B2B Social Media Strategy: The Definitive Guide for 2022
- April 19, 2022
- 14 min read
- By Kirti Goyal
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Small businesses spend considerable resources on organic reach and email marketing to acquire new customers. But social? It’s the last channel on their mind, and for obvious reasons. They don’t have the time or the budget to design and execute a full-blown strategy.
And when they do, it’s a tepid effort as they’re skeptical about its ROI.
Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, summed this perfectly in a quote:
“When I hear people debate the ROI of social media? It makes me remember why so many businesses fail. Most businesses are not playing the marathon. They are playing the sprint. They are not worried about lifetime value and retention. They’re worried about short-term goals.”
Ignoring the lifetime value and retention of customers and focusing on flimsy goals can lead to poor performance on social. But you can escape this fate through strategic planning.
This post discusses why customer-focused marketing is vital for B2B and shares essential tips and examples to build a social media strategy that converts users into paying (and loyal) customers.
- B2B social media strategy refers to the way businesses catering to other companies use social media for marketing their product or services
- An effective strategy helps small businesses to build brand awareness, drive website traffic, position themselves as thought leaders, deliver quality customer support, and manage online reputation
- Build a tailored marketing strategy for each social channel to win traction with your target audience
What is B2B social media strategy
B2B social media strategy is the approach to social channels for advertising products or services to prospective customers in a business-to-business setting.
The dominant view holds B2B to be a widely different niche from B2C and one that requires a distinct social media strategy. While that’s true, it’s worth noting that customers deciding whether or not to buy in B2B are people and a part of the same marketing ecosystem as customers in the B2C.
But why should you invest in social media in the first place? The next section discusses five benefits of social media marketing.
5 reasons why small businesses need a social media strategy
Amy Jo Martin beautifully described the power of social media in this quote:
“It’s a dialogue, not a monologue, and some people don’t understand that. Social media is more like a telephone than a television.”
She means that social media is not an isolated chamber for singular posting. Instead, it’s more like a game where two or more players participate to take it forward.
Social networks promote diverse opinions and encourage dialogues such that every user becomes a part of one big digital community which is always in conversation.
Couple this insight with the fact that 58% of the world’s population now uses social media, and 59% of marketers consider it a very important” part of their overall marketing strategy. And it’s not difficult to see why it’s a lucrative medium for small businesses to win new customers through engaging content.
A customer-focused B2B marketing strategy helps small businesses to:
1. Build brand awareness
Research by Sprout Social shows that moving forward, customers would prefer to learn about brands through social media and buy directly from them.
This makes it a golden moment for businesses to leverage social channels and acquire prospective buyers following a few best practices. In fact, 65% of consumers have already directly bought through social media, and social commerce sales will cross $53 billion by 2023, nearly double from $28 billion in 2020.
Most small businesses compete against big names on Google and do not get top spots, but social media offers them an easy route to get in front of their target audience. They can sign up for business profiles and optimize them to increase their reach.
I cover more ground on how social media influences buyers’ purchasing decisions later. Stay tuned.
2. Drive website traffic
Google considers various factors to rank a website on its pages, and social signals are one of them. While social media accounts may or may not directly affect your rank on Google listings and traffic, it certainly influences the content of your search results. Social profiles are often #1 for brand name searches on Google and get significant digital real estate.
Image Source: Google
Notice how our social media accounts on Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn show up for our brand name on Google? A great social media presence adds to your ranking potential on the result pages. It enables users to explore your brand at leisure and offers them the necessary details to make an informed choice.
3. Position themselves as a thought leader
Every social network caters to a different audience and purpose. While channels like YouTube and Instagram serve people looking for light time on the net, LinkedIn and Twitter cater to audiences searching for educational content from experts to hone skills and advance in their careers.
A well-planned B2B social media strategy helps businesses share expert takes on the latest developments, get followers, and partner with other thought leaders in their niche.
They let you share your career highlights and show people the formula to replicate similar success, getting you a personal brand and better visibility for your business in turn. This is how Ryan Law, VP of Content at Animalz, does it on Twitter. Though Animalz is not a small business, you get the hint.
