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.
The core of those digital metrics looks at how well different B2B firms within each sector use social media to approach potential buyers. 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 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 strategies.
While some more traditional marketers might not see the benefit of a social channel marketing strategy for a B2B audience, social campaigns do matter in the modern digital landscape. We’re going to explain why.
B2B social media marketing
Social media is just as important for a B2B company as it is for B2C businesses. Here are 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 valuable content for their social media accounts.
- 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 digital 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 several reasons.
- It can help your business connect with existing and prospective customers
- It’s an established way to distribute valuable content
- It’s a way to project your brand identity and voice
- It can be used for client support
- It improves your 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 and engagement rate, coupled with a solid content marketing strategy, will position your business positively in the eyes of clients and B2B social media users.
Content is another important metric that we measure on Elevate. If you want to learn more about it, we recommend our article on how to create a winning content strategy. Social media platforms are one of the best ways to distribute educational content, like articles, white papers and blog posts. This type of communication will drive potential leads onto your site. Thus, the social media journey can be the first step towards 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 content like customer success stories, testimonials from satisfied customers, streams from an online event, or video tutorials that prove your expertise.
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’. It does so as much as a website journey or even, dare we say, a meeting in the 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 your business’s reputation as a thought leader in your field and can be an incredibly effective B2B marketing tool.
One useful effect of this comes in the form of employees – the true brand advocates. If the company culture is visibly great, employee stories about their everyday work life and meaningful activities make for effective content. It’s then also easier to attract top talent to the firm. Employee advocacy can also be good for your relationships with customers. 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 of 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. User interactions on social networks are a tool through which your clients can quickly contact your business in the event of a problem. Your company, on the other hand, 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 efficiently they deal 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. 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 them 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, and fosters trust and credibility. All of those elements contribute to lead generation, with SMART goals needing to be focused on realistic objectives and measurable factors.
Know who to target
Randomly launching content into the internet abyss is a surefire way to miss its target audience. When developing a social media strategy, work with the personas of your ideal buyers 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 or social media marketers should create a content calendar of what will be posted and when. This 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, user engagement, conversion rate and sales.
There are whole suites of analytics tools out there to help companies measure metrics like social engagement and to 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 visual content, a B2B company may avoid content marketing efforts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest – but it should always based on 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 educational video content, 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 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 organisation to benchmark itself against its competitors and helps to create, manage and measure a target-driven programme (or roadmap) to maximise its 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 help you make your social reach its full potential.