Social media marketing is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it is a must for any business, no matter the size or audience. Social media has proven to be an effective and low-cost way of getting your message out there, and that’s no different for b2b companies. Whether you are the business owner or a copywriter charged with marketing a b2b business, this article will show you how to do social media marketing for b2b – and why it is important for the success of your business.
What is b2b marketing?
A b2b company is a business that sells goods or services to other businesses. I.e. its audience is ‘business to business’. Although we may think of social media marketing as centred around the b2c marketplace (‘business to consumer’), it is a tool that can also help those in the b2b arena maintain their current customer base – and broaden it – by connecting with new customers through various channels. These include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, to name just a few.
B2b social media marketing can put you in front of C-suite decision-makers of the businesses you want to sell your products to, such as CEOs and heads of departments. It can also help you better network with others in similar fields that could lead to fruitful partnerships in future.
6 reasons why you need to use social media marketing for b2b
With the global pandemic, more of us than ever before are shopping, networking and doing business online. One of the main channels for these interactions to take place is social media. Here are some reasons why you need to use social for b2b:
1. Your competition is using B2B social media marketing
Like b2c consumers, b2b customers are increasingly using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other networks to share their opinions about products and services with their colleagues and professional network. It’s no surprise that 83% of b2b companies use social media marketing, and rated it second only to search marketing for success.
2. Social media marketing helps you generate leads
Your leads are out there, but you need to know how to get them. At a simple level, posting about your services and products on social media helps others searching for what you offer to discover you. From there you can signpost them to your digital brochures, website or enquiry line.
Social media marketing can be used more generally to promote your business and engage with customers or as direct sales campaigns where it is possible to convert leads by targeting content and ads at specific segments of the userbase.
You can also use social media marketing tools like LinkedIn ads to find people who have shown interest in what you offer by clicking on your company website, typing in keywords about the services that match yours, or visiting a page of another company where they can purchase products like yours.
3. It’s easy to integrate into your web design and content strategy
Not only does social media provide ready access to potential customers, it is also easy to implement and integrate with other channels such as your website, blog feed and landing page content by the use of share buttons and widgets. All this encourages users to navigate between channels with ease and share your content.
4. Show your customers you care
If you’re not present on social media, it suggests to your customers that you haven’t given much thought to how to make it easy for them to reach you (even if this isn’t true). Social media marketing presents an opportunity to engage with your existing customers and those who may be new to you.
It also allows you to spot and quell any customer service issues quickly before they escalate and go viral. Because let’s face it, even if you aren’t on social, you can bet your customers are.
5. B2b social media marketing offers insights that you wouldn’t usually have access to
Some of these social media analytics include:
- Demographics (including company size and employee seniority)
- Top sharers
- Most active time of the day for engagement
- Cost per acquisition
- Event attendance
- Survey results and more.
6. It helps you plan your social media content strategy
With social media marketing, you can set up an editorial calendar to plan what content you’re going to share and when. You can integrate it with tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer and TweetDeck to help schedule posts to go live when users are most active.
How to do social media marketing for b2b in 7 steps
So now you know why it’s important to do social media marketing as a b2b business, let’s look at how to go about it.
1. Know what channels your audience uses
The first step when doing social media marketing for b2b is to find out who and where potential customers are. To start, draw up a customer profile. Knowing the channels your potential customers are active on will allow you to create content that speaks directly to them. Consider the below:
– LinkedIn is great for b2b companies who are looking to network and stay in touch with their professional connections, which is why it is used by 96% of b2b content marketers for organic social marketing.
– Facebook’s audience consists of more than 1 billion people on any given day, which means you’re bound to find key decision-makers interested in your product or service.
– Almost all key company managers and brands will have a Twitter profile, making this a great go-to to connect. Despite this, only 27% of b2B content marketers used Twitter ads in 2020, so there could be plenty of potential to stand apart from the competition.
These are just three of the top social media channels for the UK and US, but other countries may use different social media, so find out the dominant channels depending on your market.
2. Develop content that engages your user
A good social media strategy for b2b requires understanding what content will be most engaging to your audience. From there, ensure you have a mix of media in addition to text-based posts:
– Video is not only entertaining but allows you to connect with customers on an emotional level by using storytelling and showing the benefits of your product or service. You might also want to consider live streams to host events.
