Many B2B company owners and leaders ask us to share one “social media” activity that they can use to encourage traffic to their websites and more interest from their target market. Our answer is usually the same; write interesting and helpful articles, place them on your website and share the articles with your social networks and opted-in email lists. Although not necessarily easy, this one activity can bring interested and engaged visitors to your website on a regular basis as well as help you focus on your target market.
Article writing can be a marketing gift that keeps on giving for the following reasons:
1. Article writing forces you to listen and find out what information might appeal to your target market. In order to plan out a series of articles, you might, for instance, ask your salespeople and customer service staff about the common questions and concerns they hear from prospects and customers. Sharing thoughtful content and listening to what your target market finds interesting and useful is at the heart of good social media. If people like what you post, they’ll be more likely to remember you when they need your products and services. And if you’re always thinking about what THEY like, well, so much the better.
2. If you place your articles on your website, people can access them at any time, even months (or years) after they were published. And if you give your articles interesting titles and add relevant, meaningful keywords to the content, your articles may be found when your prospects do a Google search on the topic. We have many articles on our own website that are listed on the first page of Google for certain phrases and keywords. The same can be said for our clients who take the time to write and publish articles (or have the articles written for them). Even small businesses can, and do, build significant traffic to their websites using this tactic.
Adding a WordPress blog (an excellent place to post your articles) with a subscription option to your existing website is not usually a huge undertaking; most web developers can do this for a fairly small fee.
3. Article writing allows you to showcase your expertise and the core values of your company. You may get a few visitors to your “About Us” page every now and then, but those pages on most websites are usually pretty dry and static. Adding periodic articles to your site, however, allows you to become the “go-to” expert for your target market. Occasionally, you can also use the opportunity to talk about what’s happening in your company, such as your involvement with a non-profit organization or a successful project. It’s surprising how many people will subscribe to your articles if you provide them with relevant and meaningful information. And the beauty of it is, if you build into your website the tools to allow readers to share your articles with THEIR networks, many people will.
If you have a B2B company and you’ve been struggling with what to share in social media, start writing or get someone to write for you. You’ll start to see results after just a few articles, and you’ll keep on reaping the benefits.
We often talk to B2B owners and CMOs who are thinking about funneling some of their marketing budget into social media. Many times, their main objection is the belief, either substantiated or not, that their potential customers do not use social media or would not think to look for their products/services on social media. Certainly, there are times when this is quite true today. If you have determined that your target demographic is 82+ years (that’s an actual best demographic for the hearing aid industry), you may have a point. And there are other demographics and industries where using social media won’t net you a lot of results today. But we like to think about the future.
Consider what Shiv Singh, Global Head of Digital for PepsiCo Beverages, has to say about social media when discussing Oracle’s acquisition of Vitrue and Salesforce’s acquisition Buddy Media: “No more is it (social media) something separate, disconnected, cute and experimental. It has just moved to the heart of all marketing efforts, and the stock price movements of Facebook will not change that. Social Media Marketing is on scale and needs to be at the heart of your marketing efforts right now.”
Investing time and energy into developing relevant and useful content and a large digital network now is preparing for your future. Pulling people to your website now by offering them something to read or watch on a regular basis is planting the seed for a later time. Just as in face-to-face business networking, you do not know where that initial Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook contact or posted article will lead down the line. The content that you place on your website and share out through your social media network doesn’t get thrown in the trash like a postcard. It remains to be found by your potential customers, today or in the future. They may even have to catch up to you. But you’ll be there already.
As we have discussed in previous posts, the key to success in B2B social media is the development and sharing of content that will appeal to your target market. When we work with new B2B clients, we always have an in-depth discussion about content and these critical questions:
1. What type of original content do you already have? Articles, videos, radio show, infographics, presentations, photos, testimonials, whitepapers
2. What type of content will appeal to your target market?
3. What type of original (developed by you) content will be developed on an ongoing basis?
4. Who will be developing the content? A staff member, the owner, a group of people, Mediavine Marketing?
5. What other content can be used to supplement your original content?
6. How often will the original content be developed?
7. Where will the content be placed initially? The website, YouTube, a trade publication?
8. Where will the content be shared? LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, social bookmarking sites, etc.
9. Will others be able to share the content as well? In other words, is your website set up to allow comments and sharing of your content?
Once we have established the who, what, when, where and why of content, we inevitably start discussing the details of developing content. Many B2B companies really struggle with this, and understandably so. Most of us will not acquire legions of raving fans who are waiting breathlessly for our next product or announcement.
So, what do we B2B companies share out there? How about thinking in terms of “edutainment”?
We’ve adapted the term “edutainment” from the educational world, but we think it applies well to social media. Edutainment is designed in order to keep people interested and engaged, and the goal is to provide some valuable knowledge to the target market by keeping them engaged with entertaining content. It doesn’t have to be hilarious and earth- shattering, but it does need to be interesting and/or useful enough to encourage further exploration of your digital profiles and even an email opt-in or phone call. Articles/blog posts should have targeted and interesting titles, and the articles themselves need to be written in a more conversational, less “whitepaper-ish” tone. Videos, rather than the “salesly”, long and over-produced showcases of yesterday, should be shorter, authentic and address a “pain point” or offer a way to solve a problem. Think about showing your prospective clients what their success would look like if they work with you. Help them visualize how they would achieve their goals with a short presentation or an infographic.
We have found from experience that edutainment may be the thing that keeps you in your prospects’ minds longer than anything else you have on your website. What do you think about the idea of using “edutainment” for B2B social media?
