How B2B Companies Can Start Building a Winning Social Media Strategy
It’s a common misconception that B2B companies aren’t cut out for social media – that only cool brands like Nike and Coca-Cola get to benefit from being present. In reality, any company can capitalise on social – just as long as they have something interesting to say and understand which channel to say it on.
Before we jump into how B2B companies can build a social media strategy that delivers ROI, we thought it was best to address the elephant in the room…
There’s no denying that B2B companies have a slightly more difficult time on social media since they’re less likely to resonate and appeal to a larger demographic.
“Having said that, it’s not about the size of our audience, it’s about how relevant they are. Us B2B pros aren’t as hard done by as we may think if we bear this in mind.”
Now we’ve established that, let’s focus on how B2B companies can use social media as a weapon to get ahead!
Understanding the differences between social networks
The first key to getting ahead in the social game is understanding how the social networks differ.
So many companies jump straight into posting content, without really understanding the unique characteristics of the channels. Once we understand that, it’ll be a lot easier to tweak our strategy to accommodate the differences and appeal to the audience present there.
LinkedIn has well and truly moved on from being a CV library. In fact, LinkedIn is now considered one of the most important social media networks for B2B brands. This is down to the fact that it’s specifically designed to help working professionals connect with other like-minded people and companies of interest – and not just from a future employer perspective! As a result of this, we’re seeing users place higher importance on engagement and content.
“From a B2B perspective, LinkedIn is the perfect tool for those wanting to increase lead generation through networking.”
We’re seeing an increase in companies using LinkedIn to improve sales conversions, causing a shift in how the channel was once used.
Enter social selling!
Social Selling & LinkedIn
Hubspot defines social selling as the practice of salespeople using social media to interact directly with their prospects, providing value by answering questions and offering thoughtful content until the prospect is ready to buy. This allows them to build trust through nurturing.
Social selling can be used across most social networks, however, it’s particularly powerful on LinkedIn due to the professional networking element of this channel. It doesn’t matter whether you’re B2B or B2C, people buy from people. This is why LinkedIn acts as the perfect tool to boost the profile of individual employees, as well as the brand.
So how do you go about finding relevant people to connect with on LinkedIn and nurture them through content? Here are a few ideas:
- Use a social listening tool such as Meltwater to find the thought leaders in your space
- Align with your sales teams to understand the type of people and companies they’re prospecting
- Use an online news monitoring tool to discover the key journalists writing about your area
- Join Twitter chats to find like-minded people and then connect with them on LinkedIn
- Join LinkedIn relevant industry-specific groups
- See who your competitors are following from their corporate profiles, as well as who their senior members of staff are connected with
LinkedIn Social Selling Index – How to Actively Work with Social Selling on LinkedIn
Did you know that LinkedIn allows its users to measure how well their social selling efforts are working? They do this by providing a score, as well as specific pointers that can be used to actively increase your ranking. LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) is based on 4 parameters:
- Establishing your professional brand
- Finding the right people
- Engaging with relevant content
- Building relationships
LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index gives users a total score of 0 to 100. You can score up to 25 points in each of the 4 parameters. The score will be updated on a daily basis, giving users ample opportunity to keep track of their influence. All LinkedIn users can view their personal SSI scores for free. See yours here!
Want to learn more about using LinkedIn for creating sales opportunities? Take a look at our post: LinkedIn for Business: A Marketers Guide to Lead Generation.
Content to post on LinkedIn
Use this platform to get company vision across, in a thought leadership manner. Here are some ideas to get the cogs turning:
- Join relevant conversations and answer community questions – but avoid product pushing and keep the discussion educational
- Use LinkedIn’s embedded posts feature and write an opinion piece about a recent topic impacting your industry
- Post industry news – it’s always good practice to add a personal note to the post rather than solely a link to the content
- Share interesting blogs/ ebooks/ videos content
The real-time nature of Twitter is what differentiates it from other networks.
“As a result of the live commentary most Twitter users partake in, we’re seeing an influx of news stories breaking here first. This is followed by a steady stream of journalist signing up to the platform in order to stay in the loop – how ironic.”
It has been reported that journalists make up 25% of verified accounts.
Enter using Twitter as a PR tool!
PR & Twitter
Many pros overlook utilising Twitter from a PR perspective. Twitter an easy win for boosting the reach of campaigns, which will hopefully generate social buzz and in turn improve the volume of editorial coverage. But similarly to LinkedIn, the networking aspect of the tool is also of great importance for B2B companies.
Whilst LinkedIn is about connecting with like-minded professionals and prospects, Twitter can be used by B2B companies wanting to improve media relations. We can use Twitter to connect with industry-specific journalists who can help amplify awareness of our PR messages/ campaigns e.g new product launches/ awards won and CSR efforts. Take a look at my blog on Finding, Nurturing and Sustaining Influencer Relationships here for more info on building relationships with journalists via social media.
Fake news is rife online right now and companies may need to take to Twitter to put false claims to rest and stop the murmurs before a full-blown crisis develops. We can do this by releasing official responses from our Twitter handle, straight to our stakeholders present on Twitter. Such responses can help our PR teams to drive and reinforce certain angels. Sure you could post a statement on Facebook, but it makes more sense to voice urgent messages via Twitter because of timeliness.
Since Twitter is awash with journalists, it’s also quite common for them to use this tool to communicate journalist requests. Search hashtags such as #journorequest and #PRrequest to spot potential opportunities you could get involved with.
