Social media has altered the way modern society communicates, interacts, discovers, and engages with one another. That’s also true of the business and enterprise world, including how they interact with customers and one another.
While B2C marketing is the most talked about, and most common, there are also incredible opportunities for B2B marketing and promotion as well, if you know where to look. That’s the thing, marketing a B2B campaign or company via social media is more difficult, more involved, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s less rewarding.
83% of B2B marketers use social media, which means it’s the most common marketing tactic in the sector.
Unlike when targeting consumers, B2B marketing involves direct communication between your brand, its products, and your clients. Often, this can be a lot quieter in regards to social engagement. There are less followers to be had, much simpler conversations going on, and infinitely less “likes” and social actions. That’s because compared to B2C, you’re targeting direct audiences with more niche demands and needs.
That said, social media marketing can be extremely effective for any business, even B2B, when used in the appropriate context. It helps establish your brand—any brand, really—as an authority in your market, boosts exposure and positive sentiment (especially when you can interact with the greater community on a more personal level), and helps you grow, maintain, and improve a dedicated audience or customer base. Finally, it can drive traffic, conversions, and sales to your alternate channels including your company website, storefront, or mobile apps.
If all that sounds interesting to you, great! The next step is to cover the basics, the “what you should know” elements of working with social media.
What You Need to Know About Social Media Marketing for B2B
Before investing time, money, and additional resources in a business project or venture you come up with a plan of attack. That is, you consider your options for moving forward, assess risk and reward, and come up with a solid strategy for a variety of scenarios. In this way, you are better prepared when you encounter obstacles or problems along the way.
The same must be done with a new or fresh social media campaign, which brings us directly to the first thing you’ll need to know about B2B social media marketing: strategy. Whether it’s creating this strategy in-house or taking advantage of social media outsourcing, effective B2B social media would be nowhere without strategy.
Come Up with a General Strategy
What is it you want to accomplish through your social campaign? Take that goal and use it as a cornerstone for the rest of your strategy. Lay out the necessary steps it will take to reach it.
Furthermore, documenting your plan provides a clear roadmap not just for you but everyone on your team. You’ll want to answer things like, who your target audience is? What social platforms are most effective for your brand? What type of content will you be producing, and how often? What social media metrics and interaction tools will you be using, and are they missing features you need? How are your rivals using social media for their own business?
80% of B2B marketers have come up with a social media strategy, which is great, yet only 32% of them have it written down or documented. It’s important to remember that documenting your strategies doesn’t necessarily set them in stone, you can still change them. However, it does provide a much clearer overview of what you’re trying to achieve and how you’ll get there, especially for others involved. It’s easy to lose sight of said goals when you’re worn thin focusing on various engagements and campaigns.
Choose Your Social Media Platform(s) and Stick with It
With social media, you need time and consistency to really make a difference. It is possible to go viral early and gather a large initial following, but that’s more the exception than it is the rule, especially for B2B brands. Just focus on steady investments of time and content production, you’ll get to where you want to be.
It is important to remember, however, that you should focus on a small handful of social networks as opposed to trying to cover each one that exists. In fact, you’re better off sticking with even just two or three primary networks. Don’t wear yourself thin trying to make an impact on every platform.
Just tallying them up quickly, there’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Tumblr, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and many more.
Find the network that resonates most with your target audience, pay attention to what other brands and rivals are doing on said network, and try to emulate what you see and improve your own strategies using the data you gather. We’re not advocating that you become a clone, repeating what everyone else is doing. We’re just saying there’s a clear strategy to success that many follow, so pay attention to how others are making their mark.
More than 70% of B2B marketers use one of the “Big 4” social networks to distribute content, which includes LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Your Focus Should NEVER Be Leads or Conversions
Social media, while excellent for marketing, is not the kind of channel or platform where you can focus on leads, conversions, sales and the like. Each platform is designed around a specific community and offers various ways to communicate. Snapchat, Pinterest, and Instagram, for example, allow social communities to share photos and visual experiences with one another and partake in discussions related to said content. Facebook, on the other hand, is much more robust, and although visual content still rules the nest, there are many forms of engagement and interaction available.
Social media is more about building a rapport or relationship with your target audience. When done correctly, this can be much more powerful and beneficial for your brand. Find people who use or may benefit from your product, and enter into a discussion, with the end goal to build a relationship with them. The important thing to remember here is that all discussions and interactions are public, so others will see what you’re doing too. It’s a domino effect, the more positive relationships you build, and more engagements you complete, the wider your influence will be.
Yes, you want your social efforts and investments to pay off. But you shouldn’t focus on that as a foundation. Instead, work on building positive relationships with your audience and the sales and conversions will grow right along with your influence.
Take Advantage of What Social Media Has to Offer
Just as you see with B2C companies on social media, it’s possible for B2B to garner user-generated content. This will be photos and posts that discuss your products or services, hopefully in a more positive light. You can nurture this sharing by creating various tags—also known as hashtags—to combine discussions about your brand and products.
More importantly, engage with others in the community, and not just the people reaching out to your brand, on your posts, and via your pages. Instead, seek others who are already discussing relevant topics and join in! Maybe there’s an influencer talking about what they dislike regarding similar products? You can join in and change their mind, and then plug your own service.
But in the end, it’s about more than just promoting your service or shouting praise for your own products and brand from the heavens. You want to focus on building those strong, loyal relationships that only happen via social media. Build buzz, engagement and interest in your brand using what these platforms have to offer.