Roya Abbasi

The digital age is arguably driving the biggest shift to the way we live our lives since the industrial revolution. As a result, it is essential for companies to evolve and embrace these changes to avoid becoming the Blockbuster or Kodak of their industry.

This is perhaps best demonstrated by the explosion in social media over recent years: 96% of millennials have joined a social network, 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once a day and two people sign up to LinkedIn every second.

Even within the asset management industry, which has been slower to adopt social platforms than other sectors, a survey of institutional investors by Greenwich Associates revealed that 80% use it as part of their regular work flow with 30% saying information obtained through social media directly influenced an investment decision.

In the B2B space in particular, companies can be skeptical of the benefits of social media and struggle to implement effective strategies. It is true that there are stricter compliance issues for financial services companies, relative to many B2C firms. For example, guidance published by the FCA in March 2015 stated that the same financial promotion rules apply to social media as they do to any other medium – meaning that posts must still contain risk warnings and be approved by a qualified person.

However, the solution is to build a plan and remember that even within B2B companies, the people they would like to target are exactly that – people – who respond to content that engages them.

Here are 5 social media tips for B2B companies, which will help engage audiences and build their brand:

  1. Target audience: Get to know and understand who you are trying to reach. Yes they will be a professional working within business hours, but they’ll also have a life outside of their 9 to 5 schedule. Most use social media during their lunch breaks and during their commutes to and from work.  As our lives increasingly play out through mobile devices, the most successful brands will be those that can tap into their target audience both at a professional and personal level.
  2. Tone of voice: Always be consistent and professional, but also remember that your business has personality and culture. Never forget that social media is meant to be… social, surprising no? Simply using it as a platform to churn out corporate announcements is unlikely to engage anyone.
  3. Visual content: B2C companies have mastered visual content but it is crucial for any business to understand the power of the medium. By 2018, video will account for over two thirds of mobile usage and recent studies have shown the average attention span is now eight seconds, less than the nine-second attention span of a goldfish. In light of this, B2B companies need to be creative using succinct but powerful visual content.
  4. #hashtag: Tap into trends using keywords in your profile and posts – these algorithms will enable relevant posts to be easily navigated in search engines. Research the most popular hashtags in your industry and those used by your target audience. But be relevant – no one wants to search for something and have your company pop up if it’s completely unrelated.
  5. Engage and be resourced: interact with your followers in a genuine way – like, share and comment on their content. And in order to engage effectively, resource is crucial. If you’re serious about your social media strategy, have the manpower to respond to your followers – no one likes to engage with a brand, only to have their efforts responded to a few days later, or even worse – to receive an automated “here are our office hours” message!

While social media may seem harder to crack for B2B companies, these easy social media hacks will ensure that a business can get started efficiently. Despite B2B and B2C social media content seeming very different, there is one key similarity: companies can measure results to find out what works best.

If you’re not building relationships with your clients on the social media platforms that they are constantly engaged with, someone else will be.  Investing in a social strategy now, can help to future-proof your business for the years ahead.

Roya Abbasi: @royaabc / roya.abbasi@jpespartners.com

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