Social Media Marketing for B2B Businesses: Don’t Be Late to the Party
by Cydney Hatch • November 19, 2019
Hate to break it to you, but B2B across the board kind of sucks at this whole social media thing…
Whether its just not connecting the dots on how to make their services/products sexy online to not understanding how to use the platforms, B2B has always kind of suffered. Many times, social media is often a late-game channel for B2B businesses and that needs to change! In today’s social media-dominated world, B2Bs can’t afford to suck any longer…
Sure, B2C businesses have dominated the space over the past few years, but just as people expect to see those businesses on social, they will expect yours to be as well! Whatever type of business you have, social media is crucial to your marketing strategy.
So, if you are wondering how to promote your B2B business on social, this is the article for you! This article will give you B2B social media marketing strategies, ideas, and examples you can use to catch up and kill it online! You don’t want to wait for an invitation to be awesome at social!
Let’s get your B2B business to shine!
B2B Social Media Marketing: Strategies To Get The Party Started
Wondering how to create a killer B2B social media strategy that gets leads? Let’s look at ways you can improve your social game and stand out amongst the rest:
Set Your Goals And Get Intentional
As a B2B business, you first need to ask yourself: “What do I want to achieve from my social media strategy?”
There are tons of B2B businesses out there that are just on social for the sake of social and that is such a lost opportunity. For you to be successful online, you have to be intentional as to why you are on social as well as with the content you create.
The first step to social media success is to set your goals!
You need to define what you want from your social media strategy. Are you trying to use social media as an acquisition channel? Do you want to increase your reach, or gain more traffic on your company blog? This will decide what metrics to track. For example, if you are looking to build strong brand awareness online, you will want to create engaging, beautifully crafted content pieces that are built around metrics of:
Whether your social media is for newsletter sign ups, creating leads, or brand awareness, it does not matter, you just need to have a game plan. If you don’t, social media is just a “nice” thing to have online, and at that point it provides no value.
Your social media goals always need to point back to a business goal, so as you plan content ask the WHY question and define how each piece of social content will direct viewers back to services, educational opportunities or value.
Understand Platforms You Need
Believe it or not, social media platforms should be curated for each business that starts their social profiling.
What might work for Twitter, might not work for Instagram so as a business you need to gauge as to which platforms are worth your investment and time.
Typically the best platforms for B2B businesses to get started on are:
- LinkedIn (It’s the most popular among B2B professionals)
- Instagram (There are over 1 billion active accounts on Instagram)
- Twitter (According to Forbes, 87% of B2B marketers use Twitter)
- Facebook (Company decision makers spend 74% more time on Facebook than the average user)
When you create profiles, be sure to fill your profile information completely and will pizazz. Most businesses that leave out the details are quickly discredited as people want to see efforts, strong branding and clarity as to what they can expect from you as a B2B business.
For example, MailChimp does an awesome job creating a full, branded and engaging platform for people to experience across the board:
The goal is to create a user experience that is engaging, branded and consistent from platform to platform to your website:
So, like Mailchimp, you too can look at platforms that make sense for you, and take time to create value on each. At a bare minimum social media channels should be well optimized to send traffic back to your website. This means links in every bio and complete profile information.
Take time to test out content on these platforms to see how they are best used for your brand messaging and mission.
Check Out Your Competition
This is a strategy I like to call, reverse engineer for your own benefit!
As a B2B business, you will obviously have competition –B2B businesses in the same space– so why not reverse engineer their success for your gain?
Now, I am not saying copy their work and replicate, I am saying keep a tab on what types of campaigns, content and visuals they are using and take inspiration from their lead. It is always a good idea to see what your industry norm is and to see what is working and what is not. When you do this, you can also see what the industry norm is so you can bend the rules as to stand out!
Looking to bigger businesses in your space and direct competitors is a great way to take advantage of the obvious crossover you will have when it comes to your target audiences and their interest. They are doing the hard work for you to see what they want, so take advantage of that!
Looking for these opportunities will help you with content creation as well as helping you to see what you can do differently in the space!
Create A Consistency Plan
If you learn nothing else from this article, remember that the keys to the kingdom, when it comes to social, is about consistency.