Steal the trick!
Image Source: Twitter
Another helpful example for thinking about this is Ashley Faus. Her thought leadership on content marketing is helping her build a solid personal brand on LinkedIn. Read this insightful take on a career in content to understand why others marketers rely upon her wisdom to fix the content operations at their workplaces.
4. Deliver quality customer support
Zendesk’s Customer Experience Trends Report disclosed that three out of five consumers believe good customer service is essential for brand loyalty. And fast responses hold a big share among factors that constitute excellent customer support. Social media and instant chat tools allow you to connect with buyers quicker than traditional methods like email.
5. Manage online reputation
Social media lets you privately respond to complaints via DM as well as offers the option to leave comments publicly. That helps prospective clients judge brand authenticity and decide whether they want to transact with you.
Small brands may not get into the center of big storms involving big B2B companies such as HubSpot or Mailchimp. But a bad customer experience can dent their business image within a niche community and escalate into a crisis.
If someone airs their grievance on social, you can use a tool like Hootsuite to track brand mentions and reply promptly to address their concerns.
This brings us to the key to cracking social media for business goals.
It holds incredible potential for earning revenue but only when used right. Its core aim is to bring people together in what Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher, described as a ‘global village.’ When your marketing efforts align with this purpose and customers’ interests are always at the top, success is yours.
The next section discusses more on that and offers actionable tips on designing an effective customer-focused strategy.
How to build a social media strategy
We live in a time where digital media shapes our perception of the real world and vice-versa. Increasingly, customers are moving away from brands that do not understand their reality and are just profit-driven. Sprout Social’s report echoed this observation and revealed:
- People trust in the power of social media to forge connections, and 78% of them want brands to use social to help users connect with each together
- 76% of customers buy from a business that invests in building relationships, and 57% of them increase their spending when they feel connected to a brand
- 72% of people reported feeling closer to a brand whose CEO and employees posed on their social media feed regularly, highlighting the need for being authentic in building relationships with customers
The takeaway from the above findings is this: customers are not interested in what you sell alone and want businesses to use social media meaningfully. Unless you share interactive content on the right platform, you won’t gain traction with your target audience.
To get success, follow these best practices:
1. Determine business goals
Think about your business objectives and where social media fits into that. Every aim calls for a different strategy and social channel. The top three goals for B2B small businesses are brand awareness, building trust, and educating customers about the advantages of a product or service.
Match this goal with the right social platform, target audience, and draft a tentative plan.
2. Perform competitive research
Spend time on your competitors’ social profiles and note which content works for them. Is it catchy data-informed visuals or videos generating engagement on their handles? This competitive research will help you identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in the niche and sharpen your plan.
3. Link competitive research with buyer personas
Your strategy will always be off the mark unless you know about customers’ social media habits and preferences. Research the social sites your buyers surf for consuming industry news and notice the overall demographics.
For starters, check the age group of your prospective buyers on a particular site and whether the content reaching them is through organic or paid social. Research by Content Marketing Institute reveals LinkedIn is the top-performing organic channel for B2B marketing, and Facebook outranks Twitter for paid social media posts.
Image Source: Content Marketing Institute
4. Share relevant content
Use intel on customer preferences to share unique and helpful content with potential customers. As I said, social media aims to bridge the gap between people.
A strategic customer-focused B2B social media marketing takes it a step forward by sharing delightful content as insider tips and hard to come by knowledge in the form of how-to information and thought leadership on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.
5. Set KPIs
Decide the metrics to gauge your performance and the social media tools for measuring them. Without monitoring KPIs such as response time, impressions, engagement rate, and conversions (more on this below), you won’t know the content that’s working and focus your efforts in the right direction.
Choose your metrics and then track your social media performance against them.
Social media marketing tips for small businesses
Social media is a competitive space. For small businesses already grappling with budget constraints, it poses unique challenges.
How do they tie results from social to business goals, quantify revenue to different channels, and track actual results? What practices should they adopt to not run themselves dry while simultaneously offering value to their target audience?
Here are a few bonus tips:
- Measure the success of your marketing efforts by using corresponding metrics for different stages of the sales funnel. If you are just getting started, focus on building brand awareness and track metrics like followers, engagement, reach, and cost per lead.
