Social media is in its teenage years and we can all tell. It’s maturing, and not always in a good way—but we’re getting glimpses of what B2B social media strategy could be like in another 10 to 20 years.
It’s fuzzy, and who knows, time may prove us wrong, but it does seem increasingly likely that the grown-up version of social media chills out with age and becomes much more goal-oriented.
Much like most of us do.
Let me clarify. Social media is always going to have a penchant for pop culture and a desperate need to snoop in everyone’s personal lives. I don’t think any of us see that changing any time soon.
But what I mean is, social media can’t sustain its current levels of narcissism. This angsty, self-involved, selfie-obsessed trend of constantly promoting your own sense of yourself isn’t interesting to anyone on the other side of the screen.
And it’s not just Instagram influencers and Internet celebrities I’m referring to. I’m looking at you, brand marketers.
Brands have got to give up the time-disproven method of pushing out sales and marketing content like anyone wants to read it. No one EVER wants to read about your product. EVER.
And let’s be real, the assets we produce and the self-aggrandizing white papers, etc. are also not interesting to real human people with anything better to do. In some cases, it may be the only way to get the information needed by someone looking to make a purchase, but few of us B2B marketers are producing honest-to-goodness killer content.
Social media, for B2B brands, is a content distribution and customer service channel. We’re not hosting celebrity Instagram takeovers. No one wants to watch your product unboxing video.
This isn’t consumer-facing social media. We’re talking to individuals as human beings, absolutely, but as professionals, not as friends, and certainly not as fans. Our followers don’t care about who’s behind the brand account; they want the information we have to share.
B2B social media is, above all else, about delivering immediate value by providing insightful micro-solutions to the little things that cause pain to our prospects throughout their professional life and, most especially, as it relates to the solutions we provide.
The key to creating compelling B2B social media content is providing snackable solutions to common problems.
What’s a snackable solution?
Honestly, it’s a bit of marketing on our part. It’s a phrase I made up to try and describe content that provides a quick, easy-to-consume answer to a specific problem. Think how-to’s, life hacks, pro tips, old wives tales, ancient wisdom, etc. But the success of this type of content depends as much on the presentation as the message being conveyed.
Graphics, animations, captioned videos and audio files, etc... are all necessary to tell compelling micro-stories that cause viewers to engage with your social content.
To illustrate this point I’ve included samples of a few different types of snackable content that work very well in B2B social campaigns.
5 Types Of Snackable Content For B2B Social Media Marketing Campaigns:
Branded Social Media Graphics
This doesn’t work on Facebook because of their stupid 20 percent rule, but who cares anyway, right? Facebook is for grandmothers and cat memes. B2B marketers care about LinkedIn, occasionally Twitter, and—if you’re super edgy and cool—Instagram. Branded social media graphics work very well on these platforms and there’s nearly endless opportunities to diversify your content and stand out. A few examples:
Idea Grove had the opportunity to build the AWS re:Inforce social announce campaign while developing assets for AWS Security’s marketing team. This particular piece is a nice integration of stock photography, brand iconography and a simple message.
Change the stock photo and the text and you’ve got a completely new image based on this template, so any investment into branded assets is essentially evergreen.
Cloud security tip: Streamline user access administration with a federated solution and external directory. Follow our guide to get started: https://t.co/Xw0xp6bhej pic.twitter.com/6E8zrPlF9l— AWS Security (@AWSSecurityInfo) February 22, 2019
In this example we built a “blog headline” template comprised of a soft contrast treatment of a core element of their brand (the cube) in the background and approved iconography in the foreground; plus the blog headline to the left.
There are dozens of approved icons in the AWS brand library and it’s very simple to swap an icon, edit the text and have a new branded graphic to promote blog posts on Twitter.
We’ve created 3-4 different versions for each template with the background colors reversed, the left/right elements reversed, other shapes / symbols instead of the cube.
Create a few dozen different categories of branded graphics and then 3-4 variations of each design and suddenly you have an almost infinite supply of semi-custom branded images for your B2B social media marketing program that look great and get noticed in social feeds.
Quotes / Testimonials / Mini-Case Studies
Square images of customer quotes, or, even better, quick micro-animations a few seconds long and featuring customer quotes/reviews, testimonials, etc... are fantastic B2B social media content.
They’re quick to consume, convey a meaningful message and put your customers’ viewpoint ahead of your own. That’s a best practice bingo right there…
If you’ve got motion graphics capabilities on staff, or are willing to hire a motion graphics/video agency, take this tactic a step further by developing animated mini-case studies.
In 15 seconds you could display 3 slides (5 seconds each) with the core components of a case study, delivering the same impact as the typical multi-page case study you’d find on any B2B website.
Slide 1: Problem.
Slide 2: Solution.
Slide 3: Outcome.
Then come to rest on the outcome, which would summarize the problem again in the copy so that the image that remains tells the whole story if the viewer missed the animation.
This is KILLER B2B social media content...
Tell any story using this simple narrative structure and your audience will be able to quickly pick up on the underlying message and extract the value from your content. Turn this into an animated video and you can imagine the results...short, snackable and sweet.
