From the scrolling Twitter feed on CNN to the calls from NPR to share stories on Facebook, it’s clear that social media isn’t going away anytime soon. Everyone wants “a Facebook” or “a Twitter.” But why, and to what end?
Most companies hope that social media will help them turn potential customers into brand advocates. They see Facebook and Twitter as places where customers hang out, and they want to be included in the conversation. Incentive programs seem like an easy way to entice potential customers to “like,” “follow,” and “share,” but these promotional gains are temporary, and they often won’t lead to substantial or long-lasting behavior change.
Earn Consumers’ Trust through Social Media
Influencing behavior change through social media is more difficult than it sounds. Social media users are fully aware that companies are courting them through social media. Behavior change is spread through word-of-mouth, just as it is in the real world. It doesn’t so much matter what companies are saying, as what users’ friends are saying about those companies. Brands should focus on earning recommendations from consumers rather than throwing out sales pitches.
Develop Content that People Want to Share
Building trust to elicit behavior change starts with understanding. Understand what the customer wants, and come up with great shareable content that they can share with friends and peers. The key to “going viral” on social media is creating content that friends will share with their friends, who will talk about it with their friends, and so on and so forth.
Engage Users through Social Media
Social media is by nature an ever-changing space for conversations, and interactions are a two-way street. Adapt a company’s tone and voice to make it work for social media, and engage with users in a timely fashion. If customers react negatively to your proactive attempts to engage them in conversations, let them know why you’re there – you want to get better, and you want to understand where they’re coming from. If customers react positively, that’s great – keep working on eliciting more positive interactions. The more you try, the more you’ll learn.
Additional resources on B2B engagement:
- “Why Winning Friends is No Longer Enough to Influence People” – The Guardian
- “How Content Is Really Shared: Close Friends, Not ‘Influencers’” – AdAge
- “Social Media Marketing: Building Consumer Trust” – Business 2 Community
- “9 Consumer Social Media Trends that Could Impact Marketers” – Social Media Examiner
- “When It Comes to Social Media, Consumers Tell Brands to Speak Only When Spoken To” – Forbes
- “B2B Marketers Need to Get Real About Social Media and Customer Engagement” – Forbes