What I advise my clients about social media

My always-up-to-date guide to social media marketing, mostly focused on B2B, rather than to consumers.

The always-up-to-date guide to social networks

I know this blogsite is about internal communications, but whenever I talk to corporate clients about enterprise social networks (ESNs) we end up talking about external social networks too. Plus, it’s part of my role to manage social network accounts for several B2B companies, and so I’ve got into content marketing and social media marketing. I know – I would’ve laughed five years ago too, but this is the world we live in.

I consider it all ‘social communication’.

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Who is speaking to whom?

I have met some individuals who have great influence on social media in their personal lives, and they feel that B2B social is just a case of replicating their personal success on the company accounts. It is not.

If you have 1000 connections on LinkedIn, they will not migrate to become followers of your LinkedIn Company Page. I know this to be true.

“Stop thinking about business in terms of B2B or B2C. Neither exist anymore. The only thing that matters is P2P.”
~ @JeremyWaite (Rule No. 8)

Dare I say that B2C (Business to Consumer) is easier than B2B (Business to Business)?

If you’ve got a physical product then you can take lots of photographs of it, show people using it, send it around the world for some great pics, bake a cake in the shape of it – all the stuff you see adverts do.

What do you do if you’re a services focused organisation? You show your staff helping people, you tell stories of how people in the street saved time and money by choosing you. You collect customer reviews and star ratings of your hotel, your valet service, or you show pictures of the end results – the well-groomed dog, the shiny new housing estate, the exquisite meals you present to diners.

It’s harder if you’re selling and communicating business-to-business. Your products, while amazing, won’t ignite people’s enthusiasm. Your services, while vital, aren’t easy to summarise in a tweet and won’t excite anyone enough to Retweet.

I do B2B social media management, and some days I wish I worked for a garden centre as I’d never be short of new photos to share! Imagine how easy it would be to get excited over every exotic plant that comes in, or starts flowering? Honestly, if there’s a garden centre out there that needs social help, hire me now!

Yes, at the end of the day B2B is nonsense, because ‘Businesses’ don’t do anything, people do. Every tweet, update, and post is from a person to another person (P2P) regardless of what idea, service, or product you’re sharing.

If you’re selling chocolate to consumers, social media marketing is easy. I mean, you’re probably on social media for fun more than profit. It’s probably more about social customer service than selling. Would Cadbury really sell fewer bars if they didn’t tweet? How hard can it be to flog chocolate after ninety years? Rentokil, on the other hand, has a real challenge…

But if you’re selling business services for tens of thousands of pounds, instead of chocolate for 79p, social media management is hard. Abandon all old-fashioned ideas of financial ROI, and focus on brand, ‘top of mind’ awareness, sharing sector specific info, and customer service.


Which networks, how often, what content

You have to go where your audience is – if your clients and fans are on MySpace, you have to go to them.

The following is what I am literally advising my clients about (at this time, beginning of 2015).

This is for B2B (business to business) – and as much as I absolutely positively believe that everything is P2P (person to person), if you’re selling chocolate to the masses (B2C) then you’re in for a much easier time.



Got great products for consumers to buy? Got great services that consumers need support with? Create artistic designs that the community can gawk at? Great, enjoy the community interaction. Elsewise, forget it. Facebook is really hard for B2B communications, especially as Facebook uses algorithms to actively suppress your broadcast communications.

I use Facebook, in a professional capacity, every day for a charity and for a business (i.e. I manage Facebook Pages for clients). I can tell you that I’m getting about 10% reach – in other words, 10% of my Page followers see any post of mine.

The good news is that if people interact with a posts (liking, sharing, or commenting) then it can ‘blow up’ – the Facebook algorithms relax and many more people will see your post. On the charity Page I manage, 200% of Page followers can see one of my posts if it gets interaction from followers – that means that members’ friends are seeing my post!

  • In February I did a little Facebook campaign on the charity Page I manage. We have 2000 members / fans (a small charity, remember). I created and posted a short video (slideshow plus voice-over) using Adobe Voice.
  • Many of our members played and shared the video. This allowed the Facebook algorithms to relax. Organic reach went higher than 100%.
  • I then paid $20 to ‘boost’ the post. Facebook make it as easy as possible to give them money. Organic and paid results shown below.
  • This success is built on the foundations of years and years of supporting a specific annual ‘awareness day’.