– You can try infographics as well, which can help you disseminate statistics and research in an easy-to-digest way.
– Well-shot photos also help grab attention, whether you’re lifting the curtain on your staff at work, teasing a new product or posting a competition.
Whatever the content type, make sure you understand why your audience is engaging with you and what you want them to take away.
3. Be consistent!
While the length of your posts might have to change across different channels, your brand voice should stay the same. If you’re not sure what your brand voice is, think about how you would describe your company in a few words. What is the ethos of your brand? How do you want to be seen? This will also be partly driven by your target audience. If you are in a highly regulated industry, you will use much more professional and formal language as opposed to a digital marketing company targeting startups.
4. Track your success
You can view post engagement on social media channels, but you can also measure referrals from your social media content to your website so long as you include a trackable link. You can then measure how successful each platform has been and divert more of your funds there in future.
5. Start a conversation…or join one
Your audience is out there so make sure you’re interacting with them whether they have specific queries about your service, or they have comments about a forthcoming product launch or whitepaper publication. You can start conversations by asking your followers for their opinions, or you can join them. For example, there is no better time than a holiday season or awareness days to use social media marketing for b2b, utilising hashtags relevant for your sector.
6. Be responsive
Be sure to take note of any comments which tag your company’s social profile because unhappy customers can quickly gather pace and put others off. It is essential that you monitor customer conversations in order to respond timely and appropriately.
7. Follow best practice
Every platform has its own best practices that you should follow when marketing your company on social media. Some examples of b2b social media best practice are being courteous and polite to other users, engaging with your followers by replying to their messages and also liking or retweeting any posts of interest.
Although you’re there to market, that shouldn’t be your sole priority and users will quickly unfollow if all you share is sales-led content. Make sure you mix up your posts and inspire your followers to want to check in with your content regularly. It doesn’t hurt to have your own company social media guidelines for employees to follow so they know what can and can’t be published under your brand.
Social media post ideas for b2b
B2b companies should use a range of content on social media, such as videos of your CEO explaining your core service or CSR policy, facts from whitepapers, articles written by experts in your industry for distribution purposes or surveys to discover what your target audience is interested in.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some social media post examples for b2b content:
- Polls and surveys
- Behind-the-scenes videos
- Product launches
- Business announcements
- Employee profiles
- User-generated content (getting your clients to send in their own videos or photos)
- Infographics and more.
B2b social media marketing strategy template
Now you’re ready and raring to get started with social media marketing for b2b, you need to create a strategy. Here is a rough template to follow:
Setting goals for your b2b social media marketing strategy is crucial because it will help you to have something concrete and measurable to aim for. Jeff Bullas offers some great ways to set b2b social media goals using the SMART approach, but an example of a goal would be to increase the number of likes on your Facebook page or followers on Twitter.
Consider your resources
Consider how much budget you can assign to social media from your digital marketing spend. This will roughly be proportional to the amount of traffic and leads you to receive via social channels, which your analytics can help you to refine over time.
Decide whether to organic or paid
As mentioned, you can use social media profiles simply for organic engagement – posting relevant content your audience might like. Or you can utilise the ads functionality of many social channels to ensure you get your content in front of the right eyes, particularly useful when you need to push a product or service.
Create a content plan
Once you’re ready to go, start putting together your content calendar. How often will you post, who will post it and when? Know what content and topics will be published on what days, factoring in any awareness days and having free space in case anything unexpected should come up so that you can respond.
You also need to know who will be monitoring responses to surveys, competitions and comments, as well as who the emergency contact is should content need to be withdrawn from scheduling for any reason.
Review and revise
You will need to review your strategy periodically to see how well it is working for you and whether your goals are being met. This is where each channel’s in-built analytics come in handy, as well as your website or CRM’s analytics to measure traffic. Use this information to help you plan your content for the most profitable channels, markets, times of day and to utilise the hashtags that get the most engagement. It can also help you find what type of headlines and content gets the best results from your audience on social so you can tweak your content marketing strategy accordingly.
Social media marketing is essential for businesses in the b2b market and at the heart of your strategy should be great content that helps your brand stand out from the competition.