One of the great benefits of Dusted’s new Elevate brand and digital benchmark tool is that it allows us and our clients to gain some fascinating insights into how leading B2B businesses in specialist sectors are performing in terms of their brand and digital presence. It gives us a clear view of who is investing and outranking the sector when it comes to our 11 key brand and digital metrics including UX, security, SEO and content data.
A core of those digital metrics looks at how well different B2B firms within each sector use social media and, thanks to the combination of our expert team and best practice data analytics we’re able to conclude :
‘Most B2B brands are underperforming and missing real commercial opportunities when it comes to cultivating a social media presence’
Taking just the infrastructure investment sector alone, Elevate ranks B2B firms’ performances in each area out of 100 and only one (Goldman Sachs) scored well for social media content with the next best being Blackrock with just 55.44 out of 100. The fact that the industry average score for social media presence is 5.98 out of 100 shows that there is a huge opportunity for many B2B brands if they invest in their social media strategy.
While some more traditional marketing approaches might not see the benefit of a social media marketing strategy for B2B businesses, it really does matter in the modern digital landscape and we’re going to explain why.
Social media marketing for B2B companies
Social media is just as important for a B2B company as it is for B2C businesses so here’s a few quick facts and figures:
- According to a report by MyCustomer.com, 87% of B2B firms viewed social media as a highly successful element of their marketing mix.
- In a survey of 115 content marketing specialists in B2B roles, it was found that 79% rated social media as the most effective marketing channel, with 38% noting that if they had extra budget for next year, they would spend it on social media content.
- 84% of C-level and VP-level business decision-makers in B2B organisations are influenced by social media content when making B2B sales decisions according to a study by market intelligence firm, IDC.
- LinkedIn (as expected) is the most used social network for B2B marketing with some nine out of ten B2B businesses using it (if your B2B company isn’t using LinkedIn, your competitors and clients almost certainly are!)
So why is social media so important and why do so many B2B professionals rate it so highly among the effective marketing channels?
5 reasons for B2B companies to use social media
Social media is important for B2B organisations for a number of reasons.
- It can help a business connect with potential and existing clients
- It’s an established way to distribute content
- It’s a way to project brand identity and voice
- It can be used for client support
- It improves SEO
Let’s take a look at those reasons in more detail:
Why should B2B businesses use social media?
Connecting with clients
It’s mainstream, embedded into most professionals working week in terms of networking and if your competitors are on social media, it means your clients are too. A good social media presence coupled with a good content marketing strategy that stands out from the crowd and will elicit engagement and positive mentions, positioning your business positively in clients’ and B2B social media users’ eyes.
Content is another important metric that we measure on Elevate, but we’ll look at it in more detail in another post. Social media platforms are one of the best ways to distribute those articles, white papers and blog posts and to drive web traffic to your site. Effective social media communications like this will drive potential leads onto your site, which can be the first step towards them entering your marketing funnel.
For business people, the trust generated by quality content can often be an important factor in making a buying decision, so it’s worthwhile using social platforms to more widely distribute that content.
Projecting brand identity
Your social media presence creates an often more authentic perspective into a business and creates an immersive essence of ‘who you are’ and ‘what you stand for’ as much as a website journey or even dare we say meeting in an office. As such, the tone and content of every social media post can essentially form part of your business’s branding, i.e., how you want it to be perceived by B2B buyers, potential B2B customers, talent and investors. A strong social media presence with a considered, targeted and relevant content marketing strategy can help establish and maintain a business’s reputation as a thought-leader in its field and can be an incredibly effective B2B marketing tool.
One useful effect of this comes in the form of employee advocacy; if your company is visibly a great place to work and is able to tell employee stories through its social media activities, it’s then easier to attract top talent to the firm. Employee advocacy can also be an attractive factor for business people when making a purchasing decision — after all, it’s better to do business with people that you know are passionate about their jobs.
One of the most dynamic aspects relating to social media is that when something goes wrong with one of your products or services, clients can very quickly and publicly let you know about it regardless of your level of involvement. By utilising social networks as a tool through which clients can quickly contact and deal with the business in the event of a problem, the company has a chance to control the situation, display the efficiency and quality of its customer service and mitigate reputational risk. For many, social media is the preferred channel for client support, so it’s a good idea to keep it open and place it at the heart of your PR, IR and customer service function..
