The opportunity to build relationships with your ideal buyers is undoubtedly on social media. B2B businesses and their team members that invest in building a thoughtful and sustainable social media presence through listening and providing value are well positioned to reap significant rewards.
33% of B2B decision makers use LinkedIn to research purchases
Social media plays a central role in digital marketing for B2B businesses of all sizes and industries. Why? Because social media offers unprecedented opportunities for targeted exposure, engagement, analysis, and sales that would be prohibitively expensive using other means.
What has become more apparent over the past year is that your buyers are looking not only at your organization’s digital presence, but also your team’s individual digital brands. Social media provides a channel for us to express our authentic professional selves in the same way we would during a lunch or dinner with a client or prospects. This is an opportunity to connect.
Trust is not easy to establish or build quickly; instead, you should be investing in the long game.
Where to Get Started with B2B Social Media
It’s important to develop a clear understanding of your objectives, capabilities, and audience preferences for engagement on social platforms. Rather than posting simply for the sake of distributing content and maintaining a regular cadence, we recommend shifting your focus to building engagement and influence by addressing these questions:
- Whom are you trying to engage with? The key word here is ‘engage’; this isn’t about pushing products or services.
- What are your audiences interested in? This is an opportunity to listen and learn.
- Where is your audience spending time? There’s no point tweeting away if your audience is always on LinkedIn.
- How are you as a business and a team presenting yourselves online? You can’t be one thing here and another thing there; consistency is key.
For B2C firms, platforms like Instagram and Facebook may be the best place to engage with prospective customers.
- There are 61 million “senior-level influencers” on LinkedIn
- 4 out of 5 people on LinkedIn “drive business decisions”
- 33% of B2B decision makers use LinkedIn to research purchases
Three Guiding Principles to Building Your LinedIn Presence
1. Observe, learn, then define.
The age of transactional selling is long gone, yet it’s easier for sellers to push products or services. Let’s not fall into this trap again. If you’re looking to build up valuable long-term relationships, start by investing time in understanding your audience, their interests, and their needs.
2. Give first.
Approach LinkedIn as a content creator and sharer, not as a salesperson. To build credibility and influence, you must share relevant, timely, thoughtful content that drives engagement without asking for anything in return.
3. Deliver value.
I know you’re reading this and saying ‘Duh!’ Yet just because we say we provide value, do we actually? Answering common questions, sharing unique insights, compiling useful information, and providing handy tools are just a few ways you can deliver real value.
Making the Most of LinkedIn
Building connections rather than authority on social media is where some senior executives fall short. The days of LinkedIn as simply a digital CV are long gone, yet it is also more than a digital soapbox. Making the most of LinkedIn means using it to grow your network and foster meaningful connections with real people, not an anonymous audience.
The simplest way to start is to update your personal profile with a friendlier, more authentic headshot and an interesting background image. For example you can show what your actual office space looks like or something meaningful to you.
Update the About section of your profile – make it approachable with some insight into who you are, and keep it concise. Importantly, your LinkedIn experience is not your CV. Potential employees, clients, existing team members, friends and family use it as a place to learn more about what you do and how you can help them.
You don’t have to do this yourself. If you’re pressed for time or don’t feel confident in your writing skills, you can turn to an experienced partner or colleague for help getting your LinkedIn profile to where it needs to be. What you can’t outsource, however, is genuine interest in connecting with people on digital platforms and a willingness to embrace the long game of successful social media engagement. This needs to come from within to provide a starting point for your team to build on.
To gain followers and grow your LinkedIn network, you must be an active participant. So, post regularly without bombarding your followers with irrelevant content. You can schedule a few posts each week. Also, you can actaully ask your internal team to like/share some of your posts to increase your reach and exposure.
What does this look like in practice?
Check out (and follow!) our Hyphen LinkedIn page to see how we strive to build engagement through social media.