A lot of what we talk about around social media marketing focuses on brands who sell to consumers. But what if your target audience is other businesses? You can – and should – be using social media to reach them, but your strategy may vary from a B2C business. At Union Metrics, these are issues we personally deal with every day, since our customers are other businesses. We’ve learned a lot about to what goes into effective social media marketing for B2B companies. Here are a few tips.
Find your audience.
If you’re targeting a business audience, your choice of social media channels may different from a consumer-facing brand. You may not want to focus on younger channels like Snapchat, especially if you have few social media resources. Instead, figure out where your prospects and customers do spend their time, and focus your energies there. To start, it’s probably a combination of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
You should also have a blog where you can share longer-form content. Whether you host that on WordPress, Medium, Tumblr or elsewhere may depend on your audience and where they are.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have accounts on other channels, though. Just set your expectations accordingly. Will you have 50,000 Instagram followers? Not at first. But can you use Instagram to communicate with your customers? Of course. You’ll just have to decide what kind of content you can post there to find the people you’re trying to reach. And don’t expect a huge audience to start; you’ll need to work to grow your followers on a channel like Instagram.
At Union Metrics, we’re on a lot of different social media channels. We want to experiment with everything, since we work in social media. Our customers do, too. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram. We have a WordPress blog (this one!), as well as a Tumblr. In addition, several of our employees, including our founders, have personal blogs on Medium where they share professional and personal thoughts on the industry. We have also experimented with video on YouTube and Periscope and we’re considering how we want to use Slack and Vine, as well as many others. Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr and Facebook have been the most effective social media for us.
Create the right content.
For many B2B brands, the product you’re selling isn’t as visually appealing as many consumer brands. You don’t have colorful nail polish, delicious food, or beautiful hotel rooms you can feature in photos. But you do have an audience that’s hungry for useful and relevant text and video content. What sorts of helpful blog posts can you write about your industry? How you create videos that showcase your product or company in an interesting way? You have the luxury of being able to create more in-depth, longer-form content for an audience that’s eager to educate themselves about an industry or trend, so create content that sets your brand up as a thought leader in your space.
At Union Metrics, we’ve found a great deal of success in our content marketing strategy. We post a lot of content here to our blog, in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and we share it across social media. We write everything from quick tips, to longer posts like this, to 15- or 20-page whitepapers and ebooks. Each piece of content may have a slightly different purpose, but they all share the same overarching goal: provide informative, useful, relevant and occasionally fun content for social media marketers. This content leads to increases in metrics like views of our website, free tool usage, signups for our newsletter, and best of all – paying customers.
Time your content.
For consumer brands, they need to be posting new content to their social accounts basically around the clock. But that may not be true for your B2B brand. When is your audience online, looking for your content? It may be that they’re most attentive during the work day. If that’s true, then typical advice like “post more in the evenings” may not help you. The best way to find out what works for your audience is to post during a variety of times and days and find out when you get the most engagement. It might be at times you don’t expect.
It’s also a good idea to you post important things more than once, on different days at different times. Make sure that your audience has every chance to see your content, especially if it’s something important. Posting important news or blog posts multiple times also means you can tweak your message around it to see if one phrasing or hashtag resonates more.
For us, we definitely see the most engagement during the business day, particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn. There’s usually a nice engagement spike first thing in the morning, as well as mid-day, and then again in the early evening. And our weekend posts don’t get nearly as much engagement as our weekday posts do. On Instagram, it varies more.
Do not be afraid to experiment. Many B2B brands trap themselves into thinking that they can only post professional and polished (which often means boring) blog posts and they must stick to Twitter and LinkedIn. In fact, it’s just the opposite. You’re more likely to stand out among your competitors if you do something different. So figure out how you can stand out.
That means you should experiment with new channels and new content. It’s okay for a B2B brand to have a personality and share fun content, especially on social media. So figure out what that means for your brand. That may mean you try campaigns on less traditional B2B social channels, like Snapchat. Or you include some humor in your messaging. Or you treat customer service on social with a more casual and human tone. There are a lot of ways you can get creative on social, but the important thing to remember is that you should try something new. It might work!
One thing that’s worked well for us at Union Metrics is giving our mascot a voice across social media. You may have seen our robot Merle around. Over the years, he’s grown quite the personality. We even dress him up in various outfits as it’s appropriate – he has a suit for more serious meetings, a mail carrier’s uniform when he’s working on email campaigns, a hard hat for more physical projects, and so on. We’ve set up accounts for him across social media, and we include pictures of him in all kinds of content. He even pops up in our product from time to time. So find your Merle and embrace him.
Measure, measure, measure.
Finally, you really need to be sure you’re measuring your social media efforts, no matter what and where they are. This is especially important for B2B brands, where your social results aren’t always guaranteed.
At Union Metrics, we use a set of products to measure our social effectiveness. Of course, we monitor all our social accounts and competitors, as well as a set of industry keywords, using our own Union Metrics Social Suite. That tells us how our content is doing, how we stack up relative to our competitors, and what our customers and prospects find compelling. We also use other tools like Google Analytics, Marketo and Crazy Egg to help us understand how our social efforts work with alongside our other sales and marketing efforts.