Facebook video results

Will Facebook provide website visitors? For SMB B2B, no. But maybe it isn’t about website ‘traffic’ – maybe it’s about community, Q&As, customer service, customer complaints, and even light research.

Facebook Page insights - click to embiggenTake a look at the insights / analytics a Facebook Page offers; click the image to embiggen. Click / swipe back to return here.

Advice: B2C might be easy enough, especially for local businesses, but B2B is tough; when encouraging clients and potential clients to follow your Facebook Page, give a decent reason – not just ‘follow us for updates’. Your Facebook Page has to be relevant, and maybe useful or fun. Your personal Facebook friends are not going to migrate en masse to your company’s Facebook Page.

Do not use a normal ‘Profile’ to represent your company. – what are you, a heathen? Profiles are for people, Pages are for organisations.

Get the dedicated ‘Pages’ app to manage your Facebook Page.

You can embed a Facebook post into a web page – think how that might look on your home page or in a blog post.

Post every day. Be concise and interesting. Share images (check copyright) and links.

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Social media marketing may all be P2P, but B2B is bloody hard


LinkedIn is for professional networking, right, so it’s bound to be great for professional B2B services, right? Wrong. I’ve never seen a popular B2B LinkedIn Company Page except those from the obvious, massive companies, like Microsoft and IBM – which of course have huge numbers of employees.

People on LinkedIn like people on LinkedIn – if you want to develop connections and a following then go for it. Your LinkedIn connections will not migrate to your Company Page. I know this to be true.

LinkedIn Page analyticsLinkedIn offers some analytics so you can monitor your Company Page. It’s basic, but fair.

Will LinkedIn provide website visitors? From links you personally share? Yes, sure. From your Company LinkedIn Page? Not many.

Finally, you can now respond to people ‘as’ your company. Facebook has allowed this for years, but up until now, LinkedIn made you be ‘you’ (as an individual) if you answered someone.

Advice: Maintain your B2B Company LinkedIn Page on a near-weekly business to demonstrate that you’re active, and that your company is bonafide. People check your Company Page to affirm their assumptions and check you exist, that is all. Share your work, share your content.

Empower your employees / managers / leadership team to ‘blog’ directly on LinkedIn. No, not sharing links via an ‘update’, actually publishing articles directly on LinkedIn. See, LinkedIn is becoming a publishing platform. Companies cannot publish articles, not even within the LinkedIn Company Page; only individuals can.

Pay to advertise? Yes; LinkedIn allows you to really target the people who see your advert. Go for it. You’ll get thousands of ‘impressions’ (great for brand building) but you’ll need to experiement and optimise your ad (and target it properly) to get clicks.

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There's more to marketing via Twitter than just tweeting.


Like Facebook, I might bet that B2C social media marketing is easy if you’re selling FMCGs like chocolate bars or earphones. People love books and films – sharing mass media is easy. Twitter, I find, is still all about people, not brands. Sure, Microsoft can drop news about its products and get a lot of RTs, but again, I’m not talking about the massive brands of this world. I’m talking about your brand.

I represent several ‘brands’ on Twitter and each has their own signature style of tweeting, but each is looking to connect with people. People like people, and I can’t help feeling that hiding behind a logo hampers B2B tweeting, yet companies need representing on Twitter for customer support reasons and questions from potential clients. Mostly, I might say, it’s about demonstrating that your company is active and responsive. If I’m thinking of buying a new service or product, I trust the company more if I can see they are active on Twitter / social media.

Will Twitter provide website visitors? Yes, absolutely.

Advice: Unless you need to reach international audiences, tweet 5 – 9 times between 8am and 6pm.

Try four main types of tweet:

  • The plain thought / observation / question. No link, just one or two hashtags. This type of tweet is really important when you have fewer followers; you need to express what you stand for (brand).
  • Article title and link to related content from around the web, with a couple of hashtags. Add your own comment’ to add value / explain why it’s relevant. Change the article’s title if you don’t think the original is clear enough.
  • Article title and link, and comment to your own content, with a couple of hashtags.
  • Article title / comment, with an image. With or without a link. You can add more than one image in a tweet, you can even ‘tag’ people in the image without losing characters (no need to @mention them). I call those images with words over them ‘web posters‘. They should be around 1024px by 512px and the text should be in the middle-ish for best effect.

