Social media has come a long way. In the beginning, social media was looked upon as nothing more than an informal, non-professional way of communication that the corporate world only saw it fit to distance itself from.
Facebook started by targeting college students. Twitter was essentially a microblog of some sort.
But things have tremendously changed over the years to a point that forward-thinking organisations are now incorporating social media into their overall online marketing mix.
This is interesting, considering it was widely believed that social media worked exclusively for B2C brands. But it’s like the audiences have now converged, and everything that’s ever worked for the B2C audience has proven to also work for the B2B audience.
Social media has revolutionised the way we communicate, and in extension, it has revolutionised marketing.
It’s now possible to build an extremely effective social media campaign to promote your business or brand to a consumer and business audience.
So, to define, B2B social media marketing is a marketing strategy that involves using social media sites as a marketing tool for boosting brand awareness, driving traffic, and generating shares for your business or brand.
- 75% of B2B buyers have to first check with social media before making any buying decision.
- 56% of B2B buyers use LinkedIn to support their buying process.
- Buyers with bigger budgets, greater influence, and high purchase frequency are more open to the idea of using social media to make purchase decisions.
Social media marketing doesn’t just work with a selected number of B2B businesses, but almost every B2B business out there.
With that said, here are 6 reasons every B2B business should consider incorporating social media into their overall online marketing strategy:
#1 Almost All B2B Customers Use Social Media:
Your company might not be selling directly to consumers, but that doesn’t necessarily transfer marketing to your retailers and wholesalers. If anything, the said retailers and wholesalers would care less about which brand consumers choose.
Therefore, it’s up to you to recognise that you’re solely responsible for your own marketing effort. You must pay for TV ads, print media, and, most importantly, make sure your social media presence is solid.
#2 Customers Still Need Support:
It doesn’t matter if you’re not selling to customers directly. At the end of the day, the end consumer will still come to you should they encounter a problem with your product. They’ll be on Twitter complaining about your brand, and you can bet none of the retailers or wholesalers will be there to defend you. All this can be averted by making sure you’re where your customers are – and social media is one of the places you certainly wouldn’t want your customers to miss you.
#3 Potential Business Partners Also Use Social Media:
Since almost everyone is on social media nowadays, the odds are pretty good that your business partners are too. According to Facebook, 74% of business executives are on Facebook, where they’re two times more active than an average user.
See, your business partners are not just on social media; they’re among the most active users.
#4 Social Media Will Drive Traffic to Your Website:
There are so many ways social media can help your brand.
- First, it’s good for your brand image and a good way to position yourself as a thought leader. All you have to do is work on your social media profile and dedicate the rest of your life to educating your customers.
- Next, social media is an excellent tool for raising brand awareness, which can, in turn, help you attract more customers to your website where they’re to learn more about your brand or products.
- Lastly, social media is an excellent tool for positioning your brand within your market.
#5 Boost Your B2B Sales:
Social media will ultimately help you boost your sales. Although B2B sales don’t mostly occur on social media, social media marketing can help you identify potential customers, position your brand or products to appeal to these customers, develop relationships with the customers, and most important nurture leads.
To help you understand “how,” let’s try to unpack these.
- Identifying Prospects: And not just identifying prospects, social media marketing can make your prospects raise their hands and identify themselves as potential customers.
How – you ask?
Instead of pouring thousands of entries into your company database, a better approach would be to reach out to social media users who’ve at least shown interest in your products or company. This strategy works especially with LinkedIn, where conversations tend to be more business-oriented and there are groups that focus on more specific topics.
- Positioning Your Products to Appeal to Your Prospects: Product positioning isn’t about emphasising particular elements or benefits, but segmenting your customers based on shared priorities and changing your marketing message to conform to those priorities.
Social media allows you to selectively target a particular group of users, something that the traditional media cannot do for you. That means you can develop a positioning that best resonates with a specific audience.
- Developing Relationships: Ultimately, customers prefer buying from other people, not companies. It’s therefore important that you use social media to ensure trust between your buyers and sellers. You can use social media to clear misunderstandings, offers support, and link your customers with sellers.
- Lead Nurturing: You can use social media to nurture leads and cultivate interests in your products or services.
Ever wondered why CRM software such as Mail Chimp and Salesforce integrate social media into their platform?
It’s because social media is a powerful lead nurturing tool. It’s only through social media that we get to learn and understand our customers.
You can view your customers’ profiles to find out about their interests, age, gender, location, and so on.
#6 Connect with Your Employees
One of the most overlooked marketing aspects is the power of leveraging the people you know, starting with the employees you have.
In your employees you have the best brand ambassadors you’ll ever come across anywhere. After work, when they’re hanging out with friends, at home during dinner, while attending networking events, employees always speak about their jobs and the company they work for. Having an active social media presence will allow them to share some of your posts with their friends and family. They’ll talk about your business in relevant groups and on their timelines, and with every chance they get.
