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By Emily McDougald, Write2Market Account Executive

Managing a strong social presence can be a daunting task. It is time consuming, constantly active and easy to mess up. When you add B2B marketing into the mix, things seem to get even more complicated. Suddenly you’re not just appealing to the general public, you have to show the C-suite of another company that you can affect their bottom line. I have discovered some common mistakes while working with B2B Twitter strategy. Luckily, most of them are pretty easy to avoid.

Provide CONTENT, Not Sales Pitches.

When starting out in social media, it is easy to resort to constant sales pitches pared down to 140 characters or less, and call it a day. These posts are pretty boring and sound the same, each coming across as a shining example of “tooting one’s own horn”.  Below are two real tweets, recently posted by b2b companies. As you can see, they are shamelessly self-promotional. Twitter handles have been blocked to protect the guilty.

Sure, “salesy” posts can be effective, if you catch someone at the exact moment that you will fill a specific need. This tactic is not helpful however, in building audiences that may need you in the future, or engaging current clients for that matter. No one expects you to completely avoid self-promotion, but your social feeds should contain more than a long list of promotional posts. If you’re not providing helpful content that your audience wants to read, your time and efforts are wasted.

You want your followers to look forward to your posts. Ideally, you should be a source of information to your current and future customers. The easiest and most effective way to provide content is through links to blog posts or articles. By beginning with a great blog or article, you can take interesting excerpts to use as teasers on social media platforms. A great example comes from IUS Technologies, who used published articles to catch the attention of attendees of the 2013 DistribuTECH convention.  If the content is interesting enough, you may even get the best gift you can receive on social media- the share .

Be Human

This is probably the most commonly stated social media tip, but in my opinion, it is worth repeating until people start listening. The point of social media is to be… wait for it… SOCIAL. These platforms allow companies to drop the veil a little and have conversations with their audience. Through the social sphere, people symbolically let you into their homes. You have been granted direct access to them at all times – don’t waste that privilege with robot-esque posts. You are much more likely to elicit a response from your followers if you show your human side.

One excellent representation of this is redpepper, an advertising agency based in Nashville and Atlanta. Their social profiles are made up of funny and engaging posts that don’t feel like sales pitches. In fact, some of their posts have nothing to do with advertising at all. One recent post entitled Pitch Team Tryouts, is a short, funny, video about the pitching process. Showing their creative and humorous side works well for redpepper because that is a message they want to convey to their audience. They post and respond to comments in a very human way, while staying on brand. Their social strategy has led to more than 5,400 Facebook likes and nearly 3,000 Twitter followers.

Use Hashtags, but Don’t Be #ThatGuy

We all know that guy, the one that shamelessly abuses the hashtag and drives everyone else crazy. Hashtags are a gift from the social gods. They open doors and help us to find new audiences that may be interested in what we have to say.  Overuse or outright misuse of hashtags can actually hinder your message. Ideally, you should never use more than three in a single post.

Hashtags are searchable terms. You should think of them as social SEO. They are not an excuse to write five words without spaces when you’re running out of characters. A good rule of thumb is to do some research into the hashtags being used by your industry. You can look at your competitors or industry trade publications to find hashtags that work with your message. Remember, you only get three hashtags per post, so always search to make sure each one is active before putting it to use.