Over the past ten years, our B2B clients (along with most businesses) have come to embrace the importance of social media as part of their overall marketing strategy. These days, their question isn’t whether they should engage on social, but how. Should they invest in organic or paid social media campaigns? Which should they focus on? Which is more important? Which strategy is going to drive the biggest ROI? Do they even need an organic social strategy at all?
Yes. Yes, they do.
The Truth About Paid Versus Organic
Look, paid social media campaigns are pretty damn cool. By spending a little coin on dark ads and promoted content, you can all but guarantee impressions, link clicks, video views, app installs, even new leads. You name it, there is an ad objective to meet your company’s goals. And once the ads run, you get all sorts of data and analytics around who engaged with your content, for how long, and in what ways. Your social media metrics shoot up, and your internal stakeholders are thrilled.
Organic social media doesn’t have quite the same luster when it comes to vanity metrics. If engagement doesn’t come flooding in, we often see our clients try to de-prioritize organic altogether. But this is a big miss for companies wanting to maintain a strong presence online. Here’s why:
Your social profiles:
- Are one of the first places a potential customer will go to learn about your business
- Are where your prospective employees will go to gauge company personality and whether you’re living your values
- Will be referenced by 90% of journalists, at least some of the time, when writing a story on your company
- Live at the top of your search engine results
- Show that your company has a pulse, while the rest of your digital footprint might be more static
Of the publishing channels available to your brand, organic social media is hands down the easiest to control. If paid is the quick win that boosts your KPIs, organic is the long game that builds credibility and leaves behind valuable bread crumbs for your key audiences to find.
Getting Your Organic Social Right
For B2B brands, organic social media should extend the reach of your thought leadership content. It should promote your products, solutions, and executives. And it should reflect your values and emphasize your differentiators. Your social channels should be a curated snapshot of your company – ready to educate any person who visits. Some audiences will be led to your feeds through targeted outreach, but others will proactively seek out information on your company.
So with all those heavy expectations on the shoulders of organic social, let’s talk about how you can get the most out of it and the pitfalls to avoid.
The Five Do’s (and do not’s) of Organic Social for B2B Companies
1. Do: Understand why you’re using social media.
Social is a chance to speak directly to your target audience. Make sure you know who they are so you can create relevant content for them that’s helpful, engaging, and reflects your company’s culture and value proposition. Do not use social media for social media’s sake or be persuaded by the allure of a viral post. Chasing likes and retweets from just anyone won’t serve your business. At the end of the day, social is a channel you are using to tell your story. Make it work for you.
2. Do: Focus your content.
Have one or two primary goals in mind for each of your social media platforms and only share content that maps back to those goals. For instance, you may dedicate Twitter to speaking to potential customers, use Facebook for engaging your employees, and LinkedIn for recruitment. Do not throw everything at social. Not every press release or company event needs to go on every social channel. The bigger your company, the more likely it is that you will have people coming to you demanding social promotion for their initiatives. If they align with your focus, totally fine. But if not, tell them no. Your social channels have a purpose and cluttering them with disparate content will just confuse your target audiences.
3. Do: Know what type of content to share – and where.
Since social users visit different social media platforms for different reasons, your company should play to the strengths of each platform. LinkedIn is primed for thought leadership content. Facebook is a fabulous place to highlight company culture. Twitter might be your brand’s go-to platform for promoting events and engaging with others in your industry. Do not share all the same content across all your social media profiles. There can be overlap, but these channels serve different purposes and require unique content.
4. Do: Try to have a reasonable posting cadence.
Put your organic social posts on a schedule and share as frequently as you can while keeping the above tips in mind. Do not be beholden to a quota. You don’t have to tweet five times a day or post on LinkedIn three times a week. Remember, this is a curated snapshot – you don’t want a lot of fluff in there mucking up the place. Quality over quantity.
5. Do: Measure quality over quantity.
When measuring the results of your organic social media program, success comes with the who behind your engagement, not the volume of engagement itself. In other words, two retweets from partners, potential customers, or industry influencers are more valuable than five retweets from people outside of your target audience. Or maybe six out of your last 20 recruits heard about the company through LinkedIn. Do not hold organic social to the same metric expectations as paid social.With fluctuating algorithms and congested social feeds, you’ll only be setting yourself up for disappointment.
The long and short of it is that paid and organic social media should serve different purposes in your marketing mix. One is not better than the other. When you recognize their unique characteristics and use them accordingly, your B2B social program will flourish.