Quick Guide to Choosing B2B Social Media Channels

Monday, September 26, 2016

Use this simple process to map out an ideal footprint.

Many B2B companies seem to stumble when it comes to choosing social media channels. Sometimes it’s the one extreme – some companies are present in a lot channels but publish there infrequently. At other times, it’s the opposite: many companies don’t have a presence in some social media channels where one would naturally expect to find them.  

Getting the balance right isn’t difficult – and it doesn’t necessarily take a lot of resources. Here are a couple of simple principles to use when choosing your social media channels.

1. Start with your own platform

As a starting point, you should anchor your social media presence around your own social media platform, for example in the form of a corporate blog. Generally speaking, corporate blogs will not draw a lot of traffic, so that isn’t the reason to have them. What’s important is that you can use your corporate blog as a platform for long-form or in-depth content that forms a base of substance in your communication. Then, you can repackage the content in other formats to drive engagement in other channels.

2. Go where your audience is

First up is the issue of what kind of “footprint” to have. Which social media channels should you maintain a presence in? Your target isn’t going to come to you – you’ll need to make yourself relevant to their needs and habits. So your shortlist of potential channels must be based on where your audience already is. Review your target audience profiles or personas and analyse which social media channels they participate in.

3. Narrow down

The thing is though, just because the audience is in a particular channel, doesn’t mean you have to be present there. You’ll need to keep each channel regularly refreshed with good, highly relevant content, so that it is worth people’s time to follow and engage with you.  Do you have the resources needed to produce and maintain high quality content everywhere?  As we highlighted in our recent seminar, many organizations are struggling with this.

Also, the audience typically uses more than one channel - there is often overlap.

So you do have room to narrow down to a few channels. Basically, what you want is to have is a compact portfolio of channels that serve your target audience, while using your resources efficiently.

4. Make a simple channel filtering tool

To make these choices, I recommend building yourself a basic filtering tool. Below is an example of a simple one.

In this tool, I have placed some examples of social media platforms on two axes.

On the left-to-right axis (Content hub vs Community) we assess whether the platform is more of an open hub where content is shared to other places, or whether it functions more as a closed community. On hubs, people can easily encounter your video content in place through organic search, or when people embed it from there to other websites. So for example, Vimeo or YouTube have user communities, but are often strongest as open publishing hubs. On the other hand, Facebook for example, tends to be stronger as a community: a place where people will engage with the content in their primary social media personas and groups. So by having coverage on both ends, you can serve all your needs. Looking at this axis also explains why you probably don’t need to have a presence in both YouTube and Vimeo.

On the top-to-bottom axis (Video vs Text) we assess whether the channel is best for publishing simpler text based content or for more complex content such as video, calculators, tools etc. So obviously Twitter, for example, is strongest at simple short content. In contrast, Facebook is useful for more or less the entire range of content. Elsewhere on the axis, you would find for example channels like SlideShare, which is strong when it comes to generating engagement on very specific types of content such as slideshows with detailed material. Similarly, Flickr would be a strong place for getting engagement on images, but not for content in the text or slide show formats.

You don’t have to use these specific dimensions - you can build the tool using any ones you feel are relevant. None of these are set up as “positive vs negative” choices. They are simply a way of describing the characteristics of the channels and what you can do with them.

5. Experiment, learn and evolve

So that’s an example of a simple filtering tool that you could build. You could build one with these or any other criteria, to help you quickly sort out what you believe the channels are useful for – and select the ones you want to put your effort into. 

This process isn’t meant to be one-size-fits-all. What it does is give you an easy way to make some good initial choices. Ultimately there are no hard and fast rules. The more your engage with your audience, the more you’ll learn – and develop new insights about making channel choices.

That brings up an important point – analytics – which we’ve discussed before.

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