Social media continues to evolve with users switching from one platform to another, so where does that leave us today for anyone personally using it for a Business to Business audience?
If anything this has become more straightforward than it was before as Google+ has become irrelevant and most of the new social media activity has happened with the “youth” platforms, which can be ignored for now.
For anyone in business I would recommend the following:
You should at a minimum maintain a ‘sparkling’ LinkedIn account that puts your best foot forward at all times. You should treat this as your personal website ensuring that all details are up to date, that you have a professional photograph, that you try to get meaningful recommendations and that you use it proactively for connecting with other people in business.
A big health warning here is that if you are not going to maintain your LinkedIn account properly then it might be wise to delete it – anything that does not paint you in the best possible light should not be allowed.
For example I had one client who was ignoring connection requests for over a year – he nearly had a heart attack when he realised that many of those looking to connect with him were his clients!!
Basics with more ambition
For someone with a little more ambition I would encourage them to add Twitter into their social media mix and I would advise posting on both LinkedIn and Twitter to “make some noise” and let the right people know what they are all about. When posting try to use visuals where possible as nice pictures help posts to get more attention!
Twitter as a platform seemed to be fading away a little but our good friend, Mr.Trump seems to have reversed this trend!
As part of this “making some noise” strategy I would recommend following and interacting with relevant accounts on Twitter and doing the same with LinkedIn including relevant groups – try to pick groups where you will find prospects, not other people in your industry.
The Avid User
If you really want to embrace social media you need to incorporate it into your working day, everyday.
A regular piece of advice that I give to clients is that social media is not a full time activity but it is a full time mentality – effectively, you are always “on” looking for natural opportunities to connect, start or join a discussion that demonstrates who you are and what you do.
You will have succeeded here if people in your sector recognise you as a prominent social media user. Even more evidence of success, is when journalists who are prolific online recognise you and contact you for commentary on topics relevant to your sector.
Pro Tip– When you are posting try to use a few relevant #Hashtags frequently so that after a while they become synonymous with you.
The real social media “guru” is the person who publishes their own material online.
Basically I am talking about those who are writing articles and opinion pieces frequently that are relevant to the sector that they work in. These pieces would demonstrate their expertise and personality and they can be hosted on their own blog or else published within their LinkedIn account (or both). These pieces can then be used as social media posts – if posts are not time sensitive they can even be recycled over time.
For those who are excellent in front of a camera or engaging into a microphone, then video (open your own YouTube account) or podcasts are others ways to capture their expertise and personality and these can also be shared as social media posts or incorporated into their blog posts.
What about Facebook and the new social media platforms?
You might be wondering why there has been no mention of the other social media platforms – in truth I don’t think that they are relevant for the B2B audience BUT …there is always a but…
..all of your social media activity demonstrates to the outside world who you are so you must be careful that you don’t do anything detrimental to your self image by what you post and how you behave online.
While I consider the above platforms to be the ones relevant for business you will often get a business contact sending you a ‘friend request‘ on Facebook or following you on Instagram or Snapchat.
In many cases you may feel obliged to accept that ‘friend request‘ but once this happens you do need to realise that all of your “personal” posts will contribute to others forming an opinion of you.
One of things that I have observed in the last while is that the ‘reach‘ of posts (how many people get to see the posts) across all platforms has disintegrated in favour of sponsored or promoted posts so you have to work even harder than before to get noticed and create an impact.
The other trend to note is “live” video which is becoming a big feature on both Facebook and Twitter – while you can probably ignore the feature on Facebook (for the B2B audience) it can be quite relevant for Twitter, as long as the content is clever and interesting.
Facebook have threatened developing their own B2B type platform for a while as they want to dominate all social media but we haven’t see any evidence of this yet.
To summarise I would advise everyone in business to jump in at some level and try to push it to the next level over time, I will guarantee you that you will see results but like everything else in life you must stick with it.
For the naysayers who still think that social media is a big waste of time, I would like to say a big thanks for leaving an even bigger opportunity for the rest of us!