If you’re in b2b marketing, social media is no longer an option; it’s a requirement.
According to market studies by the Consumer Technology Association, social media now edges out television in viewing hours per day by 39% of weekly media hours interacted with by Americans, versus 61% for traditional media such as television and publications.
Even though b2b marketers have a very small and specific group of people as potential customers, these individuals are on social media just like everyone else especially your competition so it just makes sense you should be on the same social accounts as they are tail winding their success and leveling up your social media marketing game.
Social Media Marketing Is Relationship Building
Social media is now the primary way people build relationships. It’s how friends keep in touch, how businesses market to consumers, and increasingly, how businesses approach marketing to other businesses.
Yes, there’s LinkedIn, which most b2b brands should be on, but don’t limit yourself. There are more ways to make an impact with your social media presence than you may understand right away.
Social media unlocks opportunities for you to build relationships with your curated community like you’ve never done before, and each social media channel offers something different.
So let’s talk about what’s in b2b social media marketing for you, some of the best social media channels for corporate brands (and how to use them), and a few management tools to help streamline your workflow. Finally, we’ll analyze some of the best b2b brands in the business and how to get started.
Benefits of a B2B Social Media Presence
When you’re in b2b sales, your funnel generally takes months or years, and you need to build intimate, one-on-one relationships with prospects in order to seal the deal.
It can be difficult to draw a straight line from a social media strategy to success. But if you look more closely, you’ll begin to see the benefits:
- Audience insights
- Customer Service
- Web traffic
- Search engine optimization
- Content distribution
- Name recognition
- Thought leadership
Each of the platforms we’ve selected enables b2b brands to master one or more of these categories.
6 Best Social Media Platforms for B2B Businesses
There are hundreds of social media platforms nowadays but you don’t need to be on all of them. Just the ones that make the most sense.
If you are a niche brand, however, after digging into this social media strategy list, look to see if there’s a niche platform that reaches the target audience you need. For example, if you’re in the music space, it might make sense to take part in SoundCloud, a small channel just for aficionados of music. If you’re in the language space, italki is where many people go to learn a second language.
Outside of any special needs, the social media platforms below have all been tested, approved, and recommended by other b2b marketers.
No surprise here – LinkedIn is the best social media platform for businesses. There are many reasons, namely, lead generation, but let’s take a look at where b2b marketers are seeing the most success.
Content Marketing Strategy
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 97% of b2b marketers distribute content via LinkedIn–more than any other platform. In return, LinkedIn dominates Facebook and Twitter for b2b social media traffic to blogs and landing pages. Of those, 82% say that LinkedIn is their most effective content marketing outlet.
LinkedIn also reports that b2b marketers get as much as 2x higher open rates in sponsored messaging vs emails.
Business Decision Makers
You likely already had an idea of that but what makes these numbers so thrilling is that these decision-makers are on LinkedIn looking for insights and news that can make their life at work better. If you can offer content that meets their needs, great news, you’ve just opened the door to new business.
You can share content that informs, provide insight, and spark engagement from your audience. What better way to get your company page in front of the right people? But not only that, you can nurture relationships by continuing to provide meaningful content.
LinkedIn offers one of the best chances to directly promote your products. Unlike Facebook or Instagram, which are more entertainment-oriented, people on LinkedIn are looking to improve their professional standing, and if you have a product that can make their lives at work easier, it’s the perfect place to get that message across with social media campaigns.
No other social media platform offers b2b marketers as robust lead-generating advertising tools.
Text Ads: Similar to the text ads you see in search engine results
Sponsored Content: A promoted post that runs in the news feed
Sponsored InMail: Personalized messages delivered to your audience’s LinkedIn Mail
With tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which offers marketers highly personalized targeted marketing, b2b brands can more easily curate their outreach, make insights actionable, and generate leads, all to a hungry audience.
So much of the news is driven by Twitter today, any marketer would be remiss not to consider a way to wield its awesome power. Twitter spaces is an excellent platform to connect with your target audience, generate leads and interact with thought leaders.
Of course, we’re all eagerly awaiting word from Elon Musk as to what he plans on doing with Twitter now that he dropped $44 billion to take the platform private.
Some of the rumored changes such as an edit feature, getting rid of scam bots, and the relaxing content restrictions could make tweeting as a business a little less stressful, so we don’t expect its influence in the b2b world to wane anytime soon. But then again, there are rumors he could start charging businesses and governments to use the platform, so who knows.
