Think social media is just for B2C businesses? Think again. B2B social media is just as important—and only getting more important.
B2B social media marketing is often written off as boring or unnecessary. But if that’s your company’s take, it could be missing out.
Just look at Adobe. The digital media company credits its LinkedIn marketing efforts for closing 42% of its deals in 2018.
Not only that. B2B marketing helps Adobe ink bigger contracts. According to LinkedIn data, deals influenced by marketing on LinkedIn were 161% larger on average than those forged offline, in the boardroom, or otherwise.
Need a stronger business case for getting on social media? Here’s how to use social media for B2B marketing, social selling, customer service and more.
Bonus: Get a free social media strategy templateto quickly and easily plan your own strategy. Also use it to track results and present the plan to your boss, teammates, and clients.
Why use social media for B2B marketing
Wondering if B2B social media marketing is right for your business? These are some of the reasons you should consider it.
Your top competitors already are
Don’t think B2B social media marketing is worth it? What about your competitors?
If the competition is on social, they’re connecting with a key customer segment you could be missing out on. And that social segment is key. They’re often one of the most vocal and persuasive customer groups.
Your customers look for service on social media
Customers have high expectations for brands in both B2C and B2B arenas. Many of your clients go online to share feedback, reviews, voice opinions, and ask questions. Don’t leave them hanging. Employ the best B2B social media tools so you can show up when you’re called upon, and even when you’re not.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=lazydaycool&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1308800807870095366&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fblog.hootsuite.com%2Fb2b-social-media%2F&theme=light&widgetsVersion=ed20a2b%3A1601588405575&width=550px
You may be missing leads and sales opportunities
Don’t overlook social media B2B lead generation opportunities. Social media is critical space for nurturing sales prospects, from identifying intent to purchase to social selling.
A survey by IDC found that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of executives use social media to make purchasing decisions. Buyers are receptive to social engagement, too. According to LinkedIn, 76% are ready to strike up a conversation.
You shouldn’t ignore social insights
Every B2B social media plan should go beyond marketing.
Learn what your customers care about by engaging in online discussions. Listen to what people are saying. Read customer reviews and comments, and use these insights to inform strategic business decisions.
How to create a B2B social media strategy
No matter the size or scale of your business, having a B2B social media strategy in place is important.
According to a recent poll by the Content Marketing Institute, 52% of B2B marketers say all the marketing for their organization is run by a small or one-person team. At the other end of the spectrum, large multinationals may have hundreds of people, partners, other parties involved in social media marketing. In both cases, a clear strategy makes defining scope and achieving goals more manageable.
In addition to a content calendar, team structure, brand voice and best practices guides, your B2B social media plan should:
Align goals with business objectives
Just like a good B2C strategy, every B2B social media plan should answer the following two questions:
What are the company’s business objectives? and How will social media marketing help achieve them?
The S.M.A.R.T goal or Objectives and Key Results rubrics provide a good framework for this.
A strong B2B social media plan outlines where the opportunities lie. In order to spot them, start with a competitor audit. Use the S.W.O.T. framework to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within the competitive landscape. Or create a competitive matrix that applies to your industry.
Develop buyer personas
All marketers should know who they’re trying to reach. B2B social media marketing is no different.
Create audience and buyer personas. Your corporate structure probably already caters to these personas. For instance, a design firm may create for commercial, public, and residential customers, and likely has team members or verticals that specialize in each category. Your B2B social media marketing should do the same.
Focus on the right platforms
Pay and spray is never a great approach—especially not for a B2B social media strategy. As a general rule, you should be where you customers are. If you’re not sure where that may be, have a look at social audience demographics.
According to LinkedIn, 97% of B2B marketers use the network for content marketing.
Plan how you will measure your efforts
Plan to prove return on investment. Identify how you will measure the performance of your efforts. What metrics and data will you monitor? This may include everything from response time, to impressions and engagement rate to conversions and sales. Establish your key performance indicators (KPIs), then set benchmarks and achievable goals.
Don’t ignore other barometers, such as customer satisfaction ratings, qualitative reviews, and your Net Promoter Score. Look at other factors, reductions in recruitment and customer service costs as well.
Be realistic about what efforts you’ll have hard numbers for, and the efforts that have a value that is trickier to quantify. Remember, just because you can measure something doesn’t always mean you should. And just because you can’t measure something doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.
5 B2B social media best practices
Refine your approach with these B2B social media best practices.
1. Speak to your audience
When it comes to B2B social media marketing, scope creep is real. Don’t try to speak to a general audience. Use the language, lingo, and acronyms that are common in your industry.
That doesn’t mean you should bog down social copy with unnecessary technical jargon. This isn’t about showing off. Marketing is about communicating and connecting. Social messaging should always strive for clarity. Sometimes that means you don’t have to spell things out.
For example, what’s a BeFi Barometer? Most RIAs (registered investment advisors) know it’s a way to measure behavioral finance trends. And for Charles Schwab’s @Schwab4RIAs Twitter account, that’s what matters.
Occasionally, you may be asked to explain what something means. That’s okay. Treat those moments as opportunities to connect. Don’t put anyone down for asking.
2. Create separate channels
As your social audience grows, it may become necessary to create different social media accounts. This will allow you to share the right content and message with each audience.
If you provide customer service, launch a dedicated support channel so that your primary account can focus on other initiatives. Separate channels may also be relevant for different verticals, products, and markets. Depending on the industry and size of your business, news and career channels might make sense, too.
