It's not surprising that social media shortcuts are becoming more prominent. The impetus to engage in social media is driven by a long-term fundamental shift in marketing, and in the short-term, by the battles for SEO primacy. Like any new thing, it’s taking some time for us all to figure out what’s really important.
Some recent examples:
- Turns out it’s surprisingly easy to buy Twitter followers by the hundreds or thousands to increase your visible presence, and even major politicians are subject to the practice (in their case, possibly unwittingly or maliciously). The “followers” are fake accounts created just for this purpose. Twitter frowns on this practice, to say the least, but I get unsolicited offers of 5,000 followers at least weekly, and if you’re on Twitter, I’m sure you do too or will soon enough.
- I’m not going to support them by providing a link, but we’ve all been suckered into giving them a click – the “Five Easy Ways to do X” blog posts, which really don’t contain five tips of any value whatsoever. Oddly enough, X is always “linkbait” – a phrase they know will drive their SEO – but may or may not be something on which they can actually offer any valuable content.
- Recently a prospective client was pitched to use external bloggers – people overseas that churn out keyword-crammed blog posts by the dozen for shockingly little money. Clearly this is a tactic predicated on the idea that nobody will really be reading the posts.
While the current frenzy for content (and the concomitant decline in quality) seems likely to continue, at least until Google changes their algorithm and saves us from ourselves, it makes sense to take a long-term and brand-oriented view of using social media. We need to sit back and remember what the whole point of social media is, like any other form of marketing, to connect with current and potential customers and to build our business, especially until we get better at figuring out how to really calculate influence.
“The heart of building a community, whether you're a B2B or a B2C, is recognizing what that community cares about. It's not manipulative, it's not sneaky--it's the most authentic way to brand your business and grow a following online.”
Nobody is going to mistake me for one of the top influencers in social media any time soon, but recently the rate at which I've been adding Twitter followers ramped up significantly, and the quality of those followers also improved sharply – more relevant people, more substantive users of Twitter, fewer who seemed to be trying to sell me something. I suspect this shift happened because I passed a certain milestone in number of Tweets and started getting recommended as someone to follow to more relevant people.
Naturally, this is gratifying and a nice payoff to the time I’ve been putting into Twitter, but it also underscores for me the importance of quality. I’m glad I have been tweeting in a way that’s (I certainly hope) on-brand and consistent with the way I work and the Mezzanine does business. I try to offer something of value to the people who bother to follow me. I’m glad I haven’t been tweeting for the sake of tweeting, stuffing the channel with junk that’s of no value to anybody, just to artificially elevate my numbers. (But if you’d like to join the stampede to follow me on Twitter, I’m @mezzmeredith.)
That’s no way to build community. And certainly no way to build our business.
What’s your experience with using social media to build your community in the B2B space?
Looking for more advice to make marketing work in your B2B company? Get proven tips in PROFITGUIDE’s Special Report on The Radical Sales Shift.