Twitter conversations are one of the best ways to get noticed by your target audience and other influencers in the industry.
You can highlight information relevant to your brand, your brand voice, products, and audience by tweeting a conversation starter from your company account or chiming in on tweets from important Twitter users in your industry.
This approach works best for mature brands with a strong command of their voice.
A surprising report from Social Media Examiner found that for networking, marketers find Facebook to be the most important b2b social media marketing platform (40%) more than any other platform, even LinkedIn (35%).
So while it’s easy to categorize a Facebook page as the playground of consumer marketing, don’t dismiss its power for reaching businesses just because it has a broad audience.
Besides, 88% of LinkedIn users also have Facebook.
The Social Media Examiner report also found that b2b marketers find Facebook to be the best social media platform for networking.
Facebook groups are a great place for you to meet potential customers in your industry and demonstrate your thought leadership.
You can use Facebook groups to answer people’s questions, take part in conversations, create brand awareness, and meet prospective clients.
Staying In Touch
Ok, technically Facebook Messenger is its own platform, but let’s not split hairs here.
It is used by 1.3 billion people every month. And as you build a Facebook-level relationship with your prospect, sometimes it’s easier to build out your relationship and communicate from there rather than through email, texting, or other apps with less user-friendly messaging systems.
Just be sure you’re both comfortable enough with that level of intimacy.
Facebook, more so than other social media sites, has joined the realm of customer service. It’s not just about posting engaging b2b social media marketing content, it’s about responding to customer inquiries and making yourself available to quickly respond to your customer’s needs.
The benefit to doing this? Consumers across the board say they are more likely to follow and buy from brands who help them out on social media.
It’s all about convenience.
With so many eyeballs on Facebook every day, it’s an ideal b2b social media marketing tool to funnel traffic.
Facebook’s easy linking makes it easy to send traffic to your homepage, product pages, or specific landing pages on Facebook, but you can also lead them to your other social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.
About 80% of Instagram users follow a business yet only 33% of b2b brands are active on the platform.
So while it’s not the most popular b2b social media platform it’s also not that hard to stand out.
Humanize Your Brand
Yes, you’re a b2b brand but that doesn’t mean you have to be all business all the time. Businesses are people after all, and people do business with people they like.
Instagram is one of the most humanizing social media marketing platforms out there.
Here are a few ways Instagram gives you a personality edge:
Showcasing company culture
Posting user-generated content
Highlighting employee expertise
Adding Instagram as part of a multi-channel b2b social media marketing strategy sparks an emotional bond with your target audience in ways LinkedIn and Twitter can’t.
Every social media platform has influencers, but Instagram is one of the easiest platforms to create content and generate engagement.
From still images to short format videos, from the Feed to Stories to Reels, it has the most popular forms of media and the power to get it seen.
YouTube is an enormous and growing social media platform with many capabilities. It has over 1 billion viewers and adds plenty of value to your social media marketing strategy.
More than 86% of b2b companies use video marketing like YouTube as part of their content marketing strategies, the king of video content.
YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine and “YouTube” is the third most searched term on Google.
A presence on YouTube is required if you are serious about owning your category in search.
B2b businesses, especially in the technology industry, can create videos that help customers learn how to use their products, troubleshoot any issues, and learn tips and tricks.
YouTube may not be the ideal platform for lead generation but it is a part of building a brand voice that can speak to your target audiences.
Like Instagram, Influencers love YouTube, and it can also be a great platform to partner up to reach your target companies and potential customers.
A few more to think about:
SlideShare – SlideShare is a low-cost social media platform popular in the business community that lets you share reports and decks. It’s great for learning about your industry and publishing on it can positively impact your SEO.
Medium – Medium is a social media platform that is great for building thought leadership, brand awareness, and attracting search engines.
TikTok– Keep an eye on TikTok moving into the b2b social media space. It’s growing faster than any other social media platform, recently taking over Instagram as the most downloaded social media app. It has the most creative features, and user-generated content, and is the darling of a new generation of influencers. Now that videos can be up to 10 minutes, it’s arguably the best social media platform for product demonstrations.
Other Social Media Platform Tools
There’s more to running a social media marketing strategy than creating catchy content and picking the right place and time to publish.
