The social media landscape changes a lot every year. The changes will be even bigger in the next few years as users demand more privacy and better data handling. You’re probably already well acquainted with the effects of this on your business’s social presence: Lower organic reach, less engagement, fewer ad targeting options.
How can you adapt your social strategy to the times and get ahead of further changes? Here are our tips for social media marketing in 2021. In this article, we focus specifically on business-to-business (B2B) social strategy. You’ll find that our suggestions are focused less on trends and more on solid basics.
1) FOCUS ON LINKEDIN
In general, we’ve found that LinkedIn just makes the most sense for us and our B2B clients. That tracks, right? Sure, businesspeople are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other networks, too, but they’re in the business mindset on LinkedIn. It’s where they expect to make business connections, check out new products and services, and learn new things.
What behavior is effective for B2B on LinkedIn? That, of course, depends on your company and offering. But a focus on thought leadership (sharing original articles, giving commentary on curated content) through your business and personal profiles, being active in relevant groups, and leveraging employee advocacy (encouraging employees to share content and be a brand advocate) can be very effective.
Does that mean B2B companies should completely abandon other social networks? Maybe! But likely not. Having at least a presence on other networks is good for awareness and provides additional customer service touchpoints. So, generally, we advise to have several eggs in your social marketing basket but focus on (incubate?) LinkedIn.
2) PROVIDE VALUE, NOT JUST CONTENT
This one’s a no-brainer, right? But then why are so many organizations still trying to fill out a specific number of posts per month in a social media calendar?
Look, there’s nothing wrong with content goals. We only have a problem when the content quality suffers because there’s not enough time to create it all. We’ve certainly been there—it’s an easy mistake to make.
Build a realistic content strategy. Make no room for fluff. (And by fluff, we mean “filler.” There’s nothing wrong with the occasional fun posts about what’s happening around the office or behind-the-scenes.)
3) KNOW YOUR FOLLOWERS
In order to provide value, you have to know your audience. What are they wondering? How are they struggling? What information would be helpful to them?
You know what’s coming. We’re going to tell you to create customer personas. If you already have them, that’s great. If you’re rolling your eyes, look, we wouldn’t recommend that you spend the time creating personas unless we thought it was worth it. You may be surprised by what you learn and how helpful personas become not only when creating content but also distributing it.
Quick note: You not only need to know your audience but also your followers. Your followers might be mainly prospects on LinkedIn, but maybe they’re friends and family on Facebook. Cater your content to the platform accordingly.
4) TELL STORIES
This is another tip you’ve probably seen countless times. But we can’t not include it. Us humans learn best through stories. Sure, data and facts can have an impact, absolutely. But that video case story from one of your satisfied customers about how your product changed her life? That’ll go further.
5) BE HUMAN
Your profiles are for a business, but you or whoever is running them is human. You know that, I know that, the people reading your posts knows that. Show your human side in your business posts. Show personality.
Often for a tip like this, bloggers use the Wendy’s Twitter account as an example. Sure, it’s hilarious, and that personality works for Wendy’s, but you certainly don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) go for the same sardonic approach. Craft a voice that makes sense for your business and audience. Don’t go for humor, slang, and meme-speak if your audience is Gen X and above or your service is not something to be taken lightly. (Unless you can pull it off as well as DeadHappy.) Don’t go too cutesy if your audience members are strapped-for-time professionals who don’t want to wade through a sea of emojis and filler words.
We should also mention artificial intelligence (AI) here. It’s almost always in “trends for the following year” blogs. Look, we can see its use as part of the customer service journey, but we don’t think it’ll be revolutionizing your social presence.
6) CHILL WITH THE HASHTAGS
We find ourselves explaining this one a lot. Organizations still really want to use branded hashtags and/or add one thousand hashtags to every post. There is still space for branded hashtags, mainly if you’re running a specific campaign that depends on that hashtag. But if you’re not, there’s often no need for them. We still do advocate for topical hashtags (e.g., #advertising or #marketing) that help people who are searching for posts around your topic find you.
One last thing about hashtags. Do you ever click them on Facebook? We certainly don’t. It’s time to stop using them there. (Again, campaigns being the exception.)
7) SET GOALS
We get it. It’s more fun to dive into content than to set goals. But what are you doing if you’re not measuring against social goals? You’re likely not achieving anything. Harsh but true.
Set social goals as part of your larger marketing plan. Analyze your social performance regularly to see which behavior is helping you gain ground on your goals and which isn’t.
8) FOCUS ON CONVERSIONS
Going along with goals, what should you be measuring? Likes, shares, comments, and follower count, right? Nope! Not necessarily. While these can still be important measures of your social engagement, we suggest focusing on actual conversions. What social behavior actually drives leads and sales for your business? Focus on that instead of so-called “vanity metrics.” (Read more in our blog, “Which Social Media Metrics Should You Focus On?”)
9) USE VIDEO
Use video. Social algorithms (and certainly social media users) favor it. That’s that.
10) PAY FOR ADS
Reach is low for business social accounts, due to the algorithm changes that aim to improve user experience. To raise awareness and even get your messages in front of your existing social audience, sponsored is the way to go. Organic posts can still perform well, but don’t count on it.
How much should you put behind social ads? Do some testing! Sometimes a boost of just twenty bucks can get you results. Or you may want to run campaigns with a monthly budget in the thousands.
11) TRY NEW THINGS
Social is just going to keep changing. Keep up on trends as you are able. Which ones make sense for you? We don’t know! If you know your audience, then you can figure it out (trial and error is expected too).
We hope these social fundamentals give you a good starting point for a stronger B2B social presence in 2021! Got questions? Feel free to get in touch.