I have a friend who would never allow people to pop in or come over if her house was not perfectly clean and orderly. She had two small children and she said she didn’t want people to see the mess. I always laughed and told her, if that were true for me, I would never have a visitor, announced or not.
There are some businesses that can’t allow people to pop in on them for fear they may see something less than perfect as well. They want everything well scripted and professionally produced before they will allow the world to stop by. The problem with social media, is it should be more “in the moment” and spontaneous. If your team is waiting for approvals and meetings to take place before a response or post can go up, and you can’t share or ReTweet something from someone else’s profile because it was not screened ahead of time, your brand will struggle to be “social.” Social media is the place to let your audiences peek behind the curtain and see how your products are made, your books are written, your team learns together, and how you play.
Some still think social media marketing is best for B2C businesses, but the reality is whether you are a B2B or a B2C, we are all in P2P relationships. Person to Person. We want to connect as one person sharing and providing value to another person. People like to see who they are dealing with at another business. They also want to connect with real people.
Like inviting a new friend over for coffee, social media in a B2B or B2C environment allows you to get closer and begin building the trust needed to establish a relationship. While people may not want to become “besties” with their cell phone provider, they do like to know they have someone there that cares and can help answer questions when they have one.
When I started researching for this post, I found a few B2B companies that were doing an amazing job with their ability to be social and show a human side to a rather technical industry, and of course I found a few that should close their social windows, draw the shades & sit quiet until people pass by.
Let’s take a look at a few good and bad examples of businesses on social media:
AGCO offers a full line of tractors, combines, and other agriculture equipment. They sell to distributers who sell to the end-user (farmer or rancher). You may think an equipment company would have no place on social media sites, but you’d be wrong. This company and their 5 brands, are connecting and having real conversations with their distributers, fans and those seeking answers about the equipment.
What they share:
Lots of informational and helpful tips mixed with fun and more playful or personal photo posts. One that I found showed the spontaneity and fun. (Rainbows don’t wait for a committee to approve them.).
What social sites they are active on:
They have a WordPress Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and my favorite was their YouTube channel. They have an incredible collection of educational and informative videos (thousands of videos!) from their own team as well as from their community members.
What we can learn from them:
Provide as much information and helpful content as possible and be where your customers are to answer their questions. Be casual and conversational. Allow your community to be involved in teaching others about your products or services.
The Funeral Industry
This industry is one that you might shudder to think of on social media, but when you consider the fact that at least most of us, will need to secure the services of a funeral home sooner or later (hopefully much later), some make it a very “lively” social experience on their pages and profiles. Most funeral homes are very active in their communities and one, that shares great information as well as these fun community event photos, is Bartolomeo & Perotto in New York.
What they share:
Tips for caregivers and families dealing with aging parents or loved ones. Resources such as Meals on Wheels, hospice care contact information, local blood drives and fun charity walks and runs. You can find information on creative memorial services and explanations on cremation versus burial services. You will also find information on events they are involved in, such as their annual butterfly release (photo below), the 9/11 memorial parade, and their very popular “Stockings for Soldiers” campaign. The community shares the posts, shows up at their events and supports the causes that are close to their hearts.
What social sites funeral homes are active on:
While we found Pinterest boards filled with cemetery statues, memorial ideas, songs for memorial services, floral arrangements, urns and more there were only a few funeral homes who had created boards. Most of the content was user generated. We found many funeral homes on Facebook and Twitter, and a few savvy enough to answer the many questions consumers have about funerals on YouTube.
And of course there are businesses that try to fit into a typical social mold but their target audiences don’t want to talk there. While I believe any business can learn to be social, the platforms each chooses may need to be very different. A Blog can be a safer place to learn about bipolar disorder than on Facebook, where I wouldn’t want anyone to see that I liked a page let alone that I asked a question or commented there. YouTube videos, and perhaps even SnapChat are a better place for someone to learn how to treat acne than for me to follow and engage with ZitBeGone on Twitter.
Medical and dental offices can be very social if they share helpful, fun and interesting information for their audiences. However, if you take out the fun and interesting posts, it leaves only content about veneers and crowns. There are only so many posts one can take showing the inside of people’s mouths combined with information on root canals. We did find several who know how to be social and are sharing fun community events along with helpful information. Love to Dr. Jim and his Tooth Fairies at Southwest Pediatric Dentistry. (We spent 6 years visiting these fun folks with 3 out 4 of our kids in braces!)
We can see the personality of a business on social media sites.
So before hanging your social shingle out letting people know you are on social media, you might want to ask a few questions first:
- Is our potential audience active on social media sites?
- Which sites and platforms?
- Do any of our competitors have active communities on these sites?
- Can we write content, regularly, that is more casual in nature and “social” than what is found on our website? (You cannot simply regurgitate your web content over and over and call it social marketing.)
(Here are 30 ideas of things to post on your social media accounts when you don't know what to say.)
- Are we okay with sharing photos, videos, and stories of our team and the daily activities behind the curtain?
- Are we okay with allowing our community to share their stories, videos, and photos on our pages and profiles or their own?
- Are we okay with people posting feedback about our company, our products and services and even our team members on our pages?
- Do we have a plan for how to respond to social feedback? Is it written down? (Read: How to Prepare for a Social Media Disaster)
- What is the personality of our brand? Not what do we WISH it was, but what IS IT currently? Write the words that describe your brand and your team. Don’t portray one personality online and shock people when they come in to do business with you and your team members.
- Are we prepared to let our social marketing team (or person) have some freedom to engage with people and respond in the moment without needing to micromanage?
Being successfully social means being a little vulnerable, and a little more honest about who we really are when the staged photos of fake team members are taken down and the perfect web copy fades away. Being successfully social means having a sense of humor and a more playful spirit. It means letting people pop in without worrying about them seeing a few crumbs on the floor.
How do you feel about letting people see behind the curtain of your business?
Do you need help setting up your social marketing strategy? Contact one of our fun team members and watch out for the blocks on the floor.