It’s a question that has dogged the B2B world for many years: what is the best way to use social media? In fact, some argue that social media is more of a B2C endeavour. But the truth is that there are over 3 billion social media users worldwide (in a population of 7.8 billion), and this influences every industry.
Not only is this a huge number, it also highlights the massive potential for growth, as technology continues to improve in developing nations. Social media is no longer confined to kids, either. Over 72% of US adults use social media, which is an increase from just 7% in 2005.
This shift in demographics – as people grow up with digital technology ingrained – means that the use of social media by B2B brands is key to their marketing success. Senior decision-makers are using social media as one indicator of who to trust as a partner or supplier, alongside more traditional methods.
Dispelling the Myths About B2B Social Media
Let’s dispel some of the vicious myths about social media in the B2B sphere. These concerns have prevented many businesses maximising their potential with social media, and contributed to the idea that B2B lags behind B2C in terms of connecting to prospects and customers online.
1. “Social media is not applicable to us.”
The most common myth about social media for B2B is that it’s genuinely not relevant, and not something that B2B organisations should involve themselves with. But in this post-digital world, people are connected through multiple devices 24/7. This trend is emerging globally, as reliable mobile data and WiFi connectivity spreads – and handheld devices become more affordable.
A business is not a robotic entity; it’s the sum of its people. This means that there are brains to engage with, emotions to draw on, and relationships to build. Furthermore, the buying process for B2B is typically longer and the research stage is deeper. A vibrant, informative, and expertise-driven social media presence will only serve to improve your chances when B2B buyers are considering their options.
2. “We need to be ultra professional.”
Again, we come back to the point that businesses are run by people. People have feelings and desires – they’re moved by emotive stories, and they want to be educated and entertained. Whilst remaining on-brand by maintaining values and representing a competent, trustworthy, and professional group of people, you can introduce informality and human interaction to your social media activity.
3. “We’re too small.” or “We’re too big.”
As Jay Baer argues in this article, one key goal of social media for major brands is to make their large company act like a small one – bringing them closer to their customers and providing a direct route to amazing service. No company is too small, and no company is too big.
For smaller businesses with less manpower and budget to spend, remember that social updates can be scheduled in advance using tools like HootSuite and Buffer, and there are even tools like IFTTT that can automatically push out updates when you publish content on a website or blog. This saves a lot of time.
4. “It’s not a measurable investment.”
On the contrary, there are ways to measure the impact of social media on your business. Primarily, this involves tracking the performance of your website. Digging into your analytics software (e.g. Google Analytics) will highlight where visitors originated from, and what they did thereafter.
If you can see that a proportion of website visitors arrived as social traffic and went on to engage with the site meaningfully (e.g. by spending time reading a post, downloading an eBook, or filling in a contact form), this can be fed into your attribution setup and indicate social media’s impact on your bottom line.
5. “It’s a PR nightmare waiting to happen!”
Yes, if you’ve got someone in charge of social media that doesn’t understand your business or your values, it might become harmful. But you can mitigate these risks with common sense, education, and an editing or approval process for social posts.
When using an external agency, make sure they understand your goals and brand tone, and that there is an agreed strategy in place before embarking on any campaign.
Final Thoughts: The Core Purpose of B2B Social Media
In the B2B world, social media marketing has a number of core purposes:
To generate brand awareness among your target audience
To build integrity and credibility in your industry
To fill the pipeline with top-of-funnel prospects (e.g. email subscribers)
To establish an employer brand to attract the best talent
Without a structure for making your B2B organic social media tie into these purposes, you will be shooting in the dark and some of the myths mentioned above will come true. So, the lesson is clear: build a robust strategy for your organic social media, and you will see the results over time.