B2B Social Media Strategy: Complete Strategy Guide & Best Tips for 2020
Updated: Feb 8, 2021
Grow faster in 2020 with a bold B2B social media strategy. Get our best strategies and complete guide for paid and organic social media (make coffee first, it's a long one)
Thanks to social media, your brand lives closer to your customers than ever before.
Now for the scary part: If you’re not building those bonds with your customers, who is?
With longer sales cycles and less obvious roadmaps for success, determining which B2B social media strategy will lead to the best results is a different beast. In fact, according to a survey done by The Manifest, 24% of respondents said the biggest challenge their business faced with social media was not having a formal strategy.
As a reminder, set it and forget it is not a strategy.
To win in 2020, you need to play by different rules.
In the modern B2B social media world, brands are winning by:
Leveraging their personal brand(s) to connect with customers
Using different channels for different stages of the funnel
Syncing first-party CRM data to attribute revenue from paid ads
And that’s exactly what we’re going to cover.
I have written a series on B2B Social Media Marketing - here is the full content list and links to each blog:
Best B2B Social Tips & Tactics: 24 best strategies, tactics, and principles for social media success across the sales funnel (+ brand examples).
Goals: The different types of B2B Social Media goals to strive for in your strategy.
Channel Strategy: Which social media platforms to choose and how to generate results on them.
Budgets & ROI: How to measure your ROI (return of investment) from social media and set the right budget.
Hiring: What to look for in a B2B social media marketer (or how to outsource it to an agency).
Top B2B social media FAQ: More Q&A we couldn’t fit up top.
This guide focuses on social media marketing, though we’ll also touch on social media’s role in client / customer care and recruitment.
So without further ado, here are the top tips and tactics for your B2B social media marketing toolkit in 2020 (and beyond).
1) Bring personality to paid social.
Organic reach is (especially) hard for a B2B brand. And here’s the truth that marketers aren’t sharing: prospects are more likely to see your paid ads than your organic posts.
If you’ve scrolled down the Facebook timeline of a Fortune 100 brand page, you know what I mean.
Don’t sweat it. Just step up your paid social style guide.
One way to do this: Use your Instagram profile as a landing page.
CBRE's Intagram grid is a great example of this.
CBRE has only pumped out 10 public posts in 10 months, but their paid team actively runs ads with the Instagram placement. I know this because I set it up!
When users see their ads and click through to their account, here’s what they find:
What their feed lacks in quantity they make up in quality.
Additionally, their organic content reflects the same aesthetic as their paid ads. It’s visually pleasant, cohesive, and cements their creative values in the customer’s mind.
2) Use cohesive colours to build brand association.
Intuit’s Quickbooks has a similar strategy for creating a recognizable brand image with paid social.
Their thematic approach to content focuses on two core elements: color and customers.
Every paid post feature their signature green. They also frequently feature the small business owners they service.
Their IG bio echoes the customer-centric message. “The world’s largest workforce works for themselves. We work for them.”
There’s virtually no disconnect between their mission statement and paid content strategy.
3) Showcase who your customers are.
Brand storytelling 101 teaches us that “your customer is the hero” of your story. How can you make that come to life in your content?
Reshare some of your customers’ content. Not only is it a good strategy for outsourcing a percentage of your content creation, it gives potential customers someone to identify with. The companies you’re targeting may sell different products or services, but they have similar needs and face similar problems.
Enter your awesome product – the solution to their problem.
4) Celebrate your customers’ wins.
Remember that you’re positioning your customer as the hero here. So, it’s not all about you. Turn the lens back on them, especially when they’ve accomplished something noteworthy. It feels good for your current clients when you celebrate them and it signals to future clients that you’re invested in their success.
5) Tell customer success stories.
Ok, we just got done saying it’s not about you.
But sometimes… it’s a little bit about you. Your customers’ successes are also your successes. Don’t be shy about that! Share how you helped them get there. BCLP does a great job of highlighting the client on their Twitter channel while also illustrating their instrumental role in the project:
6) Share customer testimonials and reviews.
If you’ve ever fallen down the rabbit hole of reading Amazon reviews, you know that people trust other people. Even if those people are perfect strangers. The same is true in B2B.
Testimonials are a powerful tool and a solid part of any content marketing plan. Simple? Perhaps. But it achieves the goal of turning the spotlight back on your customer and building trust in your brand at the same time. BCLP law firm found a clever way to do this.
Interestingly, highlighting tweets from Twitter on Instagram has become a common phenomenon. Have lots of customers talking about you on another platform?
Steal this concept!
7) Show your product in action.
As marketers we can get carried away with optimizing content to be more interesting (at the expense of relevance). But if you want to make it easier for customers to buy from you? Reduce uncertainty—show your product in action.
8) Feature a feature (with motion).
Another approach: Post a short video or infographic that demos how a new product works. Trello does this on LinkedIn when they roll out new features.
9) Photograph what’s possible with your product.
Sticker Mule does a great job of this. They use their Instagram to showcase how clients are using their products. A lot of that user-generated content is stickers, of course. But they’re also able to highlight all the other services they offer to small businesses—packing tape and labels, buttons, custom coasters, and more.
