B2B social media marketing can be an effective way for brands to build awareness, strengthen relationships, and close sales. But B2B social marketers face unique challenges when it comes to tone and content mix.
So, how do you use social tools to bring in (and keep) followers, create engagement, build brand awareness, and fill your funnel? Read on for all the tips you need to build an effective B2B social media strategy.
Bonus: Get a free social media strategy template to quickly and easily plan your own strategy. Also use it to track results and present the plan to your boss, teammates, and clients.
B2B social media marketing is the use of social channels to market products or services to business clients and prospects. (B2B stands for business-to-business, as opposed to business-to-consumer or B2C.)
Marketers at B2C companies use social channels to reach consumers and influence purchases. Effective B2B marketing requires a different approach. B2B marketers have to think more strategically to reach business owners and decision-makers. They then nurture relationships that can lead to large purchase agreements.
All social channels can have a place in B2B marketing. But the balance and type of content will look different for a B2B social media strategy than for a consumer-focused plan.
B2B social media success begins with a sound B2B social media strategy. Here’s how to build one for your brand.
1. Align goals with business objectives
Just like a good B2C strategy, every B2B social media plan should answer the following two questions:
- What are the company’s business objectives?
- How will B2B social media marketing help achieve them?
But the similarities mostly end here. B2B and B2C social media marketers use social platforms for different purposes. B2C social media campaigns drive sales, while B2B social is more “top of funnel.” Social media goals for B2B marketers should likely focus on longer-term business objectives.
In fact, the top 3 overall goals for B2B companies are:
- Create brand awareness
- Build trust and credibility
- Educate audiences
Generating sales or revenue comes in at number 8.
Those top three goals all contribute to social media B2B lead generation. Successful B2B marketers also use content marketing to nurture subscribers, audiences, or leads.
Our blog post on goal-setting can help you establish the right goals and objectives for your B2B social media plan.
Don’t forget to include internal objectives and goals within your plan. According to research published in the Journal of Business Logistics, social media can help account managers increase both product and competitor knowledge.
2. Know your audience
Your corporate structure probably caters to various client personas. Or, at least, different client categories.
For instance, a design firm might work for commercial, public, and residential customers. It likely has team members or verticals that specialize in each category.
Your B2B social media marketing strategy should do the same. Focus on building fleshed-out buyer personas of your ideal customers. These will allow you to create social media content that speaks to real people.
Understanding your audience also means understanding which social channels they use. As a general rule, you should be where your customers are. Not sure where that might be? Start with the overall social media demographics. Then, dive into some audience research.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
For paid social media posts, the picture for B2B social media platforms is similar but not identical. LinkedIn again comes out on top (78%). But Instagram outranks YouTube and Twitter (a.k.a. X) is down at the bottom of the pack.
Source: Content Marketing Institute
Separate channels may also be relevant for different verticals, products, and markets. Depending on the industry and size of your business, you might want to consider:
Or any other account that speaks to a specific audience within your niche. Make sure you’re delivering the information your target audience wants in the right place and at the right time.
Keep in mind that B2B social marketing will likely become even more personalized in the future. Account-based marketing (ABM) will become the norm. In ABM, sales and marketing teams work together. They personalize outreach and marketing to decision-makers at target companies.
Social media is a prime tool for ABM. For instance, social listening allows you to keep tabs on your most important prospects.
3. Understand the competition
While you never want to copy the competition, it’s always useful to know what they’re up to. Understanding what the competition is doing helps you understand your own specific niche.
You can get an even better understanding of the competition by using social media listening to monitor their social media activities, so you can gain insights from their B2B social media examples. Such as:
- When and how often they post
- What kinds of voice and tone they use
- What kind of content gets the most engagement
- Specific customer pain points that may be unaddressed
You can use this information to guide your own social strategy. Especially before you have enough data to get meaningful insights from your own social posts. (More on that later.)
Want more details on competitor research? We’ve got a full blog post on how to conduct a competitor analysis on social media.
4. Create a content calendar and content library
Once you understand your customers and the competition, it’s time to think about what and when you will post on social media.
First, you need to plan your content calendar: What you will post on each of your social accounts and when. Deciding on the right content mix is an important part of this step, as no one will want to follow you if all you do is promote your products. We’ve got some content ideas for you later on in this post.
A social media management platform organizes your content calendar so you can create and schedule content in advance. And 76% of the most successful B2B businesses do so.
Hootsuite’s Composer allows you to schedule all of your social media channels from one screen. You have a holistic view of your content distribution. This advance planning gives you time to use the built-in content approval workflows. Composer also recommends the best time to post on each platform based on your past performance and selected goals.
Hootsuite’s content library is another important feature for B2B marketers. You can use the library to store pre-approved content and brand assets.
This protects your brand identity and reputation while making life easier for all members of the content creation team.
5. Analyze and refine
Almost all (87%) of the most successful B2B content marketers say they measure their content performance accurately. Compare that to only 19% of the least successful.
What metrics and data should you monitor? This depends on your business goals. You might focus on response time, impressions, engagement rate, conversions, sales, and more. The important thing is to set benchmarks and achievable goals.
Don’t ignore barometers like customer satisfaction ratings, qualitative reviews, and your Net Promoter Score. Look at reductions in recruitment and customer support costs as well. All of this contributes to return on investment.
Be realistic about what efforts you’ll have hard numbers for and which will be trickier to quantify. Remember, just because you can measure something doesn’t always mean you should. And just because you can’t measure something (easily) doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile.
