off. If your brand leapt into social media before using the above steps, it’s not too late. Keep the conversation going on your current channels. Begin evaluating your social media objectives, and shift the focus of your team to the platforms that meet these.
The original version of this blog appears on StrategicallySpeaking.
As Consultant at StrategicAmpersand Inc., Jennifer Rideout works closely with clients in the IT industry to provide effective, timely and relevant communications and media relations support. Since joining StrategicAmpersand in 2007, Jennifer has worked with various technology clients, utilizing her experience in media relations and exceptional writing skills to develop written materials, support global product launches and facilitate interviews with local and national media. She also boasts special skills and expertise in the area of social media, blogging and social strategy. Jennifer is a recipient of the 2007 IABC Gold Quill Award and CPRS Gold ACE Award for Student PR Campaign of the Year, and holds an honours bachelor of applied arts degree from the University of Guelph and a public relations diploma from Humber College. You can find Jennifer on Twitter at @JenniferKR.