10) Build a solid pillar content strategy.
B2B marketers often have big goals and small teams. Feeding the content marketing machine is one of the most time-consuming parts of the work you do. So when you finally produce that shiny new asset, why publish it once and call it done? Use your resources wisely by turning one larger piece of content into lots of micro-content. Here’s how it works:
Step 1. Start with a single valuable piece of content, like an informative blog post, a detailed infographic, or a YouTube video packed with great tips.
Step 2. Break that single piece of content down into multiple, bite-sized pieces. For example, if your piece of pillar content is a full-length video, pull several value-rich clips (30 – 45 seconds long) to post across social channels.
Step 3. Post the micro-content on social media and drive traffic to the pillar content. These snippets should be informative and useful enough to stand alone but can also redirect traffic to the main post, video, etc.
Not everything needs to spring from your pillar content, of course. But having solid pillar content helps the rest of your content feel cohesive.
11) Treat your video pillar content like a TV show.
If you’re starting out with a piece of video or audio content as your pillar content, think of the process like television. You start with the idea for a series—your show. You produce episodes of that show and syndicate them across various channels and platforms. Finally, you choose clips of individual episodes to share on social media and generate buzz.
Show > Episode > Clip
BCLP has a lot of success using this model with their current campaign, which I launched in November 2019, “Corporate Real Estate Solution.” They post full-length episodes of the vodcast on their YouTube channel as well as the audio version on all podcast platforms. From there, the episodes are broken down into useful snippets for social media.
12) Feature your team in your video content.
Speaking of videos, put your team in front of the camera. Whether it’s for information, entertainment, or infotainment (a fun combo), people trust people. So, don’t be a faceless brand. Draw back the curtain a little bit and show the people that make up your business.
By doing so, you can personalize your brand and create some valuable content at the same time. It also lends staff a sense of ownership and authority to be the face and voice of the brand.
How to do it:
Vlog Style – Gig-matching platform AppJobs understands the importance of creating trust and familiarity with their audience. That’s why their social media manager isn’t just calling the shots behind the camera—she’s in front of it. As their primary spokesperson, Marina Amâncio answers the most frequently asked questions users have with a casual, Youtube-first, talking-head format that’s syndicated across all channels.
Trusted Source – Bosch takes this approach. As a result, their audience gets great information from a “more trusted” source – an employee in the field, not a logo. The flip side of that is that their team is positioned as qualified experts to speak on various topics. It’s a win-win.
13) Incorporate real employees into all visuals.
Don’t pay for models; you’ve already got a crew full of smiling faces to feature. For best results, try incorporating your staff in product demo photos.
Drift does this. They replace stock photos with real employees around their office. In fact, it’s such an integral part of their company culture that it’s in their brand guide.
14) Leverage the leaders of your company in your content.
A message from the president, CEO, founder, etc. is inspiring and lends authority to a post. It’s also a good look to have higher-ups in the company involved in projects and campaigns. It reinforces the idea that your company is a group of individuals, not just a faceless brand logo.
15) Focus your organic social media strategy on your current customers.
The customer journey doesn’t end when you sell them the product or service. And it’s a good thing it doesn’t because it’s a lot easier to turn a current, satisfied client into a repeat client than it is to conjure new clients out of thin air. So, rather than creating content aimed at an abstract persona, ask yourself, ‘what content would my current customers want to see?’
Here are the three areas to focus on:
Tactics that reach them
Content that interests them
Content that helps them succeed
16) Reach your customers with paid retargeting.
The first way to guarantee you’re reaching current customers on organic social media is with paid advertising custom audiences.
It sounds counterintuitive, we know, but read on.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat all allow you to run ads against ‘custom audiences’—contact lists you upload into their platforms that matches your data with their user database. By connecting your CRM, adding their tracking pixels, or uploading email lists manually, you can retarget your exact buyer at different stages of the sales funnel.
Audience 1: Retarget your site visitors who know who you are but haven’t taken action.
Audience 2: Retarget your marketing leads who have not converted into customers.
Audience 3: Retarget your current customers to ascend them with new offers and engage them with content.
17) Create content your customers are interested in.
Steve Jobs said that ‘People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.’
And while anticipating your customers’ desires is great for innovative product development, it’s not a terribly reliable marketing strategy. Unless you’re Apple (RIP headphone jacks…), the easiest way to find out what your customers want is to listen to them when they tell you.
This goes back to asking, what would your current customers find interesting? Remember: Social media is a channel people use to cure boredom, learn new things, and deepen relationships.
If you have trouble answering that question, you can do one or both of the following:
Look at the data for past, top performing content
Conduct a content testing experiment
Since these are your current customers, they’re hopefully an active part of your audience as well. That means you should have the analytics data to determine which types of posts perform best. Start by analyzing the engagement rate and action rate of your past 6-12 months of posts across platforms to surface the top performers. Then dig into the themes and topics those cover, like ‘customer success storytelling’, ‘team culture’, or ‘funny industry content.’
