Social media is one of the most effective tools businesses can use to engage with customers and, until recently, B2B companies have acted like the whole online social scene was of no use to them.
These days, thanks to the power of engagement and impressions, B2B companies have started to see how powerful and important social media can be. This is great news businesses, but there is still some confusion over what social media platforms they should be using.
There are over a billion people on social media, which means that no matter how niche your product or service, there is bound to be an audience for your content. The trick to social media for B2B firms is to avoid simply posting information about your own business and, instead, research the target audience and find out what kind of content interests them. Self-congratulatory posts don’t garner much interest, but curating or creating relevant content will draw interest to your page and help increase your follower count and build brand awareness.
Most businesses go by the philosophy of ‘the more the merrier’ when it comes to social media. The more platforms you use, the more widely the message is spread and the higher the return on investment, right? Not necessarily. Even if you have a dedicated social media manager (we recommend this), it’s a lot of wasted effort if you are using a platform where your target audience is absent.
So how can your B2B company decide which social media platforms are best suited to you?
LinkedIn is the most popular and effective social media platform available for businesses. 91% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn, with 63% of marketers saying it’s the most effective social media platform. If you’re looking to ignite social media for your business, this is where to start. LinkedIn allows you to target specific groups under criteria that is helpful to businesses, such as job skills or industries. You can also target your ads towards specific regions, markets, job titles and other filters that alternative social media platforms don’t accommodate.
Taking full advantage of LinkedIn’s targeting capabilities does come at a cost, however. Unlike the other platforms listed here, LinkedIn has a premium feature as a subscription. It’s not mandatory but recommended to help you get the most out of your account.
As the second most popular social media platform for B2Bs, Twitter offers a large variety of ways to post bitesize content. It also allows users to access embedded content via the posts themselves, so users needn’t leave Twitter’s web page to view videos or listen to podcasts, making playing them more appealing. Perhaps the biggest advantage of Twitter, however, is that it’s relatively simple to join trending topics to get more views on a post or to seek out new audiences. Even better is that the users do the work for you by sharing your posts and engaging in conversations that stem from your post.
The only disadvantage to Twitter is that, despite there being 317 million unique monthly users, the majority of them are not your target audience. Business accounts are predominantly entertainment or B2C companies, with most users aged between 18 and 29 years old, engaging with the app for an average of just 2.7 minutes per day. Despite the aforementioned majority of users being disinterested in B2B accounts, Twitter still has a large number of your target market and is a great opportunity to engage with them and build up your brand’s online presence.
With 1.9 billion unique monthly users, Facebook is the largest social media platform available. It allows brands to generate Facebook company profiles that include details Twitter does not allow for. Many of the remaining advantages of Facebook are similar to Twitter (such as easy-to-view embedded content and user feedback from likes and shares), except that you don’t have a 140 character limit on your posts like Twitter does. This allows for posts with more detail and depth. Facebook also uses Instant Articles, similar to Google’s AMPs, which allows content to be viewed much faster and requiring less data – ideal for mobile devices.
Where Facebook fails to keep up with Twitter is its capacity latch onto trends. Hashtags exist on Facebook but aren’t as integral to the platform as they are on Twitter. As a result, it can be more difficult to build your following on Facebook.
Many people don’t think about YouTube when they think of social media, but, thanks to the activity in comments and the option to subscribe to YouTube channels, it should be integral to your social strategy. As we stated in a previous blog, B2B companies need YouTube. As a social media platform, it has at least a billion unique monthly users with 2 million views per minute. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about YouTube is that there is no specific genre – it accommodates everything, including B2Bs. If you have a video you want to promote, you can make sure it’s seen by the right people by promoting it alongside videos with a similar audience.
YouTube works well for businesses thanks to its organisational options. Playlists let you categorise your content, making it easier for users to find the content they’re looking for. For instance, you can put news videos in one playlist, product/service videos in another, and so on.
The problem with YouTube is the restrictions on video content. While other social media channels allow you to share music and videos that are copyright protected, using music without permission or paying royalties can cause your video to be taken down. You also don’t have much say about what ads are displayed with your video, leaving some of the user experience up to chance.
Statistically, you’re unlikely to have a Google+ account. It’s one of the less popular social media options, with only 55% of B2B marketers setting up an account. But Google+ has its advantages, and if they complement your company objectives then it could be just what your social media strategy needs. Obviously, Google+ is owned by Google, so the key benefit is from an SEO perspective. Having a Google+ page produces a positive effect on the search engine relevancy of a brand, and also allows for seamless integration of other Google-owned social media, such as YouTube and Google Hangout.
However, as the beginning of the previous paragraph suggests, one of the biggest disadvantages is that much fewer people are using it. This could be for a number of reasons, such as the not particularly user-friendly interface or the terms and conditions restricting contests or promotions, but even if Google+ does have effective methods of engaging with your target audience, without the numbers, you could find getting a return on investment with Google+ more challenging.
The social media channels you utilise is, of course, entirely dependent on your brand. It’s a good idea to find out what social media platform your audience is using and use that as a starting point. We covered this in a previous blog, which you can read here. Don’t be afraid to use social media accounts not covered here, too. With 53% of its users following a brand, Instagram can be a great tool for B2Bs. Adobe’s Instagram account focuses their content on what their products are capable of, rather than what they sell, and has achieved a large following for it.
If you’re a B2B brand that doesn’t have a social media account yet, then it’s time to get started. That’s not to say traditional methods such as cold calling or network events are redundant – far from it – but social media accounts need to be integrated into your strategy. If you aren’t taking advantage of social media, then you’re missing out on some lucrative opportunities.
Finally, it’s very important that once you have selected the social media channels that suit your strategy, you maintain them consistently. Google takes social media activity into account when it comes to SEO and an account that hasn’t had much attention will suffer. That’s why it’s a good idea to have someone dedicated to social media or, for better value and return on investment, come to an agency like Dusted and let us take care of it for you!