Social selling also poses a certain challenge for B2B companies. As a corporate entity, you want to portray a friendly, approachable, or likable image; but at the same time, you need to maintain a comfortable level of seriousness in the way you handle your business deals.
While it’s true that B2B marketing isn’t as straightforward as B2C marketing, no company should ignore the social side of doing business. Despite the challenges that come along with it, social media marketing can benefit B2B companies in several ways:
Attracting potential clients and partners
A good social media marketing strategy always begins by building and promoting the company’s brand name and establishing an active online presence for that brand. So, if you’ve just launched or are planning to launch a business, social media is a great way to establish your brand, as well as your company and team credentials. Without these, you won’t be able to attract potential clients and partners for your business.
For established firms with a steady stream of clientele and a sustainable follower base, social media is ideal for maintaining brand loyalty.
Author E. A. Bucchianeri once said, “You can kill a book quicker by your silence than by a bad review.” The same thing applies to businesses: let people know about you, and get them to talk about you. Social media is definitely one of the best platforms for getting the word out about your business.
Minimising advertising costs
Startups and small businesses, which typically have limited marketing budgets, can outsource or create in-house content and publish them on social media for free, or a fraction of the cost of large-scale paid advertising.
Increasing sales figures and revenue
Given the right tools and strategies, social media can help secure more business deals by generating more leads and customer conversions.
Also, more and more businesses are now integrating social media into their marketing strategies. Staying away from social media right now is definitely not what you should be doing.
There are many other benefits to using social media as a marketing tool. For a more detailed list, access Hootsuite’s article here.
Take advantage of it, but don’t overutilize it
The Internet has no shortage of social media platforms for digital marketing. But you don’t have to be — and you shouldn’t be — present in every available social media platform. According to B2B marketing agency owner Douglas Burdett, establishing too many social media networks will stretch the resources of your marketing team and even prevent you from establishing a meaningful (i.e., effective) social media presence.
Instead, businesses should put more value into implementing best practices. For example, choosing what social media platform to use must complement the products or services that your business provides. If you run a B2B events company that specialises in executive conferences, LinkedIn may be an ideal platform to promote your brand and market your services.
High-quality content is also key. A 2016 study by the Economist Group on the consumption of thought leadership found that high-quality content has a significant impact on how businesses make purchasing decisions or choose their potential business partners. To quote the study:
33% of executives consume thought leadership daily and 20% have increased consumption “a lot” over the past 12 months… and, after consuming compelling thought leadership, seven in ten share it via email and consume more from that same source; 76% are influenced in their purchasing decisions, 67% would be willing to advocate for that brand; and 83% are influenced in the choice of potential business partner.
Amid the rise of viral content in online and social media, the same study also suggested that B2B marketers should reverse the trend of “more is better” in favour of doing less, but more concise and impactful, work — while still appearing relevant and timely. Indeed, marketing campaigns on social media are always at risk of overdoing things, like publishing content excessively without proper regard for quality; marketing teams should publish lead-generating content in moderation.
Choose the media platforms that suit your business
There is really no strict guide on what social media platforms you can or should use. But if you’re just starting a business, or have limited manpower, it is ideal to run just a few platforms that can complement your B2B business model.
If you want to focus on networking or growing your follower base, use social networking sites. And if you want to build and cultivate a brand image, use content- or blog-hosting platforms. Listed below are some platforms that may work well for your business.
Platforms for Social Networking
LinkedIn is an ideal platform to promote your brand and market your services. It is used by almost every B2B marketer (approximately 91% of them!) to distribute content. Since LinkedIn is so pervasive and so widely used for marketing purposes, here’s a rule of thumb: build a LinkedIn profile for your business, no matter what industry it’s in.
Marketers aren’t the only ones that take advantage of LinkedIn. If you’re working for a B2B company — whether you’re the CEO, director, manager, or regular staff — it’s always a good idea to set up your own personal account. An individualised, personalised LinkedIn profile helps you establish an online presence that you can use to help your company build brand awareness, publish and share high-quality content (e.g., thought leadership), promote your company’s products or services, and network with other company executives. One good example of this is Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s LinkedIn profile, which has over 1 million followers.
There are many other great social networking sites for B2B marketing, such as Facebook and Google Plus, which also allow you to publish paid advertisements; and Twitter, which is great for publishing short content and links to your company website and its main landing pages.
We at SmartFunding mainly use Twitter for expanding our audience reach. We send tweets that redirect our followers to our main blog, The Street, where we regularly publish in-house content. We also often use Twitter to redirect potential clients to our main website, SmartFunding, where they can know more about our product offerings.
Platforms for Publishing High-Quality Content
Instagram is a great social media platform for posting high-quality, high-res photos. An effective social media marketing campaign on Instagram should help you grow your follower base and cultivate a great image for your brand.
One of the many prominent B2B Instagrammers today is Novartis, which regularly posts beautiful images and engaging content. Novartis’s Instagram account launched only less than three years ago, but it now has over 17,000 followers.
If your marketing team is more interested in posting high-quality, mostly written content, Medium is the platform of your choice. It’s great especially for smaller businesses since it’s free of charge and very easy to customise. One of the many awesome blogs running on Medium is SlackHQ, which is owned and run by Slack, a fast-rising messaging service that’s popular among B2B companies.
Medium is also somewhat similar to LinkedIn in that it caters very well to individuals who want to establish or improve their online presence by publishing personal(ised) content. So if you’re the boss of a B2B company, it’d be a great idea to create your own Medium profile and publish high-quality, lead-generating content on your site.