Maintaining consistency is one of the biggest factors people never get started with social because it’s “a lot of work.” In fact, Altimeter found that 70% of marketers lack a consistent or integrated content strategy.
To help you not be one of those B2B marketers here are a few tips:
- Create an account with a posting scheduler app like Hootsuite, Buffer or Hubspot
- Create monthly/weekly topics you want to discuss and break down content creation- see my article on content batching here
- Use social creation programs like Canva or Easil if you do not have a design team on hand
- Create lists of 4-5 hashtag lists you can rotate around each type of post you plan to create consistently
Marketers fail the most because they do not deliver their content consistently and many get discouraged when their consistent efforts do not pay off. Remember, social media is all about building relationships and that takes time to earn a loyal audience. I promise, if you create content people want to see consistently from you, you will start seeing efforts pay off.
The best way to create a consistency plan is to create content people want to continue checking in with you on!
Use Employee As Content
Believe it or not, your employees can do more than just help your sales and keep your office full: They can be an important piece of your social media strategy!
Featuring employee imagry, voices and experiences can greatly benefit your online presence by:
- Humanizing your B2B
- Sharing the size and legitamacy of your business
- Show the value you place on individual employees
- Create tangible experiences people can relate to
By sharing your brand through the experiences and voice of your employees is a strong social proof piece that can really demonstrate your brand as a trustworthy business. In fact, more than 90% of consumers trust social proof more than all other types of advertising, according to a 2012 report from Nielsen. Plus, a 2010 McKinsey study found that customers won through social proof have a 37% higher retention rate!
So, for example, we recently shared a growth photo highlighting our employee growth at Disruptive:
This post that we shared on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter got thousands of impressions, hundreds of engagements and lead to many clients and potential customers to reach out as they “didn’t realize how big of an agency we were.” This piece led to many people reaching out to us and solidified their choice in choosing us as the size of our company helped them seal the deal. Disruptive to them was not “just another small agency trying to make a dollar”, we were a legitimate business and the employee photo emulated that fact.
Like this example, you too can use your employees to strengthen your brand whether its by testimonials, story-telling to sharing updates within the B2B business.
Employees and internally created content can really tell a different story people can tangibly trust more than just content directly pushed out from your B2B business. Take advantage of that social proof!
Have Fun With Your B2B Business
A lot of B2Bs are “boring” by trade:
But just because your business is not a “hot” eatery or a fun ecommerce brand does not mean you need to stay in the “boring” content space. As a B2B business, you need to be creative in how you share your services and products!
If you think what you do is boring, your content will come off that way so think outside the box! Put traditional thinking about B2B creative on hold and ask yourself: Is your storytelling as powerful as your technology?
Let’s look at a B2B business that did this beautifully: UpWork!
Upwork harnessed the power of cheeky humor and used it to tell the story of their services: Hiring Freelancers. Upwork went all out for their “Hey World” campaign, which used bold color and design with cute shout outs to businesses, celebrities and more to highlight they can get people to work for them:
At face value, sharing their services to help hire freelancers is quite boring but it did not need to stay that way. They took a fun approach to appeal to a broader audience which in turn got them increased visibility.
B2B marketing is only boring if we allow it to be. Creativity is the lifeblood of good marketing: not just being creative with content, but being creative in thinking!
So, if you own a business that sells pencils and office products to businesses, sharing product photos alone on social won’t cut it! Think outside the box and share a fun video highlighting how products are made or make some fun office puns!
You can find an unboring angle- always. Once you do, you’re ready to rock and roll your social media efforts!
Get Interesting With Your Paid Social Placement
Like discussed above, every B2B channel is on the same platforms: Google, Facebook, LinkedIn etc but that doesn’t mean you need to stay put in the ad placements. Take after B2C companies and get a little more adventurous with where you are placing your paid social efforts.
Be willing to try out newer placements because the risk could mean big results fast, especially if your competitors haven’t tried it yet! Now, this does not mean go crazy and try to hit up Snapchat in hopes of reaching enterprise sales teams.
