These days most B2B companies have a social media presence. The problem is they mainly use their social handles as a distribution list for blasting out blog posts, webinar invites, and press releases… again and again and again. You know, like a not-so-glorified email list.

Now don’t get me started on how B2B marketers should be using social media to listen to relevant conversations or curate other people’s quality content. Instead, let’s talk about engagement.

After all, a highly engaged audience is more apt to read and share your content, consider your products and services, and recommend your brand. Not to mention, two-way activity tends to attract others and grow your social channel.

All good things, right?

How to engage your social media audience

Here are seven ways in which you can use social media to engage your target audience.

1.  Respond to complaints. No one likes negative feedback on social media. But if someone has a valid reason for being grumpy at your brand then it’s best to bite the bullet, say you’re sorry, and try to fix the issue. The alternative is to show that no one notices or, worse yet, that your company doesn’t even care. Clearly that’s not going to win you any customer experience awards.

Bonus tip: if complaints are starting to clutter up your Facebook or Twitter feed then consider setting up a social care handle like @LinkedInhelp, @MarketoCares, @AdbobeCare, and @Hootsuite_help.

2.  Answer questions. You’re going to get questions via social media… if you haven’t already. Typically, they’re from customers confused about how a product feature works or prospects trying to demystify your pricing model. Promptly responding shows there’s a real person behind the social media curtain, and maybe positions you to catch a sales opportunity before your competition does.

3.  Show your appreciation. On any given day someone starts following you, sharing your brand content, or even saying something nice about your company on social media. Take a moment and thank them in a personalized and authentic way. It’s easy and feels good. Of course, you can’t thank everyone so think: customers, prospects, and influencers.

 

B2B Social Media Engagement Example

 

4.  Congratulate others. What’s a simple way to create brand advocacy? Advocate your customers. And social media is a great place to do that. Share kind words on the fortune and hard work of your customers and prospects, and ask them: “how did you do it” or “what’s your next big goal” or “advice for others”. This creates opportunities for real engagement with the bonus of making your buyers look good.

5.  Piggyback on events. Many target buyers are only active on social media when attending industry events. It’s just the way it is. So take advantage of these social hot spots to join in the conversation using event hashtags and commenting on related photos, videos, and commentary. Of course, you should be creating social conversations around your own events, too. For instance, make sure and live tweet your conferences and webinars, and consider launching your own tweet chat.

6.  Tap the wisdom of the crowd. You may have hundreds if not thousands of followers on social media. So why not tap into your social audience to discover what’s on their minds? For instance, take their temperature about breaking industry news, find out what they love (or not) about your product, and get feedback on branding ideas. It’s time to get your audience talking!

7.  Engage in other people’s communities. Don’t forget that social media engagement isn’t limited to your own social media handles. Appoint team members to actively participate in industry LinkedIn and Facebook groups, comment in relevant Reddit communities, and answer questions on Quora. Just remind them not to be (too) promotional and focus on providing real value to any community. But they already know that, right?

Now it’s your turn

How do you engage your social media audience? What have you found works best? Feel free to share your comments below.