At its heart, marketing is all about persuading people that have money to part with it; specifically, to spend it on your company's product or service.
That being said, many B2B companies relegate social media marketing to second, third, or fourth place on their list of priorities. Many marketers feel that social media works much better as a medium for B2C companies to expand their reach and reinforce their brand image. Some B2B marketers worry that executing a social media campaign would yield a low or unclear ROI.
However, nearly 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-Suite executives make use of social media when purchasing a good or service. The truth is, B2B social media marketing is a viable and valuable channel to grow your business. This article will discuss how B2B social media marketing has changed over the years, how B2B marketing should be implemented differently than B2C, and how you can leverage best practices to make B2B social media marketing a persuasive and powerful driver of growth for your company.
Changes in B2B Social Media Marketing
When social media first became popular, it was almost exclusively geared towards individuals that wanted to network with other individuals. Moreover, granted, individual users are still the primary participants in an audience for social media platforms.
However, over time, businesses and corporate brands began to see the value in connecting with potential customers via these unique channels. Now, of course, platforms like Facebook and Instagram are overflowing with corporate posts and pages, (not to mention LinkedIn, which is primarily designed for the professional world).
Other changes have taken place over the years. For instance, at the inception of the social media boom, most users accessed social media networks via their PC. Posts contained a relatively simple layout, mostly consisting of text and a few pictures.
However, let's fast-forward to 2019. Nowadays, an increasing majority of social media devotees use their smartphone as the primary point of access. Moreover, when it comes to capturing the user's attention, sophisticated videos are the order of the day.
The bottom line is this: social media has become increasingly dynamic, and forward-thinking B2B marketers need to stay current with the latest changes in order to be effective. Of course, they should also consider some important differences between how B2B companies can leverage social media versus how B2C brands do so.
How B2B Social Media Marketing Differs from B2C
When it comes to social media, there are several distinctions between an effective B2B marketing strategy and the B2C approach. Here we'll briefly discuss two significant differences between the two:
B2C companies typically generate social media content with a light-hearted, fun-loving, casual tone. After all, they are targeting the everyman, the average Joe or Jill that likes content on Facebook or Twitter to have some pop to it, (or maybe even a little snark).
In contrast, a B2B company's social media presence should factor in its core audience: professionals. While there's nothing wrong with keeping things light or playful, B2B content should generally be more serious/instructive/educational in tone.
The primary intent behind much B2C content is to play on the emotions of the consumer. Corporate brands often depict their products as essential components of the desired lifestyle or imply that when someone purchases from them, he or she will become more [fill in the positive emotion/attribute]. In fact, research suggests that 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious and emotion-driven.
B2B content should appeal to logic more than emotion. It should sell the steak instead of the sizzle. While an emotional appeal may play a secondary role in high-quality content, the primary intent should always be to demonstrate how your product/service can solve a problem that the customer is currently experiencing. In effect, B2B marketing should mainly consist of "snack-sized" content that provides actionable solutions for your consumers to consider.
So now that we have a clearer idea of how B2B social media marketing differs from the B2C model, what are some best practices to keep in mind?
B2B Social Media Marketing Best Practices
The following are some critical best practices to implement:
- Identify your KPIs. Determine what you hope to accomplish utilizing your social media marketing. For most businesses, the bottom line is lead generation and customer conversion. So some key metrics that you'll want to keep track of could include the number of leads generated, conversion rate, clicks (such as "likes"), and volume of click-through traffic to your website.
- Utilize a social media analytics platform. Once you've set your KPIs, you'll want an easy way to measure them. There are many automated software packages on the market that allow you to keep close tabs on your key social media metrics, whether they be clicks, shares, backlinks, generated leads, or click-through rates. In turn, this will help you to attach a more tangible value to your social media ROI.
- Use social media platforms that work best for your company. Twitter and Instagram may be suitable matches for an overall "customer engagement" strategy. However, most B2B marketers use Facebook and LinkedIn as their primary platforms (91% and 80%, respectively). Facebook, in particular, has a helpful feature called Lead Ads. This feature can help boost your lead generation by eliminating one of the major pain points that drive consumers away from contact forms: the need to manually fill in the input fields. Instead, Facebook Lead Ads transfers the consumer's existing account information over to the contact form, making it that much easier to complete the process.
- Make heavy use of case studies and/or testimonials. Prospective business partners want to see concrete evidence that your product has worked well in situations similar to theirs. Highlighting relevant case studies, or displaying some quotes from satisfied customers, can go a long way in persuading them that your product is worth the investment.
- Make it easy for interested parties to click through to your site. Be sure always to include a link that leads back to your company website in most (if not all) of your posts. Make it visible; make it conspicuous. (Please note that Instagram does not, as of this writing, offer live links on their platform.)
MailChimp is an email marketing firm. Its social media team regularly produces engaging content that features not only email marketing-related themes but also peripheral topics in which their audience may be interested. MailChimp content often includes videos and dynamic graphics, as well as customer stories and testimonials. Finally, on Instagram, MailChimp uses LinkinBio to create a clear "conversion path" for interested parties.
It's true, B2B social media marketing can be complicated, and confusing; but when executed correctly, it can generate a high volume of leads, persuade many prospective customers to purchase from your company, and yield sustainable results.
If you'd like to learn more about effective B2B social media marketing strategies, reach out to us at MarComm. We are a unique marketing agency in the sense that we don't just work for you - we work with you. Our goal is to educate our clients in all things marketing so that they'll have the tools needed to employ the age-old art of persuasion for years to come. If you'd like to investigate further, contact us today.