They’re the ambassadors you’ve all along been blind to.
#7 Reduce Recruitment
Many people will try to search your company online before applying for your job. It’s for the same reason that companies HRs’ look online for the candidates to interview.
If you’re constantly recruiting new people, you can use social media to engage potential customers and respond to their questions before they submit their applications.
Having an active social media presence allows you to connect with future talents and engage them in meaningful conversations, which may significantly help you cut your recruitment cost.
B2C companies were the first to adopt social media marketing, and it’s only until recently that B2B companies also started to see the potential in it.
The main reason for the hesitance is that B2B companies couldn’t figure out how to effectively measure the effectiveness of this marketing strategy.
Let’s now narrow down to 1 significant differences between social media marketing for B2C and B2B:
Content has moved from written words to now include other content-delivery mediums, especially audio, video, and interactive content like animations, infographics, and more.
Do you know what else is considered content?
Welp, the messaging within social media posts!
The same content marketing rules still apply here – you’re not supposed to be overly promotional. Instead, you’re to focus on offering value to your readers.
It’s common sense. Customers don’t care about your company. They’re only interested in what’s in for them. By providing value, customers eventually get to see you as a thought-leader. Someone they can trust for advice, recommendations, or help in case they have a problem.
What social media does is that it places your company on top of their mind whenever they’re making a buying decision.
Content for B2C Social Media Marketing
B2C companies are advised to focus on visual content, especially videos. While at it, you want to make your content is highly shareable and engaging.
Also, be sure to include a share button on your blog post just in case readers want to share it on social media.
Don’t assume anything. The B2C content you come up with must be well-thought-out, written with a casual tone, and with your target audience in mind – it’s even better if you’re able to incorporate humour and risqué banter.
Content for B2B Social Media Marketing
While B2C marketers are advised to be more casual with their content, B2B marketers are better off taking a more professional stance.
They, however, get to benefit from having a vast arsenal of content to choose from.
Here are a few examples of content that might work well with B2B marketers:
White Papers/eBooks: White papers and eBooks might be extremely labour-intensive, but they’re one of the most beneficial types of content for B2B marketers. First, they’re an excellent lead generation tool. And given the depth of information they carry; readers are always willing to give out their contact details to access them. It’s, therefore, safe to say they’re worth every man-hour you spend writing them.
Case Studies: Case Studies are also one of the most effective lead generation tools around. That’s because they’re meant to quell any doubt consumers have about your product or services by acting as direct proof that you’re indeed the most effective choice for them. It’s even better when the case study focuses on a customer that everybody knows, like a popular company near you.
Webinars: Webinars are a prime example of how versatile content marketing has grown to be over the years. Webinars not only serve the immediate goal of getting your customers to sign up, but they also create room for continued nurturing until the customer is warm enough to make a purchase. They also produce amazing amounts of content that you can easily repurpose.
One-pagers: It’s a thin line between sales and marketing. For example, look at the materials we usually sent to prospective customers to help them develop a better idea of your products and services. That’s marketing and part sales.
One-pagers sum up your company features and benefits. For the best results, your one-pager must be visually pleasing. Also, be sure to summarise the statements you make in bullet points instead of writing long paragraphs.
Infographics: For some reason, people just assume infographics is a B2C tactic when it’s clear it can swing both ways. And looking at its nature, it’s even more beneficial to B2B businesses.
First, B2Bs tend to be more analytical and data-driven. That means they have a wealth of internal data that they can use to create awesome infographics. Moreover, there’s nothing that bloggers love linking to more than a squarely-done infographic.
Social media has changed a lot since it started. In the early days, we all knew of Facebook and Twitter. But now we have a proliferation of social media channels. We even have niche social sites, specialising in only one line of communication or media. An excellent example of this is Instagram and Pinterest for visuals, Soundcloud for audio, and Vines and YouTube for video.
With all these options available, it’s important to determine which of these channels are better suited for B2C and which ones are more effective for B2B.
B2C Social Media Channels
Facebook: Facebook is the mother of all social media channels, which makes it a staple for any B2C social media strategy. It’s a powerful marketing tool for customer support, promotion, and community engagement.
Twitter: Twitter is a unique kind of social network, the only open social network around. It’s a microblog. The brief microblogs you make inform of tweets stay in the open for anyone to see.
With Twitter, the secret lies in making sure your tweets are getting much-needed visibility. You also have to research your hashtags, engage influential people in your field, and most importantly, develop creative campaigns. While at it, you want to make sure you engage your community regularly.
Instagram: The first social media channel that comes to mind when you think of visual content is Instagram. That’s because Instagram specialises in pictures, and it’s the only social media network of its kind. Using Instagram is pretty simple, with the only requirement being you should have a keen eye for details and a taste for finer things in life. You can take pictures of random things in your office, including your staff, and post them on Instagram. Selfies aren’t bad either.
