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Mastering B2B social media

Overview

In a culture where influencers peddling fashion and beauty products reign supreme, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking social media just isn’t for B2B. But that’s not the case. Research has found that 75% of B2B buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions.

Brands like Dropbox for Business – which promoted its Marketing Dynamix tool on social media and saw a 29:1 ROI and 68,000 clicks – are successfully engaging their target audiences through their social media presence and producing results. By curating an engaged social media audience, B2B brands can:

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Strengthen brand awareness

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Educate audiences

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Build trust

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Drive website traffic

Two speech bubbles overlapping

Nurture existing relationships

People in a group

Generate new leads

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Convert prospects to customers

Understand your audience

It’s crucial to understand who your target audience is on your social platforms. Go beyond the obvious answer of your customer – they will undoubtedly make up an important part of your social media base. But consider others as well, including employees, shareholders, competitors, industry organizations and trade media.

Example of a user persona marketing template

A useful strategy for understanding your target audience is to create user personas. A user persona is a description of someone who fits your target audience and is assigned a name, age, demographics, user behaviors and interests to make the faceless usernames more tangible. Then, when you’re making a social media decision or creating a post, you can write to “Roger the 41-year-old systems engineer from Akron, Ohio who checks Facebook on his phone while fishing on the weekends.”

And you should also look into actual audience data, either within your social platforms or through a third-party system. This information often includes geographic, age and gender distribution, as well as activity trends by platform to help you to optimize your content strategy. For instance, knowing when your followers are most likely to be online can help you to publish posts when they are likely to have the greatest reach.

Differentiate based on platform

Even the strongest social media strategies will face limitations if you aren’t using the right platforms to reach your target audience. Each social media platform is unique, so you want to focus on the platforms that are most impactful to reach your particular goals.

  • While several other platforms outrank it by sheer size, LinkedIn is considered by many as the number one social media network in B2B. In fact, 95% of B2B marketers identify LinkedIn as both the organic and paid social media platform that generates the best results, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
  • The tone of this platform is typically more formal and professional, with longer post content and straight-forward graphics
  • Educational and business-oriented topics tend to perform best, so it’s a great place to comment on industry trends, share thought leadership content, promote company updates and connect with prospective and current employees.

 

Closeup of person scrolling LinkedIn on their laptop

  • A hub for news and opinion, Twitter is typically where users look to absorb and interact with large amounts of information quickly and in bite-sized snippets (tweets!).
  • Companies generally use an informal tone on Twitter. And while tweets are capped at 280 characters, brands should strive to use even fewer – according to Buffer, the ideal length hovers under 100 characters.
  • Hashtags can concisely indicate the topic of your tweet and help it be more discoverable. Just remember to keep them relatively short and easy to remember, and limit the number you use to protect readability and avoid looking spammy.

Close up of person looking at Twitter on their phone

  • With over 2.7 billion active users a month, Facebook is the largest social media platform, but it’s considered a more personal network in terms of user behavior.
  • B2B content should strike a balance of relevant industry topics alongside more conversational, general interest or “feel-good” updates to establish trust and likability among your audience.

Person holding a tablet with Facebook feed

  • Although it’s not utilized as often by B2B brands, Instagram presents an opportunity to communicate complex topics in the more readily digestible and memorable format of photos or short videos. According to research, the human brain processes images in a fraction of the time that it processes text, and more people remember what they see, rather than what they hear or read.
  • The trick is to prioritize the quality of your visuals – not just any old brochure shot will do. Give your audience compelling insights into your brand’s culture, a behind-the-scenes look at your processes and details of your products.

Close up of person using Instagram on their phone

  • YouTube is the ideal platform for video content. Brands should include everything from studio commercials and demonstrations to amateur tutorials and interviews.
  • Although YouTube allows for videos with hours-long runtimes, B2B brands should shoot for videos that are two minutes or less. Viewer attention for branded content isn’t very long so it’s important to prioritize the most important elements into a concise clip.
  • As the second largest search engine, this social platform comes with a bit more added weight than the others. Brands should prioritize SEO strategies like strategic descriptions, keyword tagging, linking, closed captioning and more.

Closeup of a laptop with a YouTube video pulled up

  • Because it began as a listing service that feeds information through Google Search and Google Maps, Google My Business is more often thought of as an SEO tool than a social media platform, especially among B2B companies. But with increasingly social-like features, Google My Business is worth consideration as part of a social strategy.
  • B2B brands that sell through local retailers and dealers are best positioned to benefit from the platform. Focus on providing quick and easy information for customers on topics like product availability, promotions and special events.

