When you think of brands that have an extraordinary social media presence, most companies that come to mind are probably B2C. Sure, B2B businesses have a more difficult time growing and reaching their audience, but it’s not impossible.
In an age where an online presence is a necessity, companies with spectacular social media strategies and campaigns are flourishing. After all, the average person spends around two hours a day on social media, and studies by We Are Social website have shown 11 people use social media for the first time every second of the day. For any B2C business, not attempting to tap into this large market would be a shame.
The key to a successful business to business social media campaign is to put your resources into the correct social media channels – and share the right content to them. By doing this, your brand can be noticed by company executives and considered for services. In fact, according to Forbes, 83% of executives actually use social media in their decision-making process to use a company. In addition, 92% of these executives said that social media has influenced a decision of theirs within the last year. Wow!
However, there are many hesitations when it comes to a B2B, about their social media activity. Isn’t social media too casual? If I’m a local business on the smaller side, is it worth hiring someone just to manage my social media accounts? How do I consistently generate quality content that doesn’t end up in the Internet’s slush pile?
So what social media channels are best for b2b? and how can you leverage them? I will go over the differences in social media strategies for B2B and B2C businesses in a straightforward and easy break down of each channel. We’ll also break down how you can use specific social channels beyond LinkedIn to promote your B2B ventures and offer tips, advice, and even tools to assist your business’s unique social media marketing campaign!
What Is The Difference Between B2B & B2C Social Media?
Understanding the difference between B2B and B2C social media will allow you to strategically make the shift from one to another and successfully implement a campaign. Per Sprout Social, these are the main differences between the two:
Focus: B2B brands are focused on conversions, website traffic, and leads. B2C is focused on audience growth, engagement and brand health.
Invest: B2B invest their time in analytics and niche audiences. B2C invests in brand loyalty, customer service and engaging with the community.
Content: B2B content is geared towards a company’s social audience only, whereas B2C also considers the brand’s social community.
B2B vs B2C
When it comes to any solid marketing strategy, one of the key components is understanding your audience. Who are you selling to? What are their needs? How can you promote your services or your products in a way to meet those needs?
In the case of B2B and B2C, they are principally the same in this regard, except their audience and their respective needs are different.
For example, B2B focuses on businesses catering to the needs of other businesses. Products and services which fall into the B2B category include companies offering databases, management software, timekeeping programs, healthcare services for workers, indoor furnishing businesses for restaurants and entertainment venues, and so on.
When it comes to promoting one’s products and services to another company, essential leverage is a focus on cost-effectiveness and practicality. It’s also commonly noted that companies seeking a B2B company’s products or services are also seeking their expertise in a specific industry or field as well. Thus, a B2B company’s products and services are important to increase the efficacy and functionality of another company’s operations.
B2C, on the other hand, focuses on selling services and products to individual customers for their private use. The products and services offered by B2C companies are varied and focus mainly on meeting a demand in the market. B2C companies leverage pathos and solutions when it comes to marketing their products and services. In engaging with the pathos, or emotions, of the consumer, B2C companies consider more personable marketing campaigns, though this doesn’t necessarily mean that B2B companies must employ less personable marketing strategies/slogans.
While these are the core principles that divide B2B and B2C marketing, we believe that B2B and B2C aren’t necessarily exclusive. After all, some companies offer both B2B and B2C products and services. Both types of businesses might also have their own in-laid marketing strategies, but it isn’t impossible for these strategies to cross over. In fact, if you own a B2B company and you notice a B2C marketing trend that fits your company’s unique product or service, we suggest not dismissing it and to do further research.
B2B Social Media Trends vs B2C Social Media Trends
While the marketing strategies of B2B and B2C companies may contain a level of overlap, the social media trends for B2B and B2C companies differ. Here are some social media trends to consider for both B2B and B2C companies before formalizing your marketing campaign:
Top 3 B2B Social Media Trends
1. Investment Over Single-Transaction
Typically, B2B companies deal with smaller, niche markets. They’re not looking to tap into a wide market for profits. Considering how many B2B companies provide services that assist with managing workers and logging a large amount of data, a long-term relationship is more practical. Instead of having clients buy a product or service for one-time use, B2B companies should consider building relationships that lead to consideration for future products and services.
The social marketing campaigns for B2B tend to be lengthier and overlapping. While short-term engagement is advantageous for certain reasons, such as promoting a specific product or sale, B2B companies want to focus more on their services and products as well as their growth and scalability for the long term.
3. Setting a KPI
When it comes to creating a goal for a business, one of the more difficult parts is measuring your goals. How do you know if your business has achieved its goal? How do you know if your social media marketing campaign is actually successful?
This is where KPI, or key performance indicator, is important. A KPI is a useful tool that measures a business’s performance. Depending on your B2B business’s goal, the KPI can by anything from the number of website visitors to your company’s website, the number of conversions, or desired actions, or even the number of clicks.
Setting a KPI not only provides a concrete way to measure how your business is doing in relation to a marketing campaign’s goal but also sets a standard for your marketing team.
