29 April 2015 by Jonathan Andrews

What Really Works in Social Media for B2B

what_social_Channel_is_best_for_your_B2B_businessUsing Social Media to promote your business can be a great way of engaging with your audience, but sometimes it’s easier said than done.

With so much noise around what to do, how to do it, when to do it and which platform to use, choosing the right social media channel can seem an arduous task, especially when you are new to this. After all, you want to do what’s right for your brand and your audience and ultimately maximise your social media ROI.

Our B2C colleagues have embraced a plethora of different social media channels, creating powerful campaigns that have increased their social media ROI and proved effective tools for connecting and engaging with their audience.

The B2B sphere demands a refining of traditional social media strategy, culling some of the more consumer related channels. A software development company, for example, might have a hard time attracting their customer base (professional coders and computer enthusiasts) through a channel like Instagram or Pinterest (or even Facebook). Using these channels can amount to wasted time, wasted profits and a poor social media ROI. With this in mind, here is a list we have prepared highlighting some of the main Social Media channels, and their relevance and applications in the B2B market:

Facebook is easily the most populous of all social media channels. With over 1.35 billion monthly active users, launching your social media campaign through this channel seems a no brainer. Especially considering the success many B2C brands have had with the medium. However, more is not necessarily better. There is an argument that Facebook doesn’t suit the needs of most B2B companies as its user base is constantly being bombarded by information that is personally relevant to them, which may well take precedence over your brand’s message. Let’s say, for example, your company sells niche components for large scale manufacturing machinery, how well do you think that would weigh up against photos of a new-born nephew or pictures of a close friend’s holiday in Thailand? Furthermore, it is harder for B2B brands to disguise their ads as actual posts. Click baiting titles are also harder to pull off, I mean: ‘What this cloud-based agile software delivery company did next will shock you!’ is hardly a catchy title, is it?

There is another side to this debate that is worth looking at if you have the time or if you really feel Facebook is the way to go. Ultimately, you should consider carefully whether Facebook is really right for your B2B brand; if it isn’t, maybe it’s time to focus your efforts on some of the options below.

Linkedin, Facebook’s professional cousin, always wears a tie. Linkedin may have less active users than Facebook and Twitter (coming in at 300 mil. users) but it has some major advantages over other mediums, especially for B2B. Linkedin is a professional database, not just a social hub, so people are thinking professionally as well as socially while interacting with it. As B2B marketing and lead generation depend strongly on the ability to specifically target professional ‘decision makers’ within an organisation, this makes Linkedin a powerful tool for a B2B marketer to appeal directly to the most important members of an organisation. If you’re thinking Linkedin campaigns have less creative potential than some of the other social media options, think again

Twitter is increasingly seen as one of the most powerful social media platforms for both B2B and B2C marketers. It presents a unique way for a brand to push content, engage with their audience and, perhaps most importantly, show their personality. The hard rules for using Twitter are well known: timed, short posts, with an emphasis on succinct and/or image based content. Using Twitter as an auxiliary tool for promoting your own, or other relevant, blog posts, infographics and other content is also vital to increasing your Twitter presence and maximising social media ROI. When posting, keep in mind your brand persona and try to remain true to it; make sure everyone who posts on the account understands this too. Remember to engage with your audience and not just post, reply to queries (or criticisms) as quickly as possible and don’t worry, it is ok to post something fun… in fact at True we believe that content has to be remarkable for it to be shared, and entertaining your audience can be one way of doing so. Even in B2B.

Slideshare is more of an honourable mention on this list. It is most effective when using the above channels (or your blog) to promote it. It’s easy to think of Slideshare as ‘Powerpoint online’ but it has a few key aspects that differentiate it from its Microsoft counterpart. Most notably, there is no presenter to carry the slides: they have to be self-explanatory. The other side to this coin is that there is also no time limit – Powerpoint presentations limit themselves to a few slides with minimal writing to keep the audience engaged, whereas with Slideshare, the viewer can control the pace of the presentation. This doesn’t mean that a boring presentation will go far through Slideshare, but it gives you a different set of parameters to work with. The best Slideshares have a sleek design, good copy and make powerful use of visuals (images, graphs and infographics) as well as text to convey their message. 

ltimately, deciding what Social Media channel is right for your brand is an extremely important factor and should not be a silo decision. At True we see it being part of your overall content strategy and, if done correctly, it can be fun, cost effective AND lift your brand to a whole new level of engagement.

This is by no means a complete list, just a general overview to help get you started. Are there any really powerful social media tools that we’re missing in this list? What are your thoughts, big successes (or roadblocks!) for using social media to promote your B2B brand?

Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @TrueB2B.