A b2b marketer’s guide to social media marketing
When it comes to b2b inbound marketing in 2018, social media is pretty much a given.
After all, if one of your main goals is to reach your target audience (and I hope it is, otherwise we have much bigger problems), then odds are you’re going to find that audience pretty captive on at least one (and probably more than one) social media platform. That’s why social media can be such an effective way to generate leads.
But having a strong social media strategy does not mean having a presence on every social media platform that’s out there.
You only have limited resources (read: time and money) and you don’t want to put those resources where a) they’re not going to reach the audience you want and b) they’re not going to give you the kind of engagement you want.
Not to mention that spreading yourself too thin across too many channels is a great way to lose followers.
But choosing the right channels for your strategy is easier said than done. There’s a lot to consider, from your brand, to your budget, your objectives, your audience, your competitors and even your geographic considerations.
Luckily, we’ve put together the ultimate b2b social media marketing cheat sheet, which gives you the ins and outs of all the biggest social media platforms. If you’re confused about where you should be focusing your efforts to get the biggest rewards, then this guide is for you.
As a b2b business, LinkedIn is in all likelihood going to be one of your most important social media platforms for you, if not the most important.
Which makes sense, considering it’s pretty much built for targeting professionals, high-level decision-makers in particular – according to one study, 91% of executives rated LinkedIn as their number-one choice for professionally relevant content.
- Premium account: Subscribing to LinkedIn’s Premium Account gives you access to a plethora of features, such as InMail (which allows you to directly message anyone on LinkedIn, including those you aren’t connected to), premium search filters and expanded profiles.
Great for businesses that …
- Are looking to target a highly niche audience: With advanced search functions and ad targeting, and industry-focused groups, LinkedIn makes it easy to zero in on your key demographic.
- Want to establish their authority in a field: By providing high-quality content, answering relevant industry questions posed by potential customers, and participating in groups and forums, you can use LinkedIn’s tools and features to set yourself apart from your competition as a thought leader.
While Facebook’s reputation has been tainted by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, it still remains a social media powerhouse. With 60% of the Australian population being active users on Facebook, it’s simply too big for b2b businesses to ignore.
Pundits are also predicting that augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will be huge trends in the coming months and years, and we expect Facebook to be at the forefront of these trends, particularly with the development of their virtual reality platform, Spaces.
- Supports live-streaming: With Facebook Live, brands can easily live-stream product updates and demos, and give a behind-the-scenes peek at industry events.
- While LinkedIn is where people go for professional purposes, Facebook is where they go to interact with friends and family, and have leisure time. They are likelier, therefore, to check their Facebook newsfeeds more often and to be more engaged when they do so.
- Cost-effective, highly targeted advertising: Like LinkedIn, Facebook has highly targeted advertising, ensuring you can easily get your brand in front of your target audience. Not to mention it has one of the lowest cost-per-clicks (CPCs) of the big social networks.
- Hypervigilance about privacy: Facebook users are now particularly wary about privacy and how their data is used by third parties, and so they may be restricting access to their data on this platform more so than others.
Great for businesses that …
- Want to show off their brand personality a bit more: Facebook is where brands can let their hair down, and show a bit more authenticity to their target audience – all the more important for b2b businesses who want to cultivate long-term relationships with their customers.
- Require more touchpoints in the buyer journey: With b2b businesses, there are typically many touchpoints required as the prospect progresses from awareness, to consideration, to their final decision. Considering how much time the prospect is likely spending on Facebook, you’d be crazy not to invest in it.
Twitter has seen a bit of a resurgence since it doubled its character limit to 280, though with 3 million monthly active users in Australia, it still lags well behind the reach of Facebook (15 million) and Instagram (9 million).
- Great for engagement: With Twitter, it’s much easier to interact with leads and customers, whether it’s by retweeting posts, answering industry-specific questions, or responding quickly to customer service queries. You can even segment leads and customers into lists for regular monitoring, so you can be even more responsive.
- Instant and real-time: Twitter is the ideal platform for breaking news or covering live events.
