Transparency and responsiveness have long been cornerstones of good business practice. Today, they are critical elements for success in a business environment where communication with one’s network of friends and followers is just a few clicks away.
As a professional services firm, your brand depends on your reputation for open, responsive communication. Here’s the good news: B2B social media is making it easier than ever before to engage with clients and prospects through multiple channels for two-way communication.
Every Engagement Is an Opportunity
You’ve likely heard the admonition: don’t air your dirty laundry in public. But if you hold back on using B2B social media because you fear that potential complaints and critical comments will hurt your reputation and brand, you’re missing an opportunity to build both reputation and loyalty.
In the 1970s, the Technical Assistance Research Program (TARP) began examining the behavior of customer complaints. Their research suggested that for every person who spoke up, 25 more were silently unhappy. Silent they may be, but they are speaking with their wallets when they transfer their business from your firm to a competitor.
With B2B social media, professional services firms have the tools to reach out, respond and resolve any issues or questions. They can also help you build a loyal following.
Here are five tips for using B2B social media to give clients and prospects the green light to reach out and engage:
- Join and Post on LinkedIn Groups
With more than 330 million people (primarily professionals) on LinkedIn, you can think of this B2B social media platform as business networking on a scale never before possible. In addition to building your professional network, use LinkedIn groups to extend your reach and increase your engagement. Here are some proven tactics for success on LinkedIn:
- Build your own LinkedIn group around an area of expertise within your firm. You can post articles, link to blogs and initiate discussions that will encourage conversation.
- Join LinkedIn groups in your industry or areas of expertise. Limit yourself to three to five of the largest and most active groups. This enables you to participate in discussions and offer advice freely without burning out.
- Build your reputation as a frequent commenter. Sharing information and insight on other posts and comments establishes your expertise and credibility.
- Leverage your firm’s expertise. Encourage broad employee participation to demonstrate the breadth and depth of your firm as well as increase your visibility and accessibility.
- Embrace Online Comments Before They Burn You
B2B social media is all about two-way communication, opening your posts and even your firm to comments and reviews. Inevitably, some of those will be negative. The key to using B2B social media effectively is to respond to every comment quickly. It’s possible that one of those critical comments may be your first engagement with a future client. So, remember the following:
- Comments and reviews are barometers of sentiment. Your firm’s prompt, direct responses will help keep problems from escalating and give you the opportunity to turn lemons into lemonade.
- Monitor B2B social media several times a day. According to Social Habit research, 70% of social commenters expect a response within the same day of posting.
- According to Bain & Company research, when you are responsive, clients feel a stronger sense of connection and will spend anywhere from 20% to 40% more with your firm.
- Respond to Your Followers’ Comments on Twitter
While many use Twitter to broadcast their thoughts and links, truly engaged professional services firms reach out and engage followers. In just 120 characters, you can influence how clients and prospects view your firm. Below are some Twitter tips to make this platform work for you.
- Marketing automation tools like Hootsuite, Social Oomph, and Sprout Social can help you manage your tweets, but don’t lose the human touch. Twitter is not something you can simply set and forget.
- Replies and retweets are essential components of Twitter activity. Also, thank your followers (and other users) when they retweet your content or mention your firm.
- When building your list of followers and those you follow, don’t automate the thank-you response. Send a personal thank you tweet to demonstrate your engagement and responsiveness.
For professional services firms looking for more referrals and positive brand exposure, note that small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) received a 30% lift in recommendations from people who interacted with their firm on Twitter.
- Create a Google Plus Community
While Google+ is a relative newcomer in the B2B social media space, it has matured quickly. Some estimates put the number of active users around 300 million. You can leverage this platform to work in your favor:
- You can create a community on Google+ where you can post content, moderate comments and encourage the exchange of ideas—on your terms. You set and control the level of engagement.
- Like all Google tools and apps, Google+ provides search engine benefits as well as engagement.
- Use Social Sharing Buttons and a Comments Section on Your Blog
Make it as easy as possible for blog visitors to share your posts and reach out to your firm. When you make it easy, more people will participate. And seeing the social sharing buttons and comment boxes on your site serves as a gentle reminder that interactive engagement is but a click or two away.
- An analysis of 4 million tweets found that sites with social sharing buttons were seven times more likely to be mentioned on Twitter. Social sharing buttons have pulling power because it’s easier to share via B2B social media than sending separate emails to friends, followers and colleagues.
- Comment boxes are your way of inviting clients and prospects to engage. They also support your transparency and availablity. Remember, compliments are great, but negative comments give you a chance to truly shine.
One final tip: As you and your firm embrace B2B social media, be sure to consider individual expertise. Encourage employees to focus on media platforms that best match their skills, interests and expertise and give them the support and guidelines to help them do so without worry. When it comes to B2B social media, there is definitely something for everyone.
For more information about social media marketing and developing a successful campaign, download our Social Media Guide.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: 5 B2B Social Media Tips To Drive Prospect Engagement
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