Closeup of a Google My Business page on a laptop

Tips for successful execution

A successful social media strategy is contingent on a brand’s ability to identify the intersection of its own business priorities with what is of interest and of value to its audience, and to use that to cultivate engagement. People aren’t on social media for the specific purpose of following your brand alone. You have to provide compelling reasons for users to follow and engage with you – because no one wants their feed flooded by a constant stream of self-serving advertisements, industry jargon and little else.

Here are some tips to ensure you are setting up your social platforms for success:

Use strong visuals.

Keep in mind that posts with visual content like images, videos and GIFs tend to perform better – generating 94% more views and 200% more shares – when compared to pure text posts, according to Social Media Today.

  • Unsplash, a platform for sharing stock images, is killing the social media game with vibrant visual content. The brand posts captivating images that its creators have uploaded to the platform (giving credit of course!) to increase visibility of the service. These images, for example, with their bright colors and interesting composition, entice followers to stop the scroll and swipe through the carousel or click through to their profile to engage further.

Instagram post with strobe lights

Have personality.

A conversational tone helps your brand seem more human and relatable. Complex technical jargon abounds in B2B sectors – speaking in the language of your industry is fine but bear the lay reader in mind and keep it simple.

  • Everyone knows about Wendy’s snarky social tone, but have you seen Qualtrics? Take this tweet for example. Qualtrics emphasized its role in improving businesses in a way that allowed the brand’s personality to shine through.

Example of a twitter thread

Be funny.

Using humor, when appropriate, is another way to humanize your brand, make your message more memorable and connect with your audience. Humor can come in many forms including GIFs, jokes, a play-on-words or simply a relatable comment.

  • Siemens’ used a relatable tweet about chips to promote its podcast. By leading with a funny, “we’ve all been there” moment, Siemens catches the attention of its followers, before directing them to the call to action – to learn more about their technology.

Close up of a funny tweet

Ask questions.

Asking a question gives your followers a clear, actionable opportunity to engage with your brand.

  • Adobe sparked more than a dozen replies by asking whether people were team serif or team sans-serif. This simple approach helped draw their followers into conversation with their brand while also promoting one of their recent blog posts about fonts.

Tweet with an example of asking a question

Use polls.

Using polls on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram Stories allows you to interact and develop a connection with your audience, as well as gather useful information

  • Zendesk, a customer service software company, used a poll on Twitter to ask a question that allowed its audience to voice their preference for self-service formats. This approach simultaneously collected valuable customer insight and created a simple way to engage followers with the brand.

Closeup of a twitter poll

Inspire user-generated content.

Organic content that encourages users to join in is a great way to increase engagement with your audience. Consider using hashtags, contests or a series to interact with your audience.

  • Hootsuite sparked engagement on Instagram by promoting a contest for free tickets to an event that would be of interest to their audience. With simple entry requirements — follow Hootsuite and tag someone in the comments — the brand engaged its existing audience and tapped into an effective way to grow its reach, by having current followers connect contacts in their own network with the brand’s social presence.

Instagram post example of user generated content

Appeal to emotion.

For B2B brands, appealing to emotion is often about addressing pain points or challenges. Using social media to connect with your audience about what matters to them helps remind followers that your brand is relevant and can solve the issues they are facing.

  • Shopify posted a video on LinkedIn to inspire people to take the leap of faith to be an entrepreneur. They capitalized on a common emotion — the fear of failure. By highlighting the voices of entrepreneurs who took the chance and were successful, Shopify makes viewers feel like they too can successfully start a business.

Close up of LinkedIn post with a sad girl sitting

Use testimonials.

Sometimes, the proof is in the pudding. Testimonials, reviews and case studies help provide social proof that your company and your solutions are reliable, effective and trustworthy.

  • Cisco shared a video of a customer discussing how the company was instrumental in supporting their distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to the community. This testimonial served as both a powerful feel-good story and a real-world validation of Cisco’s products and services.

Example of a testimonial style social post

Highlight employees.

Using social media to spotlight employees can help humanize your brand and let your audience take a behind-the-scenes look.

  • If you follow IBM on social media, you know all about the IBMers behind the company’s solutions – like this post about Julia from the CSR team. By featuring employees frequently on social, IBM lets its employees do the talking about why the company is so great, and also humanizes an otherwise tech-heavy, somewhat abstract brand.

Close up of a LinkedIn post featuring a video employee highlight

Leverage employee advocacy.

When employees share company-related content on their own social platforms, they expand the company’s reach and amplify its message. But keep in mind that authenticity is key in successful employee advocacy.

  • Capco, a business and technology consultancy with a focus on the financial sector, has an extensive employee advocacy program. In 2017, they shared the same message using both paid advertising and the advocacy network. They saw traffic from the paid ads convert to 3.93% while traffic from their employee advocates converted at 51.7%.

Close up of tweet speaking to employee advocacy

Ready to engage your audience with effective social content? Let’s get to work.