Any B2B social media endeavor requires planning, whether it is a short term campaign or a long term approach. It is unlikely you will succeed in meeting your goals without some degree of planning. I have been thinking about planning a panel presentation lately due to the impeding deadline for South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) panel submissions (due tomorrow). I also recently moderated a panel for a local interactive marketing association and I wanted to share some lessons learned from my planning process.
Agree to Pre-Plan
In a continuing effort to maintain a high level of quality content, the organizers of SXSW include the following statement that you must agree to before submitting your proposal.
I understand a significant amount of pre-event planning is required to organize a successful panel or presentation at SXSW. If my proposal is selected, I will be able to commit sufficient time to this pre-event planning process
Imagine if businesses instituted statements like this into the workflow process. When submitting a proposal to clients or your boss, there’s a check box that you mark saying you will plan what you are doing and work hard to make it a success. It seems like that implied contract already exists, or you wouldn’t be in the job, however, simple reminders of the importance of planning would sometimes be helpful.
Know Your Audience
When preparing for a panel presentation it is important to know who you are speaking to and the same is true with social media, and any marketing for that matter. Is your B2B audience on Facebook or are they more active on LinkedIn? You wouldn’t tell a room of executives about the latest social media sites that were announced last week, but you might mention the ones that have been around longer. With so many pockets of customers online, you will achieve a different level of silence online than you would in a room with the wrong material.
When planning a presentation is it helpful to do background research on the topic to find the latest studies, statistics and opinions. This is a good idea even if you are well-versed in the topic. While the expectation is that you are speaking or moderating a panel that is in your field, sometimes you wind up speaking on tangentially related topics. Especially in these cases it is better to have too much information ready that you don’t need. Social media plans benefit from overplan. The more background understanding you have, the better off you will be. Gather information about customers, competitors, industry experts and trade publications. This will give you a deeper understanding of the marketplace and how to differentiate your company or client on the social web.
Make Your Content Shine
As a panel moderator, one of the most important things to do is make your panelists shine. The more you prepare yourself and prepare your panelists, the easier it will be for them to speak intelligently about the topic. Of course lots of people can speak without much preparation (having done this myself), a panel runs smooth and you get better information with well-briefed panelists. Think about your social media content the same way. Someone has worked hard creating or curating the content, make sure it is presented or distributed in ways that it can be found or consumed. Put it on the right sites where your customers and prospects are. Make sure your site or blog is readable, by both visitors and search engines. And give readers easy ways to share your great content to make them look good too.
Reward Your Audience
A presentation needs to have good information for the audience. That is what the audience is expecting, but if you exceed those expectations and provide that information in a clearly organized format with practical, actionable items and resources, the audience will be more engaged and feel like their time was well spent. A closing summary with final takeaways is a great way to end a session, as well as a blog post, because people remember the last thing they hear or read much better than the entire experience (see below, wink).
Social Media B2B Takeaway: Spend enough time planning your social media efforts so you know your audience, make your content stand out and reward your customers and prospects with valuable information that they remember.