The fifth, obvious, tweet type is replying to people. The sixth type is to use a Twitter Card to show a preview of the linked page.

The three types of RTs (retweets):

  1. Manual RT / Manual quote: The original, old old, way. If your Twitter app allows, you simply ‘quote’ the tweet (perhaps using copy n paste if you have to) and start the quote with ‘RT:’. Your additional commentary goes at the front, before the ‘RT:’ (some people prefer commenting after the quote). If you have to abbreviate the quote owing to character restrictions, you call it a ‘MT’ (modified tweet) instead of ‘RT’.
  2. The Twitter RT: The old new way. Press the ‘Retweet’ button and the tweet will show up in your timeline for your followers with the original person’s avatar.
  3. Retweet with comment: The new new way. If your Twitter client allows, click the Retweet button and write your comment using up to 115 characters. The original tweet you’re responding to will be shown below your tweet or, in some clients, as a link.

If you publish blog articles regularly (for your company), then I suggest you can repeatedly tweet about your own content more than once in the week. But the idea isn’t to fill your tweet stream with self-promo, but rather to demonstrate how your content fits alongside all the other great content you share. Over the week, the vast majority of your tweets have to be about other people!

[onehalf]Twitter tweet stats[/onehalf] [onehalf last=”true”]Twitter analytics summary[/onehalf] Twitter analytics are very nice. Click mine to embiggen; click / swipe back to return here.

Twitter stats for tweets

Sort out Twitter Cards for your new blog articles. It takes coding, and validating with Twitter, but the result is a bit better than just sharing and link and image.

You can embed a tweet into a web page. It’s exceptionally easy to embed a tweet into a WordPress blog post.

Twitter might become relevant to SEO in 2015, as Google once again gains access to the Twitter firehose.

Pay for a promoted tweet? Yes, every so often; it’s fun and you get great stats.

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I am out of my depth here! I’d love it if I or the companies I work with produced lots of visual content, but we don’t. The best we do is create illustrative graphics or content for our text articles. Infographics do very well on Pinterest, but there’s a glut of infauxgraphics that offend me – these are just text lists on images (not data visualisations), which I find offensive as they exclude people who rely on assistive technology (text readers) owing to visual impairment. They’re also often really basic and should have just been published as beautiful text.

Will Pinterest provide website visitors? Some. Maybe. No.

Pinterest analytics are available for business accounts.

[onehalf]Pinterest analytics summary[/onehalf][onehalf last=”true”]Pinterest analytics impressions[/onehalf]

I don’t know what charges Pinterest intend to roll-out, but I guess it will be like Twitter – freemium. There’s no need to hold on to your ‘personal’ account if you’re really using it for work. (Might be hard for some people who run boards for kitten photos and boards for business infographics…)

Advice: Publish images / graphics / illustrations within your blog posts and website pages. Accept that people will break copyright by pinning the image. Hopefully, the pinner will keep the attribution and over time you’ll get visitors from Pinterest who look at the image and then seek the original context. So yeah, ‘pin’ your own blog articles if they have an image to get the ball rolling.

You can put a Pinterest widget on your website.

If you have time, create original image work, and true infographics – these will get shared faster than anything.

If you produce ‘designs’ or anything for your clients, get permission from them right at the start of the project to share stuff, or else their NDA will stop you.

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Rule number one of tumblr, always reblog the creator.


You think I spend a lot of time on Twitter? You should see how much time I spend viewing Tumblr! Nothing educates me or makes me laugh more than Tumblr. (As with all social media, your experience is shaped by who you follow – if you hate a certain network, that’s your fault.)

However, Tumblr and B2B isn’t there yet. There isn’t the corporate audience. I use Tumblr and I follow some famous (in my world) business people, but neither I nor they get much traction on Tumblr. Adults are moving to Medium.

Will Tumblr provide website visitors? Not for B2B, no.

Tumblr analyticsTumblr analytics are basic.

Advice: Use Tumblr as a regular broadcast blog if you can’t be bothered setting up WordPress. Use Tumblr as a scratchpad – a place to put things – so you can link to your Tumblr post on Twitter. Also, reblogging is the life-blood of Tumblr – you don’t have to create original content. Choose your topic (aesthetic) and reblog away.

You can embed a Tumblr post into a web page.

