One of the things made noticeable through social media participation is the personality of a previously impersonal B2B brand. Whether or not the company has individuals participating on their behalf or flies under the avatar of a company logo, the audience has greater access to what makes the company tick. In other words, personality shines through.
So, what happens when your audience applies their filter to that experience?
We all have filters. Each of us makes split-second decisions about what or who we like or don't like. We determine our level of curiosity or disinterest and respond accordingly.
For example, when someone follows me on Twitter, I do the following:
- Click on the link in the email to view their Twitter page.
- Read their bio and look at the link they've added.
- Look at the ratio of followers to following.
- Scroll through the first page of their Tweets to see if anything interests me.
Then I decide if I want to follow them back. Yes, I do that every single time. It's amazing what I can learn. I bet you have your own process for determining who you follow. For me it's not about volume, but about discovering fresh voices that have something to say that interests me professionally.
One especially telling factor is if—after reading their thread of Tweets—I click through to their website and find a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde experience it's a sure sign that there's a disconnect in the company message. Therefore, unsure of what to believe, I choose not to engage further.
One thing people like is to be sure of their beliefs. If they find a bubbly, intelligent personality during a LinkedIn group discussion, but receive email messaging and content from your company that's dry as dirt, their interest in your company as a potential partner will diminish quickly.
We must remember that marketing is like a test drive of doing business with our companies. The overall experience counts.
I know social media is the new shiny object that has marketers' attention. However, if we're going to use it as a component in the B2B marketing mix, we need to think about how our participation will reflect back on the company. The story we tell our prospects and customers needs to be consistent across all channels - at the least in tone, quality and style.
Here are a few things to think about:
- Listen to the types of people you want to attract and determine what type of participation you can engage in that will be relevant to them—and on which platform. (e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, Slideshare, industry community portals, etc.)
- Determine what presence your company has on social networks right now, and what's being said to whom. I've worked with a number of companies that say they have no one using social media, only to find a number of employees already participating on their own or regional offices that have taken the initiative to set up company pages on social networks. Given what you learn, what's your plan for incorporating them into your efforts?
- Set goals. Do you want to build awareness, drive web traffic, get in conversations, provide customer support, build specific relationships...?
- What supporting content do you have to share that will help you meet those goals? And, do you have a plan to continuously and consistently fuel your efforts?
- Who else is out there that your audience is listening to? Is what they're saying complementary to your message or different? Should you steer clear or reach out?
- Given your goals and what you've learned, do your other web properties support the messages you'll share with social networks? If not, what will it take to change that?