Two Steps to an Engaging Social Media Strategy

July 28, 2014

If you’ve been following discussion about the NYT Innovation Report, you know that content distribution through social media is a renewed focus for The Times—as they’ve seen other, smaller publications trump them with a more effective strategy. It’s sort of a classic innovator’s dilemma, but The Times isn’t the kind of organization that will let that get in their way. They recognize that social media is an important part of the puzzle. There is no denying that people are getting more of their news through social channels—and so, The Times recognized the need to apply more vigor to the social media arm of their strategy, with three key tactics:

  1. Gain better insight into the online behavior of their audience.
  2. Adapt staff roles to a digital-first strategy.
  3. Resurface and repurpose old content in the context of a social strategy.

But, how can BtoB publishers put these lessons to work?

First, revisit our proven tips for social media success. We’ll do a quick recap here: 

  • Be Where Your Readers Are
  • Engage
  • Don’t Try to Be Everywhere
  • Get Neck Deep in Data
  • Be Relevant and Diverse
  • Mix Up Post Types and Increase Your Base
  • Give Your Title Some Love
  • Encourage Sharing
  • Be Consistent
  • Embrace the SEO Effect
  • Lead By Example

(Yes, that’s actually 11 tips!)

Second, look at what other BtoB (and BtoC) publishers are doing well.

Grand Rapids Business Journal leverages a simple but highly effective strategy: include social media wherever it fits and make it easy for readers to follow and share. When you visit the site, you find social sharing icons at the top of the site, along with eye-catching Twitter and Facebook feeds that are set apart with an intuitive toggle between both that keeps users on site. What's more, every article page includes sharing buttons, so that it's easy for readers to include the content they like in their social shares. The result: a huge (6X) traffic increase, much of it traceable to direct links from news articles posted on Facebook or Tweeted. 

Premier Guitar adopted a similar strategy as GRBJ's, but of course, one that is tailored to their enthusiast audience. In fact, Facebook accounted for 265,000 unique visits last month, out of a total of 1.3 million. In addition, they have a very active commenting crowd and make it easy for visitors to follow a discussion and receive notifications when a new, relevant comment is posted.  This summer they have launched Gigya on the site, making it easy for visitors to register and log in using a social media account.

Microwave Journal

MWJ uses several different feeds to engage their audience - focused on individual areas of staff expertise. Instead of one Twitter account for the publication, each staff writer maintains a feed.  They also present engagement buttons that show the size of their LinkedIn community and keep social media at the top their visitors minds. MWJ has also produced results by experimenting with other social channels, including Pinterest, that you wouldn't necessarily associate with BtoB publishing. 

Remember This:

Each BtoB publisher faces changing behavior, no matter the audience - business, enthusiast, professional, or technical - each with evolving social media preferences. It's imperative to test - not assume - where you'll find your readers, to formulate workable guidelines: 

Don’t just post content to various platforms. Engage with your audience members who are responding, commenting and sharing. It is about more than gaining “likes” and “follows.” You need to engage your users on their preferred platforms, to hang on to readers who now prefer a news feed in addition to a print magazine and like sharing their interests with their friends and colleagues - and your prospective customers.  And everyone Likes that, don't they?