After gaining traction, start tracking followers who engage with your website and contribute to the pipeline.
- Adjust your brand’s message as per the social media platform, and do not overwhelm followers with dull posts filled with industry jargon. Adapt your marketing strategy to the informal nature of social and share relevant and engaging content at all times.
- Use micro-moments to answer clients’ urgent needs. These are instances where potential customers surf social media with a definite purpose. They may go to YouTube to find a product demo or use LinkedIn to inquire about a future event.
Address these micro-moments to convert users into loyal brand ambassadors by maintaining a solid online presence.
- Refine buyer personas depending on the profiles who used your product or service. Ask them for feedback, schedule interviews, and collect testimonials. Pick their brains on the past problems, the solutions they stumbled upon, and what about your product/service stood out to them.
Use that insight to make suitable changes to your marketing strategy and strengthen brand positioning.
Here’s a great question bank from Fio Dossetto for reference:
Image Source: contentfolks
- Join niche social media groups and communities to share content until you have a dedicated audience. But remember to check (and abide by) the unsaid rules regulating the sharing and promotion of content in these networks to ensure you are not violating them and risking getting marked as spammed or blocked.
- Try combining different tactics on each platform to see what works best for your businesses. Explore options like social media ad campaigns, influencer marketing, and brand collaborations with established market players in the industry.
The three sites that hold the most value for small businesses in the B2B industry are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Let us look at social media best practices for them below.
B2B social media strategy for LinkedIn
It is the most effective platform for generating leads, and a large share of visits to company websites comes from LinkedIn. Over 600 million active users on this channel mine it for articles, status updates, and networking opportunities with other professionals daily.
That signals a huge opportunity for business owners to build brand awareness and credibility. The best ways for driving results from LinkedIn are:
- Optimize the company page by adding an impressive business overview, banner image, and CTA button for directing users to your homepage or a service landing page on the website
- Try different content formats like carousels, video testimonials, and PDFs
- Use the native poll feature to perform market research, kick-off engagement, and collect customer feedback
- Start an employee advocacy program to get in-house team members to give their organization a shout-out (remember what I said about how employee stories help people feel closer to a brand and build authentic relationships?)
- Repost blog posts on your website as LinkedIn pulse articles to establish credibility
B2B social media strategy for Facebook
With the shift to Meta, Facebook has (almost) entirely rebranded itself. It isn’t the platform where people hang out to share goofy pictures of themselves anymore. Their preferences are different, as are the platform’s products and features.
But that’s not all bad news. It’s still the most used social site, and conversion from Facebook ads is between 9 and 10% – higher than most paid channels.
To drive results from Facebook:
- Target broad paid reach to get through users interested in your offerings but who haven’t visited the website yet
- Join community groups to share industry breakthroughs and answer customer doubts about products and services in your niche
- Create engaging video content in the form of reels, ads, and lives
B2B social media strategy for Twitter
Not many small businesses use Twitter for social media marketing. And the ones that do fail to get it right. Mostly, it happens because they don’t get the platform’s quirks.
Unlike Instagram or Facebook, Twitter is about building relationships with your target audience in real-time. With close to 300+ million monthly active users and 500+ million tweets sent daily, it’s a channel for keeping tabs on what’s happening worldwide.
To drive results from Twitter:
- Cement meaningful relationships by having one-on-one engagements with users and personalizing your brand’s interactions with them by retweeting their tweets and quote tweeting them
- Track mentions to see what people are tweeting about competitors as well as your business and gather customer intel to find new content opportunities
- Join conversations on trending topics in your industry and leave thoughtful comments to get likes and retweets and win brand awareness for your business
- Share short videos and tweet at the correct times for better reach
Social media tools for B2B marketing
You may now be wondering about the tools to create assets for your social media marketing strategy. Social media is all about visual content marketing.
But before filling your content calendar with ideas and executing them, follow these best practices for creating visual content:
- Design original graphics to grab eyeballs and avoid stock photos.
- Play with colors to add personality to posts but maintain branding.
