It’s understandable that clients often ask us for social media advice. We write social posts, and much of the B2B content we write gets shared online. But we’re always acutely aware that we’re only copywriters, and social media is a fast-moving field, with expertise and best practice all of its own. We can write you a great LinkedIn article, but we can’t tell you how you should use it.
So we were delighted when we were joined by social media expert Kate Stoodley from Comment Ground for episode 71 of our podcast. It gave us a great chance to ask all our most burning questions – but there was still loads more we (and our audience) wanted to know.
And so the idea for this pair of head-to-head blog posts was born.
B2B copywriters and social media specialists approach similar challenges in very different ways and contexts. There’s so much we can learn from one another. So, why not put each other on the spot with a handful of hard-hitting questions, and shine some light on what each side really wants to know about the other?
Here’s how Kate responded to the B2B copywriting inquisition. If you’d like to see how I answered Comment Ground’s questions, keep an eye on their blog: the Comment Ground Commentary. This blog’s twin will be appearing soon!
Question 1: How does the length of copy on a B2B social post affect its performance, and are there any clear trends in the data? (Also, how many hashtags is too many?)
Kate: There are many factors to consider when thinking about social post length; data and trends, the channel, the topic, the goal and of course the intended audience. While it’s absolutely worth considering best practices and guides (like this comprehensive one from Hootsuite), it’s equally if not more important for B2B companies to test, test and test again to determine what performs best for their content, audience and networks.
Across most social channels right now, there’s one clear trend emerging – that less is most definitely more. On LinkedIn, recent data found that shorter updates outperform longer ones, with 16-25 words being a general goal for B2B. Brevity also still rules on Facebook, where posts with approximately 40 characters receive 86% more engagement than their lengthier counterparts.
Interestingly, despite upping the character limit from the infamous 140 to 280, shorter tweets (100 characters and under) also still typically perform best. Hashtags can be used more liberally on this network – though we’re seeing marketers’ focus shift to quality over quantity, even on this rapid-fire platform, and especially for B2B.
Question 2: There’s a perception among copywriters that social channels are a good place to test the limits of a brand’s voice and tone. Is that fair, or is it better to be consistent with other copy?
Kate: Social is definitely a prime arena for testing brand voice and tone limits. In fact, we recommend crafting a social-specific voice to many of our clients. Simultaneously though, we also advise our B2B clients to ensure they keep the focus on what their customer wants, and how they prefer to be communicated with.
It’s tempting to view social as an opportunity to let the creative juices flow, and while that can be true, most B2B buyers aren’t looking for brands to stray too far from their core offering/messaging/style. Most B2B buyers report wanting to feel understood and in good hands – and to be able to quickly recognize a brand’s post.
Question 3: What things are B2C brands doing in social that B2B hasn’t caught onto yet? Can B2B ever be on the same level as B2C in social, given the personal nature of the channel?
Kate: To answer the second question first – Yes! B2B brands can be on the same level as B2C in most ways. However, B2B brands should not aspire to do something just because B2C can.
In terms of the personal nature of social, B2C brands are still definitely quite a way ahead of B2B. Generally, they’re doing a better job of personalizing copy and posts to resonate with consumer buying habits and different personas. However, we are starting to see exciting B2B personalized social content emerging, largely thanks to ABM’s rise in popularity.
B2C brands’ visuals tend to garner lots of attention. For B2B brands, the volume and quality of data at their fingertips presents an exciting opportunity to do the same. By grabbing a stat that their audience is really interested in and presenting it in a compelling way, B2B brands can create engaging visual social content that feels just as fresh as what B2C is doing.
Lastly, B2B is still in the early stages of effective employee and C-Suite social programs. Despite an almost over-abundance of thought leadership content and talk, there’s still a huge opportunity for B2B brands’ subject matter experts, sales teams, C-level leaders and other associates to showcase their brand’s culture and messages personally, in a way that will resonate with various target segments. After all, the people behind brands is where successful social is heading, regardless of industry.