Does Social Media Work for B2B Marketers? | VantagePoint Blog

Does Social Media Marketing Work in the B2B Marketplace?

Does social media work for B2B marketers?

We’ll start by addressing the elephant in the room: we know most folks log on to social media platforms to see photos of their baby niece’s recent trip to the pumpkin patch, not to catch up with the latest B2B happenings. We also know B2B social media isn’t the most glamorous guest at the social marketing gala.

But at the end of the day, B2B social media marketing is highly effective. After all, B2B buyers are humans just like us, with their own nieces on cute outings to the pumpkin patch, who are already using social media every day and actually want to make their B2B buying decisions through social channels.

Why should B2B companies use social media?

Most buyers for B2B products already have accounts on the major social media platforms (because nowadays, who doesn’t?). Because they’re average people, these potential customers are comfortable navigating social apps, which makes them willing and able to engage with companies in the social space.

“76% of buyers are ready to have sales conversations on social media, and 81% of buyers are more likely to engage with brands that have a “strong, cohesive, professional social media presence,” according to Hubspot.

The proof is in the numbers — B2B social media marketing works.

Social media as a brand building strategy for B2B companies

For B2B businesses, having a presence on social media boosts credibility and helps in portraying a positive brand image. Brand awareness is typically a tough arena for B2B, yet it’s extremely important. After all, if you aren’t in charge of how the public views your brand, who is?

It’s crucial for you to be the deciding voice of what your company stands for, the quality of your products and how much you value your customers. That’s why social media is a great place to write the narrative about your company. B2B buyers are already scrolling through their feeds, looking to conduct business with responsible, professional companies with high quality products.

As far as using social media as a public relations tactic goes, be sure to post consistently to please the algorithm (which is a whole other story) and to keep your brand on the top of your customers’ minds.

Using social media tools like keyword research and hashtags can help increase your visibility and lead valuable customers to note-worthy conversations. Posting thought leadership pieces and interacting with trending industry pieces can help prove your expertise.

Digital and social media marketing usage in B2B

The recent pandemic has pushed the digital world fully into our laps even more rapidly than expected. As a result, many people prefer to spend much more time online, and this includes business purchases.

In fact, B2B buyers spend 27% of their purchase consideration time researching independently online, compared to only 6% with of time spent with any sales representative, according to Hootsuite.

B2B decision makers are using social media

Recent statistics show that as many as 84% of C-suite decision makers utilize social media to make purchasing choices and research brands. When it comes to B2B marketing, the LinkedIn platform reigns supreme with its strong business and career focus. And according to HubSpot, LinkedIn generates almost three times more leads than either Facebook or Twitter!

While we’re on the subject of decision makers who spend a good bit of time on social channels, did you know 44% of millennial B2B customers would prefer to not interact with a sales rep at all, according to Hootsuite?

Each year, millennials play an increasingly higher role in company decision making, and their purchase preferences are causing a ripple in how these decisions happen. (Read more about B2B marketing for millennial buyers.) The millennial generation basically grew up with social media, so it makes sense they would prefer to make business purchases via their favorite platforms.

Remember the makeup of decision makers in the B2B marketplace is often in a state of flux, and your tactics to engage them may warrant frequent review.

Social media can personify B2B brands

A major reason that social media works for B2B marketers is because it adds a human touch to the otherwise robotic buying process.  It’s important to remember that behind every B2B buyer is a real person with real emotions, looking for real human connection every day.

“We think customers buy based on price, features and functions,” said Bridget Kendrick, CMO, ICIS. “In reality it is emotions, cognitive biases, and engagement experience. We need to use the latter first.” B2B brands should meet potential customers where they already are, and they are on social media.

While you’re planning your social posts, remember to be yourself. Well, maybe not yourself, but try to personify a real person with empathy, compassion, humor and excitement.

To put yourself in B2B buyers’ shoes, imagine you’re scrolling through Twitter. Most of the tweets you see on your newsfeed come from friends, and a few come from brands. If those brands are taking the time to post about employee wins, behind-the-scenes looks at company culture, current pop culture or social trends and other themes that strive for human engagement, you may start to gain trust in the brands.

