Posted By Jon Lenz, Monday, June 01, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, June 03, 2015

This summer, IABC is taking a deep dive on all things social media. Each month, we’re bringing experts to the table (or to the phone via webinar) to share valuable insights with practical applications. I had a brief Q&A with our June luncheon speaker Sue Otten, COO at VITALWork Life, to learn more about her background, and get a teaser on our “B2B Social Media” luncheon on June 10 at 11:30 a.m.

“You’ve been an executive throughout the entire evolution of Social Media. What’s that been like?”

Initially, ‘social media’ struck fear into the hearts of communicators and business executives—mostly around not knowing how to interact through social mediums, or trying to ‘control’ the flow of information. I’m certainly glad we’re past these discussions now.

“What is the executive’s understanding of technology and social media?”

I think executives, and all business people, acknowledge how technology has expanded the channels of communication exponentially. Social media engages customers and employees in new ways every day, and with this engagement comes new requirements for strategies to reach, enrich, and retain key stakeholders.

“Why is there hesitation when you say ‘acknowledge’?

Accepting social media as a viable business communications tool is far from uniform. B2B was slow to adopt, and now we’re seeing that adoption rate accelerating.

“So, is social media a viable business communications tool?”

It depends on a myriad of circumstances—customers, budgets, expertise, style, approach…but most of all, it depends on your objectives. And the objectives of those stakeholders you are trying to influence. If social media can help you achieve those objectives, it is a viable tool. It doesn’t matter if you are part of a B2B, B2C or B2B2C organization.

And I think this is the core reason the adoption of social media in business has been far from uniform. Creating objectives and understanding where the conversations are happening with—digital or otherwise—takes time and effort. It requires strategy.

Once you have the strategy defined to support your objectives, it’s time to tackle the tactics. And while there are certainly more tools available than problems to solve, it’s still always important to focus on the basics.

“Walk us through the basics, please…”

Content is still king, and context is still queen. My approach is consistency, consistency, consistency. Because social channels are so diverse, consistency—even repetition—is good across channels. Solid content development is much more achievable with cross-channel consistency in mind.


“You mentioned ‘content development’. You can’t just drop that buzzword without further explanation.”

Sure. Well I think content development and consistency go hand-in-hand. I outlined this approach in my article, “The Hub and Spoke Model: Corporate Messaging and Media Outreach” in PR News’ Media Training Guidebook. In the article, I share how I used a WordPress blog to capture original content from more than 50 authors (employees, channel partners, associations, even customers) to post articles each business day. The authors were eager to share their message, as we had built a following of more than one million views per month across our social outposts.

“How were you able to grow such a strong following?”

Our approach was supportive and educational, rather than ‘salesy’ or arrogant. This helped us gain a strong following from content multipliers (also termed ‘partner amplification’); those who are looking for reliable content to share with their stakeholders, like media outlets, educational institutions, trade associations and distributors. And our content authors were thrilled to have a platform to get their message heard, along with analytics and metrics.

I’ll provide the full rundown at the luncheon, and share a few more of my ‘lessons learned’ from other companies since this scenario. Believe me, it was not smooth sailing all the way…

Learn more at IABC Minnesota’s monthly meeting June 10 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.