Social media, whether LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram has always kept B2B marketers on their toes.
One question we’re often asked when it comes to social media is:
“How do we engage our target audience on social media?”
Engaging with customers, prospects, or anyone on social media is no different than connecting with someone for the first time in person.
You have to be present in your conversations and show genuine interest in the other person.
Being interested and genuine never fails in building sound relationships.
For B2B brands, every interaction on social media should be intentional. It will help shape how buyers perceive your company… and more importantly, the people behind your company’s brand!
Be a conversation starter
Every great relationship starts with a good conversation. And good conversations happen when you know the person at the other “end of the line.”
Learning as much as possible about your prospects is the first step. Go to their social media channels, read the content they share, look at the type of content they like and comment on.
Start liking and sharing their content on your own or your brand’s social channels and do so regularly.
There is no faster way to get on your potential customers‘ radar than liking and sharing their content on a regular basis.
There is a caveat though. Before sharing any type of content, keep in mind your audiences as well. Ask yourself, “will my or my brand’s audience be interested in this information?”
Once you’ve got into the habit of liking and sharing your prospects’ content, look for opportunities to start a conversation with them. Go to their channels and search for posts where you can leave thoughtful comments.
DO NOT Be Salesy
One of the mistakes most B2B brands make is jumping into the “sales” mode and making an “ask” from someone they don’t know and who doesn’t know them.
That’s the easiest way to make sure a relationship doesn’t happen.
Reaching out to someone you don’t know on social media and asking them to do something for you, before connecting and building a relationship, sends a clear message to the person at the other end of the line, and that is you don’t care about them.
If you want to get on your buyers’ radar, make it all about them. Be interested in what they’re interested in. Find opportunities to interact with them on their content. And it starts with simply liking, sharing, or commenting on their content.
Social media is about building relationships. Looking for shortcuts won’t help you in the long run.
Make it about others
Want people to like you? Make your conversations about them.
When you focus on other people, you start noticing small details about what they like, what they don’t like, how they interact with others, how they speak, who they follow, and who follows them. And those others can be users, decision makers, influencers, and advocates for your company.
You now have enough information to take the relationship to the next level. Invite them to share their expertise on your company’s blog whether by being quoted in an article, interviewing them for your YouTube channel or podcast.
Putting them in the spotlight on your brand’s channels, showcasing their expertise to your audience, is a stepping stone in building a long-term relationship. Here’s an example from our friends at A10 Networks with the post they did showcasing a CIO influencer:
Be a connector
One of the easiest ways to become a valuable asset for potential customers is to connect them with people in your network who can help them.
Become a connector.
Ask yourself, who in your network can help or would be a valuable connection for one of your prospects? Can they help each other?
If the answer is “yes,” then find ways to connect the two parties. It can be via a group message on LinkedIn, a DM on Twitter, or an old-fashioned email.
When you connect your potential customers with valuable contacts in your network, you become a trusted and valuable connection for them.
Engage them on your content
The easiest way to build or strengthen a relationship with a customer or prospect is to connect with them in “your own home.”
When a potential customer interacts with your social media content, make sure to acknowledge them. Thank them for taking the time to read or comment on your posts, like their comments, shares, etc.
For instance, here’s how the smart folks at BlueJeans do exactly that:
Engage them in a conversation around the article or post they liked. One way to do that is to ask questions such as: “What did you like most about…?” or “What do you think about… (a particular instance or point of view in the article).” Once they answer you, continue the conversation and share what you found most interesting and compelling about the article.
Take the conversation to the next level and recommend them another piece of content from your brand that shares more information on the same topic.
In the days following your interactions, go to their social media profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter) and like and comment on their own content. This way you make sure you stay top of mind as they’ll remember you as someone they had a great conversation with and offered them helpful information.
Another thing to keep in mind when sharing content from a prospect or a customer’s profile is to add your own take on that particular article or topic and tag them.
Here’s an example: “Interesting perspective on… Thank you… (tag them here) for sharing it.”
Constantly finding ways to interact with your prospects or customers without being spammy (meaning, liking every single post they share whether you like it or not) is the starting point of building a relationship with them.
Before you go…
While all this sounds like a lot of work, it’s not. Start with one customer or prospect. Apply one of the recommendations above and watch what happens.
Then you can do the same with another prospect and so on. In no time it will become second nature.
Respond to your prospects’ direct messages or comments as soon as possible. You’ll show you care about them and what they have to say.
Don’t forget to be yourself. Before responding to any social media comment or message, take a moment to think about how you would respond if that person would be standing in front of you.
More than that, responding on social media is as much as responding to the person who commented on your social media posts, as it is for the rest of the people that see your content.
Now it’s your turn
Other ideas for engaging with customers and prospects on social media? Any tactic that worked well for you? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.