It’s obvious those posts came from the mind of a human who you can relate to on some level. Of course, posting about products and services is important too, but the power of the manifesting a human connection and building trust is crucial. And if you’re a B2B purchaser who found trust in a brand through engaging with it on social media, you may end up pulling the trigger and buying what they’re selling.

Is social media marketing better for B2C or B2B businesses?

Surprisingly, social media may even work better for business-to-business companies compared to business-to-consumer companies. Buyers behind B2B companies have always heavily prioritized building trust, knowledge and relationships before making a purchase, and this can easily be translated to the social media world. B2Cs have a simpler goal of convincing consumers to purchase their products, while B2B companies need to think more strategically about how to reach decision makers down the road.

Think about it as if you’re starting a conversation, striving to ignite a game of telephone. It’s all about nurturing relationships that may eventually lead to large purchase decisions. (Read more about the benefits of social media for B2B marketers.)

How do B2B companies begin using social media?

Social media can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to the game and even more if you’re trying to pull together a strong social media strategy for your B2B business. Here are our tips and questions to ask yourself as you’re getting started with B2B social media.

1. Look at your website

Do you have a website with interesting, helpful and engaging content that would be sharable on social media? If not, start by addressing this need. Social media marketing requires content to send consumers to. The goal is to get future customers to your website. “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.” (via Sales Artillery).

2. Research your buyer persona

Who is your ideal customer? What kind of information are they looking for that you can lend expertise in? What social media platforms do they use? The more specific, the better.

The answers to these questions can help you build what social platforms you want your brand to be on, who your ideal audience is and what kind of content you want to put out into the world.

3. Build your online reach

Building your reach basically means participating in online networking. Start following and connecting with prospects, current customers and thought leaders.

Pro tip: building reach isn’t a one-way street. Be sure to engage with the content of companies and colleagues in your network and share relevant videos, images, infographics, etc. that are legitimately helpful and relevant to onlookers.

4. Take advantage of analytics

Most social platforms have built-in tools that allow you to easily monitor how your social media is performing. What’s your engagement rate? Have you been gaining or losing followers? How many impressions do you receive, on average?

Decide what metrics are important for your brand and business, create goals, check in on your performance frequently and adjust your strategy accordingly.

How do B2B companies determine social media ROI?

Measuring the value of your social media campaigns can sometimes get a little murky. It’s challenging for B2B marketers to accurately attribute leads and other monetary gains as a direct result of a social media post or campaign. But it can (and needs to) be done to determine the success of any social campaign and break it down into dollars and cents.

The most important part of measuring return on your social investment is to have a clearly defined goal at the onset of a campaign that is both definitive and measurable. This involves setting performance benchmarks derived from baseline social media data for each of your platforms. By having a solid understanding of your baseline data, you can more clearly determine whether a campaign is making more of an impact than others. So getting busy tracking!

Some common metrics for B2B campaigns include clicks, interactions, and share of voice. Systematically tracking these metrics over time makes it easier to determine a correlation between more clicks and shares and sustained sales or on-site conversions. In addition, tracking share of voice can help you determine what conversations are happening around your brand and how you might stack up against your competitors.

So, should B2B companies use social media?

Absolutely. In the highly digital world we live in, almost everyone, including B2B buyers, has at least one account on a social media platform.

Many of these buyers now prefer to make major decisions on social media, rather than face-to-face with a sales representative. Although sales is becoming a mostly online ordeal, human connection in still important in purchasing, and using social media as a B2B business tool can bring back the personal touch that is often lacking online.

Social media is also incredibly effective in pushing out and maintaining a positive brand image, which is a common problem for B2B companies.

All in all, social media is basically a modern sales platform, and B2B companies should be getting in on the fun. Focus on developing a strategy, staying consistent, personifying your brand and being a strong voice of thought leadership in your industry. Good luck and have fun “B2Being” social!