How to create valuable connections for B2B using social media
Many B2B brands are engaging in social media, but only about half say their social media efforts were successful in generating revenue.1 This is surprising given that most B2B buyers conduct some form of online research, social included, before making a purchase.
B2B brands can fill the gap between social media expectations and returns by building stronger connections. According to a study by LinkedIn Pulse, B2B buyers who feel a “high brand connection” are 60% more likely to consider, purchase or even pay a premium as opposed to “low brand connection” competitors.2
Meaningful connections are born of trust, and building trust takes time – even on social media. While social media is an of-the-minute world, timeless values still hold true. For people to trust you, they need to feel like they know who you really are, can depend on you and can believe you.
If you want to build trust and connections, here’s how to do social media for B2B.
- Choose the right platform(s). While many B2B customers participate in more than one social platform, each platform has a different feel, focus and key audience. Do some research to determine not only which platforms your key audience uses, but also which fit your approach and message. Depending on what you find, you may choose to work across multiple platforms or focus on one.
- Be consistent. Post content on a regular cadence with a tone, look and feel that stays true to your brand. This requires a content plan.(Need help creating a plan? Give us a shout.)
- Engage in the conversation. Social media is social after all, so talk with and to others. There’s no denying that you will receive a negative comment or two from users. That’s part of social, and the key is to arm yourself with a simple response plan. (Another plan. We can help with this too.)
- Be authentic. Humanizing your brand (yes, even a B2B brand) helps customers get to know you. Don’t be afraid to be honest – even when you’re not perfect. Customers appreciate transparency. In fact, 94 percent of those surveyed by Label Insight are more likely to be loyal to brands that are transparent.3
- Provide value. The cacophony of content on social media can be overwhelming. Make sure yours is more than just another piece of noise.
Platform-specific B2B social media content strategies
The way you implement these rules for B2B social media can vary by platform. Here are a few ideas for four of the key platforms.
LinkedIn: Engaging in content marketing allows you to foster a community that extends beyond selling. Create blogs, videos and other content pieces that offer relevant industry insights shaped by your own point of view. This deeper level of engagement helps others identify with you and see the value you provide to customers – current and potential.
LinkedIn Groups offer another targeted way to reach your B2B customers. Groups allow professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to connect in a more private forum since only members can view the content shared within the group. Consider starting a group for your customers or joining an existing group where the conversation already relates to your business. Following the rules two through five about is particularly important in groups because members will have built-in expectations that come along with being part of an exclusive group.
Twitter: The Twitter news cycle never sleeps. To keep up, follow a few industry-relevant hashtags and accounts. When you notice a conversation that relates to your strengths or focus, join in by offering your own insights and resources. Tweet your own news, driving users back to your website for the full story. Also share behind-the-scenes photos, especially from events like trade shows.
If you’re opening a Twitter account, be prepared to receive customer service enquiries. Customers see Twitter as a fast and effective way to get questions answered and complaints resolved. And they’re right – many businesses use Twitter as a key service channel. You can do it too, with the right plan. (Plan. There it is again. S&A can help.)
Facebook: Set yourself apart on Facebook by filming Facebook Live videos to demonstrate products, host interviews or deliver written content in a visual format. During the video, viewers can post comments and questions, and you can respond real time. If the live audience is small, don’t fret. Facebook archives the video on your page so people can view it long after the live filming.
Instagram: Give image-driven Instagram a B2B slant with visual representations of important facts and figures. There are various ways to do this. For example, interesting type treatment can do the trick. Or you could add a human element by posting a photo of an employee holding a sign featuring the info.
Influencer marketing for B2B can be a big success-driver on Instagram when done correctly. The key is selecting an industry leader whose Instagram presence and audience meshes with your company’s values and customers. Once you select an influencer, resist the urge to control the content. Influencer marketing is successful because it provides customers the genuine, real-world perspective they crave.
Paid social: A little goes a long way
Make the most of your B2B social media content, regardless of platform, by combining organic and paid tactics. Organic reach on social is down overall but it’s still an important way to engage and retain your loyal customers. Boosting your content with paid posts and ads helps your business get noticed by more prospects. As with other digital advertising opportunities, paid social can be targeted to small audiences and provide robust analytics. And social media’s ad rates are relatively inexpensive compared with other forms of digital advertising.
As social media continues to expand, B2B companies must continue to engage. When B2B buyers shop for vendors and solutions, 65% look at peer recommendations and review sites and 54% look at social media.4 By participating in social, you make their research easier and you help shape the conversation they’ll see about your brand and business. You may even engage with them directly on social media. And those meaningful connections are where B2B businesses can find the real value of social.
1. B2B Content Marketing 2020: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America, Content Marketing Institute.
2. 7 Ways to Generate Leads on Social Media, CMO Nation, Marketo.
3. If No One Is Engaging With Your Marketing, You Should Do This. Entrepreneur.
4. What Does it Take to Sell to the New B2B Buyer? Forbes.