How my years managing social at MTV can teach you about B2B social media

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What do Jersey Shore and Beliebers have in common with complex B2B sales cycles and communications? Absolutely nothing! But in nearly four years as the Social Marketing Manager for Much, MTV Canada, M3 and E! at Bell Media, while bridging the gap between boy-band fandoms and the bottom-line, I learned a few key lessons that can cross the divide.

What can this world steeped in pop culture teach B2B business about using social media as a tool for driving new leads, customer retention and brand building? Here are the common threads:

Know your audience. Who are the decision makers you’re trying to reach and which social platforms are they using? Find out, and go there. At Much/MTV, we knew who our core demographic was, what social platforms they were most active on and what emerging platforms they were flocking to. We didn’t waste our time with the other ones. Neither should you.

Be platform specific. This is an extension of knowing your audience. Do they use Twitter differently than Facebook? Are they more professional on LinkedIn but more personable on Instagram? If so, think about how your own voice and content can differ across each platform. Tailor your visual content to each platform’s size specifications. Simply repurposing your content and auto-sharing it from platform to platform may seem like an effective timesaving method of managing social, but it can actually deter people from following you. Why would I need to follow you on Twitter AND Facebook if I’ll just be getting the exact same content?

Humanize your voice. I’m not suggesting you start LOLing in your tweets and gushing about how your new product gives you “the feels.” This is how the MTV brand is humanized on social; it speaks the way its audience speaks. Your business, however, has its own guidelines and your tone on social should always reflect them, even when it’s adapted to fit the more informal social media environment. Just remember that every social media profile has a human being behind it who needs to find your content informative or entertaining, engaging and worth sharing. Adapt your social voice to fit this media ecosystem. Ensure you balance professionalism with personality in a way that works for your business.

Make it a megaphone. Think about how social platforms can fit into your existing inbound marketing strategy. The topics that Much and MTV were talking about on social were also being discussed on-air and featured in our other digital marketing campaigns, as part of a cohesive communication cycle. Use your social networks as another road to push out the quality content your business creates in order to pull in potential leads and customers.

Take your time. Social platforms give you a chance to engage one-on-one with potential leads and customers; don’t blow it by being the guy at the party who only talks about himself. Focus on cultivating relationships by educating, informing and supporting rather than constantly bombarding your followers with heavy sales-related messaging. Be patient with the size of your communities as well; they won’t grow overnight and every follower you gain may not necessarily be an actively engaged one. Much and MTV were very early adopters of social media, so both brands have had the luxury of time (among other things) to get where they are now.

Be SOCIAL. This may seem like a thoroughly redundant tip when talking about social media but I assure you, it’s (unfortunately) not as common sense as you may think. Seek out any of your partners or existing customers who are active on social media and get chatting. Retweet them, spread some #FollowFriday love, or link to their Facebook Page. Find ways of using these platforms to create or sustain mutually beneficial relationships. Your existing clients on social media have the potential to become vocal brand advocates. Spending hours of my day tweeting with teenagers across the country about homework or the weather may have seemed pointless at first glance…until we had a new show that we wanted to promote. Then those teenagers, who trusted us and valued our relationship, became powerful word-of-mouth marketing machines.

Don’t be a one-trick pony. Find new ways of using each social platform that will make your brand stand out. We experimented with different uses of each platform that could easily be adapted to fit the needs and brand of a B2B business such as: Twitter chats (Q&A sessions facilitated through tweets and hashtags), live coverage on Twitter and/or Instagram of any relevant events or conferences, social contests/giveaways and so on.

Use the rest of the pie. Don’t view social media as a silo, or a magical solution to all your marketing needs. It’s not a stand-alone dessert; it’s a complementary piece of a much larger pie. Use social to pull people into your overall communications loop; use it to send them to your blog, your site, or anywhere else your firm is present and then harness those avenues to push back to your presence on social.

Be as forward thinking and strategic on social as you are in the rest of your business decisions. Do your research and post with purpose, and whether it’s about Taylor Swift’s new haircut or your latest product launch, you’ll be doing social smart.

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Sarah Dawley

Sarah Dawley

Sarah is an Ecosystem Copywriter at Hootsuite, where she writes a variety of materials about social media and its impact on business. Prior to joining Hootsuite, she was the Social Marketing Manager for the Music & Entertainment Channels at Bell Media, where she spent nearly four years building the presence of Much, MTV Canada, M3 and E! Canada into social communities of over 2.8 million fans and followers. Find her on Twitter @sarahdawley
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