B2B Social Media FAQ
Updated: Feb 8, 2021
B2B VS. B2C Social Media: What’s the difference?
Let’s break down the basics.
B2B social media marketing refers to the marketing of products, services, and career opportunities to the employees of other companies on social media. B2B companies can come in a variety of forms: professional service providers like marketing agencies, medical equipment sales, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) to name a few.
B2C (business-to-consumer) social media marketing deals with the process of promoting products and services to consumers. Often we’re describing social for business like food service, bricks-and-mortar / online retail, and consumer packaged goods. More frequently today we’re talking about DTC e-commerce, subscription services, and mobile apps.
Fundamentally, social media has the same utility between the two business models—connecting brands with customers. But we’ve found a couple noticeable differences between B2C and B2B social media marketing.
1. Relationships vs. Direct Sales.
Where does the relationship begin?
With B2C marketing, the relationship with a brand often starts with a purchase. You might see an ad on Snapchat or a deal in a Facebook Group and become a customer. It might take months of targeted social media advertising to reach purchase consideration, but the value begins when we receive a discount, or start using the product. After purchase, the brand’s social media channels might become a place for new deals, lifestyle inspiration, and product information to encourage repeat purchasing.
With B2B marketing we’re selling high-ticket goods, so our goal is to foster long-term relationships with employees and decision makers of customer companies by positioning our brands as approachable experts. The value journey on social media often progresses in sequential stages — from awareness and consideration, to purchase and ascension — with the top-of-the-funnel possibly taking months or years.
2. Employees as key audiences and influencers.
In B2B organizations, your human resources are one of the most effective marketing tools for brand advocacy. When distributing information like articles, announcements, or offers, programs often start with employees sharing to their networks before expanding out to new audiences.
In modern B2B marketing organizations, personal brand building is encouraged, not stifled. An employee with a large, professional social network can be used as an asset to reach new customers.
Will Social Media work for boring industries?
Many B2B firms believe that social media won’t work for them because they’re in a “boring” niche and it’s better to focus exclusively on client referrals, offline sales channels like tradeshows, or online channels like Google ads to generate clients. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
For example, CBRE is a global real estate firm that dominates when it comes to brand awareness on social media. What could be a boring corporate feed on Instagram is instead a showcase of some of the world’s most beautiful architecture.
Which B2C social media strategies work for B2B?
Whether you’re targeting a B2C or B2B audience, at the end of the day, you are still communicating with individuals. All humans, regardless of the niche, have wants and needs to fulfill. Social media tactics known for B2C such as giveaway contests that offer an incentive for action, or developing content optimized for commenting (to instill a feeling of belonging), can also be used by B2B businesses to increase their reach.
From our experience, social media strategies used for B2C can be even more lucrative for B2B. Take inspiration from brands with similar values, even if their business model is different.
What if my customers aren’t using social media?
According to IDG, 84% of C-level and VP-level buyers are influenced by social media interactions in their buying decision. In total, they found 75% of B2B buyers consulted information on social media before purchasing a product or service. By not having a presence on social media, you are missing out on opportunities to network with important clients.
As a low-cost experiment, develop a research project of your own. Assemble a list of 50 of your customers, and 50 of your prospects. Create a separate column for their social media profiles on as many channels you consider relevant. After taking stock, note if they’re following your brand or employees back. What did you learn?
Which social media platform is best for B2B?
LinkedIn is often cited as the channel for B2B social media, but that’s somewhat misleading. While it’s true that 78% of B2B marketers agree that LinkedIn is the best platform for achieving their specific objectives, that doesn’t mean you should put all of your eggs into one basket and not leverage other platforms.
Above, we discuss how to optimise for success using the other top 3 channels for B2B: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Of course, you don’t have to be a juggernaut on every platform (and probably won’t be). But it’s worth testing out each channel and finding which is best suited to your brand’s niche and needs.