Pay to promote your Tumblr? Nah, not unless you’ve got a juicy infographic or a charitable campaign to promote. Tumblr people are hardcore against ads. But see Tumblr’s ‘sponsored days‘ thingy.


What I think when I think of Tumblr: giving credit while still breaking copyright; aesthetic; America; social justice warriors; memes; porn; fic; can you not; I just cant; dogs; cats; owls; screenshots; new grammar; tags. People have questions; do you have answers?


It’s like Yahoo Answers for people who can spell and aren’t completely confused by life. Great for building up your personal credibility in a closed community. But couldn’t you do this within LinkedIn communities and discussions? Will Quora provide website visitors? Nah. Advice: Enjoy the community and build relationships – leading to more followers on LinkedIn and Twitter. But it’s about people, and it’s not about B2B. Invest your personal time in LinkedIn discussions if you want to be helpful. [ Insert advice / idea ]


Isn’t Google+ nice? I mean, look at the card UI and animated transitions and the lovely formatting of most things. So nice. Nobody is here. There’s nothing to see. Me and Simply-Communicate are trying to make Google+ useful for businesses, but it ain’t happening. Will G+ provide website visitors? Nope. Advice: Have a personal profile and do what you like with its privacy. Have a decent company profile and have the profile brilliantly complete with all the usual details. Update your company G+ every week or so, just to share your activities and latest articles. This is just to demonstrate that you’re an active business; it’s not to ‘drive traffic’. Join / manage a Google+ community. You can embed a G+ post into a web page. Let me know if I’m wrong. Note – Google+ is good for SEO – posts often show up in Google search results too.

Fashion is huge.


Known as IG. For B2B? No. As an individual, you might connect with people and share some interesting moments, but a daily sunset pic from you isn’t part of your B2B stategic marketing. Talk to me about charitable campaigns and FMCG for a different take.


A photo posted by Digg (@digg) on

You can embed an Instagram pic into a web page. I don’t imagine all the teenagers posting selfies know this.

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What purpose?

Everything is moving to visuals. Video has blown up too. Before investing in the following apps / platforms, remember that your current social platforms can probably cope with video media already. Getting into Vine (etc.) is about embracing the constraints, audience engagement, and participation.


Owned by Twitter, yet Twitter is developing its own native video system (Periscope), so what’s to become of Vine? Plenty of your Twitter followers are on Vine, sharing short videos of their children and pets. But what will you do as a brand with Vine? If video is part of your marketing already then I’m sure you already love YouTube.



It’s your choce. More to come!



It’s your choice. More to come!



From Facebook; uniquely allows people to add to your video, meaning community creation and maybe a better chance for your idea to go viral.

Say Ello


Just joking. Want to follow me for no reason?

The Ello founder claims to focus on design, but his use of fixed-width fonts is shocking, and the icons are ‘mystery-meat‘.



Yes, brands are using Snapchat for B2C. It can’t be for B2B, can it? More to come.



Some brands are engaging consumers (special offers, discounts, etc.) using Whatsapp. Can’t be for B2B, can it? More to come.



You thought I was joking about Ello, wait ’til you see So.cl from Microsoft… What is that?


And the surprise entry is…

More text is needed

SlideShare. Not a social network? Yeah, I know, but people can ‘follow’ you and everyone goes crazy for presentations, despite that without the actual presenter, these sliding slides mean so very little. SlideShare may not provide website visitors, but boy will your (best) presentations get seen.

SlideShare - mailing list featureSlideShare offers a ‘sign up to mailing list’ feature, and Sam (of ClearBox) finds that people are quite willing to give their details. I should write an article about newsletters, because if social media is all about relationships, then newsletters (being ‘opt-in’) are great for developing relationships.

Advice: Consider your digital presentations separate to your real-life presentations and make sure to use ‘Speaker Notes’ and a few extra words on each slide for context.

SlideShare analyticsEmbed your SlideShares in blog articles and ‘top n tail’ them – i.e. write an ‘intro’ above the SlideShare and an ‘outro’ beneath it, offering bullet points and your guidance / conclusion, for people who don’t like clicking through slides.

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Image credits: mkhmarketing + goodfon; mkhmarketing; Sheila Scarborough; mkhmarketing; tumblr / David Karp stolen from The Times, just as he would expect; Wiki Commons; Google official; Paško Tomić; New Old Stock; Ello official; Yuko Honda.

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