Latest from Issues and Ideas

Ronstik | Dreamstime
Colleagues work at whiteboard.

Social Media is Corporate Communications

Dec. 15, 2021
No Insta-brand marketing please. The best B2B outreach is done by experts talking about the profession they love – combining expertise and topical interest with an engaging style that draws new customers.

It happened again. Someone suggested we use an intern to manage social media for a company I support with marketing. My answer? 100% NO. ‘N’ followed by ‘O,’ I will not put a 19-year-old in charge of business communications to potential clients. Because that is what social media is … corporate communication – on social platforms – about your business to businesses and individuals who we hope to make our customers.

In plain language, it is an ignorant and ageist management view to use interns for your B2B social media simply because of familiarity with the platform’s technology. Technology can be taught. Youth does not confer communication skill – and if you think otherwise, assign that same 19-year-old intern to negotiate your biggest sales contract. Management ignorance about the intricacies of marketing and strategy skills required to create a communication plan could also be hindering your brand’s ability to attract customers.

One result of putting inexperienced communicators on your B2B social media is an “Insta”-style of brand marketing, meaning that when the newbie learns about the aspects of the company, they share the information. In Instagram influencer marketing, you are taught to be “one step ahead of your audience and engage them on the emotions of your learning journey.” Pick any influencer on Instagram and that’s how they build an audience. This is currently very popular in influencer marketing and I’m seeing more of it in the B2B world on LinkedIn and Twitter. Quite honestly, it’s not a good look, as it undercuts the knowledge of B2B’s informed audience of prospective customers. In other words, your message is telling prospective customers information they presumably know already – which invites them to form an opinion that you and your business are new to the business.

B2B social media marketing may use the same platforms but it is nothing like B2C social media. While emotion is involved in B2B buying, the brand journey is not a learning journey about the basics of the product, service or industry. In B2B marketing, as the marketer you need to meet potential clients at their level – which is probably more technical, nuanced, and detailed than yours is. You have to rise up with knowledge to meet your audience, not simplify down. You have to provide proof to a highly informed audience: a) That your product/service is the right answer to their problem; b) How you will support them, and c) Why choosing your company is a good value in a way that goes beyond money.

All of this requires nuanced communication skills as well as knowledge of the industry intricacies of B2B social platforms.

Did you know that Google changed its own algorithms about 4 years ago to make social media posts searchable? This improves your company's SEO (website results). It also means every single social media post is a searchable record of your company’s communications – which makes it a record of corporate communications. What do you want that searchable history to say about the brand? A story of consistent quality and deep information, or just a hit-reel of trend-of-the-moment attempts?

While a single post – like a cat at your B2B business on LinkedIn – may get some viral interaction, it’s not how a brand grows nor is it necessarily the long-term image you want for a B2B brand. I’ve had B2B posts with more than 150,000 interactions and B2C posts with more than 55,000 interactions. Neither one grew social presence or gained traction for the brand. Those were just transient, popular posts (aka viral) born of some combination of timing and a thought that caught the public's attention.

Brand traction happens with consistency. Consistent, good-quality informational posts that adhere to a communication plan tailored to the platform audience result in consistent increases in followers and engagement. For a business, a communication plan outlines what you want to communicate to customers and prospects. That communication may include advertising, press releases, social media and other channels used to market the business. 

A communication plan includes the three communication cornerstones of visuals, language, and audience. The communication plan details topics such as what value the company offers, how your solution works, and so much more. A communication plan looks beyond a single platform or campaign and focuses on brand reputation as part of the overall communication strategy. Tone and visuals may vary from channel to channel, but the overarching communication strategy is the framework of building your brand.

The best B2B social media is not created because of the youth of the poster. Youth may even be a deterrent: Would your target audience understand a “BRB” message or other slang? Can your intern tap into their business concerns? Is your intern up on the industry’s language and hot topics?

The best B2B social media outreach I've seen is done by experts talking about the profession they love, because those posts combine expertise and interest with engaging personality. No entry-level intern can match that, even if familiar with the technical functions of the social platform. Salespeople with experience in your business’s technical side probably can provide it. (They also may be far closer to your B2B target audience’s age and knowledge level than an intern.) Bringing them into the structure of the communication plan could be the smartest communication move your business makes, and a strategic use of current resources.

Last week, I saw a job posting for a receptionist/social media manager at an industrial firm. I’m going to say it louder for the management in the back …. This lack of planned communication specialization as customer outreach results in an Insta-brand and does nothing to strengthen your company’s branding position. It may actually erode it and cost you potential customers.

Is an Insta-brand marketing strategy right for your industrial business? Probably not. You heard it here first.

Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Manager at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.

About the Author

Alexandria Trusov | Global Marketing Director

Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Director at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.