There is a misconception for some that a social media strategy is easy to develop and implement. While social media sites are simple to use – submission forms with less than a handful fields, one-click voting buttons, and updates written in 140 characters or less – simplicity in success cannot be further from the truth.
You must remember that ease of use also creates a low barrier to entry. Anyone with an email address can create an account. The ability to stand out amongst the masses requires regular participation, quality content and an active network in the community.
But complete immersion is not the only solution. Somewhere between those that barely get recognition and the most influential, there are effective social media contributors having an impact on the organizations they represent everyday.
In order for B2B marketers to create an effective and sustainable strategy in any social media community, here are 6 key elements.
Being able to contribute effectively in a social media community requires focus on objectives defined. It’s very easy to veer off course with the rapid influx of new information and discoveries on the web. Don’t get sidetracked with what limited time you have available. Focus specifically on your primary objectives within the social media community, bookmarking interesting information for a more detailed investigation later in the day.
It’s very difficult to determine what the “right amount” of time really is for social media marketing. There are users who spend hours every day in communities like Reddit, LinkedIn, or Twitter but that doesn’t mean they are being effective. If social media is truly meant to be part of broader B2B marketing strategy, start by spending 30 – 45 minutes each day in 15 minute intervals. If you remain focused, you can get a lot done with a small window of opportunity.
Pay attention to the details of successful content marketing campaigns in social platforms and the habits and behaviors of influential users and targeted audiences. Note themes, tones and perspectives of successful contributions. When networking with new people, take notice of their interests and topics they share and discuss as well. As you make these observations and tie them into your own contributions, your chance of more meaningful participation will increase as well.
At some point, you must network within the community. You must send @replies in Twitter or simple acknowledgements for those that follow your social media activity. It’s just as important to be willing to receive communication and carry out conversations with new people (this is “social” media) when appropriate. Just remember one thing: if you would not say something in person, take a moment to consider whether it should be communicated online as well.
Contribution requires creativity. There are millions of profiles in the most popular social media networks. The creativity of a profile design, content contribution, and communication style all go into account when building a network and gaining recognition. Unfortunately, guidelines are subjective and you can find exceptions for almost every best practice. Work hard at creating your own unique voice in the community and in understanding what works (and doesn’t work) for your specific situation.
It’s easy to stay committed to a strategy when there are positive results. It’s more challenging when other deadlines are pressuring you or the results don’t materialize immediately or even several months down the road. The participation in social media is not always convenient or directly beneficial. If you give your time and energy consistently over time, you’ll get back the results desired. Understand that each action is a building block towards long-term success.
Lasting B2B Social Media Strategy
In most success stories, we only hear the results and not the work that goes into the process. In some cases, it’s difficult to accurately connect the dots that enabled success as well. While there may be shortcuts and short term results, those that build sustainable and effective social media channels for their business incorporate these six elements into their strategies on a regular basis.
What characteristics of successful B2B social media programs have you experienced? I would love to hear your perspective via comments below or let us know on LinkedIn or Google+ as well.