A common challenge in the B2B space is figuring out how to use social media to drive results. When it comes to the organic side of social media, a question that often comes up from clients is what type of social media content will reach, and more importantly, resonate with their target audiences.
This is a valid question, as social media platforms are filled with social media content from B2C industries such as lifestyle and entertainment. These industries are abundant with content that is aesthetically pleasing. With well-designed clothing ads and images of perfectly crafted plates of breakfast food flooding social media feeds — where do B2B companies fit in? And should they?
The answer to this question is yes. B2B companies can and should be on social media. And yes, there is a time and place for them. In fact, 84 percent of C-level and VP-level buyers are influenced by social media when purchasing. This makes social media not only an option for B2B companies, but a necessity. By incorporating specific types of social media content into your B2B social media strategy, you will increase brand awareness, platform engagement, and most importantly, results from your target customers.
So what type of social media content works in the B2B space? What drives results? Let’s take a look.
One critical way social media content drives results for B2B companies is through thought leadership. The correct type of social media content allows executives, employees, and companies to position themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries. By presenting relevant content to your target audience, you become the resource they go to when searching out new industry trends and insights.
This can be accomplished through the sharing of company blogs and content, and it also applies to third-party articles from industry publications. Best practice for sharing third-party social media content includes creating a list of top publications to monitor for relevant content, and sharing these articles by tagging the publications and authors. This will position your company as a thought leader and help you to gain new industry connections. Down the line, this could even lead to link building and earned media opportunities.
Sharing third-party social media content and thought leadership content is an important piece to your B2B social media strategy, as your target audience is often made up of executives and decision-makers in your industry who care about and want to know cutting-edge industry information pertinent to them. Speak to your audience by sharing industry trends, insights, and timely articles from key industry publications.
Social Media & Event Marketing
Social media has become a huge part of industry events. Attendees are often encouraged to live tweet sessions, and those in the industry not in attendance often monitor event hashtags for up-to-date information of happenings. While event coverage on social media generally performs best on Twitter, other social platforms should certainly be used to post social media content as well.
Promoting event and conference attendance on all social media platforms is an important way to connect with stakeholders and show your relevance in your industry. This promotion is critical during the conference or event, but the bread and butter of results actually comes weeks and months prior.
This is where preparation comes in. Preparing to incorporate conference and event coverage into your social media content is key to success. For example, we recently attended a large industry event on behalf of a client. Months prior to the event, we recommended compiling social media profiles of speakers, event sponsors, exhibitors, company partners, industry influencers, and target accounts that would be in attendance. We were then able to use these profiles to engage with stakeholders and relevant accounts within our target audience. This helped the client to start and engage with important conversations happening on social media. Our social media content drove engagements with key stakeholders in the industry and led the client to be one of the most active users on social media during the conference. This put them in front of their target audience and established them as a thought leader and highly relevant company in the space.
When putting together your social media content strategy, take a look at industry events and conferences happening throughout the year — both those you are attending and those you are not. Incorporate these into your social media content calendar and plan ahead. Gather lists of attendees, target accounts, attending influencers, and speakers. Then, begin engaging with them by sharing relevant content and insights, using the event hashtag, and monitoring conversations in order to amplify your brand on social media before, during, and after the event.
Video, Video, Video
It’s no secret that video is the way for social media content. At this year’s Social Media Marketing World, the largest social media conference globally, video was one of the most talked about trends for social media content today… and rightly so. In fact, 100 million hours of video per day are consumed on Facebook, and 1200% more shares are generated by social videos than text and images combined.
While there is still a place for static images and copy in social media content, video really is becoming king. B2B companies can use video to show product demos, preview upcoming webinars or case studies, and cover industry events. Short, catchy videos around 30 seconds perform best for brand awareness and video views, while a bit longer and in-depth content can be used for more informative social media content catered to executives and industry stakeholders. Using videos with captioning is an additional best practice, as 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound.
Using an increased amount of video in our client’s social media content has increased engagement rates as much as 50% month over month on Twitter with growth seen on Facebook and LinkedIn as well.
What’s my point? Video can and should be used in both paid and organic social media content strategies for B2B companies.
Comprehensive Social Media Content
Outside of more traditional blogs, B2B companies have an opportunity to share content pieces through social media that are meant to inform and help their target audience. Content assets such as whitepapers, infographics, and reports are great assets to share on social media channels. This is effective on most social media platforms, and especially on LinkedIn. Users on LinkedIn are generally searching for professional guidance and information for their industries, making more comprehensive content a great way to engage.
Breaking up these comprehensive assets into digestible pieces for your social media content is critical. For example, break up your infographic into multiple images with one or two statistics or pieces of information so that you can share them one at a time, linking back to the main asset which provides more information. This allows your audience to easily retain information from your company, keeps them coming back for more, and allows you to share important assets multiple times in order to increase traffic and results.
Breaking up content into social media-friendly posts can be applied to blogs as well. Step-by-step blogs or pieces similar to “7 ways to do X” can be broken up and shared daily on social media, allowing you to use your content and share it with different angles for your audience.
Promotion of B2B Products & Services
Don’t worry, in addition to all of these types of social media content for your B2B strategy, there is room for you to solely promote your product or services. While there are many different formulas out there telling you how much of your social media content should be promotional versus how much should be more personable or from third-parties, a good rule of thumb is the 5-3-2 rule. This rule states that 50% of your social media content should be the re-sharing of others content, 30% should be your promotional or informational content, and 20% should be more personable (think… video).
When sharing your promotions of services or products, it’s important to think about the call-to-action in order to optimize each post for the most results. In order to increase your click through rate, readership, and web traffic, CTAs should be used to ask your target audience for what you want (to read your content!). The right CTA can even double the impact of your post. From simple changes to your copy to the addition of CTA buttons in ads, the sky is the limit for improving the CTA and ultimately, the click through rate and results of your promotional social media content.
This is good news. Social media content can be used to drive B2B results and connect with your target audience and industry stakeholders and influencers. Using the correct types of social media content that will speak directly to the decision-makers and executives you are trying to reach is the key piece to the puzzle.
Establishing a solid brand on social media for your company through the right types of social media content will help executives get to know your company and your product or services prior to purchasing, ultimately making them more likely to work with you over your competitors.
Ensure these five types of social media content are incorporated into your strategy and engage and monitor industry conversations… and see your engagement and results roll in.