Let’s cut to the chase. I’m a devoted, nay, zealous fan of The Office – a mockumentary TV show that follows the employees of Dunder Mifflin, a mid-sized company selling paper-based products to regional establishments. Whenever I find it possible to integrate the cult classic into writings and blogs, I’ll find a way. Luckily, B2B marketing and The Office intersect somewhat organically, making this analogy a fun one.
There’s a moment in the TV show when Vice President of Regional Sales, Ryan Howard, tries to bring the fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin into the modern age of technology with the launch of a new website entitled, Dunder Mifflin Infinity. However, the principal protagonist, Jim Halpert, quickly informs the audience just how complex a task this is when he shows the current state of Dunder Mifflin’s website. (Cue a stick figure animation in a Santa hat along with the words “Under construction. Coming Christmas 2002.”)
What’s wrong with this scene, you ask? The year is 2007, meaning fictional B2B company Dunder Mifflin’s first line of defense to new customers, it’s website, has been “under construction” for what appears to be five years.
Again, although a dramatized and fictional example, a lot of B2B companies receive a poor grade when assessing their social media skills, and need to step their game up, quickly, or risk being left behind.
Rework your angle
A lot of B2B companies aren’t glamorous or elegant, but for the overwhelming majority of these companies, bells and whistles aren’t needed and only serve to distract the product from working at optimal capacity.
Your company exists because someone needs what your company offers; however, it can do your business a world of good to take a step back and rework your gameplan from a different angle. While many individuals in the world use paper and paper products, the volume of paper utilized by one individual pales in comparison to the needs of, for example, a law firm. Instead of attempting to appeal to a broad range of individuals, it can benefit your company more to produce social media content that captivates the legal profession, and other such like-minded industries.
Get real with it
Once you can clearly see a creative angle in which to approach your social media marketing efforts, it’s best to begin humanizing your product or service. Many B2B companies, as stated prior, are not glamorous or sexy. However, to that point, putting a real person behind your company name is one tactic that can make your product more approachable.
Begin humanizing your brand by identifying your brand voice, and begin speaking to your audience in the first person. Highlight your employees and use real names to identify and praise team members that effectively help your customers. Reply to social media posts and comments in real-time and ask questions that further customer engagement.
Seize opportunities to showcase how your business empathizes with the needs of your customers, regardless of the industry, and refrains from the norm of robotic dialogue. Placing more effort not just on what you are saying, but how you are saying it and how it is received, is a small but essential step in the right direction.
Bring an expert on board
Promoting your brand on social media takes a strategic and concerted effort. However, too many companies find themselves the victims of one of two circumstances:
- They’ve hired an individual that knows their industry but not the depths and nuances of social media.
- They’ve hired an individual that knows social media functions but not social media strategy and its respective timelines.
Understanding micro gradations within an industry can be taught; however, being able to implement robust strategies that often take time to flush out is something that takes time, patience, and an understanding of the social media process as a whole.
Bringing an expert on board is perhaps one of the best ways to unlock your company’s potential. It can be done either by identifying and hiring a social media expert (knowledge in a similar, but not identical niche, is ideal), or investing in an agency that has many available resources to build your brand and captivate your audience.
While, yes, B2B companies have often found themselves behind the curve when speaking in regard to social media, the trend lines are in favor of the future. Instead of waiting five years for a technological revolution, the adoption and execution of these three tips allow B2B companies to witness positive returns on investment and increased growth within their businesses.