A Beginner's Guide to Social Media for B2B

A team meeting casual
A team meeting casual

While it seems that every company understands the importance of social media in today’s world, few B2B companies use their social media accounts on a regular basis. In fact, while 95% of B2B marketers have created corporate social media accounts, half of them aren’t active on social media. 

Social media isn’t just a powerful outreach and engagement tool — it is also at the forefront of product research, peer recommendations and brand discovery for B2B decision-makers. As such, it is imperative that B2B marketers get cracking on their social media strategies. However, that too can seem like a daunting task.

In this post, we break down the essentials of B2B social media marketing, showing you how you can utilize your social media accounts to their fullest potential.

Getting on the right social media platforms for your business

Choosing the right platforms for your brand

If you’re not already on social media, the first step that you should take is to decide which platforms to use. There are loads of social media platforms for you to choose from.

Top tip: Find the balance between being present on several social media networks without spreading yourself too thin.

As a starting point, get yourself on LinkedIn and Twitter. 

LinkedIn is the most popular network among B2B marketers and is a great way to generate leads. LinkedIn B2B marketing helps you to target professionals within your industry as well as potential prospects and customers outside your industry. However, social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are also beneficial because they help build brand awareness and allow you to direct traffic to your website. Most B2B companies are on 4 or 5 different networks.

top social media platforms used by B2B marketers

One way to decide which social networks to use is to have a look at the social pages of the competitors in your industry. Never assume that a certain platform won’t work for you just because your competitors may not be on it. Have a look at your target audience and decide if your content can be reworked to reach out to new bases on these platforms.

IBM social media pages: left: Twitter, right: Instagram

IBM uses its Twitter page to highlight its research efforts and product offerings, while its Instagram page highlights its stance on social issues and focuses on more visual content

Creating your business profile

Make sure that your social media profiles are consistent with your brand. This involves using the same profile image (preferably your logo), a straightforward username, and strong bio copy. This means defining your brand’s values and mission in a way that portrays the right message for your target audience!

Meltwater Twitter account

Creating the right content

Content, the key to a successful marketing strategy

Two common misconceptions held by B2B businesses include: 

  1. The idea that social networks are just an opportunity to generate more leads
  2. The idea that B2B sectors are too boring for social media

However, a company that only posts promotional publications with a call-to-action (CTA) may soon find itself talking in a vacuum. As for being “too boring” for social media, check out our last post, where we dispel this myth for good.

Just like B2C marketing, great content lies at the heart of B2B social media marketing. Great social accounts rely on quality content that is of interest to their target audience. This content can include relevant graphics that provide audiences with top tips or articles that help them address common pain points.

Here are some great content ideas for your social posts:

  • Articles from your blog, if you have one
  • Reports and market studies
  • Relevant articles
  • Infographics
  • Video clips and live quotes from your own or industry events
  • Case studies
  • Brand announcements (partnerships, acquisitions, new releases …)
  • Behind the scenes of your company: photos of your employees, life in the office
  • Question and answer sessions
  • Commentary on important social issues

Humanizing your feed

Many brands strike a chord with their audiences by being funny online. This can help to humanize your brand and help your audience move away from the idea that B2B social media accounts are way too serious.

Intel's humorous Star Wars Day post

Be sure to establish clear guidelines for the use of humor on social media. There is a fine line between the humor that will please your audience and that which may offend.

Deciding when to post

The time that you choose to post on social media can affect how successful your content is. There are numerous studies on when users should publish their content.

On average, you should post:

  • From Monday to Friday
  • Facebook: 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
  • Twitter: 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5-6 p.m.
  • LinkedIn: 7-8 a.m., 12 p.m., 5-6 p.m.
  • Instagram: 2 a.m., 8-9 a.m., 5 p.m.

Don’t assume that these timings will work for your brand. The key to success is to test your posts during various time periods and observe where you obtain the most engagement.

When we spoke to Twitter expert Samantha Kelly, her advice was to use your social accounts when your audience is most active, which is often outside of the usual work hours (9 p.m.-11 p.m.).

Deciding how often to post

One of the common mistakes that B2B marketers make is to post too much content, too often. You’ve probably experienced this frustration yourself — everyone has that one friend on Facebook who posts photos of his dog five times a day. 

Brands that post too often or include too many promotional messages and irrelevant content find themselves the culprits of bad B2B social media etiquette. In fact, those are the top three reasons why users unfollow a brand.

Sprout Social: what makes people unfollow a brand on social media

Beware! The reverse may also be dangerous — brands that almost never post on social media tire their audiences out. 

The golden rule for posting on social media: 

  • Twitter: max 10 times a day
  • Facebook: Once a day
  • LinkedIn: Twice a week
  • YouTube: Once a week
  • Instagram: Once a day

Interacting with your audience

In order to gain followers, B2B social media accounts should aim to increase post engagement, retain their following, and ensure that they're part of the conversation around your brand:

  • Reply to all comments and messages you receive, regardless of whether they are positive or negative
  • Monitor posts about the products and services you offer to identify opportunities for further discussion. Look out for posts asking for recommendations or complaints about your competitors.

