Social Media B2B: Understanding “Broadcast” vs. “Engagement”

Posted by Rich McElaney

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I spend a lot of time on social media. It's part of my business; social media is definitely one important aspect of this process we call inbound marketing.

Sometimes -- and on certain platforms -- I haven't spent as much time as I'd like engaging with my network. But I hear a lot of my colleagues say the exact opposite; many business owners, marketing directors and CMOs perceive social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter as a “time-suck.” This can certainly be the case if you don't resist the temptation to follow every interesting thread, the proverbial shiny objects of the internet, to the exclusion of actual, revenue-producing activities. That's the danger.

Nor do you want to have a strictly regimented social media routine, where you can quickly slip into “broadcast” mode, sharing relevant content but never actually engaging with your followers.

We discussed and defined content curation in a recent post. Sharing relevant content is certainly one way to build your network -- and build the trust of your network. But sharing links, even if they are links to other people's sites, is still “broadcast mode” and should be used carefully. 

Imagine having a conversation with someone (and we all know people like this) where you ask, “How are you?” and they launch into an in-depth explanation of every moment of their life since you last saw them. They don't take a breath. If you try to interject with a story of your own, you can see them simply waiting until you stop talking so they can continue.

That's a human being in broadcast mode. And it's only slightly less obnoxious on Twitter or Facebook.

Then you have the opposite end of the spectrum. Business owners and marketing professionals who are so afraid of being perceived as “broadcasting,” that all they do is engage -- but it's on a superficial level. It's almost as if they're not sure what to say, so they begin with small talk and never take it further. Exchanges may get personal: about TV shows, local weather, interesting news, even what they had for lunch. And they appear to be genuinely interested in what the people in their network had for lunch, too. But it's as if they're afraid to talk business, share relevant content, and position themselves as experts in their industry. They're using social media as a “social” platform, and wondering why it's not generating any leads or driving traffic to their website.

The Right Social Media B2B Blend

If you've been experimenting with social media marketing and either of these “social media personality types” sound like you, relax. There's a very easy fix: Pay closer attention to your engagement vs. broadcast mix. Share links. But also comment on what other people are doing. Ask questions. Go beyond small talk and hold “mini” conversations. (If they get too deep or personal or long-winded, you can always move the conversation to private messages, email, or even the telephone!) In short, make friends.

You might be wondering right now: What's the right mix of content curation, personal engagement, and deeper engagement? How many of your tweets or posts should be promotional in nature, sending people to your website? Only time and testing -- and knowing your audience -- will tell. There's no magic formula. But when you hit the right mix, you'll see the results -- and you'll begin to view time spent on social media as a wise investment.

Tags: social media B2B, social media marketing companies, benefits of social media, social media marketing