YouTube: Content consumers love videos. That explains their recent blow in popularity. As a B2C marketer, all you have to do is focus on entertaining your followers by creating fun videos they can all relate to. If your budget allows, you can start investing in high-quality videos, but what’s more important is the creativity behind the videos you produce.
B2B Social Media Channels
B2B marketers have five social sites that they need to focus on: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Of the five social sites, LinkedIn is the most important. Learn to leverage LinkedIn discussion groups, not only for engagement but also for content distribution.
And while you’re distributing your content through the groups, you want to avoid coming off as overly promotional.
This section of the article focuses on the key differences between B2C and B2B social media marketers. But one difference sticks out.
With B2B, the ultimate goal of social media marketing is lead generation, whereas B2C has a long list of goals.
Social Media Marketing Goals for B2C Businesses
B2C social media marketing focuses on community awareness and engagement. The keystone to every B2C social media strategy is virality.
Achieving virality is a key product of increasing social media awareness.
Social Media Marketing Goals for B2B Businesses
The ultimate goal of any B2B social media marketing strategy is lead generation. However, that’s not how they measure the effectiveness of their social media content.
They instead look at web traffic.
This statistic makes little to no sense at all, save for echoing the widely held belief that there isn’t an effective way to accurately measure the effectiveness of your B2B social media marketing campaign.
A simple trick would be to take advantage of the social media platforms that have been specifically designed for B2B marketers, like Oktopost.
Take a look around at some of the B2B companies you know, and you’ll agree their content lacks purpose. They’re aimlessly posted, often coming off as too sales-y and it’s because they do not understand the true nature of their businesses and how to effectively target their audience.
So, how do you avoid making the same mistakes many of these marketers are making?
Simple: learn from the best by following our 17 social media marketing tips for B2B businesses:
1. Introduce Your Personality to Paid Social
Organic reach doesn’t come easy for B2B brands. It’s, in fact, far much easier to run an effective paid social media campaign than an organic one.
Try scrolling down the Facebook page of any Fortune 500 company and you’ll understand what we mean.
But no need to sweat it. All you have to do is step up your paid social media guide.
In which case, your Instagram profile can still double as your landing page. When users click on your ad, they’ll be directed to your Instagram profile where they’re met with your warm personality – something similar to Airtables. You’re not just trying to sell to them, but introducing them to a whole different side of you that they can easily connect with.
2. Use Cohesive Colours to Create a Recognisable Brand Image
You can Learn from Intuit’s QuickBooks. They have leveraged colour to create a recognisable brand image.
Their thematic approach seems to focus only on two things: colour and customers.
Every single post they publish features their signature green colour. Quite frequently, they’ll also try to feature some of the customers they serve.
Their Instagram profile echoes their customer-centric messaging. They’re not trying to sell you a product, but giving you a glimpse of how other customers feel about their product.
You can tell there’s virtually no disconnect between their content strategy and mission statement.
3. Showcase Your Customers
Your customer is the hero of your brand story. You just have to figure out how to make it show in your content.
A simple trick would be to start sharing some of your customers’ content. Not only is this an excellent strategy for outsourcing a good chunk of your content. It introduces your prospective customers to other customers.
The companies you’re selling to might be in a different line of business, but the problems they encounter are pretty similar.
If your solution worked for them; your prospective customers will have every reason to believe it will also work for them.
4. Celebrate Your Customers Wins
Your customers are the real hero here.
You’re to celebrate them with every chance you get. You should direct the lens away from you and focus on them instead, especially after they’ve managed to accomplish something noteworthy – with your help, of course.
That’s how you make your customers see that you’re invested in their success. Your current customers will remain loyal to you, while prospective ones will have no reason to look elsewhere.
5. Tell Your Customers’ Success Stories
It’s your business, but the person at the centre of everything you do isn’t you – but your customers.
It’s only a little about you, sometimes.
Your customers’ success is your success. You should try to embrace their story and run with it as if it’s your own.
Tell stories about how you helped them get to where they are.
There’s a lot to learn from IBM and the stories they tell about their clients.
6. Share Your Customers’ Testimonials and Reviews
Customers trust the reviews that other customers post. That explains why before you buy anything on Amazon, you’ll be naturally compelled to head to the review section to find out what other customers have to say about the product in question.
It’s the same case with B2B. Nothing has changed. Testimonials still stand as a powerful marketing tool.
Just find a way to direct the spotlight to your customers and focus on establishing trust between them and your brand.
You can highlight your customers’ tweets and post them on your Instagram account whenever they say something positive about your brand or products.
7. Shows Your Products in Action
Marketers try to get carried away with optimising their content to be more interesting for social media while forgetting the most important part of the whole equation, relevance.