- Less users than other platforms: As mentioned, Twitter does not have the reach of platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
- Can be time and labour intensive: Tweets are very ephemeral, and people tend to check Twitter quickly, significantly lowering your chances of any individual tweet being seen. It can, therefore, take a long time and constant attention to establish a strong presence on Twitter.
Great for businesses that …
- Want to appear cutting-edge and topical: Being highly responsive to events and developments in your industry can help establish you as an authority in the field.
- Want to boost customer service: Many users use Twitter to flag issues with businesses, so if good customer service is a priority to your business (and it should be), then you should have an active presence on Twitter.
With 9 million monthly active users in Australia, Instagram is a platform that should definitely not be ignored.
There’s also evidence to suggest that millennials are ditching Facebook in favour of Instagram, and as this demographic moves up the ranks and into decision-making roles, it will become all the more crucial for brands to meet them where they are.
Instagram has also recently launched IGTV, a long-form video portal that aims to give YouTube a run for its money. Users will be able to post videos lasting up to an hour, opening up exciting possibilities for b2b marketers.
- Makes brands feel more authentic: Instagram Stories allows businesses to produce real-time, ephemeral videos that give a less polished, more authentic peek behind the curtain, making them a great way to inject personality into your brand and engage followers on a deeper level.
- Difficult to leverage without compelling imagery: Instagram is first and foremost about images – which might be an issue for some b2b businesses, which may struggle to produce compelling, relevant images at the rate needed to maintain engagement.
- Doesn’t really help drive website traffic: With Instagram, you are only allowed one link in your bio, and there are no clickable external links unless you pay for ads. This severely limits the amount of website traffic – and, by extension, leads – you’ll be able to generate via the platform.
Great for businesses that …
- Want to target millennials: Even if this demographic isn’t one of your main targets now, they are bound to be in the future, so it may be worth getting on the Instagram bandwagon now to prepare for that eventuality.
- Have a more visual product: If you, for example, sell software that helps businesses produce beautiful infographics, then a platform like Instagram is perfect for showcasing exactly what your product can do.
You may be surprised to see Snapchat mentioned here, seeing as Kylie Jenner pretty much declared the platform was dead back in February.
And while Snapchat’s recent redesign was met with ambivalence, the fact that Snapchat is growing into one of the biggest digital hangouts for American teens could be the first signs of a massive comeback.
Snapchat has also grown significantly in Australia, with 6.3 million monthly active users (almost 2 million more than LinkedIn). Could Snapchat claw its way back? Watch this space.
- Organic feel: The spontaneous, fun nature of real-time videos means your marketing material doesn’t feel like marketing at all – not to mention Snapchat users are among the most highly engaged.
- Very temporary: By definition, Snapchat is highly time-sensitive – you only have a few seconds to get your message across before it disappears, so you need to make sure it’s specific and very targeted. (If you’re not sure whether this type of messaging is right for you, you might want to test it out with Instagram Stories first, which is fairly similar.)
- Perhaps not quite the right demographic – yet: Snapchat definitely skews younger in terms of its users, so, as a b2b business, it’s likely that not many of your key decision-makers are on the platform (not yet, anyway).
Great for businesses that …
- Have a younger clientele: It’s about knowing your audience, so if your target audience isn’t on Snapchat, there’s not much point investing resources in it. (Though remember, Facebook was once thought of as a platform for younger people too …)
- Regularly hold or participate in events: Snapchat is a fun, quick way to connect with your target audience while at an event, whether it’s by giving a 10-second behind-the-scenes look, sharing limited-time product discounts or other promotions with fellow attendees, or giving a shout-out to a customer or partner.
Keep your ear to the ground
The social media landscape is a capricious one, and things can shift quickly, so perhaps the most important thing to bear in mind is that no social media strategy should be set in stone. Stay on top of current and upcoming trends (by, say, subscribing to this blog!), and let the data guide your way.
If you’re still not sure where to start when it comes your social media strategy, it might be time to call in the big guns – that is, an inbound marketing agency. But which one is right for you? Make sure you pick the agency that is the best fit for your business with our free 7-step checklist to choosing your inbound agency. Download it now!
(Monthly active users statistics compiled by SocialMediaNews.com.au for May 2018. Source: Vivid Social – Social Media Agency. Figures correct as of 31/05/18.)
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