By Sarah Curry, Associate Social Media Director
December 12, 2016
The ubiquitousness of social media today requires companies in any industry or field at least consider the role it may play in their marketing plan. A well-executed social strategy can build brand equity and help reach fans and potential customers. But there are some key differences between using social media to reach a consumer compared to reaching a business audience.
For one, the goals and objectives are often drastically different. A business-to-consumer brand (B2C) may be focused on engaging their audience or creating preference for their brand over a competitor, while business-to-business (B2B) social media is often focused on generating leads or demonstrating a brand’s knowledge and capabilities. Potential customers in the B2B space also typically have a longer decision-making process that is based on a multitude of factors.
Perhaps the most dramatic difference between B2B and B2C social media, however, is the potential audience size. While every strategic brand likely has a target audience it is trying to reach through social media, those audiences are potentially smaller and more niche for a B2B brand than for one targeting consumers. As such, they become much more difficult to reach without a solid strategic foundation—something any B2B brand needs when approaching social media.
Here are five things to consider when building your B2B social media strategy:
1. Know your goals & objectives
While this is true for both B2B and B2C brands, it’s especially important for B2B brands to have a clear understanding of their overall marketing strategy in order to determine how social media can help meet the identified goals and objectives. This foundation is crucial to understanding what channels and content are necessary to reach your target audience.
2. Understand your audience
To be successful in B2B social media, you not only need to understand who you’re trying to reach, but more importantly how that specific audience uses social media. It’s not enough to know your audience is on LinkedIn, but what is their mindset when on that channel, what content are they engaging with, what is motivating them?
B2B brands should also consider if their audience has a dual use of a given social media channel. For example, if your audience is on Facebook, are they using it for personal engagement or do they also use it for business? If so, what are those differences and how might they impact your messaging?
3. Pick the right channels
Once you have a better understanding of your target audience and how they use social media, you can identify which channels make the most sense for you to use to reach that ideal audience. Don’t be afraid to go beyond LinkedIn, but be sure to consider how your strategy for each channel will differ, especially if choosing a generally more consumer-driven platform like Facebook or Twitter. Channels not traditionally used in B2B marketing to drive leads, like Instagram, can help with branding, engaging internal stakeholders and other goals that ladder back to your marketing plan. Don’t rule them out automatically, but make sure you are using them in a strategic way.
4. Consider internal audiences
It’s particularly crucial for B2B brands to give thought to how to engage their internal stakeholders. Employees can be your best ambassadors on social media by sharing and engaging with your content, so it’s important to help them understand the role they can play in the overall social media strategy. Consider creating specific tools and training for your sales staff, particularly. Social media can be a powerful sales tool to help establish relationships with potential customers and bring them into the purchase funnel, but not if your sales staff doesn’t understand it or doesn’t buy into the effort.
5. Implement a paid strategy
Because B2B audiences are often smaller and more niche, a paid strategy is critical for social media success. Precise targeting based on audience research ensures the community you are attracting aligns with your intended audience. It also ensures that the social content you spend time and effort creating will be seen by the right people.
Interested in creating a B2B social strategy for your brand? Or need help polishing and implementing the one you already have? Email us at email@example.com. We’d love to chat!