by May 3, 2017Social Media

Social media basics: the things you were afraid to ask

I struggle to remember a time before social media. Maybe I used to go on holidays, maybe I used to go to school, who knows? Frankly, if I didn’t tweet about these early life events, did they even happen?

All jokes aside, there are thousands of social media channels today, they’re around before we go to bed and back again as soon as we wake up. Keeping up with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and all the rest is enough to overload anyone.

In B2B, it’s even trickier. You’ve got to format posts for different platforms, adapt messaging and optimise images. As marketers, we not only have to keep up-to-date with all of these changes across platforms, we also have to decide which ones are relevant, which ones work and which ones we can leave alone.

Nobody likes to ask for help, especially when you’re constantly reminded that everyone already knows how to use something. “What do you MEAN you don’t know how to use hashtags, they’re practically #everywhere DARRRRRLING!” they scoff at you from across the dinner table.

But I won’t scoff, instead, I’ll happily divulge some social media basics for you, as well as how it can be applied in a B2B marketing context.

Twitter basics for B2B

Twitter is up first because it is arguably the most important social media resource for marketers. Not only can you connect with exactly who you want to without the need for a friend or connection request, you can also talk with communities through hashtags. Here are the five essentials of Twitter:

1. Hashtags

Even if you don’t use Twitter, you’ve probably seen these beauties on statement t-shirts up and down the country. By putting a ‘#’ symbol before a word or phrase, and removing all spaces and punctuation, you can put any hashtag you like in a tweet, e.g: #B2BMarketing.

But what does it do? Hashtags help group tweets on a similar theme together. Users can trawl through hashtags to join discussions, or use them to push their content to a specific group.

If you want to watch an amusing video on this, watch this beauty with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake:

2. Handles

They’re not wooden, but you can open doors with them… Doors to new connections! By placing the ‘@’ symbol before a user you are mentioning them in a tweet.

The person you include will be notified and then be able to see all interactions with that tweet afterwards. Handles are useful because it means you can start meaningful conversations with the people you want to.

Or you can just tag celebrities in the hope they acknowledge you.

3. Newsfeed

If you’re familiar with Facebook, you will already know what a newsfeed looks like. Twitter’s newsfeed shows you real-time tweets from everybody you are following.

It’s a useful way of watching conversations develop in front of you. Also, on the left-hand side of your news feed is a trends chart which shows you some of the most popular discussions on the web. Yes, I just called it the web.

4. What makes a good tweet?

We’ve written a guide or two on this in the past, but to strip it back to its basic components, this is what makes a good tweet:

  • Order
  • Images/GIFs
  • Link shorteners
  • Line breaks
  • Calls to action (CTA)

5. How can Twitter be applied in B2B?

As you can see from the above features, Twitter is brilliant for sharing content, making new connections, and for getting involved in important discussions, even within niche markets and verticals. For these reasons alone it is the ideal social media platform for B2B marketers.

LinkedIn for business

LinkedIn is another one of the best social media tools for marketers. It’s like Facebook, but everybody’s wearing smart shirts. Here you can show the world what you have to offer but in a professional context (no videos of your party trick). You can also make valuable connections with colleagues, clients or prospects. With a recent overhaul to the site’s design, everyone could do with reminding themselves of the basics:

1. Profile

This is your virtual CV to the professional world. Here you can list your previous job experience, your education, all your qualifications, even the number of languages you speak. Remember to update your profile regularly and fill in every section possible.

2. Company page

Your company page may be the first time people encounter your organisation so it’s essential you give the right first impression. Users are likely to visit your company page through an employee profile, so it’s worth creating guidelines for social media use. It’s important to be concise in your company overview, post regular content to your page and make contact forms as clear and accessible as possible.

3. Groups

LinkedIn groups are great when they’re done right. They can be impartial spaces where those who work in similar fields can ask questions or start meaningful discussions. Sometimes they aren’t done right and turn into a shouting match of content where nobody wins.

4. Long-form posts

I am a massive fan of long form posts. LinkedIn has made one of the most user-friendly publishing features known to man. You can immediately reach a larger audience in your industry, removing the need for hashtags. A larger audience means more potential leads and more traffic to your company page or website.

5. How can LinkedIn be applied in B2B?

In just about every way possible. It’s useful at every stage of the buyer’s journey, from initial research through to arranging meetings. LinkedIn lets you create targeted ads to appeal to specific audiences AND tells you when someone’s spent another year at their job. Party on!

Best of the rest

Of course, there are other social media channels available to B2B marketers, so let’s rattle through their merits.

1. Facebook

Business manager helps keep track of your company page at all times. It gives you exact updates on your reach, engagement and actions. It also gives you tips on how to extend your company reach by using sponsored posts or creating a responsive contact system. It’s also great because it isn’t full of cat videos or candy crush requests like normal Facebook.

2. Instagram

Although it’s used primarily for pictures of meals and holidays, Instagram is very useful in a B2B context. It gives you an all-mobile platform to help promote your brand.

3. Google+

Publishing your content through Google+ is always recommended. You can tag other users with a ‘+’ sign, and you can rank higher than a field marshal in SEO thanks to Google+ being a member of the Google family.

4. YouTube

Usually, home to gaming bloggers and conspiracy theorists, Youtube is a valuable asset to marketers. By creating videos related to your business, be it case studies, short blogs, product demos, and so on, you can promote your brand in an easy-to-digest format. You can also add a series of videos to a playlist, allowing smooth viewing across several of your videos.

5. Pinterest

Yes, it’s useful for finding out how people more creative than you grow herbs or make their own photo frames, but it’s also great for B2B marketing. You can share infographics or use relevant categories to broaden your own knowledge, safe in the knowledge that your post will stay pinned a lot longer than a Facebook update will.

So there you have it, the basics of social media and how it can do great things for B2B marketing. Which channels do you find are the most effective? Are there any that I’ve missed? Feel free to get in touch with me through Twitter, smoke signal, or LinkedIn.

Social Media Assessment GIF

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