Your best ally in building out a performance measurement plan is a good social media analytics tool. Hootsuite Analytics gives you one-screen access to performance data from every social network, including easy-to-understand graphics and charts.
Speak to humans, not businesses
Remember that you’re not talking to brands – you’re talking to the people behind those brands. Likewise, they want to do business with the humans behind your brand.
In the LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact study, 64% of executives said they prefer “a more human, less formal tone of voice” over “an even-toned, intellectual voice.”
And you’re not just talking to CEOs and purchasing officers. Younger people will move up the ranks and be making purchasing decisions within a few years. It pays to nurture relationships with industry pros at all stages of their careers.
One simple way to break out of the boardroom with your content is to get your employees involved. Tell their stories. Highlight their accomplishments. Real people make your social media presence and brand voice appear more human and boost your recruiting efforts.
Tip: You can easily build a streamlined employee social program using Hootsuite Amplify.
Help your audience do their jobs
Think about ways you can make your followers’ (work) lives easier or more enjoyable. Provide content and resources that delight them in some way. Think how-to information, industry news, trends, tips, strategy, and so on.
Thought leadership is particularly important. 61% of decision-makers say thought leadership can be ”moderately or a lot more effective at demonstrating the potential value of its products/services compared to traditional product-oriented marketing.”
In content that does specifically promote your product, focus on how it will directly benefit the customer in real business terms. The latest Linked-in-Edelman B2B Thought Leadership Impact Report found that non-business-critical suppliers can best increase their chances of making a sale by:
- Proving they will increase a prospect’s profit margins or minimize losses
- Showing they can increase the likelihood of the prospect retaining customers and clients during a downturn
- Showing they can help the prospect outperform competitors
Use humor your followers will understand
B2B social media is about starting conversations and building relationships that lead to sales in the long term. That “long term” part is key, though. Followers aren’t going to stick around if your content doesn’t interest them.
So don’t let B2B’s reputation for boring content hold you back. Humor is an import tool in your content-creation toolbox. You just have to find the right tone.
What kind of humor speaks directly to your audience? Is there an inside joke that only industry pros will understand? A pun that will amuse your followers while highlighting your product benefits? Signal to your audience that you understand social media is primarily a platform for content that entertains and delights.
Respond to DMs and comments
If we were to highlight the most important component of a B2B social media strategy, this would probably be it. Anyone who comments on your content or sends you a DM is expressing interest in your brand. They’re practically raising their hands and shouting, “Hey! I’m a lead!”
That said, it’s easy for comments and DMs to get lost when you’re juggling multiple social platforms, each with its own inbox. A consolidated social media inbox like the one built into Hootsuite makes sure you never miss a thing.
Hootsuite Inbox also speeds up your response time by automatically routing messages through to the most appropriate person on your team. This ensures potential sales don’t get bogged down in the customer service queue.
Reduce response time (and your workload)
Manage all your messages stress-free with easy routing, saved replies, and friendly chatbots. Try Hootsuite’s Inbox today.
1. Share a free resource
A free resource like a white paper or report can be a valuable way to earn the trust of your B2B social media followers. But only if the report provides quality information backed up by reliable data and research – and offers real-world suggestions for how to incorporate that information into operations.
Two of the main qualities business leaders look for in thought leadership content are “robust research and strong supporting data” and “concrete guidance on how to respond to the issues or opportunities discussed.”
For example, here’s the primary and secondary data information for the Hootsuite 2023 Social Media Career Report:
And here are some of the ways Hootsuite shared the report on social media:
But how much asking is too much? 🤣
All kidding aside, this is why you must ask for the damn raise already! You deserve it for so many reasons.
— Hootsuite 🦉 (@hootsuite) September 19, 2023
2. Crack a joke
We talked about humor earlier in this post. Here’s where the rubber hits the road. From a tongue-in-cheek play on words, to a funny meme, to a straight-up dad joke, tickle your followers’ funny bones from time to time to keep them coming back for more.
The level of humor can vary with the platform, and should be based on audience research. For instance, you can likely skew a lot more silly on TikTok than on LinkedIn.
@artandsuchevan finds creativity in the tiniest and most unexpected places ✨
Keep a close eye on your analytics after posting anything outside the norm for your brand to see how your audience responds. If they love it, give them more. If the response is tepid or you see an unusual number of unfollows, rethink your strategy and try a different approach to humor.
3. Join a relevant conversation
We talked about social listening above in the context of competitor research. But it’s also a great way to find conversations relevant to your industry and your brand.
Simply add relevant hashtags and industry terms to your Hootsuite streams. When you find a relevant conversation, pop in with helpful information (never a hard sell). This is all about building relationships and creating brand awareness.
For example, when Patrick Mahomes was caught correcting an awkward grammar mistake on Twitter (shout out to the edit button!), both Grammarly and Merriam-Webster jumped in.
The edit deserves a touchdown.🏈
— Grammarly (@Grammarly) September 12, 2023
Proud of this edit.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) September 12, 2023
4. Share some stats
We’ve talked about the importance of thought leadership already. Quick stats and infographics are an easy and effective way to share thought leadership on social media without requiring followers to dive deep into a long report.
Infographics are snackable and highly shareable, meaning they can help your content spread well beyond your own social followers.
Business can be tough, and you can gain a lot of brand loyalty by showing you understand the difficulties employees face. Remember, you need to win the hearts and minds of future business leaders, not just those who are making purchasing decisions today.
We hope this message finds you well. Unless you’re on PTO. In that case, we hope this message does not find you; we hope you find yourself with a fully recharged battery. 🔋
— Slack (@SlackHQ) September 19, 2023
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