News Article ————

One channel. Two partners. Ten Thousand Specialists: How River and RS built a B2B community of niche experts.

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Published Date 14.06.2024

In a social media world dominated by noise, it can be difficult to make your expertise heard, let alone appreciated.

The River Group was founded as an integrated marketing agency with transformation and continuous innovation in its DNA. Both have been central to our partnership with RS Group in bringing its authentic expertise to life for some of the most hard-to-reach B2B audiences on social media.

We were incredibly pleased to learn that RS Group’s UK and Ireland social presence had been shortlisted in not one, but two categories at the UK Content Awards.

This is a campaign that took more than just stand-out creative. It required clever collaboration based on our understanding of some very niche industries, audiences, challenges and trends.

The result has been a fast-growing, highly engaged social audience of managers and senior leaders across the UK and Ireland, and a clear strategic asset for RS.

Why River and RS were shortlisted for B2B and Social Media Content Campaign of the Year

The engineering community is not known for its enthusiasm on social platforms. When surveyed, more than half said they consider it too much noise and insufficient substance.

But as a global, multichannel distributor of products and services to engineering, industrial and manufacturing companies, RS Group’s most important audiences consist of senior engineers and managers in both health & safety and procurement.

When the company charged The River Group with launching and growing its UK and Ireland social presence (RS UK & IE), RS Group told us two things: It needed to be capable of meeting the local challenges and needs of these notoriously reticent audiences, and it needed to reach them at a senior level.

So, how do you build a social presence amongst three separate, senior professional communities, none of which are easy to reach over social media?

Our answer was a dedicated LinkedIn hub founded on a content strategy designed to drive engagement with all three audiences without alienating anyone, combining big-ticket campaigns with an agile approach to our audience’s interests and needs.

Combining fresh data, key trends and smart people

Health & safety leaders are extremely time-poor, yet highly conscientious about staying up to date with the latest developments in their field. We built a strong relationship with them by offering in-depth research into health & safety attitudes, concerns and challenges across more than 50 different industries.

The 2023 Protect What Matters campaign combined qualitative and quantitative data to create the first report of its kind, backed by a media partnership with Health & Safety Matters to deliver unique insights into the short-, medium- and long-term trends within health and safety across the UK and Ireland.

We were able to tell engaging stories through the data via infographics, video content, qualitative insights and commentary, which positioned RS as a strategic partner in an industry that had previously only considered them as a PPE supplier.

Its success resulted in the report being adopted by RS as an annual publication, and the 2024 report, Striving for Excellence, was boosted further by an influencer campaign. This involved bringing in some of the most vocal and popular voices in the health and safety community to contribute to the report, discuss its findings on their own and RS’s channels, and promote its download to their network.

Partner to decision makers

Another key solution was also the creation of a dedicated health and safety LinkedIn Group in September 2023, which now has more than 600 engaged senior health and safety professionals.

This group is moderated by River and RS together, led by RS’ VP of Environment, Health and Safety, with regular monthly meetings to collaborate on content to engage members and position RS as a strategic partner to H&S professionals, who were given first priority to download the 2024 health and safety report.

Video for the problem solvers

Senior maintenance and engineering audiences were catered to with a video series that features one of RS’s internal experts, Rob Webster. In his role as a chemical analyst, his job is to answer difficult questions from manufacturing and industrial clients regarding the causes of failures in their machinery.

Using genuine cases that he had solved for customers as source material, we created CSI Rob, a video series that features Rob in his role as a problem-solving forensic scientist who uses his expertise to unravel mysteries for RS clients.

This enabled us to communicate RS’s value as an expert engineering and maintenance partner through short-but-riveting tales that included industrial sabotage and shattered chicken nugget machinery.

An agile approach to engagement

Maintaining engagement with senior engineers and managers was a consistent challenge, as they are some of the least likely demographics to be willing to overtly interact with social posts. It couldn’t be achieved through strategic and thought leadership content alone.

This was addressed with regular content designed to appeal to our audience’s problem-solving nature, such as teasing users to spot engineering, procurement or safety-related red herrings via ‘two truths and a lie’ challenges.

And we capitalised on relevant social media trends via reactive content to ensure regular engagement with key messages that didn’t rely on big-ticket campaigns.

In February this year, we launched our Valentine’s flowchart to help engineers decide whether to buy their partner a gift – one of the best-performing bits of content of the year so far.

A fast-growing, highly engaged senior audience

This three-pronged approach has generated outstanding growth of the RS UK & IE platform, going from 3,000 to 10,000 followers in the 12 months to March 2024 (a key KPI), of which 71% were managers or senior leaders.

The content has achieved an outstanding level of organic engagement at 11% (57% above KPI) and paid engagement at 4.3% (115% above KPI). The LinkedIn hub also drove 1,577 report downloads, accounting for 57% of all downloads for RS and by far the biggest driver, with the channel delivering a 26% conversion rate to MQL.

Not only does the hub attract the senior engineers and managers that RS needs as followers, but it keeps them consistently involved in responding to content, addressing niche challenges in the language and humour that is relatable only to a very specific audience.

At the same time, it has been able to highlight the incredible expertise within RS in an accessible way that nevertheless refuses to treat the audience as anything other than the experts they are.

Alexandra Khan, Social Media Lead at RS UK & Ireland, said: “We’re thrilled to be nominated for this prestigious award. RS’ partnership with River has been a game-changer in the creation of engaging, high-performance content and this has been evident in the results it has driven.”

To learn how we deliver integrated marketing with proven ROI for our clients, follow The River Group anywhere:

Website | LinkedIn | Instagram | TikTok

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