What are you doing to build engagement?
For active users of social media, there’s not much worse than clicking on a blog link or finding a new Twitter account and then realizing it hasn’t been updated in months.
Some types of businesses easily lend themselves to social media, mainly those that deal directly with the public: food trucks that need to post their daily location, public relations firms that want to promote a client, or any sort of retailer that wants to announce a sale.
However, when it comes to business-to-business companies, the challenge – on the surface – seems a little more involved. But Justin Croxton of Que Commerce, an Atlanta-based firm that specializes in digital marketing, says that best practices can be universal.
To start with, Croxton says active usage ranks among the most important practices for any company engaging in social media.
"Because if you’re not using it... I know that sounds somewhat trite, but it’s important that you actually utilize those assets as often as possible," Croxton says. "Not to the point where it’s all about spam and you’re spamming people with constant content on a regular basis, but it is important to provide great content. Usually, you’re using social media not so much as an outbound marketing channel, but as an engagement tool."
Croxton also suggests companies build out their social media profiles and make sure they are "robust." What he means is having good information about the company and what it does as a brand. Lastly, he says the social media presence must engage others and provide good content that "really draws people in."
"In this day and age, you think about what any marketing organization or anyone is trying to do -- they’re just trying to serve the need," Croxton says. "If you can create content around that need and if you can create content around serving that need and using that content to bring more people in – even if you’re using it through the social media channel -- you’ll be in much better shape and you’ll also give yourself more opportunities for that content to go viral or to be shared in other communities."
In terms of sharing, Croxton suggests the use of hashtags (which, for the uninitiated, is the "number sign" symbol followed by a keyword that makes it easier for searchers to find content).
As an example of a business-to-business social media presence, Atlanta corporate real estate broker Ken Ashley makes lively use of his Twitter account. His user profile indicates that "I blog about life in CRE." Early each morning, he engages others and posts a number of news items and trends relating to his industry and the economy at large. Some are business-related, while others are not. As a result, he’s built his following up to 3,432 followers.
To outsiders, selling office space to businesses does not sound like the most glamorous or, at least, in a social media sense, compelling endeavor. Nonetheless, it has an audience. Croxton says that building an audience is important for a variety of reasons, one of which is that a company’s number of followers on social media is starting to have an impact on search engine optimization (how quickly or prominently a term comes up when a user performs an Internet search).
Croxton stresses the importance of thinking about which audiences business owners want to reach. He uses the examples of a company that produces chemicals.
"I can assure you there is a community out there that may have an interest in chemicals," he says. "So the next question is what am I doing to get in front of that audience or to engage them on my Facebook page? Or to have them follow me on Twitter or to friend me or follow me on social networks?"
All things that anyone who is thinking of engaging in social media must keep in mind.