Think placements like podcasts, blog paid banners or email sponsorships as these are underrated B2B spaces! Think intentionally about where your customers are online and look to place ads in new and exciting places, you might just be surprised!
Video Is Your Friend
B2B is all about the long game. I mean, the buyer’s journey is often one that is heavily involved, longer and more intense involving many people to make a buying decision.
To jumpstart this process, video can be a real big help!
In fact, research suggests that 59% of B2B executives prefer to watch a video than read text, and viewers retain 95% of a message when they view it in a video compared to 10% when read in text. The sad thing is, many B2B businesses still think that the power of video is limited to B2C: WRONG!
B2B has just as much potential to create a persuasive, engaging video and Zendesk is an example of that:
(I mean just look at the title)
To add to this video they captioned it:
“The detractor is not just one person. She is one person in a vast, powerful network. Learn to communicate with her and use her power for good. Learn more at http://www.zendesk.com/pain-to-zen”
The core messaging of their video is told through a creative metaphor: business relationship = romantic relationship. A old couple can bicker and misunderstand, but it’s clear that they need and love each other. The same relationship is seen through the eyes of a B2B and it’s customer.
So, anyone who sees this video can share it’s cute message and understand that Zendesk helps build strong, mutually beneficial relationships bloom between companies and their customers.
Like them, you too can create strong social content by:
- Creating content that strikes engagement and resonates with your audience
- Tells a story or has a logical sequence
- Educates the viewers creatively or makes them feel something about your brand
- Compels an action
- Reinforces your B2B business brand
Video doesn’t have to be expensive, you just have to create something quality. Work with your teams to create videos that discuss your target audiences pain points and how to solve their challenges creatively.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
If you haven’t used calls to action in your posts before, it might be time to think about what actions you’re asking your viewers to take when they are engaging with your posts. At the end of every single social post, you should be able to clearly see what action a viewer should take. If not, it’s time to reshape the post messaging and work it towards a business goal.
Repeat after me, EVERY POST SHOULD POINT BACK TO A BUSINESS GOAL.
So, be intentional with each post you put on social and include some engagement piece for your followers:
- Ask for a double tap
- Pose a question
- Invite people to share their opinion
- Have them tag a friend
- Invite them to engage with an interactive post
- Share a social quiz
- Post a poll
Whatever the ask is, be sure to include an engagement beyond just viewing the post to boost your algorithm odds!
Don’t Be a #Basic Thought Leader
We live in a world where everyone is trying to be an influencer, an Instagram model, or in the professional sense, a THOUGHT LEADER. Since becoming a thought leader is the #basic goal of literally every business on the block, it’s so overworked and useless when it comes to social spaces.
As many people see the intrigue of creating “market dominance” or “savvy”, it’s important to create human connection paired with education.
As most social platforms are primarily thought of as a B2C channel, B2B brands can still create content that Instagrammers and social users prefer that focus on engagement and interactive elements. By using emotion-based and visual content to support hard business data, you can be a lot more successful than just blasting your audience with infographics without supporting content, CTAs, hashtags or relevant context.
If you are carving out your placement in the market then you are already a thought leader. If you take it to the next step and create interactive, emotional content to support those things, you are building a more important connection many businesses miss out on.
Let People Into Your Business Life
Instagram stories is a feature many businesses dabble with and you as a B2B business owner can also take advantage of it. Since the content you share is only up for 24 hours, this is a great way to share content that hypes people up for promotions, sales, big events, activities, product unveilings, etc you have coming up.
Sneak peeks are an extremely successful strategy for businesses wanting to create a more humanized and connected experience with their audiences. For example, many fashion apparel companies share sneak peeks into the upcoming line by sharing an Instagram LIVE video or stories feature. By sharing some of their favorites from the line, they create:
- Product recognition
- Plans to purchase
- Humanized experiences putting faces to brands
- Trust that products are quality as you see them
- Connection by allowing customers to feel “a part” of the business
Building a buzz using Instagram Stories creates instant feelings and onus on your audience to engage right now as the opportunity won’t be there tomorrow. By grabbing attention like that, you can subliminally push your brand narrative, increase excitement around offers and mostly create a sense of exclusivity many want to act on.
