B2B Social Media – Communicate topics instead of opportunities!

B2B Social Media – Communicate topics instead of opportunities!

Over the past six months, we have been developing social media strategies for B2B companies. The sectors were very different: road construction, IT services, real estate project management, mechanical engineering. Since I speak a bit out of the box, I won’t name the companies in more detail.

Of course, every business has a different starting point. But I noticed a topic that is not only a challenge for all businesses, but also one of the most important success factors for successful content marketing in the B2B environment:
B2B companies must learn to communicate on topics that show their experience, competence and understanding of the target group and at the same time offer the user (of the target group) added value. Typically, the goal behind this is to use content marketing and social media as a channel to gain awareness and most importantly, become a topic leader and boost employer branding.

What is event communication – and why is it only partially suitable for social networks in B2B?

Maybe first: events can work – with the right format. But they should only represent a small proportion of the subjects and there is always the question of how something is told.

The problem in one sentence:
“The subject is not important enough for a press release, so it can’t take place on social media?”

For decades, companies have used events to plan and control their communication. It is therefore not surprising that they are now having difficulty modifying the tried and tested procedure. Occasions are always thought out within the company: trade shows, company parties, product launches, events, etc. In content marketing, however, we think about target group topics (added value, problem solving). Some examples are described:
• For a product launch, eg. For example, it would not be the product that would be the subject of the communication, but rather the problem that it solves.
• Event communication (trade fairs, events) is rarely interesting for those who are not there, so it has only limited use for B2B social networks where you have to find the right angle (behind the scenes, boomerang of awards presentations, declaration of the ideas of the conference).

In summary: the standard communication of events that companies consider important fails when seen from the perspective of the target group and is not suitable for social media.

There are enough topics – just tell them differently.

When the realization of the previous paragraph is there, I see a lot of panicked faces. “But then we don’t have content for social media,” he says. This is where I bet every B2B company that is not the case. Important insight: a topic doesn’t have to be hot to be relevant. This means we like to dig into the website, studies, reports, cases, annual or business reports. Here we find many topics that both contribute to the definition of the objectives and are relevant from the point of view of the target group.

Excursus Content Marketing.

An important and useful step in content marketing strategy is to define the main story. Everything that is communicated should at best contribute to it or be presented in a different way: the main story gives rise to topics which must then be prepared appropriately for the respective channel. Even though I’ve mostly gone deeper into social media here, the following still applies:

Marketing needs content, social networks are “just” a channel. Content marketing is therefore a long-term strategy.

Do not forget about emotions and entertainment.

Platform algorithms make us act tactically. Relevant content leads to interactions, which in turn lead to reach. Now we are in the B2B area and have a specific but generally very interested target group. This means that even very sober topics can be very relevant to the target group. But in the end, people are sitting in front of their PC or smartphone and they want to be entertained, consciously or unconsciously. So the task is to develop business/industry related topics that entertain people.

An example of our collaboration with Eppendorf AG. The ideas were born from the collaboration between us and the communication managers and biologists from Eppendorf. We were then responsible for the implementation. The posts had an above-average reach and response rate.

This topic brings us to the next point when someone from a topic needs to explain why it makes sense to feature their topic on social media with a funny GIF. This is not possible without explaining the algorithms of the platforms. Therefore, interdepartmental cooperation and stakeholder management are very important.

Involvement of departments and stakeholder management.

There are three phases in which different departments work together in the field of social media. As a general rule, the subject is in communication/marketing. They are responsible for the channels, but also dependent on other domains that provide them with topics. In my experience, this happens in three phases:

Phase 1 – no content

The department responsible (communication/marketing) wants to get started, but does not have its own content or current topics. Afraid of not having enough content for social media, they feast on whatever they get.

Stage 2 – too much unusable content

Social media activities in the company become more visible. Internally, it creates the need to appear there. More and more domains are offering more and more topics with which they want to take place on social networks. Usually trade shows, product launches, grand openings, and definitely photos with older white men in suits. Gladly everything on request and ad hoc.

Phase 3 – increasingly meaningful content with a turnaround time

With “educational measures” it was possible to involve stakeholders and establish understanding and process.

Thanks to our experience over the past few years, we are able to move companies into phase 3 more and more quickly. This is still a process that takes different lengths depending on the social media affinity of those involved. For me, this is the big difference between B2B and B2C. The topics and the target audience are sometimes so specific that the service and the communication agencies reach their own limits. But if you work with internal experts (biologists, engineers, computer scientists), you get very good results.

5 tips – how to successfully engage departments for a variety of social media topics.

• Involves the departments: explains to them what are the sensitive topics for social media and gives them the feeling of having meaningful publications through examples.
• Common brainstorming: A creative and sharing session gives you good access to departmental topics and you can provide your own support.
• Process: searches for a process, eg. For example, regular thematic meetings/editorial meetings during which topics are delivered to you. Agree to the topic submission deadline and format.
• Criteria: Establishes criteria at the outset as to what a topic/post should meet (including purpose, relevance to target group). You may need to be able to reject topics later due to lack of relevance/suitability.
• Proof by the numbers: 99% of the time, you can use KPI measurement and reporting to deduce which topics and content formats are working for B2B social media: topics instead of opportunities.

If the subject sounds familiar to you, you want to know more or you wonder what this thematic communication is about or what are more concrete examples, talk to me. At the online B2B conference in Munich at the beginning of June, we will present a case with Eppendorf AG. There we show how we successfully communicate topics with so-called mini-campaigns in social media and thus achieve high reach and interaction rates. After the conference, I will be happy to send you the presentation by email.

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