There is no doubt that social media plays a major role in our everyday lives. It has totally redefined what it means to connect with friends, family, and strangers on the internet. And of course, it has opened up doors for businesses to interact with customers in ways that were never before possible.
But oftentimes, when we think of business social media marketing, it is in the context of B2C. This is most apparent when you see social ads and influencer posts, too. However, there is certainly a place for B2B organizations to connect with their audiences through these platforms.
In fact, 84% of B2B buyers use social media to research brands and products during the decision-making phase.
As a B2B company, your social media presence is more critical these days than ever. Consumer behavior is shifting as more and more customers are using social media to discover new brands, discuss products, and come to final purchasing decisions.
Failing to use social media to generate leads and influence B2B buyers could mean lots of lost revenue opportunities and a stunted sales cycle.
The way that your B2B business uses social media is incredibly important, too. The rules change when it comes to B2B marketing versus B2C – audiences are different and so are their content preferences. Keep in mind, there are generally more people involved in the decision-making process in a B2B environment (in comparison to B2C that is).
Therefore, the way that you establish your organization’s presence and interact with customers needs to be multifaceted in order to be effective.
So, how can you grow your organization’s social media presence in a way that positively impacts lead generation and conversion rates? Let’s dive in.
1. Target relevant social media platforms
The first thing that B2B marketers need to understand is where and how to best connect with their audience through social media.
One of the reasons why social media marketing is so incredibly effective is because it allows customers to control how they interact with businesses. Users can choose to follow certain brands, like their posts, or engage in online conversations.
Social media also gives B2B businesses the power to target their most relevant audiences more effectively through multiple engagement strategies.
However, it is very important that your organization understands where, when, and how to use these platforms adequately.
Of course, LinkedIn is a top pick for most B2B brands because it is built for business professionals.
Other social networks are becoming increasingly popular in the B2B community.
Many organizations are looking for ways to build a following on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
It is also important to note that if your audience is highly segmented, you may want to adjust your social media presence from platform-to-platform. Age and demographics can vary widely on different networks. Therefore, in order to connect with these varying segments, you may want to consider slight content adjustments based on the channel.
Hubspot provides a great example here of how to adjust content accordingly from channel-to-channel. Their Instagram page focuses on inspirational quotes, interesting fact-bites, and visual anecdotes that focus on quick marketing tips.
This works quite well on Instagram – since it is a highly visual platform that is more effective for building engagement and brand awareness than closing sales on the spot.
Hubspot’s LinkedIn page has a different feel and focuses to speak to their audience that uses this channel. Their account shares more intellectual and in-depth content, like multi-page reports and e-books. Their overall tone is much more serious and provides actionable steps and strategies, rather than quick quips and quotes.
Be sure to do thorough research on your own audience before you start to draw up a social media marketing plan.
Most importantly, you want to be sure that you have a large enough audience present on the channels you are using. If only a small percentage of your customers are using Snapchat or Twitter for example, then it might not be worth your time to put a lot of effort into those platforms.
Pay attention to the makeup of your audience on each platform to determine the type of content that will resonate best through these channels.
2. Share Stories to Create Emotional Connections
One big mistake that many B2B marketers make is ignoring the emotional connection that is so important in marketing.
It is very easy to focus solely on the numbers and metrics that come along with B2B products and services. Of course, many B2B buyers are heavily concerned with KPIs, like ROI, productivity rate growth, and impact on lead generation and conversions. But, it is still important to create an emotional connection between your brand and your customers.
Emotional brand connections are significant for several reasons. According to , when customers report an emotional connection to a brand, they spend up to 2.5 times more than other consumers. Furthermore, these customers are more loyal to that business, have a higher customer lifetime value, and are more likely to recommend your company to others.
It is important that B2B brands know how to create these emotional connections through content marketing on social sites. Emotional storytelling and social media go hand-in-hand.
Often times, B2B organizations struggle with finding a way to make their products or services “emotional.” But with a little bit of creativity, every business can find some way to connect -whether it be through inspiration or humor.
For instance, the heavy-duty construction company Caterpillar certainly doesn’t strike most people as a brand that you would have an emotional connection with.
But their recent #BuiltForIt social campaign proves that any B2B brand can be a great storyteller. Caterpillar used YouTube to film a nerve-racking real-life Jenga game using large wooden blocks and real Caterpillar equipment.
This engaging story showcases the power and versatility of Caterpillar’s construction vehicles in a unique and interesting way.
Instagram is also full of emotional stories that share behind-the-scenes content about the brand.
The post below is focused on Caterpillar’s commitment to equality in the workplace. It shares some interviews with female leaders and employees that are working in the primarily male-dominated industry of construction.
There are plenty of ways that B2B organizations can use storytelling to influence sales, from both an emotional and logical standpoint.
Case studies and testimonials are fantastic here. Not only do these establish an emotional connection and build social proof, they also provide the perfect opportunity to incorporate important sales numbers like proven ROI.
3. Share exclusive content on social media
B2B businesses often struggle with increasing followers and building engagement on social media. This is often due to the harsh reality that many B2B brand’s social pages are not really that exciting (sorry).
Furthermore, most people are largely on social media for personal reasons, rather than professional. They want to go on these platforms to connect with friends and family, not necessarily to think about work.
One way to build up your brand’s social presence is by incentivizing your audience to follow and participate. According to survey conducted by Marketing Sherpa, most consumers are motivated to follow a brand in order to receive exclusive access to coupons and sales, as well as other incentives like sweepstakes or informational content like reviews and how-to guides.
Offering a specific discount to your audience is (of course) a great way to instantly boost your followership.
But there are other incentives and benefits that you should consider offering in order to foster a brand community that keeps people more engaged and interested. One such way is to offer exclusive content that only your social media followers are privy to. For instance, the software company PathFactory uses its Facebook page to offer pre-registration for live webinars.
Experian uses their Twitter account for exclusive connections by hosting a #CreditChat. Every week, they allow followers to interact in real-time with financial experts through live Q&A sessions.
Followers can submit questions on the topic of the week and then watch via Livestream as various experts share advice and discuss this topic in further detail. This gives their followers truly exclusive access to their services and allows them to submit questions for instant answers.
Social media can be tricky for B2B organizations. But, it is absolutely critical that they establish a noteworthy presence on their chosen networks.
The key here is to use these platforms to build meaningful connections and foster engagement, rather than just pushing for sales. Learn about which platforms your new, existing, and prospective customers are using regularly and the types of content they prefer to see on various channels.
Remember, social media is all about community, so keep your focus on sharing content that builds connections. Social media is built for brand storytelling, so look for ways to share emotional content – like customer testimonials or interactive posts.
And finally, give your audience a reason to engage with your brand. There should be clear benefits for connecting on social sites, whether it be access to great content, promotional discounts, or simply a channel to connect one-on-one.