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Secrets to Management and Engagement in a B2B Community

Running a digital community and social media presence for a B2B company sounds big and scary and intimidating. You wonder about the experts, and rules, and guidelines, but really – running a B2B community is no different than running one for a B2C business.

You need to look at all aspects of community with a different acronym in mind. Social media and community is not about business vs customer – it is about PEOPLE. Simply that – people. You need to break out of your old mindset; there is not a set of rules for B2B and a set for B2C. Look at it in terms of P2P. People to people (or person to person) are a growing thought process with the support of people like Tim McDonald and Mari Smith behind it.

Know your audience

Knowing the circles you want to run in online is a vital starting point to creating a social strategy and planning a community. Think about the who you want to connect with online, customers, vendors, future customer genres etc and learn how to find them. Search out the keywords you use in your business and see who us talking about those words by searching hashtag streams. See who your competitors follow and who follows them. Don’t forget to create a private monitor list of your competitors too! See what your competitors talk about and use those topics as a starting point.

Create great original content but don’t be selly

Once you discover what kind of conversation topics your audience is interested in, start creating original, branded content. Having a blog is a great way to bring more eyes back to your site, but standard blog writing is not all you can do. Depending on what services you offer, you have many options of content to take advantage of. Design infographics to show information in an easy to process visual form, create videos (how-to, interview, behind the scenes etc) host Google Hangouts On Air and invite other thought leaders in your community or even your clients to be a part of the conversation.

One thing you need to be sure of, is the content you create is not too “selly”. You can make it about what you do vs asking for sales. Teach people how to do things, explain best practices, dive into theory, and take your behind the scenes, those are all ways to (softly) talk about yourself without driving them away with a non stop pitch.

Curate great content

Creating a great community means more than just talking about yourself. You need to share the wealth and curate the content of others. Sharing the content of others not only shows that you are paying attention to and educated in your field, but it is also a great way to meet and expand your community.

Engage, engage, engage 

The most important part of any community is to actively be a part of your community. Not only do you need to be out there replying to comments about you, you need to be involving yourself in the community. Show your business’ personality, get out there and talk to the members of your community. Be there to answer questions, but also connect members to one another, be useful to them, be entertaining and informational. Show that there is a person behind the logo. If you have a dedicated community manager, let that person get his/her face and name out, so people know who has the keys. Do you have many people behind the scenes? Have everyone introduce themselves.

All in all, when striving to create an awesome community, you have to remember to be a part of the community. Make it a place people want to go to and stay once they get there.

Author bio: Carrie Keenan is a Social Media Community Manager and blogger out of Appleton, WI. I work with both B2B and B2C clients, but I prefer to call them all P2P. I am actively involved in the Wisconsin Irish community as the social media chair for Oshkosh Irish Fest.  I’m a proud geek and book nerd, lover of big words, rhyme & alliteration. A member of the Social Media Club – Milwaukee, fox Cities Social, New North Social Media breakfast and contributor to SteamFeed.com  and the Social Solutions Collective. Live life at its most interesting, be your own reality show.

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