Social media marketing is now an essential part of digital marketing strategies. However, it wasn’t that long ago when businesses were skeptical of how to use these platforms to reach their consumers. Even more, B2B companies saw no value or need in using social media period. Oh, how times have changed!Source: Global Digital Report, 2019
With the annual digital growth of social media users up 9-10% YoY and almost 300 million users, it’s no longer hard to explain why social media is important. These days, the conversation is focused on how companies can execute effectively across platforms to meet business needs and positively impact the bottom line.
Of course, you can’t succeed on social without first having a strategy. Developing a channel and content strategy that effectively reaches and connects with your desired audience is key. But what if your audience isn’t the standard “consumer” you’re selling a product to in-store or online? That’s OK! Social media marketing isn’t just for “selling” to a consumer. Every business in this day and age has room to play in the social space. It’s all about finding your spot!
Specifically, B2B companies have even more room to play in two different lanes. First, you have the internal audience, which contains current, past, and potential employees (who all have a desired interest in your brand, as well as the potential to evangelize the brand for you). Second is the external audience, “the buyers.” For example, say you are selling a product or service (i.e. software) to another business (your buyer), you would need to create content that showcases the product benefits and brand reputation. The goal is to bring your brand top of mind to their sales team as frequently as possible to increase the chance of conversion.
Let’s move on to discuss the largest differences between B2B and B2C for social media marketing:
Content marketing is a way to strategically develop posts that will increase either awareness, engagement, or conversion. And in many cases, all three! It goes deeper than the “sales pitch” and connects to your audience on a greater level. From promotions to thought leadership, the ideas and opportunities are endless for organic and paid social media content.
The content you’re used to seeing on the social channels you frequent typically will fall into this “standard” type of content. Many B2C companies have a content mix of promotional and evergreen content. The promotional content will range from real-time sales to seasonal and exclusive deals for consumers. User-generated content (UGC) usually makes an appearance in this content bucket as well. Then evergreen content will dig deeper to tell the story of the brand, its employees, the benefits, and how they “can help you.” The goal with evergreen content is to solve a human problem beyond just price or savings. Additionally, the voice and tone will vary for B2C. It delivers the opportunity to sound more relaxed compared to B2B, website, or digital banner content.
For example, for fred's Pharmacy we created evergreen content that was around their loyalty Reward program. This type of content can be used in an ongoing fashion and only needs updated once the promotions or rules of the program change.
Just as a reminder, there could and should be two different content strategies for B2B. The internal audience will have content focused around company culture, company benefits, employees, and current jobs. Why would a prospective applicant want to work there? Here’s your chance to show them why your company stands out among the rest. This is also a good time to launch an employee incentive program that encourages social sharing.
The content that falls in line with the external audience concentrates on company history, client reviews, thought leadership, and expertise (e.g., case studies, white papers, shared articles), webinars, infographics, company culture, and product or service benefits. You’ll see there are some content themes that overlap between audiences (i.e. company culture) which will benefit your strategy and posting cadence in the long run. Unlike B2C, the voice and tone skews toward professional and skilled. This content provides the opportunity to take the reach outside of the sales meeting to showcase the next-level thinking, benefits, and employees your company has.
E.L. Robinson consistently creates thought leadership pieces for their website. We are able to take this content and promote it socially through organic and paid media to reach their professional partners and showcase them as industry leaders.
The social channel mix has changed over the years, along with its key uses and purpose. Because social media is a part of everyday life for most consumers, the channels they are frequenting are ever-changing. It’s important to re-evaluate which channels you are on annually; consider their purpose, goals, and overall effectiveness.
Both B2C and B2B companies will benefit from a presence on Facebook and Twitter within their social ecosystem. Where it begins to differ is based on the consumer or audience, industry, and business needs.
When building your channel strategy, start by heading to where your audience consumes content. Where are they seeking inspiration and making the leap from consideration to conversion? For many retail brands, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Snapchat have seen success by visually showcasing products that consumers can picture themselves using.
To build on this, there are niche social channels focused around specific industries and products. Smaller businesses can see success, especially with engagement and quality leads, in niche channels. Examples of niche networks are UnTapped, BakeSpace, and LiketoKnowit. The consumers on these channels are there for one reason: their love for that topic. In these examples, it’s craft brews, baking, and fashion. Why not reach them where they gather?
Source: Chief Marketer 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook Report
B2B brands see a high level of success on LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. For companies that are willing to create more timely content, they can also see success within the Twitter platform. This is due to the human desire and consumption driver of each of these channels. Instagram and Pinterest are channels that can be successful for B2B depending on the age and need of their company’s audience. An example would be if the sales team you are trying to impress skews younger (recent college graduates to late 20’s) they are more likely to investigate a company via Instagram, compared to the older generation. But in turn, niche channels still have a place with B2B. Glassdoor and Quora allow your brand to monitor and assist with reputation management and awareness, a common Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for many companies.
Speaking of KPIs, there are some pretty noticeable differences for monitoring the success of social content for B2B and B2C. Before we dive into those, the biggest question you have to answer is: How does your company define success in marketing? Without understanding what impacts the bottom line, social content cannot adequately be created or measured for a true ROI. Below, I will cover off on generalized metrics. But note these are customized to the channel and content based on business needs.
Most B2C companies concentrate on awareness, engagement, and conversion. This is mainly because they are trying to get in front of as many potential consumers as possible to increase brand and relationship building plus conversion (i.e. purchase). Loyalty becomes a key factor with engagement metrics, as it’s been proven that if you can get consumers purchasing from your company at a young age, you’re more likely to keep them as a lifetime customer. Community management is also incorporated into engagement and conversion as the channels routinely are used as a direct customer service platform. KPIs surrounding community management are similar to that of a typical customer service department (i.e. response time, increased resolutions, and decreased complaints).
Typically, B2B will seek KPIs around lead generation, website traffic, brand awareness, and increased share of voice. For smaller and localized businesses, it’s important to grow the lead database to garner a large share of the social space when compared to your competitors. Furthermore, several of the channels offer specific Lead Generation Ad formats that help businesses increase conversions. LinkedIn showed that their conversion rates are three times higher than the other major ad platforms.
Social media marketing allows companies to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right content. From advanced targeting capabilities to many channels to choose from, social is a guaranteed path to finding your customers.
Source: The State of Social Media in Retail, 2019
We understand social media marketing can be overwhelming. It’s never too late to craft the right strategy. Need a place to start? Contact us and we can help you build a custom social strategy that meets your overall business objectives and needs.