Many discussions about social media best practices for businesses are more relevant to B2C companies than B2B ones. For example, of the ten finalists for AdWeek’s 2014 Shorty Awards for Best Brand on Twitter, none were B2B brands.
That’s because Twitter is often lauded for its power to deepen a brand personality and cleverly respond to customer service requests. But brand personality is far more pertinent to companies promising an emotional ROI than a financial one, a key distinction between most B2C and B2B firms. And the customer service power of Twitter is far more potent for companies whose customers are individual consumers than it is for those whose clients are businesses. While individuals love publicly airing their grievances on Twitter, businesses don’t tweet at other businesses to seek product support or file complaints.
While some larger B2B companies might reap these benefits, smaller B2B companies should design campaigns that aim for lead generation and conversions—it’s in these metrics where smaller B2Bs really see a boost from social. A joint study between Twitter and Compete found that Twitter users who had been exposed to a B2B tech company’s tweets were nearly three times more likely to convert on those companies’ sites than those who hadn’t.
A successful B2B Twitter strategy creates opportunities for lead generation and conversion by targeting customers at various points in the purchasing funnel. At the top, Twitter serves as a platform for B2B companies to broadcast their industry savvy, letting them establish credibility and authority. By engaging with would-be customers at the research stage, businesses can more easily convert them later on. Closer to the purchase, Twitter provides a forum for B2Bs to share offers with people who are genuinely interested. It’s this combination that makes the platform so valuable.
As a B2B company looking to establish yourself as a resource for potential customers, you need to make your account worth following. Start with these 7 tips.
1. Curate. Don’t just share your own content and products—become a curator of great content created by others. The volume of viral content keeps growing, but our free time keeps shrinking, making curation an increasingly valued skill. Plus, sifting through content keeps you plugged in to industry chatter. And perhaps most importantly, sharing others’ content prevents you from making the common corporate social media mistake of being too self-promotional.
2. Broaden. Expand the focus of your content (while still being relevant to your company’s offering) to draw followers with varying interests. Remote meeting provider GoToMeeting has amassed nearly 50,000 followers because they recognize that their customers are interested in far more than simply remote meeting products. Their feed includes everything from advice for working from home to retweets of photos from Take Your Dog to Work Day.
— GoToMeeting (@GoToMeeting) July 22, 2014
3. Live tweet. If you’re a small business, live tweet conferences and events you attend in order to assert your presence in your industry and gain quality followers (i.e. people who are actually interested in your offering). Live tweeting can also be a very human way to use Twitter, especially if you use an event hashtag to connect with others and if you respond quickly to the online conversation.
4. Be helpful. Connect with potential customers in a meaningful way when they’re not looking to buy so that when they are ready, you’ve already established a relationship. Software giant SAP is great at this. Their Twitter feed is chock full of helpful, easy-to-digest infographics that make potentially tedious topics like Big Data palatable for even the least wonky among us.
— SAP (@SAP) July 9, 2014
5. Share the shareable. Retweets will boost your impressions and help you gain new followers, so tweet content that your followers will want to retweet. People like to appear funny, intelligent, and interesting—shareable content embodies these qualities.
6. Offer a clear call to action. Although it’s encouraged to share the content of others, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing your own from time to time. In fact, this is how B2B companies can most quantifiably benefit from Twitter. Post a link to your latest e-book, blog post, or video tutorial with a clear call to action: “Download the e-book;” “read the blog post;” “watch the video.” Include a form on your landing page to collect leads.
7. Optimize. Look at social analytics to see what types of posts are engaging and converting your followers most frequently. Maybe productivity tips don’t interest them like you thought they would. Maybe followers convert most often on Wednesday nights. Constantly tweak campaigns to maximize their efficacy.
In general, authenticity is the name of the game. Treat followers online the way you would treat a client in person. Anticipate their needs by sharing valuable content. Make yourself available by responding quickly. Just as you’d want a client to think of you as someone with whom they want to work, you should aim for your Twitter followers to think of you as someone with whom they want to engage.