Quick tips for using social media in B2B engagement

By Clare Bagshaw

In recent posts we've covered what you should consider before jumping on the social media bandwagon in a business to business context. If you’ve decided to take the leap into social media and have worked through a proper strategy and approach then here are a few tips that may help you soar.

Social media tips

  • For many channels (like Twitter) you only have a few characters or seconds to get your message through. Make your message direct, succinct and relevant to your audience.

  • It is not a soapbox nor a propaganda machine. Don’t make your message 'blah blah blah' content. Your content must be truly relevant and valuable to your audience. A recent appointment of a staff member may not be that interesting to your followers.

  • It’s real-time; avoid making mistakes – think carefully before you respond to feedback and criticism... You will be virtually slaughtered if you offend the audience (have a look at the well known United Breaks Guitar video on You Tube).

  • Don’t try to take on too much too soon. Start out small, for example with a regular blog posting to position you as a thought leader. You can re-purpose your main content on the blog and post to other channels (such as Twitter). This way, you don’t have to create new content for every social media site.

    Jeff Bullas writes an excellent post about why you should blog before you tweet.

  • Remember, if you are using social media sites for your business, don’t muddy this with personal posts. Your prospects, customers or stakeholders probably don’t want to hear that you’re off to have a coffee and thinking of quitting your job. Likewise, your friends probably don’t want to hear about your latest company offer. If you have personal social networking accounts, keep them separate from your business accounts.

  • If you do use social media for business, you need to have an internal policy for your staff, some of whom no doubt have personal social networking sites. They need to appreciate that whatever they say about your company personally, reflects on you professionally. Some may argue that this goes against the grain of social media, but business is business.

  • Don’t take a big stick approach to your internal social media policy; however,  you do need to ensure that your staff appreciate that people reading their posts don’t distinguish between them personally and the organisation. It’s just the same as if your staff went to a real life business networking event, drank too much and mouthed off in front of a crowd (although it’s worse because online, things spread faster).

  • Have a policy for responding to criticism.  What are you going to do when you come across a posting that does virtually slaughter you? Again, think carefully. A defensive approach will probably compound the problem and your issue will spread through the online community like a bush fire. You’ll be virtually lambasted. Social media sites are active communities, to live in that community you need to get on with everyone and try not to alienate people.

The upshot

Social media may be hot right now but it may also not be for every business. You need to carefully consider the commitment required and balance this with planning and implementation. Make sure you don’t muddy your social media business activities with your personal social media activities or that of your staff. Be prepared to live in the online community and avoid soapboxing or using a big stick.