Ahh, marketing for B2B businesses. It’s my favourite kind of project to work on and the area I’ve built my expertise in over the past decade or so, but it’s not without it’s occasional pitfalls. B2B Marketing has a history of stuffy, “past it” approaches and a bit of a lack of strategic understanding, despite most of the businesses executing it having a very clear cut objective: lead generation. One of the biggest areas of misunderstanding is, undoubtedly, social media for B2B audiences, so here I am to shed a little light.
I’m a firm believer that B2B is actually just P2P (person-to-person) and more than ever, the business to business sphere is embracing the notion of actually showing personality in their comms. About time, too.
Somewhere along the road, however, confusion strikes and the end result is B2B businesses wondering whether they should be on Tik Tok. My answer is a firm no, FYI, but we’ll get to that.
So what social media platforms do B2B companies need to be focusing their attention on, really?
A couple of things to consider first:
- Do you know your target persona? If not, start there. You need to have a good idea of what this person cares about when it comes to their work, what they’re reading and how they consume information, their age range, job title, pain points and opportunities and their social-savviness, to name but a few. If you’re yet to do a persona workshop and need a helping hand, give us a shout and we’d be happy to chat.
- What do you want out of the interaction? Let’s go back to my comment about Tik Tok so I can be clear about why, for me, it’s a no. Tik Tok is a fantastic platform and results can be driven by it, but if you’re an accountancy firm in Glasgow or a management consultancy in Sheffield, respectfully, there’s not much you can set the world alight with on Tik Tok. It’s just not the place where your customers are, so don’t waste your time, particularly if the purpose of your use of social media is to drive leads or enquiries. There are exceptions, of course, digital agencies being one of them, but again, it totally depends on the outcome desired, and personally, I think it’s better for things like recruitment and selling culture than it is anything else.
Social media for B2B Businesses: Each Platform & its Uses in Detail
To help outline a sensible approach for B2B business people and the use of social media, I wanted to provide a whistle-stop tour of each platform and the potential uses.
The #1 social network for business, no doubt, but so many people are doing it wrong.
Let’s start with company pages. Wow. I see a minefield of mistakes every time I log on to LinkedIn and it’s because, for some reason, people think the notion of “build it and they will come” is applicable to LinkedIn company pages.
I’ll be straight up here: it takes a lot of time, effort and wider involvement to grow a company page organically. That means collaborating with other businesses and tagging the living daylights out of those you work with, including staff in posts and encouraging them to share posts from the page, utilising hashtags correctly and posting frequently. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do these things, the page won’t grow.
Therefore, if you’re looking to grow a company page, FAST, you’re going to have to pay to play. LinkedIn has cleverly built its model so that the only way to build real traction and grow a following on it is to either a) be Steve Bartlett, or b) invest in sponsored posts and LinkedIn Ads.
Best practice with LinkedIn, in my opinion, means consistency, genuine interaction and discussion, a personable approach that isn’t loaded with marketing-speak but is professional, with a sprinkling of personality.
LinkedIn is a vast network and the benefits for B2B businesses are boundless when comms are executed properly, but it very much depends on the business, its goals and the target audience.
A lot of my clients work in the digital and tech industries and therefore, Twitter is big on the agenda for them. Not for driving leads, however. That’s very uncool on Twitter, didn’t you know?
This platform is ideal for building up a profile, engaging in dialogue with industry peers and both providing and receiving quick, digestible insights.
Video and imagery work well on Twitter and content marketing is a big deal on the platform, too. Recent data from the Content Marketing Institute revealed that 82% of B2B content marketers used Twitter for organic content marketing in the last 12 months. To be fair, LinkedIn does rank higher at 96%, but a stat over 80 like that can’t be ignored.
I would absolutely maintain, however, that people aren’t on Twitter to buy from you. It’s a place to engage with others, talk shop and best practice, share good work and cool things and generally, kick back a little bit.
I’d be happy to be proven wrong (you can fight me on this over on Twitter!), but make sure you have stats and a compelling argument if you do, because I’ve been proving myself right for years on this one!
