Welcome to one of the most difficult marketing strategies to date: B2B social media.
If you’re a B2B company, you’re probably familiar with the challenge of wrangling your audience through social media. You may have thought to yourself, “Is social media even worth it for us? How can we possibly reach big-ticket clients through social media?”
We’re here to tell you with a resounding, “YES!” that social media means business for B2B.
But maybe not in the more obvious ways social media works for a B2C.
Let’s Get Real…
You’re probably thinking about your B2B social media strategy the wrong way. Several companies look at B2C and B2B social media similarly, but there are some differences:
B2C Social Media
B2C social media serves several different purposes:
- Engaging with potential audiences in creative and compelling ways
- Promotion and advertisements
- Sharing relevant content to users appear as a thought leader
- Grow a following and, ultimately, brand awareness
- Massage users through the top of the sales funnel
B2B Social Media
B2B social media shares some of the same purposes (like sharing relevant content and growing brand awareness), but two big differences are:
- Building relationships with industry leaders
- Becoming the authority (keyword: THE)
B2B social media is about building relationships and setting yourself up as an authority figure in your industry. By using the right social media outlets, you’re able to foster conversations, teach others in your field, and establish yourself as THE influencer potential clients look to for information and advice.
In more ways than one, B2B social media is much more granular, targeted, and personalized. Instead of trying to reach and engage with 1,000+ users, you may only be targeting 20 people who fit the decision-maker persona for your product or service.
If you’re ready to dive into B2B social media for your company, we have outlined three important things you need to know before moving forward.
Number One: What Platforms Should I Use?
Good question. We’ve asked ourselves this many times for our clients. Go to the drawing board and answer the following questions.
Who is Our Typical User Persona?
What social media platforms are your decision-makers conversing on? Or, what social media sites do they turn to for advice? If they’re sitting sipping coffee in the morning, what sites are they scrolling through on their phones?
Where is Our Competition Hanging Out?
Where do you have the potential to overtake your competition? Where is your competition beating you now?
What DOESN’T Make Sense?
Not all social media outlets make sense for B2B companies. Sometimes a little reverse psychology works wonders. By determining what social outlets make NO sense (like Snapchat for customer service companies) it helps you narrow down which outlets DO make sense.
Where Do We Turn to for Industry Advice?
Look at your own company habits when looking for advice or new services. Do you flock to Facebook for critical updates and news? Do your colleagues constantly forward LinkedIn articles from their favorite services? Sometimes examining our own patterns help us determine natural courses of action for our clients.
What Would this Platform Look Like in 5 Years?
It’s easy to say you want X amount of followers or X amount of shares when you’re a B2C company. The more the merrier! But B2B social media is more strategic. What kind of relationships do you want to see in 5 years? How do you want to position yourself as a leader on social media and what platform will help you position yourself as such the most?
If you’re really stuck, generally speaking, LinkedIn and Facebook are leaders in B2B marketing. However, Twitter is the second highest leader for conversions (we were surprised, too!). Mix the right social media cocktail for your B2B efforts; never rely on just one platform to produce the best results.
Number Two: Foster Conversation & Answer Questions
Much of B2B social media is about building relationships. It’s not enough to just gain awareness; you have to get into the trenches and start the conversations. Here is how you can utilize the most popular social media platforms for B2B companies to do just that.
First and foremost, if you’re not on LinkedIn, you should be. Secondly, look for groups to join on LinkedIn where potential leads could be congregating and asking questions. This is a perfect opportunity for you to shine as an industry expert and answer questions, spread your knowledge base, or to simply be present and gain awareness as a group member.
While we’ve mentioned that there are differences between B2B and B2C social media, it’s important to take a moment to note that you are still talking to a person with B2B social media strategies. This especially comes into play on Facebook.
We all know Content is King. Don’t skimp on offering real, quality content on your B2B Facebook page; companies are made of professionals all looking for resources. However, consider the type of content these professionals are looking for and when they’re looking for content.
If the majority of your Facebook audience is active after hours, consider longer pieces of content (like a Whitepaper). They’ll be able to dig into after hours and share at the office in the morning.
Is lunch time your Facebook’s prime time? Shorter articles or text visuals might be a better bet. Consider even tacking on the reading time so your users know exactly what to expect when they click on your content.
And remember, it’s not all about you. Overly promotional B2B companies don’t get anywhere. You want to warm your Facebook users up with softer content. Allow followers to familiarize themselves with your brand first. Especially for larger companies whose sale cycle is normally much longer than B2C companies, soft content pushes are better than constant promotions. You’re playing the long game.
