The questions we typically hear most often from small businesses about social media are:
- Which social media networks should I consider?
- What type of content should I post?
These are great questions and we have certainly seen a lot of boring Business-To-Business (B2B) content on social media. It often seems that only Business-To-Consumer (B2C) businesses know how to sell the sizzle in the steak, so to speak. What business owners seem to forget when delivering their message to other businesses is that those businesses are run by people. And people still like to have their attention grabbed, even if it is about business.
Neuroscience tells us that no matter how elegant a message you present, it must first be received by the earliest part of our brain to have evolved, our Brain Stem or “croc brain”. The croc brain is programmed to think about survival, fight or flight. When receiving a sales message the croc brain acts like the gate keeper to guard the finite resources of the problem solving Neocortex. It reacts to the message with an evaluation that looks something like this: Is this a crisis? Is it extraordinary? Is it unexpected? Is it simple? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then your message is treated like spam. Your target may nod and smile but they certainly won’t process your message. This is a matter of survival as if our brains attempted to process all of the information presented to us, we would never make it out of the house in the morning!
So what does it take for your message to connect with your target and make its way to the Neocortex for processing? It must be simple, new, extraordinary and exciting. Then it must trigger an emotional response. Post some boring announcement on social media about your new product or service, or some guy you just hired, and chances are, if you’re lucky enough to be in the 2-6% of posts that actually make it into someone’s feed (unless you’re advertising), or you land in their inbox, that the recipient will scan right by it and not even recall they saw your message. And this is rather ironic because according to Meltwater media intelligence agency, “55% of B2B buyers say they search for product or vendor information on social media.”
So how can you go from wallflower to the guy in the spotlight with the guitar (metaphorically speaking)? There is no magic bullet, but there are some guidelines to follow (who goes there stats provided by Pew Research):
- Don’t sound like you’re selling
- Use hashtags
- Be visual – use original images and videos where possible
- Create catchy post titles – People share primarily to entertain or to show how smart they are. Give them the ammunition!
Who goes there: Women 18-49 (although Facebook is also the most used social media channel by older women and its population is aging quickly.). People go there when they’re looking for a break, to catch up on what friends and family are doing with their lives or something to do over their morning coffee.
What to post: Facebook is everywhere and your business must be there too. Open a business page and add a professional looking banner and page description. Post links back to your website to content, especially localized, for SEO. Create positive content that informs, but is a bit lighter. This is not the place to post a link to a scientific research study unless you have something to say about it that will inspire an “OMG!” reaction.
Who goes there: Dominated by women under 50, Pinterest is the place to go for recipes, arts & crafts a funny or inspirational quote or a beautiful, sharable image. People tend to spend more time on Pinterest than other social media channels. Saturdays are a big day.
What to post: By design a network of visual content, businesses on Pinterest must post images that will catch the eye while scrolling. Not a primary business medium yet you’ll find your target clients here on their personal time. Are you a bakery? Post images of beautifully decorated cupcakes. A gym? Post impressive before/after photos. An entertainment business? Post pictures of recent events. Other business? Try infographics or interesting quotes on visually appealing backgrounds.
Who goes there: Hispanics, African Americans and Women, all younger. Instagram is the largest network used by teens. According to Forrester, Instagram delivered 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
What to post: As a visual platform use a similar strategy to Pinterest although you’ll find more product pictures, lifestyle images of your product, service or place of business, and events. Successful large brands post 1-3 times/day.
Who goes there: Working age adults and college graduates and higher household incomes. People go there to share innovative ideas and collaborate. They do not expect to be “sold to” on Linked In. Linked In is the top channel for anyone targeting other businesses or professionals.
What to post: Links to your blog, industry news and articles with your interesting comments and opinion, rich images with thought provoking business quotes, profiles of your clients. Linked In tends to generate more engagement than other networks. Add a business page in addition to your personal page and encourage employees to connect to it via their profiles.
Who goes there: Not growing but still a force to be reckoned with as almost 1/4 of online adults use Twitter. Popular with urban residents, younger adults (although its population is aging), and academia. Population shifting slightly more toward men.
What to post: Links to your blog, industry news and articles with your interesting comments and opinion, retweets. Due to to the fast moving nature of this network try to capitalize on trends (commonly used hashtags) for visibility. The big brands are posting on Twitter from daily to multiple times per day and re-posting the same content is recommended. Announcements and general service messages. Many businesses use Twitter as their inbound ticketing system.
Final Thoughts On Becoming A Social Media Rock Star:
No matter which networks match your target personas, the keys to going from wallflower to social media rock star are good management and responsiveness when people post comments. Create a social media content calendar that plans your topics, headlines and hashtags months in advance and then be prepared to shift to take advantage of trends. Use compelling titles, visually appealing images or videos. And don’t be afraid to shake your audience up a little. Remember that behind every B2B interaction are real people, and real people tend to engage and share content that is either funny or innovative. Why? Our croc brain likes a bit of a shock to pay attention. Here are some more ideas for your to consider:
- Behind the scenes photos of staff
- Artsy or interesting product photos with a link back to the page where it can be purchased
- Client photos of your business – this works great for restaurants
- Client video testimonials
- Contests (e.g. take a picture using your product / like and share your post to enter)
And one last point…buy your own albums, or in social media speak, like your own posts. Encourage family, friends and employees to like and comment on your posts. The faster your posts show engagement, the more likely they are to be seen by others.