Despite a few remaining skeptics, there is no doubt that social media is an effective strategy for business-to-business (B2B) marketing. According to Forbes, 83 percent of executives that choose a vendor on behalf of their company use social media in their decision-making. The key to being effective in B2B social media marketing is to remember it’s not the business you’re trying to reach, it’s a real-life person. The actual humans behind a company’s brand crave interesting and relevant content, and if you approach them with the right strategies, they’ll remember you when looking for a business solution.
On the surface, B2B social media marketing seems simple. You’ve got the channel, cost, audience, and creative. But it’s more complicated than meets the eye. Most B2B social media marketing comes off as stale or repetitive because companies create content based on internal desires or stakeholder opinion, rather than producing for the person looking at the ad or post. It’s easy for people to speak to one another but companies struggle to speak to their customers and here’s how to avoid that.
1. Understand the different social network nuances
For our new product debut, the Digitile Marketing team spent hours collecting and consolidating must-know social network specifications in one place. We’re sharing the framework to help companies avoid the time sink.
2. Marketing Variables
Everyone should be familiar with the primary social media variables. These key variables are at play with every social campaign. No matter which social platform you’re using, you’ll need them.
- Audience: What’s your target market?
- Content Type: Ads, surveys, infographics, contests, trivia questions, stories, charts, videos.
- Content Format: Text, images, video, audio
- Location: Ad page location
- Content Frequency: Number of posts or tweets per day, time of day, and day of week
- Device: Desktop or Mobile
While these variables are important, it’s the context of how they come together that catapults a social campaign above the fray.
3. Relatable Content
According to GWI’s survey, internet users have an average of 2.82 social network platforms. Interestingly enough, social audiences have mutually exclusive personas and interaction experiences for each one. Why different personas? Simple. Users have different expectations from platform to platform.
For some, Facebook is entertainment while others mix personal and business under one account. You can’t develop influential, relevant content until you identify the role a social network plays for its audience.
As an avid LinkedIn user, I expect and seek out industry articles. I’m willing to invest time to read 1000+ word articles on the platform. But on Facebook, I’m not interested in business content. If a business headline does catch my attention, it better be short. My Facebook mindset isn’t work oriented. In fact, with Facebook, a brief 15-30 second silent video is more likely to suck me in than a short article. If a no-sound video is engaging, I’ll click to hear it. Then if it makes sense, I’ll click again to learn more from the landing page.
Social consumption preferences are equally important to the standard social variables. You have to take these nuances into account to create relatable and relevant content. Otherwise, you’re wasting time and money.
To learn more about relatable marketing check out Is Your Startup Doomed? Show Me Your Content Strategy.
4. Messaging: Keep it Simple
At the core, Social Media is about entertainment. The meaning of entertainment takes on different forms by social network and audience. Facebook serves everyone from Millennials to AARP members. With such a diverse audience, each segment in Facebook’s total addressable market has its definition of entertainment and consumption preferences.
The key for businesses to making entertaining content is to convey emotion. However, today companies design social marketing campaigns based on their business and campaign objectives.
Here’s a Facebook ad for Cox Communications. It’s a typical ad pitching fast internet speed. How exciting. If Cox were customer-centric, they’d align their creative story and imagery with their audience’s values. For instance, picture the whole family watching their favorite sports event or Game of Thrones. They could use a catchy slogan too. How about “From the Cox Family to Yours. Starting at $39.99/month for 12 months. Watch Every Episode Together.”
Social audiences are less intrigued with customary marketing benefits. They want to be entertained, amused and intrigued.
According to GWI’s survey, 6 in 10 internet users are social networking for entertainment.
Think before you tweet! Say to yourself, “Does this entertain my audience?” Ask what the post/tweet does for your customer, not your business. Align your story with audience values.
The Mad Men era of features and benefits is over. Social audiences are drawn in with humanized content that naturally demonstrates customer benefits. Consumers like brands that feel like a casual friend, not concrete buildings or warehouses. Storytelling should be the cornerstone of your social strategy sprinkled with a bit of humility. Empathy goes further than the bullhorn.
Social Networks are a great place to test positioning and messaging. It’s quick to see how your target market responds to different types of content.
Digitile is a B2B file search engine for company content. After researching our audience, the creative team designed five entertainment ads with different positioning and messaging. For continuity, the team produced five unique landing pages to keep messaging consistent for each segment. The budgets for all five campaigns were identical.
The results were interesting and apparent when the budget for some ads depleted quicker than others. The winning ad wasn’t what any of us expected. But it worked, and it informed our marketing strategy from then on.
Winning Ad –
Winning Landing Page –
6. Cadence & Discipline
There are three questions to answer before you commit to a regular social cadence.
- What type of content does my customer expect from me?
- How often does your audience check their account per day and per week, by channel?
- What’s your audience’s appetite to consume short or long content forms by channel?
Armed with this information, develop a social media calendar. The schedule should include content themes, content types, and channel(s). Once complete, back into content deliverable dates to keep everything on schedule.
At first, B2B social media marketing may feel overwhelming, but it’s all about rhythm. Create a plan you can meet, measure the results, and figure out how to scale the process once things are in place.
B2B social media marketing is all about focusing on well-defined and narrow audiences, and then demonstrating you are committed to the community by providing insightful, exciting content. As you build your social media presence, users will see you as a thought leader and keep you in mind for their business solutions later on ─ especially if you are providing content that hits their expectations and interest.