Today, there are more than 1 billion people with social media accounts.

But, contrary to popular belief, they’re not all searching for funny cat videos and selfies from their BFFs. Quite a few are business people who could benefit from the products or services you offer. In fact, more than half of B2B buyers search for product information on social media. Which is why more and more B2B companies are entering this brave new world.If you’re curious about how widespread the use of social media by B2B companies is currently, consider these statistic from Social Media Examiner:

  • 89% use LinkedIn
  • 88% use Facebook
  • 83% use Twitter
  • 61% use Google+
  • 55% use YouTube

Why the mad dash to social media? Because businesses have come to realize that these platforms provide tremendous opportunities to build brand awareness, establish thought leadership, generate leads, nurture prospects, and shorten their sales cycle.

Here are six considerations and best practices we’ve developed to help B2B organizations optimize their use of social media, and reach the ideal balance between effort and benefit.

1. Plan before you post.

Yes, social media is a dynamic, real-time, seat-of-the-pants platform. But, it’s not something you should approach haphazardly.

Take the time to map out a social plan. Define your goals and objectives, identify your target audiences, and make a detailed outline of the content you want to publish.

With the plan in hand, you can engage in a manner that is thoughtful, consistent and valuable to your audiences.

2. Find your voice.

With social media you have the unique opportunity to humanize your brand. So, don’t resort to corporate-speak. Instead, communicate like a friend. Be conversational. Be personal. Even use humor, when appropriate. Your customers will find you more approachable, and will likely be more willing to connect with you when it comes time to buy.

3. Engage, don’t broadcast.

Social media is a relationship-building tool, not a piece of collateral. So, carefully consider the types of content your audience will value. Maybe it’s an article about industry trends. Or a news items that is relevant to them. Or even an entertaining human-interest story that’s worth sharing.

The point is you shouldn’t “sell” with every post.

It’s also important to note that not all content is suitable for all social media channels. Blog posts, for example, are best for your LinkedIn community. Rich media is often better aligned with Facebook. So, be sure to customize your messaging and content to ensure it is relevant to that particular channel.

In addition — and perhaps most importantly — use the medium to interact in real-time conversations with your customers. Reply to comments. Answer questions. And be sure to address those individuals by name/handle in your dialogs.  By doing so, you will build a loyal following who trusts that you have their best interests at heart.

4. Be in more than one place at one time.

Today’s B2B customers aren’t just spending time on LinkedIn. After all, their interests go beyond business. So, it’s highly likely that they are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, too.

So, when developing your social media plan, don’t focus on a single network. Create a brand experience that includes several platforms.  Be aware that your audiences and the manner in which you interact with them will vary with each medium. LinkedIn, for example, is ideal for business topics, links to white papers and blogs,  Facebook can have a more ‘friendly’ tone. And Twitter is best suited for company news and other time-sensitive information.

5. Use videos.

Studies on social media show when you include posts with videos, more people are likely to click on them, like them, comment on them, and share them.

For this reason, social sites are making it even easier for audiences to interact with video content. Facebook, for instance, now has an auto-play feature that enables your friends to watch without clicking on the link. Instagram now has a looping feature.

As technology continues to advance, video is likely to become an even more effective medium for B2B and consumer brands alike.

6. Follow your competitors.

In social media, as in the marketplace, it’s vital to know what your competition is doing and saying. So conduct some “social media listening.” Take a look at the top companies in your industry to see which platforms they’re using. Look at the content they’re posting. See how they’re interacting with their customers, and how often. Look at the kinds and frequency of feedback and shares they’re getting. This will give you a good idea where opportunities lie for you.

For B2B companies, social media is the next big frontier — one that offers a unique level of personal interaction and virtually limitless potential. So if you’ve dipped your company’s toe into social media, now is the time to take your efforts to the next level.

Want to learn more? Contact Point to Point for idea on how to build a social media strategy of your own.

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