Yes, you have to manage the content and attention it draws, but if you want to stand out, you also have to know how to maximize social media analytics and tap into the power of social listening.
The tools below aren’t themselves social media platforms, but they help you get the most out of your social media strategy.
Hootsuite automates posting, has a decent analytics dashboard, and is helpful when multiple people manage multiple accounts, especially on different platforms.
Depending on your level of service—it licenses its products in a tiered subscription model—you can also use its ability to engage with users directly through its website and harness Hootsuite Streams, their social listing service, which unlocks information about how your brand is perceived online.
SproutSocial is a social media management tool similar to Hootsuite, with its own team-based social media management features for multiple accounts, and its own social listening tool, “Simply Measured.”
Brandwatch specializes in social listening, without all of the bells and whistles that come with Hootsuite and SproutSocial.
If you’re driving traffic to your website you should have good analytics tools and Google Analytics gives you the most accurate way to measure and track visitors.
UTM Parameters are codes added to a URL that allows you to track traffic from content marking campaigns.
Companies with Awesome B2B Social Media Marketing
Before getting started, let’s take a look at some of the best b2b social media networks out there today.
The companies here have a great command of how to use social media to their benefit. Pay close attention because it’s not always about the final sale.
Google makes the majority of its revenue from ad sales from businesses so even though it is used by consumers, it’s also a b2b brand.
They share content that helps marketers use the vast amount of data available on Google. By providing the added value of information, they keep their customers involved.
Slack’s messaging program is designed specifically for workplace management now owned by Salesforce, Slack offers businesses workspace chat rooms systematized by topics, private groups, and messaging between staff.
You can tell IBM respects its followers because it offers unique content on each of its channels. This creates an optimal experience no matter where users encounter them online.
Mailchimp reinforces its branding with brightly colored and interactive graphics, but it also skillfully makes use of user and employee-generated content.
Shopify has mastered the art of YouTube. With a library of How-To videos and tutorials for startups and entrepreneurs and customer success stories, it’s compelling b2b video content at its best.
Adobe excels at storytelling and uses its social media platforms to give voice to employees. It’s known for making use of LinkedIn Live early on in the Covid-19 pandemic.
How to Create a Successful B2B Social Media Marketing Strategy
B2b social media marketing strategy isn’t all that different than it is for any other business.
To start a budget has to be allocated to get an idea of the scale of your social media marketing strategy. Industry wide the rule of thumb is between 2-5% of revenue should be reallocated to marketing efforts of that brand often spend upwards of 14 percent of that marketing budget towards a social media strategy.
Assess how your marketing budget will be allocated within your core social media categories and then…
Find and study your target audience
Learn about the social media platforms they are on
Decide which social media sites make the most sense given your bandwidth and budget
Study best practices and the algorithm of your chosen social media platforms
Create social media campaigns based on your objectives
Rinse and repeat — always review results and adjust accordingly
Here is our great guide on how to create a social media marketing strategy.
Challenges of B2B Social Media
There’s so much to know about social media, even full-time employees might benefit from the use of a specialty agency that can supply the teams of experts needed to harness its potential.
A few of the areas most b2b social media managers need assistance with:
What’s the point of doing b2b social media advertising if you can’t measure and track it.
Seems easy enough, but with reports coming from several platforms with only basic metrics, it can be a lot harder to make sense of the numbers.
ROI is always a tricky metric, especially with intangibles like brand awareness or relationship building with potential customers, which is a large part of b2b social media
It’s better to not be on social media at all than to just toss up terrible content or a thin me too blog post. The thing is social media content has reached the skill level of regular television and magazines.
It takes professional videographers, photographers, copywriters, graphic designers, and more to create the quality of content that nets in results.
B2B Social Media Advertising
There is an art to advertising online and on social media and it can get expensive and fruitless if you don’t do it right. Consulting with a professional B2B social media agency that can guide you in the right direction helps you make the most of your budget.
Are You Social Media Ready?
B2b social media marketing is a full-time job.
You have to create killer content that grabs attention and moves you towards your end goal. You have to know how to use the full power of social media platforms and understand the basics of a content marketing strategy.
Consider working with an experienced agency or social media expert. They can help you with anything from design, strategy, content creation, management, and consulting so you can get the results you want.