If you think about the brands crushing it on social media, it's usually B2C rather than B2B brands that immediately spring to mind. That may be why many B2B companies have not fully embraced the challenge of social media marketing, instead sticking to more traditional marketing techniques, such as cold-calling or print advertising.

That said, around 79% of B2B marketers surveyed by Omobono agreed that social media marketing is a worthwhile investment and offers good results.

Still, even if B2B marketers "do" social media, they often just stick to the platform of business, LinkedIn. They've fallen into the trap of thinking their industry is "too dull" to be a social media success. Which is a shame, because the opportunity is huge!

So how do you stand out from the crowd as a B2B social media marketer?

Here's the advice you need to ensure your company engages with potential customers and develops a social media following that converts into what you really want—sales!

1. Create a good strategy

What do you want to achieve with your social media marketing campaign? The answer is probably "lead generation"—the ultimate goal of B2B marketing, and where it differs from B2C marketing, which has different goals.

Some of the ways you can generate leads are as follows:

  • Drawing organic traffic through content and interaction on various social media platforms
  • Drawing paid traffic through social media ads and promotional posts
  • Connecting with influencers in your industry to spread your name

In this sense, B2B social media marketing is no different from B2C social media marketing. In fact, it's a good idea to use many B2C social media marketing tactics in your strategy—such as using employee quotes and photos to humanize your business. Sharing brand messages through employees builds up the word-of-mouth buzz that is the lifeblood of social media marketing.

Brand-building is central to any social strategy, whether B2B or B2C. Without the trust this generates, you won't convert any leads to sales. So put this at the heart of your strategy—and think outside the box. You don't have to be restricted by the notion of maintaining a professional distance from your clients; in fact, doing so is impossible on social media. You have new ways of reaching out to potential customers now. Embrace them!

2. Target your audience and create buyer personas

Once you have your goals in mind, you need to consider your target audience. To determine where your target audiences are, and then determine their preferences, you could try the following:

  • Conduct surveys on a platform where you're most likely to find B2B clients. For example, you can conduct the survey on LinkedIn because it's a professional platform with several people entrenched in the B2B community.
  • You can ask these people for their opinions on different social media platforms and how they use it. Doing so will help you understand their preferences and design a proper approach to marketing.
  • You can also study your competitors and determine where they're active. For example, if you find your competitors focusing on Twitter more than Facebook or other platforms, it's likely that most of your target audiences are active on Twitter.

Next, create personas for your customers, which includes their age, gender, position, industry, business scope and size. All this will help you build up a detailed understanding of your target audience, enabling you to create content, paid ads, and even your branding according to their expectations and preferences, which will help generate those sought-after leads!

3. Determine which platforms to use

While it's a good idea to have a presence in all social media platforms, you don't need to be active in all of them as well. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the three key platforms that most B2B marketers focus on:

  • Facebook is an amazing tool for customer engagement, support, and promotion, but it typically works better for B2C
  • Twitter is a public platform, in the sense that anyone can see your Tweets, so you need to concentrate on building maximum visibility and the right audience
  • LinkedIn plays to a B2B audience, and its Discussion Groups can be good at generating leads.

If you feel you'll get more results from Twitter and LinkedIn than from Facebook and Instagram, then you should focus your campaigns on the former. These platforms can become home to your primary social media campaigns, while others can be used to casually communicate with the target audience. If you run full-scale marketing campaigns on all available platforms, you'll spread yourself thin and still might not get the results you desire.

Remember, too, that, depending on the nature of your business, there may be other platforms from which you can generate leads. Be open-minded!

4. Assemble a social media marketing team

Some small business owners and professionals prefer to manage their digital marketing campaigns themselves in an effort to save money. That can prove to be detrimental in the long run. Social media campaigns are successful only if they're consistent and of good quality. If you have a good team with you, you can maintain consistency, generate good content, and keep audiences engaged at a steady pace. There are two ways you can handle social media: You can hire a professional third-party social media marketing agency, or you can create an in-house team.

Smaller businesses with limited budgets often outsource marketing to minimize expenses. You get professional experience and skills without straining your budget. Companies with bigger budgets and expansive marketing campaigns often create in-house marketing teams to carry out the various aspects of marketing.

A professional in-house team will be more experienced with and aware of your company ethics, products, services, and other such factors. They'll be able to create more personalized marketing campaigns and content. While you need to choose which option works better, you need a professional team to run successful campaigns.

5. Create the right content

The golden rule when creating content is that nobody cares about your company—they just want to know what's in it for them. So the content you create should, above all, be useful. That way, you can ensure it gets the shares on social media that you want, increasing your brand authority and resulting in leads.

Viral content is predominantly visual these days, and B2B marketers can harness this trend through webinars, blogs, and YouTube videos—but whitepapers, although labor-intensive, can prove an excellent tool for lead generation within a business market place.

6. Use the right tools

There are several great social media marketing management and analytics tools available in the market today, from Buffer, for scheduling posts, to Social Clout, for tracking engagement and measuring ROI. These tools will help you keep track of campaigns across different platforms, schedule content posting, and allow you to respond to comments and messages from one place.

These platforms also provide powerful analytics options. Beloved by B2B marketers, analytics help you keep track of active campaigns and determine if they're delivering the best results, so you can monitor campaigns based on the performance reports provided by analytics software programs and adjust them accordingly. The professionals use these tools—and you should too.

7. Reach out to micro-Influencers

These days, most customers rely on peer reviews rather than advertisements before buying a product. Social media is full of influencers with a large following. Contacting these influencers and developing professional relationships with them will help you gain customers and spread your influence on your chosen platform.

The best way to find them is to think about whose voice you trust. Look around and see who is sharing similar content to yours—with a large enough following, of course. It needs to be someone who can share your content without it seeming like a stretch. Reach out to those people, develop relationships. Social media marketing is all about humanizing business relationships, and micro-influencers are an extension of that.

Social media marketing offers vast potential for B2B marketers; yes, it's a slightly different way of doing things, but if there's one thing marketers are good at, it's adapting! Get out there, create those leads—and enjoy the ride!

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image of Sam Carr

Sam Carr is a content specialist for UK digital marketing agency Two Digital. She's passionate about social media and marketing, and writes about both those topics on the Two Digital blog.

LinkedIn: Sam Carr