Top 3 B2C Social Media Trends
In lieu of B2C’s focus on promoting a specific product or service, what matters most in consumer engagement is speed and quality content. You want your product and service to be known to a wide market but also in a short amount of time. This way you can also make more room time and energy-wise for other products. Many B2C social media campaigns also focus on giveaways, sales, and deals, which are all more short-term projects.
Though both B2B and B2C companies employ visuals for their marketing campaigns, research done by marketing firm Grazitti Interactive shows that B2C social media marketing strategies employ visuals more, especially videos. Given how almost 60% of the digital content posted on the Internet is oriented towards visual stimulation, this is no surprise.
3. Brand Building
Sometimes consumers buy for reasons outside of practical needs and entertainment purposes—status and desire often play a hand when it purchase-making. Especially for fashion and tech brands, maintaining a specific image and projecting the value of your merchandise is essential. Social media is not only an extension of your business’s online presence but also is a tool that supports the image and value you want to set for your brand.
Which Channels Are Best for B2B?
If you’ve been ignoring Twitter, Facebook and Instagram because you think only LinkedIn matters for B2B – you’re doing it all wrong!
LinkedIn may be appealing for B2B because it generates leads, but a goal of B2B social media marketing also should be branding. Most people on social media are there to kill time, and your content needs to appeal to that. Do not simply post videos about why your products are so great, but create content that tells stories to spark conversation. After considering this, the other platforms will sound much more appealing!
Social Media Examiner found that more B2B companies are picking up on this and are expanding to other channels:
- 89% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn
- 88% use Facebook
- 83% use Twitter
- 61% use Google+
- 55% use YouTube
- 39% use Pinterest
- 26% use Instagram
A great way to find what other social media channels are right for your B2B business besides LinkedIn is to research what your competitors are using. If they are successfully building a social media presence on Twitter, chances are you can too. Look at the top companies in your industry and check out what platforms they’re throwing resources into.
It’s also recommended to look at social media demographics to find where your target audience hangs out – you may be surprised! Sprout Social has conducted excellent research on social media demographics. Check out the graphics below and learn about each platform’s dominant audience:
Which social media channel is the most effective for b2b lead generation and why?
Now that you are more intimate with some of the top trends when it comes to social media marketing for B2B and B2C businesses, we will now go into the specific social media channels that are profitable for B2B businesses and how you can use them to their full potential. We will also the “Why” and provide data and demographic information from Social Media Examiner for all platforms below to support our findings.
What’s often considered the “Facebook” of the professional world, LinkedIn is the most popular social media channel with over 60% of B2B companies using this platform. Whether it’s because of the suave and professional interface or the handy features catering to B2B marketing, LinkedIn is a solid choice if your resources are limited and you need to push a B2B marketing campaign in only a few social media channels. Here are a few ways you can utilize LinkedIn for your B2B social media marketing needs:
Maximize the Possibilities for Leads
Does your company description only give basic details about your company’s mission and its products? Scrap it! Every part of your company’s profile should be geared towards generating leads and conversions. Whether it’s creating a header that will grab attention or providing links to content published on your company’s website, the company profile on LinkedIn is powerful too.
One last thing to consider when drafting the copy for your company profile is to make sure you’re hitting these three important following components:
- Target your audience
- Provide value
- Showcase your product/service
Take Advantage of Showcases
Showcases are primarily used to show a company’s extensions or individual brands. Not only is it useful in funneling website traffic to the appropriate areas, but it provides a chance to create long-standing relationships with potential partner companies.
Generate Meaningful Content
While this goes for any other social media channel, what makes LinkedIn particularly powerful is its article publication feature. Your company can directly put out relevant digital content related to its industry or associated industries. Compared to other digital content on other social media channels, LinkedIn articles are compelling at selling your company’s mission, values, and credibility. After all, good content equals good service!
Second to LinkedIn is Twitter when it comes to B2B marketing campaigns. While LinkedIn is useful in searching up partner companies or competitors, Twitter allows you to scope the social media presence and influence of a specific company as well. Given Twitter’s character limit and the relatively short life span of Twitter posts, another way to effectively promote your company’s product multiple times within a day is through Tweets. Data analyzed by Twitter has shown that individuals are 300% more likely to click on a link they’ve seen four times rather than once.
Another thing to consider for Twitter is that it’s a social media channel that allows for direct interaction between companies, sometimes even developing cult personalities. (Good examples of this are Wendy’s and Moon Pie.) Promoting your own products and services as well as engaging with fellow companies and widening your company’s social media presence are all parts of a healthy B2B social media marketing campaign.
Though using video marketing and video ads might feel like a B2C tactic, as these types of strategies employ appeals to pathos, YouTube also serves as a powerful tool with 48% of B2B companies using YouTube for social media marketing. Though YouTube has an extremely broad reach, what video marketing essentially allows you to do is employ the art of visual storytelling.
While the relationship B2C companies seek to set between them and their audience is different, the relationship between B2B companies and other businesses can also benefit the brand. With video marketing, you can still establish a relationship and go more in detail about the solutions your company offers. Furthermore, YouTube has an array of useful tools to assist your company’s marketing team—it allows for analytics, which are essential when evaluating performance and establishing KPIs.