Content to post on Twitter
It’s worth remembering that content is quickly pushed down the Twitter feed as users tend to post more regularly on this channel compared to others. To put things into perspective, we’re looking at an average of 350,000 tweets sent per minute, which is equivalent to (500 million tweets per day). Users literally use the platform to document their day, and B2C companies are following their pace, whereas B2B companies are a little more mindful of the content they share.
Forget about the question”how often should I post”, as there isn’t a one size fits all answer. You should only post when you have something interesting to say, but don’t be afraid to post every hour if that’s the case. We’ve listed a few content types as suggestions to get your content plan up and running.
- Press announcements
- Campaign promotion
- Join industry relevant Twitter chats
- Respond to customer service related conversations
January 2018 saw Facebook mogul, Mark Zuckerberg, announce a change to the social network’s algorithm which caused a shift in how both B2B and B2C companies use the tool. You can view Marks full comment here, but to summarise, the ‘new Facebook’ is now prioritising messages from friends and family over branded content.
“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other… Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to help you have more meaningful social interactions,” Mark Zuckerberg.
Reportedly, this change in algorithm caused organic brand reach to slump to a dismal 2%.
Facebook defines organic brand reach as “the number of people who had an unpaid post from your page enter their screen”. Effectively; Facebook is referring to how visible your brand is on the social network – and it doesn’t look hopeful.
“With this in mind, professionals argue that we’ve entered a ‘pay to play’ world, that we need to place our hands in our pocket in order for Facebook audiences to place their eyes on our content. To combat this, many B2B companies are turning to paid ads to help improve their success on Facebook.”
Blending owned with paid for media is one way to get over the algorithm challenge. Fortunately, Facebook ads are pretty attractive to B2B companies due to their advanced targeting capabilities. Facebook worked hard on their paid for business stream in recent years (we wonder why). Users have the ability to really drill down using filters such as job titles, interests, likes, age etc. to ensure content gets in front of the perfect prospects.
The majority of Facebook users aren’t on the site to shop. There’s Amazon for that. They’re on Facebook to check out what their friends and families have been up to, potentially have a friendly stalk of people they’ve lost contact with and watch cat videos. While Facebook users may not be in the “shop now” mood, if we craft a good advert, we may get them curious enough to find out more or subscribe to our mail list.
B2B advertising isn’t a walk in the park. It’s complex and the multi-touch affair only adds to the trickiness. Facebook understands this need and created various type of ad campaigns for different goals. Facebook has categorised objectives into three categories: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. While each category has a use case for B2B advertisers, not all have the same clout. From B2B perspective, companies wanting to capitalise on Facebook should approach it with the below goals in mind:
Content to promote via Facebook ads
Brand awareness (blogs, events, competitions, videos, the Facebook company page)
Website traffic (blogs, gated content, case studies)
Lead generation (gated content such as ebooks and on-demand webinars, contact me pages, app store)
Conversions (targeted landing pages, trials, demos, case studies, etc)
Likealyzer – free Facebook analysis tool
Meltwater owned tool, Likealyzer, is a great resource for B2B companies looking to improve their organic reach on Facebook using data to support their strategy. This free online tool offers recommendations as well as metric analysis.
Give it a go by popping your brands Facebook business page URL in the box to uncover your key insights!
For a more thorough walkthrough of creating Facebook ads, take a look at our previous post, How To Increase Reach & Conversions with Facebook’s Lead Gen Ads here.
This blog post, 10 Easy Ways to Expand Your Facebook Reach is also a handy post for those wanting to increase reach without necessarily paying for it!
Unlike the networks discussed above, Instagram is primarily an image sharing app and text takes a back seat.
Besides increasing awareness, Instagram provides B2B marketers with the perfect opportunity to tell a brands story in a visual manner using videos, GIFs, photographs, live stories and infographics. The visual platform offers B2B companies the means of communicating their brand personality in a more human-like manner.
“It doesn’t matter if you work in what is considered a ‘boring industry’, because Instagram isn’t about pushing your products.”
At Meltwater, we’ve covered B2B Instagram marketing a lot recently on our blog, during our business breakfast events and on webinars. The below blog links are full of useful information for those wanting to use this tool for B2B purposes.
Best Practices for B2B Instagram Marketing: Why Bother?
Content to promote on Instagram
- Profile employees e.g. A Day in the Life Of
- Have influencers take over your stories
- Behind the scenes clips showcasing office life
- Event snippets
- Advocate stories/ case studies
- Tap into human interest and look beyond your own products. Think about what interests your target persona – maybe health images will resonate!
- TOP TIP: Stick to the same filter if you can. A unified Instagram aesthetic looks more visually appealing and helps your brand become more identifiable
Understanding which channel to focus on
Lots of companies struggle with obtaining a sufficient amount of marketing budget, especially in the B2B sector. As a result, we’re faced with a “can’t do everything” situation, and have to choose where we place our resources. Deciding which social media network to focus efforts on is a crucial part of building a strategy. We shouldn’t solely pick a channel based on resource limitations or how confident we feel in using it, for example.
“To avoid talking into a black void, we need to first understand where our audience is present.”
Use a social media monitoring tool to keep track of conversations around your own company, competitors and the wider industry – then filter the conversations by channel. You may find Instagram is your leading platform, like the example of GoPro below and decide to place your budget here instead of Twitter.
Our goals also need to come into this decision. Ask yourself, “why are we joining social media? Are we