Since the dawn of social media, marketers have been skeptical of its usefulness as a B2B marketing channel. For many, the hesitation comes from a lack of understanding – they just aren’t sure how platforms like Facebook, used by many to connect with friends and loved ones, can be used to promote B2B products and services.
The truth is, social media can have a huge impact on your B2B marketing results. Consider these statistics:
- Of those who use the internet, 76% of Americans use social media
- In as little as six hours a week, 66% of marketers see lead generation benefits with social media
- Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing
- Social media lead conversion rates are 13% higher than the average lead conversion rate
If you haven’t quite figured out how to leverage the power of social media for your B2B, we’re here to provide you with some inspiration. Continue reading to see our picks for the best B2B social media campaigns of all time.
When it comes to successful social media campaigns, no business does it quite like American Express (AMEX). It has the special challenge of serving both businesses and consumers (B2C).
So, how do they successfully conquer this divide? In short, AMEX has realized that their B2B customers aren’t all that different than their B2C customers. After all, while a business may make a purchase, the buyers are all people.
As big business continues to take over the retail and service landscape across the nation, ‘mom and pop’ shops that were once American staples, have faded from the mainstream. In such a landscape, running a small business has become harder than ever before; in fact, 22% of American small businesses fail within the first year.
In response to this trend, AMEX’s OPEN card (a financial solution for small businesses) started the OPEN forum: A strategic, online campaign geared specifically toward the small business population, which provides business owners with the necessary tools and insight to build, grow, and sustain their businesses.
Through OPEN forum’s unique online platform and social media accounts, users can access relevant, useful content such as blog posts, videos, and ‘how-to’ guides, filled with tips, tricks and best practices for small business success. AMEX has also created the “Idea Hub”, a forum that allows members to network and share ideas with each other and industry experts.
In 2012, AMEX OPEN launched the “Big Break for Small Business” campaign, a national competition that challenged participants to tap into the power of social media to grow their businesses. Teaming up with Facebook, AMEX provided participants with the tools a needed to build a killer social media presence.
Winning contestants walked home with the grand prize: $25,000 and the opportunity to network with the social media professionals from AMEX and Facebook.
The campaign boasted over 12,500 entries, which were then narrowed down to ten finalists by a panel of expert judges. From there, the finalists enlisted the help of their social networks to garner votes in the form of ‘likes’ and ‘shares’.
Altogether, the campaign garnered nearly 57,000 votes (45% of which were generated through organic traffic). Through the big break program, AMEX experienced a 78% increase in PR impressions from the year before.
Key to Success:
AMEX was successful with this campaign for two reasons. One, they were able to incentivize their target audience, small businesses, to interact with their brand. And two, they were able to demonstrate their commitment to their customers and prospects. Through OPEN forum and the big break campaign, AMEX was able to foster deep engagement with their audience and create a community where their consumers felt enabled to succeed.
Learn how to run a successful social media contest and increase your organization’s social engagement in the following articles:
Our next social media standout is the UK recruitment firm Jobsite. In fact, Jobsite’s social media campaigns are so good they’ve earned global recognition for them and even won the 2014 Shorty Award for Best B2B use of Social Media.
Stand out campaign:
Like our previous example, a recruitment agency’s audience is made up of two separate audiences – candidates and businesses. To attract more businesses, recruitment agencies must source high quality candidates. Here’s how Jobsite did that.
For many, “fun” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when it comes to recruitment firms. In fact, research shows quite the opposite; 30% of millennials found TV ads from major job sites “boring and uninspiring”, while an additional 23% couldn’t tell the difference between them.
In an effort to appeal to the millennial demographic, Jobsite launched The Advantage: a contest that offered winners the ultimate job interview package. The Advantage ditched Jobsite’s traditional, lack luster TV ads in favor of a more modern approach.
To kick-off their campaign, Jobsite created a video spoof of the hit BBC television show, The Apprentice, which highlighted the firm’s “real jobs for real people” slogan and introduced the competition in an engaging way.
To fuel video views and social shares, Jobsite leveraged the social media practice of “trend hijacking” which required the firm to jump in on the conversations surrounding already trending hashtags and topics.
