When it comes to B2B marketing, one of the most important steps in launching a successful social media marketing campaign comes in choosing the right platform(s) upon which to connect with your audience.
Compared to B2C, B2B marketing involves a much longer sales cycle, meaning that the relationships that you nurture via social media (and other channels) will build slowly over lengthier stretches of time before the prospect is ready for a sales call or, indeed, to make a purchase. And this is why it’s so important to have a solid social media marketing strategy mapped out from the outset.
Marketing Personas and Facebook
It will begin – as nearly everything does in the realms of B2B marketing – by crafting your inbound marketing personas. These will help you identify exactly where it is that your prospects are hanging out online – both during office hours, and outside of them. And this last point is important.
Today, busy professionals – including your targets – are taking their work home with them, perhaps even without realising it. What this means is that although your knee-jerk reaction may be to assume that the professional network that is LinkedIn will be your most profitable platform through which to engage with your customers, in actual fact a more “social” social network like Facebook should not be overlooked.
In fact – and somewhat surprisingly – a recent report by Hotwire and Vanson Bourne reveals that B2B buyers and decision-makers cite Facebook as their go-to channel when it comes to conducting research prior to making a purchase decision. 24% of the 1,000 B2B professionals surveyed said that Facebook was their number one choice of network for this type of activity – putting Facebook right at the top of the list, ahead of LinkedIn (17%) and Twitter (6%).
The reason being, we can surmise, is because B2B buyers and decision-makers are spending more time on Facebook (18 days a month, compared to 13 for both LinkedIn and Twitter respectively) than on other channels – most likely because they are more active on the site outside of working hours.
With this in mind, no matter where else you decide to focus your B2B social media marketing efforts, Facebook needs to be feature somewhere on your list. (Check out our post ‘B2B Facebook Marketing: Using Facebook for B2B Engagement’ for more on this important topic.)
But let’s consider your other options as well.
Yes, the self-styled “professional network”, now with over 500 million users, is a pretty safe bet as a B2B marketing channel. By its very nature, LinkedIn is a digital channel where B2B professionals go to engage with other people in their industry, which is no doubt why the platform is used by 92% of B2B marketers.
It’s where they expect to find high-value, well-researched, educative content – and so it is the job of the B2B marketer to ensure that it’s his/her company’s content that is gaining the most attention.
What’s more, since professionals are expecting to find such research-heavy content like white papers, research reports and case studies on LinkedIn, they are more receptive to it. Publishing on LinkedIn Pulse, for instance, is a great way to establish brand awareness and earn some important visibility with those C-suite executives that you will ultimately need to win over (hence why B2B sales cycles are much longer than those in B2C).
Research from a number of sources also reveal quite clearly that LinkedIn marketing gets results – 80% of B2B marketing leads from social media come through LinkedIn, according to Oktopost, while an Investis study found that 46% of social media traffic comes via LinkedIn. Promising signs, indeed.
(Image source: business.linkedin.com)
Often overlooked as a B2B marketing tool, SlideShare is actually one of the most popular platforms out there – it’s in the top 100 most-visited websites in the world, according to the network’s About Page.
Yet, despite its popularity, Kissmetrics reports that 85% of marketers are failing to take advantage of this impressive visual presentation network. This is of course a shame – but it also presents an opportunity.
With so many marketers turning a blind eye to the network, the competition is less fierce than elsewhere, giving you a real chance of getting noticed. And the great thing about SlideShare is that it’s a visual platform first and foremost – and visual marketing is one of the most important trends to take note of in 2017 and beyond.
SlideShares are great for companies that have a lot of data that they want to share with their prospects in nice, easily-digestible chunks. Indeed, SlideShares often take the form of infographics – the difference being that instead of scrolling down a long document, users see just one slide at a time.
And this is great for lead nurturing – with SlideShare, you can create beautiful, easy-to-follow presentations that allow your prospects to internalise your data one slide at a time as they go about making their purchase decisions, and the nature of the platform gives you an opportunity to not only show off your stats, but your style and personality, too.
The platform is also great for breaking down those long research reports and white papers that you’re sharing on LinkedIn into something that can be consumed in a matter of minutes – perfect for busy execs. This is something that the Content Marketing Institute has done with its latest B2B Marketing Trends 2017 report – here’s a screenshot of an important slide from that SlideShare below.
(Image source: slideshare.net)
Twitter is one of those platforms that is either ideally suited to your audience – or it isn’t. That being said, the sheer size of the platform (328 million active monthly users) combined with its design to be a fast-paced, “let’s see what’s hot and trending” sort of network, Twitter can in fact be a great B2B marketing platform for the purpose of raising brand awareness if you have a lot of blog content that you want to spread far and wide quickly.
B2B marketers are indeed very active on Twitter for these top of the funnel (ToFU) purposes. In fact, the platform is the second most popular B2B marketing platform, according to the DemandWave 2016 State of B2B Digital Marketing Report.
(Image source: go.demandwave.com)
However, although you will be in good company sharing your content regularly on Twitter, the sheer amount of content on the site makes it quite a competitive environment. In order to get noticed, you’ll need to be making good use of #hashtags to ensure that those professionals out there searching for a service like yours will be able to find you.
Engagement is also key on Twitter – B2B marketers who take the time to interact with followers tend to get rewarded the most. So, if you do choose to build Twitter into your social media marketing strategy, be sure to get involved in as many places as you can and that you’re not only encouraging a one-sided conversation.
Over to You
Choosing the right social media channels for your B2B marketing will come down to research. Which platforms are your ideal customers most often frequenting? As with all B2B marketing practices, there will be an element of trial and error when it comes to refining your strategy.
You may, for instance, find that Twitter is great for generating traffic, though very poor at generating leads, which seems to work best for you on LinkedIn – in which case you will need to take a slightly different approach to each channel.
And, no matter what you decide, it’s worth remembering that Facebook is turning out to be one of the most important B2B marketing channels out there. LinkedIn may be the “official” professional network, but you must always go where the money is and the leads are.