Let’s say you’re an electrical distributor who donates $50,000 in materials to the town of New Bern, NC to help rebuild its infrastructure after Hurricane Florence. This is a great opportunity for your distributorship to post on social media, but what would your company post?
Most would post about their donation and paint themselves as a hero. The smartest businesses, though, would post differently. The smartest would post about the efforts made by New Bern’s first responders and volunteers and not mention the donation at all. Why? Because true heroes lift up others without patting themselves on the back. It’s no different on social media.
There was a time when there was little your company could or should have done with social media because your customers were barely using it. Audiences on social media have changed significantly, however; so today, it would be difficult for a distributor to throw a stone in the social media world and not hit a member of its target audience.
In fact, today, short of a face-to-face meeting, a well-orchestrated social media campaign will connect your business to your audience on the most authentic level available, creating opportunities where your audience can appreciate, even admire, your company and what it stands for. These types of connections and opportunities are what will build the kind of trust with your audience that leads to customer retention and a growth in your sales.
Yet, distributors continue to struggle with social media. Some neglect it because of a lack of resources (i.e., people and time), while others will publish daily and, much to their bewilderment, get little to no engagement. Why? Because social media is difficult to master; and at the heart of the difficulty is the elusive formula for social media success: What to publish and where to publish it.
Knowing Where to Publish
LinkedIn and Facebook are a distribution company’s two best options when choosing where to publish because these platforms are where your target audience spends most of its social media time. Other platforms a distributor should consider are Pinterest and Instagram. Having a presence on each of these platforms seems simple enough, but that’s only a small piece of the puzzle. Knowing what to publish on each of these platforms is key.
LinkedIn, a No-Brainer
Before a customer, a prospect, or even a recruiter will take the time to speak with you or consider doing business with you, they will usually research you and your company on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the only social media venue where you can allude to the greatness of your company without appearing arrogant, insensitive or overly self-promoting, so be sure to amplify each and every service and solution your company offers on your LinkedIn pages.
Consistently sharing interesting industry information will keep you top of mind with other LinkedIn users. And, on both your LinkedIn ‘Company’ page and your personal ‘Profile’ page, highlight recent accomplishments like industry awards and company milestones on a regular basis.
Facebook, Where It Often Goes South for a B2B
Facebook has morphed from a simple website where college students connect to a venue where older generations seek pictures of their grown children and grandchildren. There’s no arguing that a great number of a distribution company’s customers and prospects are connecting to Facebook fairly regularly.
Keep in mind that your posts on Facebook will be touching your customers at the same time they’re looking at those family pictures. As such, your posts on Facebook should contain a sufficient level of humanity and humility if you want them to be liked. The last thing your audience on Facebook wants to hear about is how great your company or your products are.
Before publishing a post to Facebook, test the post with the following questions: How will this information be valuable to my customer?
– Will it make them laugh or entertain them in a tasteful way?
– Will it educate them with new and valuable information?
– Will it teach them a better way to perform their job?
– Will it somehow improve their lives?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, publish it. Sounds easy, right? Unfortunately, most companies tend to slip up and kid themselves about what is valuable to whom. So really be thoughtful and honest with yourself about the answers to these questions.
Instagram, For the Creative Only
With nearly a billion users, Instagram continues to grow in functionality and popularity (500 million users each day.) While currently 80% of Instagram users come from outside the U.S., that number is shifting quickly. Today, an estimated 71% of U.S. businesses maintain a presence on Instagram. (Source)
Instagram is a photo-sharing platform that will also allow you to share short videos. It’s quite interactive, and its culture is grounded in visual story-telling.
Instagram gives marketers an opportunity to be creative with their campaigns. In fact, it demands it. Because it’s visually-based, Instagram can be powerful when calling attention to your products, but only if your posts are entertaining, interesting or compelling. If your marketing team has a strong knack for combining attractive visual marketing with short, pithy story-telling, Instagram is a great choice for your company.
Pinterest, Rich in Numbers, but Often Overlooked
Pinterest attracts 200 million users each month, and more than half of all U.S. millennials use it. Sixty-eight percent of U.S. women between the ages of 25 and 54 use Pinterest, and 40 percent of new users are men. (Source)
One of the most underutilized platforms by businesses today, Pinterest provides users with a no-cost opportunity to share an unlimited number of images and videos in front of its users. Each post can be accompanied by a description, including a price, and each can link directly back to your website (think e-commerce!).
Unlike Instagram, Pinterest calls for very little creativity. It’s simply a platform where people post, view, and collect images and videos and build libraries based on categories they create themselves. These images and videos link to others that are similar in category. With over 100 billion images and videos to date, the journey through Pinterest often seems to go on forever.
Consider using Pinterest to share images and descriptions of your most profitable products. From there, views of these images, all linking back to your website, can spread like wildfire.
Unraveling the Gordian Knot
Let’s go back to the donation scenario above and think about the posts to create. On LinkedIn, it would be safe and acceptable to mention the donation, but do not share that mention on Facebook. On Facebook, share a few posts about the volunteers who are putting your donation to good use; in turn, the locals will publicly acknowledge and thank you for your donation, which will then paint you as a hero, giving you the accolades you’ve earned. On Instagram, put together a visual story made up of snapshots and short videos that capture the rebuilding of the town. This would grab the attention of many and give you some strong brand recognition along the way. And lastly, on Pinterest, create boards devoted to the rebuilding efforts following the hurricane that include images of the products that were used, then link those images back to your website.
Mastering social media for business use takes time and practice, but by following these guidelines, you will have a solid foundation from which to build your presence.Tagged with best practices, marketing, social media