Part 2: Maintaining a B2B Social Presence

Hands 4 Holding

Hands 4 Holding by Vicki Nunn is part of the public domain.

In Part 1, I showed how to set up your initial social media presence for B2B use cases. At this point, you should be up to your first 100 followers, which are very focused on your key use case.

If you’re not following people, you’re missing out on the most fundamental value proposition of social media: the ability to directly get in touch with the people you are most interested in. At the same time, there’s no need to follow everyone; only follow those who are directly relevant to your account’s goals and interests.

You should also be getting used to creating additional collateral that will allow you to show your own expertise, thought leadership, and branding. But what happens next?

Now, you have to start thinking about the ongoing maintenance of your social media presence. Here’s how you can scale your account to make social media work for you.

1. Monitor your key terms daily through Hootsuite. You already established in Part 1 which key terms you want to own. Now that you are regularly putting out content, it is time to make sure that you regularly participate in the conversations that you want to be a part of. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use a tool such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to track specific keywords and the entries associated with keywords such as #BigData or #analytics. (Note: we’re not actually fans of Tweetdeck; the software has been ignored by Twitter and the functionality is breaking down. Even so, it is an official Twitter product and you may need to know how to use it.)

In addition, you will want to use Tweetbinder on a weekly basis, or as new hashtags or events show up that you will be interested in tracking. Don’t get carried away with analytics. Although they are important, you don’t need to obsessively check your metrics. It is more important to execute and to connect with people than to keep track of every single hashtag reference.

2. Connect with your key PR allies. Once you get to a critical mass of followers, you will start to see that specific reporters, analysts, and other social commentators write about your topic on a regular basis. These writers may not immediately show up as top influencers, but they are vital contributors to your topic. Get to know these people. This is a truly social recommendation, as “getting to know” people does not meaning spamming them. You might make the initial introduction via Twitter, but you actually want to be on a speaking basis with these people. If you do not make friends easily, be careful with this step! I cannot emphasis this enough: do not spam these people or you will lose them.

A good way to start following key influencers is to find an interesting topic, such as Google acquiring Nest for 3.2 billion dollars. It stands to reason that mobile and tech writers will want to take a stand. Based on a quick look, I created the following Twitter list of journalists covering Google and Nest. By creating a list, I can follow what they do without having to use up a “follow”, since initial users are limited to 2,000 follows. If the journalists here continue to get my attention with their interests, I know that I need to help them out. However, always be respectful of the reporter’s wishes. For instance, when Dana Wollman explicitly says “No Twitter pitches”, don’t be a jackass.

3. Check social media 2-3 times per day and respond to questions and comments. It is important to be interactive with your community and to respond to retweets and mentions. You will find that some people seem to be able to respond to social media at any moment. However, if your daily work is not directly related to social media, you’ll find this is difficult to do. Instead, set up specific checkpoints for your social media: 9 AM, Noon, and 5 PM are good starting points. Also, figure out what times your community is most active by using a tool like Tweriod to make sure that you’re most likely to run into people. You can’t start a conversation if you never respond to other people. And if the conversation gets interesting, take it private with direct messages, email, or chat! This lets you go back and forth more quickly and might let you share some details that you don’t want to provide to the world at large.

4. Always be socially acceptable since sarcasm often translates poorly to social media. It is easy to fall into a loose and informal speaking tone on Twitter and other social networks because the banter is more casual. However, remember the goal of your social media account at all times, whether it is for marketing, branding, lead generation, innovation, or research and keep your voice appropriate. Sarcasm, innuendo, and hints are often hard to state clearly through social media, so make sure that you keep these to a minimum unless you are a skilled writer. Everybody wants to be funny and viral on social media, but most people are better off sticking to valuable content. If you are Louis C.K. or Natasha Trethewey, the United States Poet Laureate, you can go ahead and show your dazzling wit. If not, be careful until you get used to social media.

5. Schedule posts via Hootsuite (but don’t crosspost!). Cross-posting the same material to multiple platforms provides the feeling that your posts are generic and that you don’t understand the difference between Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Reddit, Tumblr, and other key accounts. (If you don’t understand the personas associated with each social network, we can help with that!). Unless you want one of your social networks to be confused about content that you created for a different network, don’t crosspost. At the same time, you still need to post on a daily basis; a quiet account quickly gets ignored unless you are Warren Buffett or Larry Ellison. (As I said in part one, if you’re a multi-billionaire or a famous superstar, none of these rules apply to you. Just create an account and people will want to follow you.)

6. Grammar is key. Just because it’s social media does not mean that you can take grammar for granted. In general, you are trying to get the attention of thought leaders and smart business buyers. Recently, Grammarcheck put out an infographic of common grammar mistakes. Learn them and don’t repeat them. One of the easiest ways to be ignored is to be lazy with your grammar. Grammar gets used as a gateway and there are those who even refuse to hire people with poor grammar on principle. There’s no reason to invalidate all your hard work with a misspelled word.

All together, these maintenance steps are above and beyond what you did in Part 1, but they don’t represent a burdensome effort. The key things to remember are to respect the people in your community, which means to use your words well; don’t annoy people by being unnecessarily confrontational or offensive; stay on topic; and be engaging.

So, are you done yet? Actually, you’re still just getting started. In Part 3, we’ll talk about how to use what you’ve built to develop stronger communities, develop focus groups, and even find potential partners and buyers. That’s when social media turns into a corporate asset and it’s a step that many social users, even those with tens of thousands of users, fail to fully execute correctly.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what we do, read about our Social Media Jumpstarts. These are short 1 to 2 month consultations to turboboost your current social media efforts whether you’re starting from scratch or have thousands of followers.

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