The B2B space has many examples of successful marketing campaigns that integrate social media into the mix. But, there are still many firms that are reluctant to post sales messages or product information via social media because of sensitivity to legal or security issues. They’re uncertain about what they can say while remaining within the boundaries of often-strict corporate disclosure requirements.
A study by Forrester found that just 10% of U.S. online adults trust ads on websites, and only 9% trust text messages from companies or brands.1 On the other hand, nine out of 10 consumers say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising2 when evaluating a purchase decision.
So, while the use of social media can be a valuable tool, it also presents a bit of a dilemma. How do you put your firm “out there” (and open a breadth of new engagement and advertising possibilities) in the social space?
We recommend three basic guidelines: Be relevant. Be relentless. Be real.
It makes sense to provide information that is useful to your customers. And, it can be as simple as sharing updates on products, events, news, trending topics and human-interest stories. We’ve found that these types of social posts are integral to maintaining audience engagement over time. It’s important to find the right balance in content for your audience, as some may expect breaking news and others love to hear the latest product offerings.
Some of our clients are finding that they can provide timely, helpful insights to their followers without running afoul of corporate guidelines. And, they’re finding that this is an effective way to bring their brand to life and establish a relationship with customers and prospects alike.
Our clients typically build out a robust “library” of tweets, posts and blog entries that convey and support key campaign messages. These are then distributed according to a social media calendar geared toward keeping their brand in front of the target audience at regular intervals over a long time period. A monthly—or, even better, weekly—cycle of posts can help sustain momentum for a campaign and keep your brand top of mind.
For example, we helped a leading insurance and investment company create and distribute 100+ posts over a three-month period in support of a thought capital-based campaign. The messaging was all drawn from elements of the campaign in order to build the number of impressions and extend the overall impact.
In their study, Forrester calls on marketers to “deliver self-perpetuating cycles of real-time, two-way, insight-driven interactions with individual customers.”3 We believe that’s a piece of advice that boils down to this: communicate with your customers often and be honest and real when you do.
By interacting with your audience via social media, you’ll gain insights into why they have embraced (or rejected) your narrative and what might make them regard your brand even more favorably going forward. In essence, these learnings will help you maintain the most engaged, most authentic level of interaction possible between your brand and your customers.
At the same time, social media analytics allow you to view data on audience demographics, interests, search activity, geolocation and other factors, giving you the ability to target your audience more precisely. Findings drawn from social media can be passed on to other departments to share valuable audience insights with other product groups.
It’s no surprise that your social presence will be more compelling when it is in the proper context and in tune with the emotional landscape of the target audience. If you can speak to the heart, the head will follow.
We’ve enjoyed serving as a resource for a number of clients who have adopted the practice of social media usage that’s “relevant, relentless and real.”
The goal is to be strategic, not just social. And, that means being consistent with the messaging that represents your brand and always striving to connect with your audience at the emotional level.
Ready to get strategic with your social? We can help you shine (and keep your compliance officer happy, too). Contact Steve Schmieder at 312-327-5120 or firstname.lastname@example.org today.
 Tracy Stokes with David M. Cooperstein, “How Branded Content Will Unlock the Key to Consumer Trust,” forrester.com, posted March 21, 2013, retrieved Sept. 2, 2015.
 Marisa Grimes, “Nielsen: Global Consumers’ Trust in ‘Earned’ Advertising Grows in Importance,” nielsen.com, posted April 10, 2012, retrieved Sept. 2, 2015.
 Carlton A. Doty with Josh Bernoff, Srividya Sridharan and Elizabeth Ryckewaert, “The Power of Customer Context,” forrester.com, posted April 14, 2014, retrieved Sept. 2, 2015.