It is no surprise that social media has become a ubiquitous communication vehicle touting over 3.6 billion people, a number forecasted to increase to almost 4.41 billion by 2025. In addition, more and more users are turning to social to buy consumer-related products.
But what you may not know is that B2B (business to business) decision-makers are also increasingly using social to drive who they do business with.
Consider these impressive statistics:
- Only second to email, over 20% of B2B decision-makers prefer to contact suppliers via social.
- Over one-third of B2B decision-makers discover new products and services through social media.
- Nearly one-third of B2B decision-makers consider social media very influential to their research.
Ready to tap into the power of social media marketing for your B2B company? Here are seven tips you can start using now.
1. Understand the Differences Between B2C & B2B Social Media Marketing
B2C (business to consumer) relates to any product or service for personal use. Generally, B2C marketing strategies utilize emotionally charged messaging to drive a purchase. For example, a typical social media post from a car manufacturer rarely highlights the features and benefits of the car, but rather, how the car will make you feel – adventurous, sexy, eco-conscious, successful, or safe.
Case in point: the BMW post below does not even mention the product they are selling. Instead, it is attempting to associate the BMW brand with “thrills” and adventure.
For lower-priced consumer products, the B2C goal is almost always to immediately close the sale. Discounts and “shop now” buttons are prominent features in lower-priced B2C social media marketing posts.
For example, in the Instant Pot Facebook page below, tapping into the emotional need to have a happy and healthy family is utilized to inspire a quick purchase; and of course, a “Shop Now” button is readily accessible.
On the other side of the spectrum, B2B marketing focuses on logical process-driven purchasing decisions. While creating an emotional connection is still the goal, it is done very differently than a B2C product. Logical, reliable, safe, technologically advanced, efficient, a good investment, etc. are the key sentiments that underscore the typical B2B marketing strategy. Slow and steady are common mantras.
Because the primary goal is to educate the decision-maker that your products or services are a good investment for the company or its workers, a quick sale is typically not the goal. Instead, B2B social media marketing should focus on continual proof points to achieve the status of “trusted advisor.” Once trusted advisor status is reached, a sale is most likely to follow.
Examples of trust-building B2B content that can be promoted on social include:
- News on regulatory changes.
- A key new company hire.
- Philanthropical or company milestone news.
- A new ROI calculator.
- New product features and benefits.
- Industry tips.
- Case studies/customer wins.
- Third-party published articles.
- Recent award wins.
- Industry reports.
- Market surveys.
- Any educational content that will help your targeted decision-maker more effectively do his/her job.
2. Set the Right B2B Social Media Marketing Goals
The top priority for most B2B marketing is to guide customers through content that increases brand awareness, creates trust, and generates leads. Of course, the sale is the ultimate goal, but this takes time in the form of consistent content and messaging that communicates how your products and/or services will meet a specific business need.
The initial call to action for most B2B social media campaigns is often “get more information,” “demo,” or simply to offer educational content. At this stage, the goal is to get new prospective decision-makers into the “sales funnel” by getting their information.
You will also need a repository to manage your leads and track results. Social media platforms offer rudimentary reporting and lead management, however, if you are looking for more robust reporting and tracking across multiple marketing channels, you will need to turn to a marketing partner.
Once in the funnel, moving leads through the sales funnel can be achieved through content and messaging that underscores that your company is not only an expert in its field but also an ethical and reliable choice.
In the post below, XL Lifts, a provider of low-emission forklifts, created a “Try Before you Buy” program as one way to build trust with new prospective customers.
3. Understand Your Target Audience & Market Influences
Most B2B businesses work in vertical or niche markets. If you don’t have a good handle on your target audience, it will be nearly impossible to be successful in your B2B social media marketing, so take some time to identify this audience and understand how to appeal to them.
Beyond demographical information (e.g., title, company size, company location, and industry), it is important to understand what market influences could motivate business decision-makers to purchase. This could include regulatory compliance deadlines and the current business environment (like the COVID-19 pandemic).
As an example, knowing that California is moving towards zero-emission vehicles and heavy equipment, XL Lifts created a region-specific B2B social media marketing campaign highlighting California’s incentive programs to entice potential companies to learn more.
4. Speak Your Audience’s Language
Using the keywords that resonate with your targeted decision-maker is another way to build trust and attain trusted advisor status.
For example, a company that sells heavy equipment may want to use buzzwords such as safety, performance, and OSHA compliance. A medical device company selling to hospitals may want to discuss HIPAA compliance. A company that sells tax software may want to promote content on the impact the COVID-19 CARES Act will have on taxes (see the Bloomberg Tax post below).
There are countless examples, but the key is to understand and use industry-specific lingo to make a connection with the decision-maker.
5. Write Copy for B2B
At the end of the day, the VP, director, or manager is making the business decision to purchase products and/or services to improve the overall performance of the business or meet a specific business need.
As such, B2B purchasing decisions are often devoid of emotion, which means your social media copy should follow suit. Fact-driven, no-frills ad copy works best in most B2B social media marketing scenarios.
The Boeing post below is the perfect example of B2B content that builds trust. Notice the post includes three of the above recommended trust-building content types: product features and benefits, a customer win, and company milestone news.
6. Select the Right Social Media Platform
The most used social media platforms for overall business marketing include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. The best platform for your company depends on what you are selling and your specific marketing goal (B2B lead generation vs. a quick B2C transaction).
Knowing where your specific target audience spends most of their time is just as important as delivering the right message. One simple way to find potential prospects is to join relevant B2B groups and monitor how active they are. In addition, social media platforms provide some basic demographic data.
You can also work with an experienced marketing partner to help you attain more detailed information. If you do turn to a marketing partner, look for one that provides a multi-channel marketing approach as they will have deeper demographic insight.
7. Be Transparent About Your Company’s Strengths & Weaknesses
Unlike in the B2C world, it is common for B2B companies to create key competitive comparison charts to differentiate products and services. Business-decision makers are looking for trusted advisors that are not afraid to talk about the competition.
While it sounds counterintuitive, openly discussing your company’s strengths and some weaknesses can bring prospects one step closer to the purchase.
As an example, one client sells high-quality heavy equipment that costs significantly more than its competitors. Rather than trying to compete on price, this company uses a potential weakness as a strength by clearly communicating that its products are a good fit for companies looking for quality equipment built to last, not the cheapest deal.
Take Your B2B Social Media Marketing to the Next Level
So, what’s the next step? Great marketing is both a science and an art, and a healthy dose of trial and error. Start with the social media tips in this blog and don’t be afraid to experiment to see what engages your audience, moves them further down the funnel, and helps you build trust with prospects and clients.