Salesforce has no less than 10 official Twitter accounts. On LinkedIn companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Pinterest, and Google take advantage of Showcase pages to cater to different communities. LinkedIn allows these pages to be linked under the Affiliated Pages section of profiles. On YouTube, accounts can be linked in the Featured Channels section.
3. Personalize your offers
B2B may mean “business to business,” but a little personalization can go a long way. For example, according to LinkedIn data, more than 62% of B2B buyers respond to salespeople who connect them with relevant insights and opportunities. “Relevant” being the key word.
Social media ads allow marketers to target hyper-specific groups. Take advantage of this to tailor messages to people in certain occupations, locations, life stages, and more. There are also ways to personalize organic messaging. Use buyer personas to craft and personalize LinkedIn InMail messages.
Personalization is more than just tacking someone’s name to a message. With separate social media channels, you should create content that speaks to each audience. For example, Recaro makes seats for various industries, including automotive and aerospace. Generic messaging about chairs will not speak to either audience. But content about jet-lag reducing seat lighting may speak to airlines.
4. Provide valuable content
We’re all inundated with content from B2B and B2C brands. To stand out, add value to your B2B social media marketing.
To do this effectively, you need to understand what your customers will find value. That often means identifying their pain points, learning about their business needs, and their customer’s needs.
In the example below, Intercom, a company that provides messaging tools for businesses, demonstrates that it understands challenges faced by support teams and provides solutions for them.
Leverage market research, internal expertise, and other resources to create blog posts, whitepapers, webinars and other content to share on social media. The return on these investments may not seem obvious at first, but building trust, reputation, and authority has long-term benefits.
With the right strategy and tracking in place, you can generate leads, create follow-up opportunities, and learn more about the information your customers value.
5. Retarget with B2B social media ads
Organic B2B marketing has its limits. Most social platforms operate on a pay-to-play model for brands. That’s where B2B social media ads come in.
Social media ads are especially helpful when it comes to following up. Unlike B2C, the B2B sales process takes time, persistence, and buy-in from multiple parties. On an episode of Re: Growth podcast, Jackie Davis, former senior marketing manager at HelloSign, notes that prospective buyers visit a website between five and 10 times during the consideration process.
Facebook and LinkedIn allows advertisers to create custom audiences to target people who are already familiar with your business. Personalize an ad message or present a value proposition to someone who’s visited certain webpages or engaged with your page.
When the French government announced new payroll legislation, payroll software company Sage seized the opportunity to run an awareness campaign. During the second stage, prospects that initially engaged were offered a downloadable compliance guide—an incentive that both sweetened the deal and established Sage as an industry leader.
B2B companies with great social media
Learn from the pros. Here are some of the top B2B teams leading the way on social media.
Adobe runs multiple social media channels for different verticals. The company’s marketing shows off what its tools can do and offers insights that customers may find valuable.
The marketing teams behind this product roadmap and marketing planning software company abide by a simple B2B social media philosophy.
“We’re so used to seeing blatant advertisements for direct clicks and scary target options, says Joon Shin, Group Manager, digital marketing at Aha!. “We think in the future it should be more about pushing meaningful content.”
As the world’s most popular search engine, Google shares trend analysis and expert tips that speak to the company’s customers.
While technically a non-profit, a core target audience for B Lab is businesses and brands. B Lab unites a community with market-specific channels, timely content, testimonials, and events, among other initiatives.
Slack remains an outlier in the social B2B space in part because of its approachable and conversational brand voice.
On an episode of Re:Growth podcast, Holly Chen, the company’s former Group Growth Marketing manager, challenges the notion that B2B marketing need be boring and unemotional. “Ultimately, when we market to a business we’re still talking to a person,” she says.
For fans of organization, ClickUp’s uber-consistent Instagram feed strategy is a sight to behold. As the company’s William Hague quote post reminds, “There’s only one growth strategy: Word hard.
This renewable energy leader runs social media accounts in multiple languages, live events, and awareness campaigns that have reached upwards of 1.2 million relevant professionals.
Content marketing is one of the key ways Intercom promotes brand awareness and increases visibility in the messaging industry.
Fast is rapidly becoming a leader in the B2B marketing space, one hoodie, space helmet, at a time. With a quick response time and even quicker wit, Fast proves that the right brand voice can sell a brand promise.
As a full-service brand content agency that plans to work exclusively on purpose-driven projects by 2021, Republik puts its values front and center with #ShoutOutMondays and more.
Salesforce’s social media strategy includes everything from customer support to live events that attract millions of viewers.
Unsurprisingly, one of the preferred channels for B2B marketing knows a thing or two about B2B social media strategy, too.
It’s easy to forget that Twitter dabbles in a B2B marketing, too. Follow @TwitterMktg for pointers in theory and in practice.
Best B2B social media tools
Set your brand up for success with the best B2B social media tools.
Get the full picture of your B2B social media efforts with Google Analytics. Track where your visitors come from and what they do when they visit your site. Draw from these insights and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Put code to work for you. Track the links you share by adding UTM parameters. These snippets work in tandem with analytics programs to provide deeper details on your traffic sources.
Multiple teams members can manage multiple accounts in one place with Hootsuite. Track customer queries and assign messages so that the right person on your team can respond to them, whether a community manager or sales rep. The Hootsuite dashboard also makes it easy to take the broad view of analytics and prove your ROI.