SEO: Social Engagement Optimisation
If you’re a B2B company, figuring out just what place Social Media has in your business can feel to be an elusive quest.
Some clearly just give up, as testified by abandoned accounts on the popular platforms, others maintain an ongoing presence of sorts and some seem to make it work.
Why even consider using any Social Media, isn’t a website good enough? Well, the clue is in the name – it’s because they’re sociable. While your website is a digital shop window or your exhibition stand, Social Media can be your digital conversations and, as dynamic and interactive channels, you need to be prepared to use them as such.
If your business doesn’t need to do that or the people you need to manage this aren’t capable, the result is likely to be underwhelming. Be prepared to take the rough with the smooth. They are usually public channels and will attract the attention of unhappy customers. Increasingly some large companies have come to regard platforms such a Twitter as almost a primary tool for customer communications, complimentary and critical. As long as you are a business that is ultimately interested in looking after customers then how you respond to Social Media criticism can positively enhance the perception of your brand.
My own preference is to use the term Social Engagement rather than Social Media, so let’s corrupt an existing industry term; SEO : Social Engagement Optimisation.
Unless you can soar like an Eagle and hover like a hawk, pick your platform and don’t wing it.
As in any aspect of your business, planned is better than ad hoc. Your overall business development strategy will provide structure for your marketing and sales activity, take some time to consider if and how social media can help you achieve your objectives.
Recognise that certain platforms may well be a better fit for you than others. While all social media platforms are visual to some extent, certain platforms such as Instagram or Pinterest may be a better fit for a visually strong product offer, others such as Twitter for engagement. Different platforms have different audience requirements i.e. a good Linkedin post does not necessarily make a good Twitter post. Again consider if one is a better cultural fit for your business or indeed for the people running your accounts. The better the match, the more likelihood of sustained success.
Who are you?
If you are familiar with Social platforms you may have noticed the differing persona strategies. Some chose a company ‘face’, others allow key personnel to run their own accounts as an influential face of the business.
Those who are not familiar with these platforms are often worried about adopting a more personal style or enabling their employees to do so. I believe as social platforms become established it’s important you become comfortable with the personal approach. If you trust your employees to engage with customers in person, why not via social engagement? While it can provide some form of reassurance of control by keeping it ‘company’, you’re actually missing out on a key benefit of SEO. As a small business leader, being personally familiar with how your Social Engagement ‘works’ can help you develop it, gather valuable market or customer intelligence and even coach colleagues in the same skills.
Remember, Social Media is about Social Engagement and developing that engagement into a business relationship or potentially even disqualifying a potential prospect. Engagement is much more likely to happen when there is personality present than with a company persona.
Who’s reading you?
Good question. Potentially anyone who’s interested – including your competitors of course, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share content that’s of interest to the market generally without being commercially disadvantageous to you. Think about extending conversations you have with prospects, customers, exhibition stand visitors, maybe technical papers, Q&A’s etc. In this sense Social Engagement is a channel that can convey these to a new audience or reinforce your existing audiences’ perception of you.
What’s stopping you?
Perhaps the single biggest hurdle for many in B2B to overcome when it comes to SEO is the change of mindset required. For a sector where relationships are often the key to success it would appear to be a perfect fit, yet it seems there is a struggle to transfer the same approach they would use in a face to face interaction to their Social Engagement.
Think of it as an extension of your existing marketing communications, it should complement and amplify your existing activity and as an interactive channel it offers an opportunity to apply PDCA principles to your marketing and sales channels.
As a leader, it may mean you need to get out of your comfort zone a little, acquire new skills or find the right person the delegate this to.
Perhaps see you online.