By Jennifer Rideout, Consultant, StrategicAmpsersand, Inc.

Ask any communications professional with experience in business-to-business (B2B) social media and he or she will tell you the same thing: it’s challenging.  That’s because B2B just isn’t the same as business-to-consumer (B2C). While B2C practitioners work on Facebook campaigns for new cars, B2B practitioners are thinking about how to generate the most creative and exciting campaign for a construction-grade tire. There’s just no comparison.

That’s not to say that with a little imagination and talent you can’t make a good B2B social media campaign stick, it’s just more difficult because a B2B campaign is typically targeted to a more niche audience. This means we face the dual challenge of making a social media campaign memorable to an audience with more specific needs and interests.

Adding to this is the misguided belief that followers equal social media success.  There are lots of blogs about how to increase followers, but is it right to expect a B2B to have an online following comparable to Red Bull, Coca-Cola, or Nikon?

This notion that followers alone determine the success of your social media program is what I call the fallacy of followers. Followers don’t matter. It’s the right followers that matter.

Consider this. What does it matter if your B2B account has 10,000 followers if none of them belong to the audience you want to reach? The right followers are your customers, your prospects, your industry influencers. These are the people that can affect the bottom line of your company.

So how do you cultivate the right followers? Shift your focus from quantity to quality. Align your B2B social media objectives to this new focus, prioritize meaningful conversations with relevant members of your audience and consider what content you have to support this. You can then use this three-step guide to cultivate the right Twitter followers for your B2B account:

  1. Define your audience.
  2. Talk to sales.
  3. Follow, listen and create meaningful conversations.

I’ll end on a cautionary note. Cultivating the right followers is not a sure way to achieve social media ‘success.’ You still need to leverage your B2B social media accounts correctly, sharing the right content on the right platform, to maximize interactions with these followers. But that’s a topic for another post.

Cultivating the right followers will help you focus on the people and opportunities that can help grow your business, and that’s what matters after all.  What do you think about the idea of quality over quantity followers?

The original, full version of this blog appears on StrategicallySpeaking.

About Jennifer Rideout

As Senior Consultant at StrategicAmpersand Inc., Jennifer works closely with clients in the IT industry to provide effective, timely and relevant communications, social and media relations support.

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