It’s absolutely worth running a company Twitter page to share blogs/news/coverage etc. and if you’re an individual, I’d personally recommend having just 1 account. For a while, there was a trend of having a separate Twitter account for personal and business, but let’s face it, it’s twice the content and social media for B2B doesn’t have to mean stuffy, boring and devoid of personality. Unless you’re a Neo Nazi or climate change denier, you have nothing to worry about by having a combined personal and business Twitter account, trust me.
Now you can call me disgruntled because I’m yet to get an invite, or you can join me in facing facts and acknowledging that any platform that operates an invite-only policy is a bit wanky and probably won’t be around for long. That’s my two cents, anyway.
I knew it instantly because there was such huge buzz around it within several professional groups that I’m in, that I could see that it was just yet another distraction for B2B people to get caught up in. How can you know if your target audience is on Clubhouse if you don’t even have an invitation yourself? Think about it. It’s also iPhone-only, currently, which is pretty restrictive.
I’ll say one good thing about Clubhouse: it’s certainly the right time for it. The pandemic has meant that in-person events are out and online ones are in, and since Zoom isn’t great on mobile, this definitely fills a gap. But honestly, I think it’ll die as quickly as it came about.
It’s in its infancy right now, but my honest view is that any platform that has alienated a load of potential members with an arbitrary, elitist members system isn’t going to go the long-haul.
It’s for recruitment. End of story.
To succeed at Facebook marketing you need your team on board and readily sharing page posts, tagging people and liking as much as possible, or, like LinkedIn, you need to put some budget behind it.
As most are aware, Facebook owns Instagram now so if you’re investing in paid social for one, you might as well do the other, but fine-tuning your audience is absolutely key. It can be confusing, time-consuming and, well, a bit of a drag, so reach out for expert help if you need it.
Now it very much depends what line of work you’re in, but Instagram is a great place to showcase your work, your internal culture and nice things like CSR campaigns or events you might be running or attending. You can grab eyeballs, inspire and engage with Instagram.
In short, it’s a “behind the scenes” look at what your company is like, so if you’re recruiting or looking to build positive brand awareness for your work and overall business, this is a great place to build a back catalogue.
Instagram is still one of the most downloaded apps and it’s largely dominated by a mostly-female Millennial and Gen Z audience. If that sounds like your persona, then Instagram is for you.
I must stress the importance of quality when it comes to Instagram. The stakes are continuously climbing and high-quality photography is a must. There is lots you can do if you have the time to invest in getting creative and the platform lends itself well to being branded in whatever style you desire, thanks to the flexible nature of the grid. Consistency is also key, hashtags are up for debate and Stories are your friend.
I’ve already touched on this and there are several articles out there in B2B Marketing world that will disagree with me here, but I don’t think Tik Tok is a good social media platform for B2B businesses. For every one company you show me doing it well (and frankly, good luck finding them), I’ll show you 20 that really aren’t.
It’s a video-led platform and, like Instagram, the quality levels expected are increasing almost by the day. I’ve seen a couple of companies doing well on Tik Tok but there’s one commonality there: they all have creative departments or in-house videography and a very clear idea of their brand and audience.
The platform is significantly dominated by a younger audience and even oldies like me in their 30s who have an account only use it for whiling away the dull hours of lockdown looking at daft videos. For the majority of businesses, this just isn’t going to cut the mustard and it comes back to my point at the start: a very clear understanding of your target audience and your end goals.
And I suppose that’s the point with everything, really. At Cameo, we’re strategic marketers and encourage our clients to change their mindset towards marketing if their focus is on small tactics and they are distracted by new and shiny things. We’ve all worked on enough projects to know that it’s just not the way forward in the long-run.
This post isn’t designed to dampen enthusiasm towards social media for B2B businesses. Quite the opposite. It’s a plea to start thinking about your audience, your objectives and be real about the time and resources at your disposal, so you can focus on what’s going to drive results.
Chat to us if you need a hand.