Interview videos are easier to create than ever with the rise in popularity of video conferencing/video calls. At Idea Grove we’ll use Zoom video conferencing software for all of our group calls.
We use the recording and transcription features on most every call for our own internal documentation but also so we can extract any useful bits of content that come up in clients calls and interviews with subject matter experts.
Capturing video and audio content can be that simple. Record a Zoom call, download the recording and send it to a video editor to chop up and add some sizzle.
That’s obviously a strategy with a low barrier to entry where quality isn’t going to be superb. Surprisingly, quality isn’t a major factor in the success of B2B video marketing, so we’d recommend a strategy of “some video is better than no video at all” and not worry so much about quality at first.
But when you’re ready to graduate to producing better looking content with intro/outro music, lower thirds content, annotations, etc., upgrade in small steps. Buy a $60 webcam and find a room in your office with a blank wall and a bit of soundproofing. Realistically that’s all you need to incorporate video marketing into your digital practice.
Once you’re creating videos, you can either share them directly to social (often the best practice) or chop up your videos into teaser-length content and promote your videos on social media (linking back to a blog post for the full video).
In the example above we shot a 3-4 minute video on why you shouldn’t build your next website on Wordpress with four key talking points that translated into snackable content for social media.
Our videographer cut a 40-second teaser from the full video featuring captions of each of the four talking points that we shared to LinkedIn and Twitter promoting the blog post.
This technique is simple, low-tech and it’s easy to produce social content to promote this piece at the same time as the video itself. The efficiency of this tactic allows you to quickly produce social content at scale.
Podcast / Webinar Excerpts
Understanding #AWS services can help make sure you’re architected properly, says @realchadwoolf on the AWS Listen and Learn Podcast. Listen here: https://t.co/3RDCmo2GYm pic.twitter.com/Yw4LHWPjq2— AWS Security (@AWSSecurityInfo) March 4, 2019
Podcasts and webinars often contain the richest, most detailed content that B2B organizations produce. Typically, webinars tap the real subject matter experts within an organization for a rare deep-dive or sneak-peek that prospects and customers might not normally get to enjoy. The content tends to be fairly long and, therefore, may contain dozens of snippets that could be repurposed for social content that teases viewers to click through to watch the full webinar.
Not only is this a fantastic source of rich, detailed social content, this practice also ensures that you’re continuing to generate value from your investment into your podcast or webinar.
Fight the tendency to simply promote the webinar with its headline because there’s so much more value in the bits of information within the webinar that can be extracted and formatted for social media consumption.
Obviously you’ll want to caption the content (write the words being said onto the screen in some way) because the majority of video content consumed on social media is watched with the sound off.
It takes a little cleverness to turn an audio recording without a screen share into interesting content, but the video above that we created for Amazon Web Services leverages captions and a visualization of the audio file playing to capture the viewer’s attention.
This is the most complicated type of content (to create) that we’ve mentioned here, but it’s also a strong contender for most impactful type of B2B social media content. How-To videos speak directly to the need for content to be helpful and visual to attract attention and engagement from audiences of B2B buyers and customers.
It’s an undeniably tough crowd…
The best way to please your audience, gain their trust, attention and, eventually, their business, is to solve problems for them. So how-to content, pro tips, best practices, etc... is valuable content you can easily condense into snackable pieces for sharing on social media.
Producing a series of best-practice videos can be as simple as animating text across a background, but creating an in-depth how-to guide requires more video editing experience. It’s very achievable but maybe shouldn’t be your first foray into social video.
Creating these how-tos can be as simple as recording a screen share over a video call while a product manager explains each step of how to implement a simple best practice solution on a specific product.
Popup notes and instructions can provide context for the viewer quickly and without needing any sound. These are typically longer videos compared to the other examples presented here, but, realistically, your video content retain viewers as long as it is interesting and useful.
B2B Social Media Marketing Strategy Has to Start with Why
Creating a compelling B2B social media marketing strategy in 2019 requires more than curating thought-leadership content and writing new copy for old content assets. The competition for attention is fierce and the audience’s standards for quality are increasing every day.
Video is a fundamental requirement of B2B marketing these days, especially on social media. By the end of 2020 all the major social networks will be prioritizing video over other types of posts and you’ll need the time between now and then to learn how to produce video content well and at scale.
One last thought. Before you create a strategy, ask yourself “Why?” Why are you doing social media in the first place? What value does it represent to your company, and what does your audience get out of engaging with you?
If the answer isn’t, “Our social media provides bite-sized answers to our audience’s most pressing questions in visually engaging ways”, then stop and rethink your social media investment immediately.
Not because you’re doing it wrong, but, more importantly, because you aren’t EVER going to see the results you want if you’re just curating content and “keeping the lights on” like so many B2B marketers. Either do a great job on social or abandon the practice completely. It’s too expensive to straddle the fence when you’re not going to see any return on your investment.
To create great, compelling B2B social media; get into video, repurpose long-form content into micro-content, and find ways to communicate visually. Do this and you’ll see an immediate increase in engagement that will eventually be reflected in your lead pipeline and bottom line.
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