- Use contextual images to complement captions and be relevant.
- Choose a suitable format for data-based visuals. If the data involves big figures and shifts, use graphs. But if it’s a trend during a specific period, go with a pie chart.
- Use contrasting colors in data-informed graphics to avoid confusion about represented values.
- Ensure these visuals need no additional context to decode them.
- Use business objectives to pick a suitable format for video content. For example, if the aim is to drive website traffic, a client testimonial may work better than an interview with a subject matter expert on a technical topic.
- Produce engaging videos by taking a story-telling approach to content.
- Include captions in videos for people with hearing disabilities.
- Add CTAs to videos depending on the content to drive people to take the desired action after watching them.
- Notice videos formats getting the most engagement on a specific channel. Create them for your profile and use others on a different platform.
You can use the following tools to bring your marketing strategy alive:
For visual content
There are plenty of options for creating high-quality visual assets for social media. But most of them are either too expensive for small businesses or highly complex to use for those not savvy with design. Pick these two user-friendly freemiums tools to produce content for your social media operations and hit the ground running:
Canva is the most loved design platform among small teams for its incredible library of professionally designed layouts. You can choose from over 100 free templates for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and design incredible graphics following the steps outlined in this photo.
Image Source: Canva
Vimeo provides video-related services and delivers HD videos across various devices. Though not strictly free, it’s the best video-making and editing platform in the market. You can explore a wide range of free professional templates and create stunning videos for your marketing campaigns in seconds.
Follow the steps shown in the photo below:
Image Source: Vimeo
For tracking performance
Tracking tools align your operations across social networks and bring uniformity by offering:
- Cross-channel support to save time on posting and checking for updates on individual sites multiple times a day
- Options for scheduling future posts to remain on top of your social media calendar
- Analytics features for identifying engaging content that resonates with your target audience
Based on the above criteria, here are two tools that make the cut:
Image Source: Buffer
Pricing: It offers a free plan for one user account.
Buffer supports all major B2B social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It automatically creates a schedule for social posting according to your time zone and lets you easily schedule future posts.
2. Sprout Social
Image Source: Sprout Social
Pricing: It has three paid plans, with the lowest tier priced at $89 per user/month. Though paid, Sprout Social offers you a 30-day free trial before subscribing.
Sprout Social is great for social listening, publishing, engagement, and sizing current strategy. Apart from basic tracking features, it lets you design and send personalized messages to followers and prospective customers. You can use its customer service features and offer support to your buyers whenever needed.
Let’s take a few FAQs before wrapping up this post.
Frequently asked questions
1. Which social media is best for B2B?
There isn’t one right channel for social media marketing, although research suggests LinkedIn performs the best for B2B. Ultimately, a data-informed and well-designed marketing strategy rests on customer and market research. If your audience is on Facebook, target it.
But suppose they like to learn about the latest developments in your industry through videos on YouTube. In that case, it would be the ideal platform for boosting brand awareness and building trust.
Let customer preferences govern the course of action for your marketing efforts.
2. Which B2B companies are winning at social media marketing?
Semrush and Slack are B2B brands with a great social media presence on Twitter. Apart from them, Drift and Salesforce are two examples that get frequent shout-outs for their social media strategies.
3. How can I manage multiple social media accounts?
You cannot be on top of all your profiles without a social media management tool. It lets you automate future posts, track updates, and monitor pre-determined KPIs to judge whether your existing marketing strategy needs to be adjusted. Sprout Social and Buffer are excellent options and must check-outs for scaling small businesses.
4. What lies ahead in B2B social media marketing?
Only time will tell! But one thing is sure. The pandemic disrupted the content marketing budgets across industries and realigned priorities, with many businesses opting for videos and webinars to engage with their customers during the COVID peak.
Research by Content Marketing Institute revealed that 58% of B2B marketers identified virtual events and webinars as top-performing assets in 2021 and planned on continuing investing in them.
Social media will have a lot more users by 2025, but marketing to them will become tougher due to increased competition among small businesses to capture new customers. To leverage its full potential for business growth, book a call with us to pair you with an expert marketing virtual assistant and scale your social operations.