The other method is to conduct a lightweight test against your current audience and see which topics produce the best results.
On Facebook, create a paid campaign with ad sets for one or multiple versions of your customer audiences. For instance, Page Fans (1) and CRM/Email List (2). Inside of the Ad Sets add at least 3 creative variants with different topics/themes of the same format.
Set a budget of at least £20/day per ad set and turn off the campaign after 3-5 days—or longer if the ads haven’t completed their learning period. Adjust based on the size of your audience, we’re not aiming for crazy high frequencies.
Analyze your campaign performance. During the testing period, did Facebook optimize one ad over the others after signaling it as the top performer? The number of actions and cost per action should reflect that.
Rinse and repeat with narrower topics or different formats.
The point is to keep your current customers needs in mind when rolling out organic content. They have the potential to be your greatest advocates. If all of your organic and amplified content is geared toward a hypothetical persona, they’ll passively like without following, scroll past you, and stall out on their customer journey.
18) Help your customers succeed on social media.
Don’t just sell to your customers; invest in your relationship with them by providing value and support.
One way to do this is to build a community to connect your customers to each other. By narrowing the community down to just customers, you’re giving them a space to share insights, concerns, and feedback with you and each other.
You have options when it comes to choosing a platform to host your customer community. ManyChat and DigitalMarketer.com have customer-exclusive Facebook groups while Drift has 3 different Slack groups for customers to connect.
You can also use Discord, LinkedIn Groups, or host the community on your own site. Consider which channel would work best for both your and your customers’ needs.
19) Humanise your brand voice with bold copy, content, and community management.
As a business owner or B2B marketer, what’s the one thing you know for sure that you have in common with your employees, partners and customers? We’re all human beings with real human feelings, right?
So why do we so often revert to stale stat posts and boring updates?
According to HBR, building an emotional connection with your customers is a greater predictor of success than customer satisfaction score.
Customers want to do business with brands they feel that they can trust. So what is the easiest way to get a prospect to trust a brand? When they get reminded that within your business there are actual human beings just like them that are working behind-the-scenes. Here are the best ways to do this:
20) Make people laugh — incorporate humour.
Yes, you can try too hard. Yes, you should try anyway.
Funny content is one of the four tenets of good social media content people share, and a powerful tool for driving engagement. It’s no laughing matter in the business world.
According to research done by Nielsen from their Global Trust in Advertising Survey, humour appealed to 51% of European audiences and 50% of North American audiences, resonating more than any other marketing theme.
Funny is often associated with memes and cartoons. And while there’s a place for that, you can find your voice in other ways.
21) Share fun facts and company stories.
One easy way to humanise your brand is to share real stories about the history of your company, which can include all of the hardships, failures, and lessons you’ve learned over the years. Post a #throwbackthursday pic of your humble beginnings. Share a behind-the-scenes video.
Company anniversaries or milestones are a great time to share this type of content.
22) Stand up for a cause.
According to Accenture research, 63% of global consumers want to purchase products and services from companies that stand for a purpose that reflects their own values and beliefs. One powerful way that leading companies build an emotional connection with their audience is by standing up for causes that are dear to them.
Bosch uses their #BoschCares campaign to share how their company supports causes and projects, creating an event to get kids interested in STEM:
23) Participate in trends and challenges.
Hashtags used to be the best way to join a conversation on social media. They were, and still are, an easy, effective way to make your content searchable for anyone who might be interested. But they’re a little one-directional and social media is shifting in favour of more personal and collaborative content. If you really want to create engaging, interactive content, participate in trends and challenges.
Challenges have been part of the social media landscape for a long time (we all remember the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014), but they’ve really hit their stride in 2020. The overflow of TikTok videos onto other channels like Twitter and Instagram has definitely contributed to the rise in popularity. But there’s also an inherently community-driven element to challenges which is particularly comforting and engaging during these isolating days of social distancing.
Instagram rolled out a “challenge sticker” for stories earlier this year. The sticker makes it easier to search and join challenges, even if you haven’t been nominated to participate. You can also get in on the action by publishing challenges on your feed (and syndicating across channels).
Take it a step further and come up with your own challenge or a twist on a current popular challenge. Encourage your audience to share and participate.
Tip: search TikTok for trends and challenges to try.
Why? Challenges and trending “sounds” are the bread and butter of TikTok content creation meaning there are a lot to choose from.
Speaking of TikTok…
24) Use TikTok for inspiration and content testing.
If done right, TikTok can be a legitimate awareness channel – read our B2B TikTok guide to find out more about whether or not it’s a fit for your brand. But that’s not all it’s good for.
TikTok is an incubator for some of the most creative, original content being made online right now. What does that mean for you? It’s one of the best places to go for inspiration and to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s new and trending in social media. Trends that start on TikTok spread everywhere. Even to more stereotypically B2B channels, like LinkedIn.
It’s also a great testing ground for new content formats and ideas. Content that performs exceptionally well on one channel will likely also do numbers on any other channel you cross-promote to. The same is true for content you test on TikTok with the additional benefit that the stakes are incredibly low. There’s almost no risk!