Customers aren’t with you to be entertained. They’re following you and all that because you have a solution to their problem or a product that they might be interested in.
The least you could do is convince them that you have a solution to their problem by showcasing your product in action, solving a problem they’re also experiencing.
8. Feature the New Feature
Another approach would be to post a video or an infographic demonstrating how your product works.
You can learn from Trello. Every time they roll out a new feature, they release a video guide of it on LinkedIn. Users can then watch this video to understand the new feature and find out how it works.
9. Showcase What Can be Achieved with Your Product
Sticker Mule is the brand to learn from.
Their Instagram profile is filled with photos of clients using their products. The company deals in stickers.
But that’s not everything they post. In some of their posts, they’ve also tried to highlight some of the services they offer to small businesses.
10. Create a solid Pillar of Content
Imagine having big goals and a small team.
You have a content marketing machine to feed. But do you have enough time, let alone the requisite resources to churn out enough content?
And when you produce a shiny piece of content, why should you publish it once and forget about it? Not when you can turn it into several pieces of micro-content?
Well, here’s how to get it done:
- Step 1: You can start by creating that valuable piece of content – an informative blog post, a YouTube video, or a detailed infographic, whatever gets your jollies on.
- Step 2: Next, break down that valuable piece of content into multiple, bite-sized content pieces. For instance, if you have one long video, you can break it into smaller pieces of 30 to 45 seconds to post across multiple social media channels.
- Step 3: You’re now free to post the micro-content you created one by one on social media, as you direct users to the pillar content to view the full video.
What’s important is to make sure there’s something interested about the snippets to capture users and get them interested enough to want to watch the full video.
The snippets don’t necessarily have to spring from the pillar content. But it’s important if they do because they’ll make your content feel more cohesive.
11. Handle Your Video Content Pillar as if It’s a TV Show
Don’t just randomly produce your videos. Think in terms of a video series or a TV show. You can produce the show and syndicate its episodes across various social media channels.
After that, you’re to make short clips of individual episodes and share them on social media to generate some buzz around the videos.
12. Use Organic Social Media Strategy on Your Current Customers
Your business with a customer doesn’t end when you sell them a product or service.
As a matter of fact, research shows it’s a lot easier to make a sale out of your current client than a new one. As long as they’re satisfied with the initial purchase, the odds are pretty good that they’ll be willing to make a new purchase or recommend your business to their friends and families.
So, instead of obsessing over an abstract persona, focus your lens on existing customers and ask yourself, “what might they be interested in?”
Here are the three areas you need to focus on:
- The best tactic to reach them
- The content that strikes a chord with them
- The content that might help them succeed
13. Reach Your Current Customers with Paid Retargeting
Organic reach has no assurance. Your content might never reach the intended audience.
But that’s not the same with paid advertising.
All the major social channels, especially Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat allow you to run paid ads against custom audiences or a contact list you upload to their platform to cross-check with the data they already have.
You can connect your CRM to Facebook, add their tracking pixels, or manually upload your email lists.
Audience 1: You’re to retarget your website visitors who know your business but have yet to take action.
Audience 2: Try retargeting your marketing leads that have yet to go through with the intended action.
Audience 3: Lastly, try retargeting existing customers by suggesting new offers and engaging them with new content.
14. Go Beyond Trying to Sell to Your Customers
When promoting your products or services on social media, your focus shouldn’t be on trying to sell but on offering value and support.
You want to build a community that connects your customers. Let them share their experiences, and talk about their successes. They can also share ideas.
You’re simply offering them a platform where they can air their concerns, share business insights, and seek out advice.
You can use LinkedIn, Discord, or even start your own community or forum on your site. Remember to ask yourself, “Which channel works best for your customers” needs?
15. Share Fun Facts or Your Company’s Stories
One way to humanise your brand is to share some of your company stories. Share stories on how you started, some of the hurdles you’ve encountered along the way, not forgetting the failures and the lessons learned.
Post throwback pictures of your #humblebeginnings or behind the scene videos.
Capitalise on throwback Thursdays or company anniversaries to talk about your company’s journey.
16. Stand Up for a Course that Reflects Your Values and Beliefs
According to recent research by Accentuate, 63% of customers prefer purchasing from companies that stand up for a particular course, especially those that are dear to them.
Whether it’s for a greener environment, animal rights, or against racism, your company must stand up for something dear to your prospective customers
17. Use TikTok to Test Your Content and Seek Inspiration
TikTok is an excellent awareness channel if you get to understand a few things – be sure to check out our TikTok Guide to learn and understand it.
You can also use TikTok to seek inspiration. When you’re low on creativity, just visit the platform to get your creative juice flowing.
Other than that, it’s also going to help you keep your fingers on the pulse of what’s trending.