While every business, whether a B2B firm or a B2C company, should obviously attempt to avoid problems if a buyer sees how well and how efficiently a company deals with issues through social platforms, it’s a big plus point in making a buying decision. Good service and effective problem resolution help forge much stronger customer relationships.
Third party links, mentions and showing interest in a company’s content are all beneficial for SEO and (as we know through Elevate) being high in search engine rankings is incredibly beneficial for business and a key driver in commercial success. Again, we’ll look at SEO in another post because it’s one of Elevate’s crucial metrics when it comes to how a business performs online. Social media is a relatively easy way to actively manage, affect and update many of the elements which contribute to good quality SEO and keep a business high in the right search engine rankings.
Tips for B2B social media success
Define what you want to achieve with a social media strategy. Most businesses won’t focus on direct B2B sales through social media channels but concentrate on using it to guide prospects and stakeholders through the customer experience (CX) journey to the top of the marketing funnel. Carefully orchestrated content builds brand awareness, educates audiences, builds trust and credibility. All of those elements contribute to lead generation, with SMART goals needing to be focused on realistic goals and measurable factors.
Know who to target
Randomly launching content into the internet abyss is a sure-fire way to miss its target audience. When developing a social media strategy, work with personas to figure out exactly who the target audience is for your social media campaign and what content will speak to them, engage and generate qualified leads. Knowing who the content is aimed at will also guide factors in the content strategy like the tone of voice, imagery and visual impact.
Once project goals are set and the business knows the buyer profiles it wants to target, the company’s B2B marketers should create a content calendar of what will be posted and when. It helps keep the company’s social media efforts on track.
The surest way to see whether a business is achieving its content marketing goals is to measure the results of its efforts. Before initiating a social media campaign, decide what metrics and data the business will use to measure success. Some of the KPIs to determine whether a social media strategy is working or not could be response times, engagements, conversions and sales.
There are whole suites of analytics tools out there to help companies measure metrics like social engagement and to really provide data on how well the business’s social media activities are working.
If a business is in uncharted waters when it comes to things like analytics tools and creating buyer personas to find the right voice to appeal to its key audience, it may be a good idea to employ a social media agency. For smaller B2B businesses using a social media agency may be more cost-effective than employing a whole team of B2B content marketers.
Use the right social media platform
With the possible exception of businesses that rely heavily on design and visuals, a B2B company may avoid content marketing efforts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest – but it is always based on the audience behaviour, data analytics and predicted engagement. For B2B businesses, LinkedIn is the primary channel, and it should be the main target of any B2B content strategy. LinkedIn is the go-to social media network for professionals and related business content with high levels of employee engagement. For B2B businesses it’s where the greatest number of potential customers reside. Twitter is also a powerful tool not just for sharing news and content, but also for client support and outreach. When creating a B2B social media strategy, LinkedIn and Twitter are definitely where B2B businesses should invest the greatest time and effort.
YouTube can also be a very useful social tool as a great place to share explainer and how-to videos, SaaS screencasts, feature benefit presentations, targeted adverts, showreels and spirit videos. Video creation tends to be more expensive than written content, so before embarking on any major video creation drive as part of a social media marketing strategy companies need to work out whether they think it’ll be worth the extra investment based on the ROI It can yield amazing results as it is so accessible, impactful and shareable.
Supercharge your social
“If it cannot be measured, it cannot be improved,” as the old saying goes. That’s why Elevate is such an important starting point for companies looking to pragmatically improve their B2B social media presence. It allows an organization to benchmark themselves against their competitors and helps to create, manage and measure a target-driven programme (or roadmap) to maximise their online potential.
What are the next steps? At Dusted, we have extensive experience with B2B social media marketing, using our know-how and team of talented creatives and technical analysts to produce original, measurable and successful social media campaigns to drive influence and engagement — two of the key objectives of any social marketing.
Get in touch and we’ll show you help how to make your social reach its full potential.