What UX Design Can Teach B2B Social Media Marketers
It’s been a long day for our B2B social media manager.
Coming from a background in businesses obsessed with UX design, snarky quote tweets, and lively Facebook conversations, this new work with an enterprise-scale B2B company feels very different. Conversations are intentional and product oriented. Content strategy is based on laboriously plotted-out product updates and PR releases. People engage with the brand, but he wonders sometimes if they’re actually engaged.
Enter the boss. It’s time for the quarterly strategy review, and he tells our intrepid social media manager that he has a “pivot” for him. “It’s absolutely not a sales quota,” he assures the marketer . . . but it’s absolutely a sales quota. Numbers for leads generated, expectations for ROI per lead—the boss continues placating our marketer, as he realizes that all of his work moving their social presence toward a more engaged content strategy is about to die on the altar of social selling.
Like any good social media marketer, he doesn’t want to see that happen.
So he has to come up with a different plan. Is there a way that the marketer can begin to push more leads and keep up with some of his boss’s expectations while also continuing to build on the strategy he’s just begun to see bear fruit? He turns the question over to his team of designers, assistants, and specialists to get their thoughts, and it seems a designer has an idea.
What if they could continue producing original content and pushing their brand-oriented image, but encourage more immediate buying behavior through small changes to the design of their visual material?
User Experience in a Consumer-Driven World
Web, app, and program developers can all wax poetic on the importance of UX design. The world’s most powerful software is rendered nearly useless if people don’t want to touch it, and so developers find themselves putting just as much (if not more) time into building out accessible experiences for their users as they do building out the tools that help them.
This is a mentality that has spread to social media marketing, at least in part. Brands, particularly B2Bs, try to strike a similar middle ground for their tone and presentation, offering actionable information under a veneer of personability. When it hits, it’s a powerful way to encourage brand loyalty and interest while perhaps driving some conversions. But for many brands, it can be difficult to make that interaction feel real and accessible to the user.
User experience design for social media inherently looks different from development because brands don’t have control over the mechanics of the social platforms they use. Every Facebook page is, for the most part, designed like any other Facebook page. What brands do control, however, is what their visual content suggests to their users and what processes people have to go through when they click through to a web page.
So what can our social media marketer learn from listening to his designer?
Align Expectations, Encourage Behavior
Social media marketers should have two primary objectives when thinking about their users’ experience on their brand pages. The first is to accurately communicate and promote the brand, but the second is to accurately and accessibly convey what opportunities or experiences await the user if they click through to a different webpage.
The idea of aligning user expectation with linked content isn’t revolutionary—it’s Marketing 101, in many respects. But it’s one of the key places where B2C brands tend to have a leg up on B2Bs. Users who are scrolling through their news feeds while passing time are likely going to be more interested in considering a new gadget for their home or ideas for revamping their wardrobe than, say, brushing up on the latest blogs from a SaaS company or purchasing new tools for work. There is an inherent gap in expectation that many B2Bs have to cross when communicating on social.
Understanding good UX design is a powerful way to make your visual content meet the expectations of those select users who already want to interact with your brand, but beyond that, it’s an important tool for nudging users to realign their expectations with your brand, even if only for a moment (it doesn’t take long to click a button, after all). These three key concepts can help revitalize how you approach your social content strategy:
1. Broaden Your Net
When creating content, it’s best practice to have a target audience or segment in mind. But when actually building out that material, try to think about your design from the perspective of a veil of ignorance: consider your material from the perspective of other potential viewers who may not immediately fall into your target group. Could they still possibly understand or connect with the content? Are there small changes you could make that might make your material more accessible for more people without sacrificing value for your target group?
2. Get Colorful
Color theory is a particularly powerful tool for advertisers; color tends to cause knee-jerk reactions in people. When crafting content that has an express goal, whether it’s driving someone toward a purchase or encouraging them to engage with additional information about a topic, make sure that the color palette you select inspires viewers to have the reaction you want.
3. Push Toward More Control
Social media offers brands a lot of power to tell their stories, build an aesthetic, and communicate with their audiences. But to get into the user experience nitty-gritty of personalized messaging, hand-holding, and guidance, you really need users to end up in a place that you have full design control over. Work with your design or web development team to come up with a cohesive plan for creating consistent messaging and experiences that welcome users onto your site and then immediately engage them in an experience tailored to meet their needs.
With designers supporting him and helping to guide his renewed strategy, our social media marketer is going to find that it’s much easier to balance the worlds of selling and brand building. By meeting people where they are, then acting as an ambassador between pages and inviting them to participate in personalized experiences, a B2B brand has a great shot at keeping its audience from returning to their news feeds (at least until they get their point across).
Written by Kyle Harper