How to Make Creative Social B2B Content when you’re in a “Boring” Industry
Companies operating in the B2C space seldom have much difficulty creating good social media content. If you’re Virgin Atlantic, with Richard Branson as a spokesperson, Heineken, with its sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League, or Burberry with its leading-edge fashions, chances are that you have more great ideas than you know what to do with.
But if you’re a B2B marketer, you may spend a lot of time thinking about how to make creative social B2B content when you’re in a boring industry. Fear not. In reality, you’re hopefully only boring to those people who are not in your industry and who are therefore probably irrelevant as a target market anyway. If you can package your social B2B content appropriately, it’s likely that those who work in your industry segment will find it entertaining and useful – leading to greater awareness, better branding and, ultimately, more sales.
So, stop sulking in the kitchen and get out there … because you too can be the life of the B2B social media party!
Is there a hook?
Firstly, look for a possible hook; a USP that you can use to set your brand apart from your competitors.
Try hard to come up with one – even if your first thought is “we’re just the same as the opposition” – because finding the right hook up front can set the tone for your future social B2B content strategy.
GE and Marshall Jones: GE realises that research into high-tech products such as lasers may not appeal to anyone other than super-geeks. So it recently used its Facebook page to profile one of its researchers, Marshall Jones. It told how Jones overcame various financial and physical setbacks to lead a research team that has registered more than 50 product patents. As a result, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
This not only gives GE, a monolithic global behemoth with more than 300 000 employees, a human face that people can relate to. It also emphasises the breadth of innovation and expertise that the company has at its disposal.
IBM & The US Open: Multinational information technology company, IBM, cleverly used the 2017 US Open Tennis Championships to showcase its technology in an innovative way on Instagram. It did so by highlighting how the brand’s digital technology was being used to create top-class digital experiences for media, broadcasters and tennis fans and players around the world.
View this post on Instagram
@madisonkeys and the Official US Open app – we can’t think of a better combination. ? Madison is using the app to quickly pull her match highlights, stats, and figure out where she’s playing. . . . Learn more about what IBM is bringing to the US Open through the link in our bio. #USOpen #USOpen50 #USOpen2018 #MadisonKeys #ArthurAshe #Flushing
Yes, your B2B business makes widgets. But if you think about widgets in a different and original way you may come up with winning social media content that is fun, interesting and sharable. For example, a company that builds giant industrial boilers, which are not much different to anyone else’s giant industrial boilers, seems like it’s on a hiding to nothing.
- Tell a story: But what if your company’s latest boiler, in order to reach the buyer, has to go on a two-week, 1 000-mile cross-country journey on a giant 140-wheeler truck? Workers need to raise the height of 500 electricity and telephone wires along the route in order for the boiler to safely pass underneath? Suddenly, you have the potential for a whole series of B2B social media posts that document the journey and its technical challenges in videos, photos and words. You can create compelling content for platforms ranging from YouTube to Instagram and LinkedIn. Just look at how Maersk used long-haul footage to create adventurous stories.
- Align your narrative with pop culture or related topics of interest: Similarly, if you manufacture steel girders for the construction industry, it could make for some boring B2B social media content. But what if you talked about how many miles of girders went into the building of Tottenham Hotspur’s fantastic new stadium in London, and posted some exciting photos of how steel has been used in the design of the futuristic football ground? That’s the difference between being dull and creating fun B2B social media content.
Intel does a fantastic job of aligning its technologies with popular sporting events. For example, the Instagram team used the Intel True VR gadget to help publicise NBA matches.
Take a stance
B2C brands tend to do this well and will take a stance on all sorts of social issues, whether directly related to their area of business or not. B2B marketers are usually a lot more conservative and worry about offending existing and potential customers.
Yet recent research indicates that:
- Almost half of B2B buyers are now millennials – those aged 23-38
- This audience places a high value on authenticity.
So take a stance on some important issues relevant to the wider community, your country or your industry and then post on social media accordingly.
In fact, it’s quite likely that your organisation is already taking a stance on a number of issues; it’s just that nobody has realised it.
Examples: Perhaps, the company social club organises an annual event that benefits a children’s charity? If so, you’ve just taken a stand against child poverty, abuse and discrimination. Maybe your engineers have decided to reduce the plastic content in your widget by 30%? You’ve just taken a stand against plastic pollution.
But before leveraging such opportunities, remember the overarching need to be authentic. Social media can be unforgiving and it’s a recipe for disaster if you’re posting about helping a charity in the UK, while your subsidiary in Pakistan is being accused of exploiting child labour!
Also avoid advocating strange causes that may appear to some like fun B2B social media content, but will ultimately damage your brand. Supporting the Martians on Earth Liberation Movement is best left to some out-there-and-edgy B2C consumer brand. It’s also a good reason why your B2B social media strategy should never be left to an unsupervised junior employee or intern…
However, if there is a natural alignment between something interesting and what you do – there could be a perfect fit. Take Lady Gagga and Intel’s dancing robot collaboration for example – the “Lobot“. This project showcased a merge between creativity and tech – with a high profile celebrity.
Solve your audience’s problems
Social media content that solves a problem for your target audience will never be regarded as boring. Instead, it will be highly prized and sought-after.
- Make the effort to research industry groups and discussion forums where these kinds of problems and questions (not necessarily specific to your company) may be raised.
- Spend time talking to your own engineers, technical consultants and call-centre agents to understand the common questions they’re faced with.
- Find the best solutions, make them easy to understand, and craft them into useful B2B social media content.
A hard sell is a boring sell
In essence, people don’t like being sold to. Indeed, Neuroscientists tell us that there is “an unconscious repulsion to being persuaded”.
So my final piece of advice on making creative social B2B content when you’re in a boring industry is to avoid pushing a hard-sell agenda. This is both boring and pointless, given the long and complex sales process in the B2B environment. Rather leave that to the B2C environment, with its emphasis on immediate sales, based on emotion and instant gratification.
- Find a USP
- Strive to be interesting, fun, informative, conversational
- Avoid being overly technical
- Solve problems and stand for something
This will build brand awareness and create trust. To slightly misquote an old German proverb: “On social media, boredom is the father of all sins”.