While Twitter has never performed particularly well for B2B marketers, don’t count it out just yet. For Twitter especially, it’s the basics that count.
- Bulk up on your portfolio page. Have all the information your potential leads need to find out more about you; and always lead back to your site or a specified landing page
- Follow those leaders and engage, engage, engage (and then engage some more). You could do something big like a virtual event or something as small as a “Thank You” when somebody retweets.
- Don’t ignore following companies that are potential clients. Observe what types of content they share and find useful for their own clientele. You can use this to your advantage when creating your content. If you engage with these companies over social, chances are their decision maker is following THEM and will take note.
3. Focus on re-marketing. Mike Templeman, contributor at Forbes, mentions the following when considering your B2B social marketing strategy on Twitter:
“The second, and most important thing you’ll want to do is set up a remarketing tag on your website…The whole process takes about five minutes for someone who knows the basics of navigating a website’s backend…you’ll begin capturing your website visitors so that you’re able to remarket to them at your leisure.”
So what about newer markets and more off-the-cuff B2B platforms like Tumblr, Snapchat, Instagram, or YouTube?
To each his own. While Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube haven’t been big players in the B2B social media game, it doesn’t mean these social media platforms won’t mean big things for companies in the future.
Most social media platforms start out as entertainment, but as they become more popular (and by more popular I mean, millions of users), B2B companies can’t ignore the potential. As mentioned previously, businesses are made up of thought leaders in every industry. These thought leaders can be found on every social media platform, including the more niche and risky.
If you have the time and talent to create compelling and diverse content for these platforms, and you feel enough of your potential client bases’ employees congregate here, we say take the plunge! It never hurts to be in on the ground level of a newer social media platform, as long as the platform has some proven success. #RIPPeach
As Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, says, “There will be some plumber in America who becomes famous by doing two minute videos broken up in 20 sections on how to fix things yourself.”
Number Three: Maintenance & Growth
Crafting and strategizing B2B social media is one thing; maintaining and growing that network is something else. We’ve already talked about engagement, but what other ways can you maintain and grow social media for your B2B company?
A Killer Landing Page
While the sales cycle for a B2B company may be longer, the funnel is almost exactly the same. Make it crystal clear to users how to find more information. Always lead your followers back to either your home page or a specified landing page (or several, if you’re Salesforce.)
It’s especially important for B2B companies to track and analyze what happens to their followers once they click off their social page onto their own site. Are the right people clicking? What information are they going to? Are they hopping from page to page? Is the landing page too stringent? Not stringent enough?
Explore landing page options and A/B testing like your company’s life depends on it; because it just might.
Social Media Advertisements
Facebook can be described as a “pay to play” platform. If you want to grow your follower base and reach a larger number of professionals, you gotta have some skin the in the game. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram advertising are a relatively low cost / high reward tactic.
Social advertising has increased phenomenally over the past five years and shows no signs of slowing down. With social advertising you are able to target audiences on a much more granular level while also reaching the ever-growing surge of mobile users.
Understand Your Growing Follower Base’s Needs & Wants
It’s easy to find high profile thought leaders; they’re right out in the open! As your user base continues to grow, however, you may be missing some influential people in your follower list that could reap major benefits for your company with some interaction. Dig into your follower list to understand a) Who’s following you and b) What they’re talking about.
Tools that Work Best?
- Followerwonk – Analyze your Twitter analytics and discover what segments you can pull apart in your audience and how to best optimize for reach.
- BuzzSumo- Find out what topics are being shared in relation to your industry; this helps you be more timely and relevant
Also, remember, be human. Brands that are constantly self-serving can rub followers the wrong way.
Redraft & Follow (the Right) Trends
Social media changes at the drop of a hat. What might have worked yesterday doesn’t work today (especially with mobile apps taking a larger piece of the pie in dominance).
But your audience should come first and foremost. If more and more B2B companies are transitioning to GIF’s and short snippets of information, but your audience is still watching your five minute How-To videos and engaging, why change?
Keep a pulse on your audience. Trends are often tied to certain industries. What might be working for energy companies may not be what works for publishing houses. Always go back and reevaluate your audiences. Ask the sales team if they’re seeing different questions coming through. Is customer service hearing the same suggestions over and over? Ask leadership if your followers are really reticent of your company clientele.
Redraft if need be and stand away from the crowd when it calls for it.
If you’re looking for awesome B2B social media mavens, check out what these three companies are doing:
B2B social media doesn’t have to be scary. Find the right platforms, engage with the right people and follow (or don’t follow) the right trends. B2B over and out.