Today’s post is from guest writer Kyle Lagunas. Kyle is the HR Analyst at Software Advice, a resource for selecting a talent management or an applicant tracking system. Kyle reports on trends and best practices in HR and recruiting software—offering fresh insights into the ho-hum of people processes.
Qualified candidates are regularly overlooked, and for the simplest of reasons: they didn’t plug the right combo of buzzwords into their resumes. Candidates are taking things into their own hands. In an attempt to circumvent the keyword-laden resume game, job seekers are adopting a more creative approach to captivating recruiters. Rather than dropping the resume altogether, the trend seems to be more focused on breaking away from over-automation and a return to the heart of what makes a good hire. In short, they’re using elements of multimedia—video, infographics, and social media—to bring their resumes to life.
While there are certain guidelines that you should always follow when submitting a resume regardless of mode of delivery, there are a couple of multimedia elements a candidate can tap into to get that extra oomph into his resume:
1. Adding a Face and Voice with Video. By replacing a cover letter with a quick video pitch, job seekers can showcase skills and abilities lost in translation in a traditional resume. As Bruce Hurwitz of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing says, “Video can increase my confidence in a candidate’s ability to successfully interview–Is she professional? Is she articulate?–or eliminate a candidate from consideration.” Of course, time is money, and candidates need to give recruiters a reason to keep watching. My advice: personality is great, but don’t get too cute. Balance is key.
2. Bringing Flat Resumes to Life with Infographics. Breaking out of the traditional resume template isn’t easy without a degree in design. But presenting a recruiter with a more visually stimulating overview of experience and qualifications can go a long way in setting a candidate apart. Thankfully, it doesn’t take an Adobe Illustrator savant to turn a boring old resume into an interesting infographic. Not only are these easy to create, but they’re easy to share across multiple channels.
3. Showing Off with Blogs and Personal Sites. Blogs are an excellent platform for candidates to showcase their hobbies, writing and communication skills, and general interests. Think they’re just for marketing candidates? Think again. Even a meat cutter at Whole Foods can run a successful butcher blog to establish expertise and share experience with an avid audience.And who said blogs are just for writing? Techies can demonstrate their ability to build WordPress templates, too, or simply prove they know how to find and add plug-ins to build websites. And candidates for and candidates for artistic positions can showcase their portfolio of work.
When it comes to using social media websites for recruiting – what we call social recruiting – how far is too far? Beyond learning the hard way what works and what doesn’t, there are some best practices emerging to help recruiters know when they’ve pushed the proverbial envelope too far. And hiring professionals are discovering a new line of recruiting applications and tools built into applicant tracking software to help them rise above the same old hashtag to better identify, connect with and place viable candidates.
For all their good intentions, many folks using social media in their recruiting efforts are running into the same issues. Here are the top three:
● Spamming job posts. Want to render your social recruiting efforts ineffective? Spamming people with your job opportunities is a surefire way to do just that. The key to social recruiting is to be social and engaging. Share industry news and articles of interest, exchange personal messages, etc.
● Prying rather than researching. Some positions require a flawless social media presence. For the rest, you shouldn’t be digging too deeply into their profiles. Screening should be focused on general impressions of candidates to see if they would fit within your company culture.
● Penalizing candidates for level of access. It’s not unusual for candidates to deny recruiters access to their Facebook profile, inviting them to connect via LinkedIn instead. Many people use Facebook for personal, rather than professional networking – especially in Generation Y. Don’t write off candidates for showing a bit of backbone and managing their public image – it’s hardly something to penalize.
Lessons Learned from the Trenches
Some people are experiencing more success in social recruiting than others, and have picked up a few tricks worth sharing. Carolyn Betts, CEO of Betts Recruiting, is one such person, and was recently featured in a New York Times article, for leveraging social media to grow her recruiting success. She and I chatted last week, and she shared some lessons she’s learned from the trenches.
● Focus on strategy. You won’t be able to make the most of social media if you’re going into it blindly. You need to have a plan for how you want to accomplish your goals. Betts suggests starting with one social media site, familiarizing yourself with it, then growing your presence gradually.
● Have realistic expectations. When you consider the industry you’re in and the position you’re hiring for, are your deal-breakers realistic? You need to determine upfront how much weight you are giving a candidate’s social media presence.
● Leverage the right apps and tools. Many successful social recruiters know that in order to make the most of your social recruiting efforts, you need to leverage the right tools. Why go it alone when there are applications with built-in best practices for recruiting more effectively?
Software Expanding Recruiters’ Reach
Human resources software is growing to help recruiters make use of social media in their hiring strategy. But before recruiters can fully harness these helpful tools, they must determine whether or not they are in the right social media playground.
According to a recent study, approximately 85 percent of U.S. companies used LinkedIn for recruiting last year, though only 30 percent of active job seekers are on LinkedIn. As such, many recruiters are finding LinkedIn a bit overcrowded. Where are the candidates? The large majority of them are on Facebook.
Because the data recruiters are looking for is a little harder to find on Facebook, however, many miss the sourcing opportunity this vast network provides. Fortunately, there are third-party software developers devising methods to put actionable candidate information into the hands of recruiters quickly and efficiently. Some of these recruiting solutions are standalone applications that leverage recruiters’ networks. Others – like Bullhorn Reach – are applications designed specifically for automating social recruiting.
For further reading, check out Kyle’s HR blog at: http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/hr/social-recruiting-how-far-is-too-far-010271/