By Michele Linn published October 11, 2013

Social Media Content Channels: How and When to Focus Your Efforts

b2b research roundtable screenshotLast week, Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs released a new study, B2B Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America. Among its findings, evidence of one growing trend is clear: B2B marketers are using social media at higher rates now than ever before. On average, B2B marketers are leveraging six channels for social media content, compared to five last year.

chart-b2b marketer social media platform useOn the surface, this may seem like good news, as it indicates that marketers are tapping into more of the myriad channels available to them. But, before we collectively celebrate, consider this other study finding: LinkedIn is the only channel that a majority of marketers consider themselves to be using effectively.

chart-confidence gap

How can marketers handle this influx of channels — and what can they do to be more effective when creating social media content? This was the focus of our first B2B research roundtable video during this year’s Content Marketing World. Content marketing experts Ardath Albee, Michael Brenner, Carla Johnson, Michael Weiss, and Todd Wheatland joined Shiri Friedman from Brightcove to discuss the “whys” behind the results of our fourth annual research project.


Here are a few key takeaways from the conversation:

Focus

B2B marketers are traditionally hesitant about, say, Pinterest; yet if you really double down and focus on Pinterest as a key strategy, I’m absolutely sure you can make that work. It’s just [a question of] where are you going to direct your resources best [for] having a real potential to engage with the community better. — Todd Wheatland

Choose the channels where you can build and engage with a genuine community, and focus your attention on those. Study what others are doing in this space so you can learn what people respond to the most favorably. And, by others, I don’t mean your competition but, rather, anyone who may be taking your audience’s attention away from your social media content. Ask yourself how you can be more useful or entertaining than other brands, or people, your audience is engaging with on this platform.

Test

While it makes sense to choose the primary channels you will focus on, the landscape is changing quickly, and it’s important to experiment to keep your social media content efforts fresh and current. As Coca-Cola’s Jonathan Mildenhall taught us during Content Marketing World, “If you don’t have room to fail, you don’t have a way to grow.

It doesn’t make sense to start using a platform simply because it’s become trendy, or because your competitors have a presence there. But don’t let fear of failure stop you from trying something new. Follow these recommendations to guide you in your decisions:

  • Don’t sign up for an account without having a plan on what you will do there.
  • Do prioritize the channels you want to experiment with, and spend a dedicated amount of time to test out what works — and learn from what doesn’t. You may discover something new about your audience, or you may learn that it’s not a priority channel for your business.

Customize

So, a Facebook post should be very different than [one on] Pinterest, or Twitter, or LinkedIn, but a lot of times it’s just ‘Ugh, just put it all out, because you’ve got the tool so you do it and you hit send so it goes to all your channels.’ —Michael Weiss

The easiest way to turn off your community members is to broadcast the same message across multiple channels (yes, you want to be consistent, blindly cross-posting is lazy and ineffective). Instead, determine the kind of content that interests that community in a way that is useful to them. As a starting place, check out 58 Social Media Tips for Content Marketers, which provides tips for each channel, as well as examples of brands that are using each channel well.

Next week, our roundtable of experts will focus on the top challenge for B2B marketers: a lack of time. They will discuss, among other things, whether or not this is really a legitimate excuse, and what content marketers can to do address the problem.

In the meantime, share your tips on conquering their fears of being overwhelmed when creating social media content. How can content marketers be more effective?

View the other videos in this roundtable discussion:

You can also see more results from our B2B content marketing research, visit CMI’s Research Page.

Author: Michele Linn

Michele is the Content Development Director of the Content Marketing Institute and a B2B content marketing consultant who has a passion for helping companies use content to connect with their ideal buyers. You can follow her on Twitter at @michelelinn or read more of her posts on Savvy B2B Marketing.

Other posts by Michele Linn

  • http://www.prosemedia.com/ Justin Belmont

    How can content marketers be more effective? Well, you’ve outlined a good start. Focus is key. There’s nothing less effective than a business that proudly directs customers to its Twitter page, only for them to find a couple of posts from three months ago followed by radio silence. No presence at all is better than a lackluster presence.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Hear, hear, Justin!

  • carmenhill

    It’s so much better to do a few really extraordinary things than a bunch of half-assed things, for sure. Too often we feel like we need to check all the boxes, rather than thinking about what kinds of content and which channels make the most sense for our business.

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      I wholeheartedly agree, Carmen. While we all love our checklists — and they can be helpful in many ways — I think they are detrimental when used without first understanding what should be on them. Instead of taking someone’s checklist and using it verbatim, take a step back and figure out what makes sense for your business. From there, create a list of what you specifically need to do — and then do it well every time.

  • http://www.erikaheald.com/ Erika Heald

    I completely agree that focusing in on creating channel-specific content is key. Your audience–and the kind of content they want from you–varies by social media channel. Just because you *can* broadcast out the same message to multiple channels through social media automation tools doesn’t mean you *should* do so. Great post, Michele!

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” A life lesson in so many ways. Thanks for commenting, Erika!

  • Dennis Schiraldi

    It becomes much more effective if you are able to listen and adjust!

  • sarmistha tarafder

    I guess we are all running short on focus these days. I know, I am.
    Usually I fall back on these wise words
    “Instead of focusing on how much you can accomplish, focus on how much you can absolutely love what you’re doing.” Leo Babauta

    Thank you for this article. This definitely sprinkles me with ideas for my own writings. Thank you again.

  • Full Tilt Consulting

    Love this piece, Michele. These findings solidify the fact that overcommitting to social media often results in an overwhelmed and under engaged online presence. Yes, there are numerous popular and useful SM platforms, but trying to be active on all of them can spread efforts too thin. Instead of entertaining a mediocre presence on a handful of sites, find a few (and that can literally mean 1 or 2) that best align with your brand’s message. I love your advice to experiment with different channels to uncover what works. Once this is done, the next step is to focus resources where engagement is deepest.
    http://www.fulltiltconsulting.com

  • http://www.writtent.com/ Alexandra

    The article is owesome! I’ve picked up some tips that seem helpful.