Yes, I think many people are tired of seeing people sitting in cars chatting about a “cause” they care about or makeup tutorials you never asked for on Instagram Live but there is still a lot of value this feature can provide to B2B businesses.
But when it comes to going live, B2B content is a bit more substantial as it’s professional and it is talking about legitimate things a business is providing/doing. If a well-known business is imparting wisdom, smaller businesses are probably turning in to learn more from the “Titans.”
For example, if Herman Miller was going LIVE about a certain topic, wouldn’t smaller design firms tune in to benefit from the knowledge they are sharing? So, like this example, you can create Instagram LIVE opportunities to reach and connect with other businesses.
Some ways you can do this are:
- Trade show features
- Interviewing industry leaders or key speakers at events your business attends
- Spotlight employees who are demoing your products
- Sharing CEO tips on understanding the industry
- Sharing trends to look out for etc…
Instagram Live provides a lot of tangible experiences many businesses are not creating for their audiences. Get ahead of the game and plan out live sessions that will inform, inspire and educate people about your business.
Create Some Throwbacks
Everyone loves looking back, hence the popularity of #ThrowbackThursday so as a B2B business, dig into the archives and look for old content to share!
By sharing historical images, you can show people how long you have been in business which creates in some way a special type of social proof or professionalism and growth. There are tons of big and small businesses alike that have a ton of fun with this content share:
So, whether you are brand spanking new in the B2B world, or you definitely have content like this in your business archives, start collecting photos, ads, and related materials now—it’s never too early to prepare for whatever nostalgia marketing we might be doing in the future!
For #TBT and beyond, people love doing business with companies that clearly have a long history!
Create Some Evergreen Content
When it comes to generating valuable leads for a B2B company, ebooks are a great way to provide a long term content piece online! Not only are they low cost and require little resources to create, but they also give high value to those wanting to learn more about your business or services.
One easy way to create your very own ebook is to start with your company blog– we are a great example of that! If you have an extensive media library of white papers, blog posts or other written materials, you are already halfway there!
Collect content pieces around one topic and combine them into a beautifully designed ebook. From there, you can promote on social in exchange for contact information– social with a purpose!
If you can create interactive value pieces like this for social use, people will connect with you on a deeper scale!
Promote B2B Webinars and Podcasts
Social media is a key channel for promoting your branded podcasts and webinars!
If you are a B2B business who has created content like this but want to take it to the next level, social media can help face your content outward in front of multiple audiences.
Social media can act in a way similar to email reminders. 3 weeks out, 1 week out, 3 days before, and 1 day before, your audience can be reminded of the upcoming webinar and make sure to register. If you have a podcast, you can get your podcast episodes played right into your Facebook feed via players like SoundCloud.
Social media is the catalyst for content pieces like audio and video! You just need to get creative and push it out beyond your website!
Create Your Own Groups
Facebook and LinkedIn allow B2B businesses to create groups of like-minded people to circulate conversations around specific interests and subjects. For example, Canon Cameras has a LinkedIn group for people who are fans of the Canon EOS range of digital cameras:
Having a group dedicated solely to Canon cameras and equipment helps Canon promote its content and find suitable businesses to work with. To take it a step further, if you have a B2B business that focuses on business travel services, look to build social groups around the topics of:
- Flight and Food Guides
- Top Hotel Picks
- Traveling on Business
Like these two examples, you too can create social groups as a way to create loyal brand communities and to strengthen relationships.
Be The Life Of The Party: B2B On Social
B2B marketers should take advantage of social media channels to not only promote their brand but to directly communicate with customers about pain points and their experiences.
Social media is all about intentionally connecting with people and providing value. It is a great place to connect, share insights and to bring your company culture into the light.
However you do it, remember to have fun and to always bring your content back to your goals! Always optimize and look for ways to creatively connect and you will be well on your way to being the B2B life of the party!
If you need help with your paid social efforts or want more ways you can connect with your potential customers on social reach out to us at Disruptive! We love B2b and we get it as we are in fact, a B2B business ourselves!
How is your B2B social going? What do you love about social media and what do you hope for 2020?