This strategy not only drove entries to the competition, but bolstered general awareness for the Jobsite brand. Ultimately, the campaign resulted in nearly 11,000 entrants and over 700,000 video views – 64% of which came directly from social media.
The Key to Success:
Jobsite recognized the key to winning over the millennial demographic hinged on their ability to become more mainstream and likable. This didn’t necessarily mean changing their mission or business model – but rather, how they relayed their message.
Instead of sticking to their stale marketing strategy, they altered their strategy to fit the changing landscape. By leveraging pop culture and trending topics to their advantage, Jobsite’s campaign was more relevant to their target audience.
Check out the following articles to learn how you can create video content to boost your social media strategy – just like Jobsite did:
- 4 Platforms to Dive Into Social Media Video Marketing
- 7 Ways to Incorporate Video into Your B2B Marketing Strategy
- Experiment with Style: 5 Great Formats for Your Video Marketing Strategy
TopRank and Content Marketing Institute
Our next example comes in the form of a B2B collaboration between TopRank Marketing, a globally recognized digital marketing agency, and Content Marketing Institute, aB2B resource for content marketing expertise. Equally recognized for their powerhouse content marketing programs, TopRank & CMI’s 2014 campaign proves that when two brands collaborate, amazing things can happen.
Stand out campaign:
In 2014 the two brands sought to develop a campaign to promote the 2014 Content Marketing World Conference. TopRank & CMI wanted to develop a campaign to drive awareness of their event and also provide their target audience with a valuable experience.
The solution? Influencer marketing. Proven to increase brand awareness and drive lead generation, influencer marketing is defined as the practice of enlisting the help of influencers to achieve vital business goals. Influencers are internet celebrities of sorts, and are often recognized as industry experts and thought leaders with large, active social networks.
To bolster their campaign, TopRank and CMI examined a list of nearly 200 influencers from renowned brands such as LinkedIn, MarketingProfs, and Facebook, in an effort to determine which individuals would bring the most value to their campaign.
The teams were able to narrow down the list to 40 individuals most likely to resonate with their ideal audience. These influencers were then approached and asked to provide some advice or insight relating to the four main pillars covered by the Content Marketing event: Content Marketing Strategy, Audience Development, Visual Content & Content ROI.
The information provided by the influencers was used to create a 4 different eBooks about content marketing. These eBooks not only offered their audience a useful, valuable piece of content, but served to broadcast the mission of the Content Marketing World Conference.
Altogether, the eBooks generated over 200,000 views, 200+ event referrals, 4,000+ PDF downloads and nearly 1,000 leads – all by the end of December 2014 (source).
The key to success:
TopRank & CMI’s use of social media influencers not only put their campaign in front of a much larger audience, but through their meticulous process of identifying which individuals had the most influence over their target demographic, they guaranteed the campaign would be a success.
For an in-depth guide to B2B influencer marketing, check out the following articles:
- B2B Influencer Marketing 101
- An Executive’s Guide: How to Do Influencer Marketing the Right Way
- 8 Best Practices for B2B Influencer Marketing
- How to: Influencer Marketing As a Small Business Owner
Though these are just three examples of successful B2B social media campaigns, there’s a lot you can take away from them. The next time you’re stuck for ideas, try one of the following tactics seen in the examples above:
- Contests: both AMEX and Jobsite held contests to incentivize their customers and prospects. Never underestimate the power of a prize or reward.
- Influencer marketing: Leverage the network of an influencer to spread your reach and connect with more prospects within your target demographic.
- Video content: Understand that video content is more influential than any other type of marketing content. Though it takes more time and effort to produce, the results are impressive.
- Capitalize on trends: A well-timed piece of content can be a game-changer in the social media world. Pay close attention to trending topics and popular tactics.
Have you used any of these social media strategies? What are your favorite B2B social media campaigns? We’d love to hear about them.
Contributed by Krysta Williams, Marketing Content Specialist at ZoomInfo. ZoomInfo offers the most accurate and actionable B2B data to help organizations accelerate growth and profitability. The continuously updated database enables sales and marketing teams to execute more effective marketing campaigns and improve sales prospecting efforts.