Essential Tips and Tools for B2B Social Media Marketing
Today we are sharing Hootsuite's blog on essential tips and tools for B2B social media marketing.
B2B social media marketing is often left out of the spotlight in discussions of social marketing.
But digital is the way of the future for B2B. Sales meetings, conferences, and business decisions are all increasingly happening online.
Do you have a social media plan in place for your B2B brand? If not, you’re missing out on valuable relationship-building opportunities. And those are the very connections that can help bring in lucrative contracts.
Here’s how to develop a B2B social media strategy for effective digital marketing, social selling, customer service, and more.
What is B2B social media marketing?
B2B stands for business-to-business. B2B social media marketing uses social channels to market products or services to business clients and prospects.
B2C marketers use social channels to reach consumers making decisions about personal purchases. B2B marketers have to think more strategically to reach decision-makers. They then nurture relationships that can lead to large purchase agreements.
All social channels can have a place in B2B marketing. But the balance will likely look quite different in a B2B social media strategy than it would in a consumer-focused plan.
17 inspiring B2B social media stats
Before we dive into how to create a B2B social media plan, let’s look at some key numbers that highlight why and how B2B marketers are using social media.
- B2B companies should allocate 2-5% of revenue to marketing.
- B2B product brands will spend 14.7% of that marketing budget on social media in the next 12 months.
- B2B services businesses will spend 18.3%.
- 31.3% of global Internet users use the Internet for business-related research.
- 22.7% of internet users use social media for work-related networking and research.
- 96% of B2B content marketers use LinkedIn for content marketing.
- Twitter is next at 82%.
- 89% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for social media B2B lead generation.
- 80% of LinkedIn members drive business decisions.
- Social media is the top distribution method for B2B content marketers, with 89% using social tools for this purpose.
- B2B buyers spend 27% of their purchase consideration time researching independently online. Compare that to only 5 to 6% with any sales rep.
- In fact, 44% of millennial B2B customers would prefer not to interact with a sales rep at all.
- 83% of B2B content marketers use B2B social media ads and/or promoted posts, up from 60% last year.
- 40% of B2B content marketers increased their investment in social media and online communities in response to COVID-19.
- 76% of B2B organizations use social media analytics to measure content performance.
- By 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions will occur on digital channels.
- U.S. B2B business will spend an estimated $1.64 billion on LinkedIn ads in 2021, $1.99 billion in 2022, and $2.33 billion in 2023.
How to create a B2B social media strategy
Creating a solid B2B social media strategy plan is critical for both short-term gains and long-term growth.
60% of the most successful B2B content marketers have a content marketing strategy. Compare that to only 21% of the least successful.
Let’s get you into that “most successful” category by looking at how to craft a B2B social media plan for your business.
Align goals with business objectives
Just like a good B2C strategy, every B2B social media plan should answer the following two questions:
- What are the company’s business objectives?
- How will B2B social media marketing help achieve them?
Business objectives for B2B marketers should likely focus on longer-term goals than those for B2C social media campaigns.
The top 3 overall goals for B2B content marketers are:
- To create brand awareness
- To build credibility and trust
- To educate audiences
Generating sales or revenue comes in at number 8.
All of those top three goals contribute to social media B2B lead generation. So it’s no surprise that most successful B2B marketers also focus on using content marketing to nurture subscribers, audiences, or leads (73%).
Don’t forget to include internal objectives and goals within your plan. For example, recent research in the Journal of Business Logistics found social media use can increase product knowledge and competitor knowledge among supplier account managers.
A solid B2B social media plan outlines where the opportunities lie.
Try using the S.W.O.T. framework. It identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats within your competitive landscape.
Social listening is an excellent way to learn what’s happening across social networks within your industry.
All marketers should know who they’re trying to reach. B2B social media marketing is no different. However, only slightly more than half (56%) of B2B content marketers use personas to guide content creation.
This gives you an easy opportunity to put yourself ahead. Incorporate B2B social media marketing best practices and create audience and buyer personas.
Your corporate structure probably already caters to various client personas. Or, at least, different client categories.
For instance, a design firm might work for commercial, public, and residential customers. It likely has team members or verticals that specialize in each category.
Your B2B social media marketing should do the same. Focus on fleshed out buyer personas that allow you to create social content that speaks to real people.
Moving forward, B2B social marketing is set to become even more personalized. Account-based marketing (ABM) will become the norm. In ABM, sales and marketing teams work together. They personalize outreach and marketing to decision-makers at target companies.
Social media is a prime tool for ABM, with social listening allowing you to keep tabs on your most important prospects.
Use the right social media platforms
As a general rule, you should be where your customers are. Not sure where that might be? Start with the overall social media demographics. Then, dive into some audience research.
Almost all B2B content marketers (96%) use LinkedIn. They also rated it as the top-performing organic platform.
For paid social posts, the picture is similar but not identical. LinkedIn again comes out on top (80%). But Facebook outranks Twitter and Instagram outranks YouTube.
Separate channels may also be relevant for different verticals, products, and markets. Depending on the industry and size of your business, you might want to consider:
- a news channel
- a careers channel
- a customer service account
Or any other account that speaks to a specific audience within your niche.
Find an interesting angle
Remember that social media is about building relationships that lead to sales in the long term. And no one is going to follow you for the long term if your content is dry and boring.
Sure, it can be appropriate to share technical information and new product specifications from time to time. But this should not be the primary focus of your social media accounts.
Think about ways you can make your followers’ (work) lives easier or more enjoyable. Provide content and resources that delight them in some way. Think: how-to information, trends, tips, strategy, and so on.
Thought leadership is particularly important. 75% of potential buyers say thought leadership helps them create their vendor shortlist. And 49% of business decision-makers say thought leadership has directly led them to do business with a company.
But remember that you’re not just talking to CEOs and purchasing officers. Younger people within your industry will move up the ranks and be making purchasing decisions within a few years. Nurturing relationships with industry pros at all stages of their careers can pay off in the long run.
One simple way to break out of the boardroom with your content is to get your employees involved. Tell their stories. Highlight their accomplishments. It will make your social media presence and brand voice come across as more human, and boost your recruiting efforts.
Be sure to incorporate video – it drives five times higher engagement than other content.
Plan how you will measure your efforts
Almost all (94%) of the most successful B2B content marketers measure their content performance. Compare that to only 60% of the least successful.
This makes sense. How can you know how well your social content performs if you don’t measure with clear metrics and KPIs?
What metrics and data should you monitor? It depends on your business goals. You might focus on response time, impressions, engagement rate, conversions, sales, and more. The important thing is to set benchmarks and achievable goals.
Don’t ignore barometers such as customer satisfaction ratings, qualitative reviews, and your Net Promoter Score. Look at reductions in recruitment and customer service costs as well. All of this contributes to return on investment.
Be realistic about what efforts you’ll have hard numbers for, and the efforts that have a value that is trickier to quantify. Remember, just because you can measure something doesn’t always mean you should. And just because you can’t measure something (easily) doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.
Read the full article by Hootsuite’s Christina Newberry here.
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