I’m doing a social media strategy presentation at the Transportation Marketing and Sales Association in San Diego today. Today’s talk is a major revamp of  my social media strategy presentation, incorporating learnings from all the social media work we’ve done the past year. With much more social media content to share, I’ve prepared 12 social media topics for the audience to choose from in customizing the presentation to the issues most relevant for them. They get value from picking what’s covered, and it keeps me on my toes since no two presentations are the same!

We’ll also be highlighting social media strategy best practices from among attendees to make the talk more industry-specific and recognize smart work in the transportation and logistics industry. While looking for best practices, I found a number of social media mistakes as well. Instead of calling them out in the presentation, however, today’s post highlights seven of the (unattributed) mistakes any business-to-business (or even business-to-consumer) company shouldn’t be making:

1. Making your product/service the hero in every blog post.

In transportation industry blogs, the companies doing the blogging have their services providing heroic solutions in WAY too many posts. Using the problem-solution-result format to occasionally highlight your brand’s products and services is okay. If every blog post involves your brand coming to the rescue, however, it’s repetitive and will disaffect readers. The alternative is delivering content on what customers are:

  • Seeking information about
  • Focused on in their professional (and personal) lives
  • Challenged to accomplish in their businesses

With this approach, incorporating the Think-Know-Do perspective we’ve recommended will help you to create much greater content value for readers.

2. Only following and fanning business-to-business customers.

For business-to-business brands (and business-to-consumer ones too), deciding who to follow and fan can be challenging. While there are a variety of strategies which may be right, at least one strategy is clearly wrong: only following your customers. When you only follow customers in a business-to-business market, your customer list becomes visible to anyone checking your profile.

3. Creating an industry platform with lots of fanfare and very little planning.

One company introduced an issue-oriented portal to tackle a big, meaty industry issue. The introduction included lots of fanfare and promises of frequent updates, community, and vibrant conversations. On launch day, the company debuted several “executive” blog posts to frame its thought leadership position and then . . . wait for it . . . nothing. What does it make your brand look like when months pass and nothing’s happening on the site? If makes it look as if your brand doesn’t keep promises. When executives become hell-bent to launch this type of site, invest some of the development money into creating a legitimately implementable content plan to keep it updated and build a robust dialogue. Not sure how? Call us!

4. Featuring sharing buttons but nothing worth sharing.

Definitely make social media content spreadable by installing plug-ins to allow readers to share your content within their own social networks. Putting sharing buttons on a web page is only one part of the sharing equation. The content has to be valuable and worth taking time to let others know about it. Going through several TMSA attendees’ social media sites, sharing shows up on many pages no one would ever share no matter how easy it is to do.

5. You create all the Twitter and Facebook content you share.

Social networking is about conversation and sharing relevant content from multiple pertinent sources. The Twitter and Facebook presences for many TMSA attendees do nothing but push their own content, making it seem like just a bunch of mini press releases. You can check how you’re doing on this by looking at your last 20 tweets or Facebook status updates. In how many are you “talking” vs. answering questions, engaging in conversations with other users or sharing content from others? Target less than 20% of the content being your material and 80% from some form of interaction.

6. Ignoring social media when your company is being challenged.

When a brand is under attack, it’s discouraging, but pulling back and not communicating in every social channel where your brand is getting bad talked isn’t the way to go. With the ability for anyone to essentially broadcast very creative content about your brand, you can’t afford silence. There’s no reason you shouldn’t be the most compelling communicator of your story. If you’re getting pounded in blog posts, comment and move the conversation to positive topics. If a YouTube video search shows nothing but mocking videos and doomsayers about your brand, get busy and share lots of brief, rich stories about what your company and its employees are doing to provide value.

7. Having multiple accounts and one avatar.

It can be smart to have multiple identities for your brand set up in relevant channels with content targeted to interest areas your customers have. Every presence shouldn’t have exactly the same corporate logo though. Not providing visual differentiation undermines the value of the diverse, focused content you’re sharing. When designing multiple avatars, make sure they carry a comparable feel so people know they’re all from your brand, but reflect the distinct content and perspective each is presenting.


If you’re a TMSA attendee, were any of these written about your social media presence? If you didn’t attend TMSA, do any of the problems sound familiar anyway? Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you define a strategy firmly tied to business yet recognizing the impact of social networking on your market opportunities.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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17 Responses to “7 Social Media Mistakes You Shouldn’t Be Making in Business-to-Business”

  1. BGLCPartners says:

    Excellent points- Thanks for condensing this good advice into one post.  Hope your presentation is a success!

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you so much! The presentation did seem to go well and we covered 4 of the 12 topics – Measuring ROI, Getting Notices, Time & Talent, and Content Marketing.

  2. Jacob Yount says:

    Would think these reminders are great across the board for many industries; hit home with me.  Not being the hero and not creating all the content are two that stuck out.  In my business, most folks’ content are glorified press releases (“reason #565 why you should buy from us”) or their tweets are just straight advertisements.  But I think the masses and others in the industry want to know what’s going on behind the scenes, what differentiates you from the competitors, are you faceless logos, or real people?  

    Good post Mike, thanks for sharing.    

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d agree Jacob that these mistakes do show up across businesses, although some (like only following competitors) are a bigger deal in B2B markets. Sharing press releases in social media springs from a real lack of understanding about what’s expected of content in social channels, plus a pressure to produce content. In the presentation to TMSA, I talked about how social content has to meet stricter criteria than typical marketing communications. Social content needs to be valuable, fair, balanced, and transparent. The typical press release doesn’t have to display any of these characteristics!

  3. Disagree with #7 – Many people and companies have similar names. Therefore, if the person / company uses the same avatar across multiple platforms, it confirms that the personas on the different platforms have the same person / company behind the avatar / profile. For me, BRANDING is all about the SAME, not different.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great brands are consistent, which may or may not mean being the SAME. If a company has 10 Twitter accounts and the avatar is identical for each, it either needs to look at whether it’s really important to have all the accounts or determine if there’s some type of subtle indicator to be added to the avatars.

      • Thanks for you reply.  I would agree that if a company has multiple Twitter accounts, different (but similar) avatars should be used.  However, my point was in regard to different social networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, etc.).  The avatar and username/profilename on each network should be the same.


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