Comment management

Often, dissatisfied customers will take to social media to complain. Since your social media accounts are public, complaints can often damage your reputation if they are not handled correctly.  

Here are three things you should always strive to do:

  1. Keep your tone polite and professional
  2. Acknowledge their dissatisfaction and find a solution
  3. Try to take the conversation offline 

However, do not under any circumstances:

  1. Publicly accuse the client of lying or being wrong
  2. Ignore legitimate comments 

Grow your audience

Chances are, you’ll want to grow your audience. Whilst having a high audience reach is important, you should aim to reach the right people, not lots of people.

One approach that B2B marketers can take is by identifying relevant influencers in your industry. These are users with a large, engaged community of followers. You can build relationships with influencers and interact with their community to help grow your base, and further position yourself as an expert in your field. In addition, follow users who follow these influencers as well as your competitors. Chances are, these people will be the right target audience for your brand.

Be careful not to get yourself into a “follow-unfollow” strategy — i.e. following users to have them follow you back, only to unfollow them the next day. This will come across as spam and simply annoy your audience.

Equipping yourself with the right tools

Every B2B marketer should be equipped with the right tools to support their strategy. These tools include:

  • An editorial calendar: This helps you to keep track of your posts across platforms on a longer-term basis.
  • A post scheduling tool: This allows you to plan and publish your content ahead of time so that you’re free to interact with your community.
  • A content creation tool: This allows you to create beautiful content with ease — try tools such as Visme, Canva, Mojo and Adobe Spark.
  • A social media management tool: Meltwater Engage allows you to centralize all your social media profiles, analyze how they perform, adapt your editorial line and compare your performance with that of your competitors — all in one place!

Optimizing your advertising budget for social media

Understanding the top-down social media spending approach: TOFU to BOFU

Every B2B marketer should be familiar with the marketing funnel:

  • Awareness: Top-of-the-funnel (TOFU)
  • Consideration: Middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU)
  • Conversion: Bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU)

It’s an enormous hurdle to immediately begin selling your product via social media advertising. While this may sometimes work for B2C companies, B2B marketers should always strive to build relationships with potential customers before you push for a purchase. 

You can do this by creating content tailored specifically for people at certain stages of the funnel. For example, you might consider creating some fun, light-hearted, value-proposition-focused content for a large audience at the TOFU, while simultaneously creating CTA-driven content for retargeted audiences at the BOFU.

Invest in Video Content

Apart from experimenting with A/B testing (which we will discuss next), visual design plays a crucial role in generating ROI with your social media budget.

Specifically, investing in video content pays off. 64% of users are more likely to purchase a product online after watching a video. In fact, Dr. James McQuivey famously calculated frames per second alongside the length of videos to discover that the value of a 1-minute video is over 1.8 million words.

Consider investing in a tool like Animoto, Promo, or ClipChamp to help you easily create video content for your ads. You can also easily hire a freelance video creator & editor on a freelancer community website like Upwork or Fiverr.

Wistia, for example, used this TOFU video ad to attract small brands and teams of one:

Wistia Instagram video ad: simpel images with large title text

 Video ads convey so much more information in a much shorter period of time — imagine if Wistia had converted their message into a carousel post or blog article!

Don’t be afraid to spend a portion of your social media budget on stunning visual content. Doing so will pay off in the long run.

Invest in Experimentation (A/B Testing)

In short, A/B testing is a method of comparing two versions of an asset (video, webpage, app, etc.) against each other to determine which one performs better. It’s important to note that in A/B testing, all elements remain the same besides the two assets being tested. Don’t expect your A/B tests to always succeed! These failures are critical learnings in your journey to a successful social media campaign.

Here are two aspects you should experiment with:

  • Creative assets: If you have a library of videos at your disposal, a good idea is to A/B test video testimonials against written ones, or short infographics against longer versions. Try experimenting with different lengths, people, formats, colors, music, and more until you find a combination that works.
  • Headlines and copy: Your headline and caption (copy) are important components in helping to set your ad apart from other content in the feed or platform. They should quickly educate potential customers on why they might care about your product. Changing even one word can have an effect on your conversion rates!

Next steps

The best campaigns are nothing without their results. In order to sustain your social media campaign, you should be prepared to showcase how your social media posts and ads contribute to marketing goals and your bottom line. Reporting results is easy with our guide to PR and Social Media KPIs. You’ll get a comprehensive list of social KPIs as well as a step-by-step guide to validating your current social media budget — and how to ask for more!

In a nutshell:

  • The simpler, the better: Don’t overcomplicate the process. Keep your visuals simple, target the right audience on the right social platforms and you’ll learn what content works and weed out content that doesn't.  
  • Learn something new every day: Becoming great at social media marketing takes time. That means that you must be willing to try new things and learn from other accounts every single day.
  • Be patient: You won’t launch a successful campaign overnight. With patience and practice, however, your products will be flying off the shelf.

Now that you understand how to use social media for your business, you’re well equipped to start developing your social media strategy.

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