Considered the YouTube equivalent of presentations, SlideShare allows you to share a host of digital content in multiple forms beyond video, such as presentation and music files. While SlideShare doesn’t have the massive reach that YouTube has, it’s consistently frequented by professionals, which is the type of audience B2B marketing centers itself on.
When using SlideShare, you want to focus specifically on content marketing. Content marketing is straightforward and allows fellow professionals to quickly gauge what your company’s products and services are as well as what types of solutions you can provide for the best return-on-investment and cost-effectiveness. When creating slides, be sure to keep them concise and keep the number of slides to under 10 for thorough audience engagement.
Another video sharing and streaming social media website, Vimeo is the less popular but more suave cousin of YouTube. Though Vimeo isn’t free and has a smaller market to tap into, at least 40% of B2B businesses have it as a marketing tool and it’s in the top 5 social media channels used.
Besides its professional-looking interface and straightforward video set-up, Vimeo has no time limit on uploaded videos. Furthermore, the potential to tap into a niche market is easier with Vimeo’s smaller streaming population. The only catch is that you have to pay a yearly subscription fee to advertise or product on Vimeo. However, when it comes to storytelling and selling your brand in a humanized approach, Vimeo is the perfect video sharing platform for those who want a more professional edge and less competition.
Beyond establishing a Facebook Business Page, many may wonder how Facebook can assist with B2B marketing efforts. Numbers reflect this as only 32% of B2B businesses use Facebook for social media marketing.
However, contrary to popular belief, Facebook isn’t only good for boosting brand awareness or Facebook Ads. It’s possible to establish contact and generate leads with niche markets, especially if you do your research and engage with the right communities on Facebook.
Facebook nowadays isn’t just a site to catch up with friends or renew connections—community-building has been a thing since the advent of Pages and Groups. With new communities forming and current ones growing in size, the potential to market on Facebook is just as extensive as the search results.
Combining visuals and resources, Pinterest’s main feature is the Board where users can collect links, information, and visuals. Compared to other social media channels, Pinterest is only used by 25% of B2B businesses and has a slight slant in its demographic, leaning towards women, but don’t let that stop you. Especially with visuals as the main focus, Pinterest is a useful tool in assembling and presenting digital content in one place and in a visually pleasing fashion.
Another aspect of Pinterest’s Board feature is the ability to divide the Board into different sections. Not only does this make it easy to organize your digital content, but it gives businesses more leeway to cover different industries. With these divisions, your not limited to cover what’s most relevant to your industry and can branch out into more niche markets.
For the max number of leads, be sure to use portrait photos and according to Curalate, stick to photos of things rather than people!
Dos and Don’ts of B2B Content
Before you set off to create the most awesome B2B strategies for your social media channel, here are some dos and don’ts!
Do engage! Even if your target audience is another business, don’t forget that it’s people who are running that company. By engaging with your target audience, you will get a better long-term relationship, be able to determine their needs, and how to match both of your needs.
Do be conversational! Often when it comes to writing social media copy, B2B businesses fall into the trap of using stiff writing for the sake of being professional. Feel free to use “we” and “our” when referring to your company and its services. After all, it’s a person who’s writing the social media posts and not a robot!
Do support content sharing among employees! According to Bambu by Sprout Social, people are sixteen times more likely to read a post made by a friend than from an advertisement. Networking is everything when it comes to the professional world, and your employees make up the network representing your company!
Don’t avoid humor! While content creation for B2B tends to come off as more professional, social media is casual in the first place, so having humor is actually a plus. Keep in mind that also social media users are looking to be entertained or to have their attention caught—you might have awesome content about marketing strategies or raising website traffic, but be sure to write about it in an accessible manner!
Don’t only stick to your industry! Though a part of B2B culture is finding a niche market or focusing on selling a service on a smaller scale, sticking to only one market or industry may actually be more harmful, especially if the industry becomes obsolete or suffers from an economic downturn. Similar to an investment portfolio, all businesses should consider multiple industries.
Don’t push the boundaries or be edgy! This is the most important mantra to remember. The high number of social media posts have saturated the market, and you may be tempted to do outlandish strategies to cut through the noise. This is a great short-term strategy that can yield results but it can only be done with a cautious mindset. It is much better to slowly build your brand than to push the envelope and risk offending any groups of people. An outlandish social media post can stir the pot and garner attention, but that one offensive tweet or misplaced quote could destroy your whole company and render your reputation irreparable.
While there are no perfect social strategies out there, the best marketing strategies, involving social media or not, require extensive research and planning. If possible and with the proper budget, we suggest using additional tools at your disposal such as sponsored posts. Not all businesses are built the same, so be sure to adapt accordingly to your specific metrics in an ever-fluctuating market.
Regardless of which social media channels you choose to use for marketing, what is most important is creating meaningful and engaging content that will inspire social media users and persuade other companies to invest in your brand or services.