If social media doesn’t get a mention in your business marketing plan, you’re not paying attention to the behaviour of billions of people worldwide. Social media is here to stay. It impacts our friendships, our buying, our behaviour and it definitely should impact our business marketing.
Social media is used for a lot more than social interactions, but businesses need to tread carefully to avoid coming across as using the platforms merely as soapboxes. Clever businesses use social media as an engagement platform rather than an announcement platform.
In a business-to-business (B2B) context, social media can be used as a lead generation tool as well as to enhance brand recognition. The key is to share useful, relevant content your followers will appreciate, rather than constant self promotion they will process as spam.
Social media usage changes almost on a daily basis. There are some companies who are clearly winning at the social media game, while others waste thousands of dollars on failed ad campaigns either on the wrong platform or with the wrong style of post.
We’ve put together a summary of the social media platforms we get asked about most by B2B companies, and how these can be used (or ignored) in your marketing strategy.
Thought by many to be the best social media platform for B2B marketing, LinkedIn has grown and transformed over the years from a place for people to house their inflated CVs, to something much more valuable. With an estimated 200 million monthly active users and 20 million company pages, businesses need to be smart to stand out from the crowd.
Sharing thoughtful content, both original and sourced from reputable publications, can help boost both your LinkedIn and business profiles. It’s also a great place to foster connections within your network. This can be particularly valuable to reinforce relationships built, for example, at a trade show or networking event that may otherwise fade away.
You won’t find many cat videos on LinkedIn. Nor will you find people checking in at the gym or declaring their relationship status as “complicated”. For these reasons, as well as the fact it tells us so, LinkedIn is the preferred social media network for professional connections. Despite other networks making a run in the B2B world, we think LinkedIn is still the most relevant place to share articles that build your professional brand.
LinkedIn user stats
- 200 million monthly active users
- 5.26 million new accounts created monthly
(That’s about two every second!)
As of January 2018, Facebook reported an estimated 2.13 billion monthly active users (and an impressive 1.4 billion daily active users). That’s a lot of eyes, but it doesn’t mean it’s an easy place for B2B marketing.
For one thing, it’s not where people go with business purchases in mind, so you’re already forced to be obnoxiously loud to be noticed if a B2B transaction is your goal. The problem with being obnoxiously loud is that it annoys people and makes them less likely to want to buy from you.
The other big problem with Facebook in 2018 is that users have become extremely suspicious of it in particular, and all social media in general. The perceived value and trustworthiness of ads took a hit after the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, where as many as 87 million Facebook users had their information improperly obtained and used.
Whether Facebook is the best, or even a worthy place to spend B2B marketing dollars is a polarising issue. Sure, there are a lot of eyes and you may be able to get your content in front of decision makers, but it’s unlikely to be at a time when they’re making decisions.
At best, we think Facebook can be used to enhance brand recognition and increase traffic to unique content posted elsewhere. If you have interesting articles and posts on another platform, Facebook may be useful to direct some traffic there.
Facebook user stats
- 2.13 billion monthly active users
- 1.4 billion daily active users
If you can share your message in 280 characters, Twitter is the place to be. Boasting 140 million tweets published daily by the 330 million active monthly users, Twitter doubled the character limit in late 2017. Interestingly, four months after the increase to the character limit, tweets had not increased in length but user engagement has gone up.
Of course many businesses and individuals are not simply posting their message in tweets, but using the platform to share links to longer form content. Again, this is possibly useful to drive traffic to your content or increase brand awareness, but most people aren’t heading to Twitter to research making a B2B purchase.
Twitter user stats
- 330 million monthly active users
- 100 million daily active users
- 140 million tweets published daily
Instagram is still a relatively new kid on the block of social media, but it has sure made an impact as indicated by the 800 million monthly active users. Depending on who you listen to, its perceived worth in a B2B transaction range from not at all to absolutely vital.
Now owned by Facebook, many predict the Instagram algorithms will continue to evolve to favour only paid advertising and reduce the likelihood of organic growth for businesses. We saw this trend begin in 2016 and it’s likely to continue, largely because it’s a valuable revenue stream for Instagram.
Instagram can be a useful place to house images that relate to your business, if you then utilise the option to embed these to scroll in your own website. The ability to quickly take and upload images may be of use to some businesses, however it is generally not the first place people will look in a B2B relationship. Tellingly, a third of Instagram users are under 30 years old and therefore not typically the decision-makers in B2B transactions.
Instagram user stats
- More than 800 million monthly active users
- 500 million daily active users
- 32% of users are college students and most users in the 18 to 29 age bracket
YouTube has a massive 5 billion videos viewed daily from 1.5 billion monthly active users. These figures, however, don’t necessarily mean it is the best or even appropriate for many B2B interactions. An average visit to YouTube lasts 40 minutes, meaning people are falling down the rabbit hole of content on a fairly consistent basis.
YouTube can be a useful place for businesses to house product videos to allow for easy embedding into their own longer form content. In the same way Instagram makes it easy to house photos for your website, YouTube makes it easy to format videos in a web-friendly way.
These kinds of videos are only of interest to people or businesses who actually care about your products, and YouTube allows for an easy way to give your customers access to this content. It’s unlikely these videos will go viral, and most B2B customers wouldn’t be searching for them within YouTube.
YouTube user stats
- 1.5 billion monthly active users
- 5 billion videos viewed daily
It’s hard to ignore the many voices that say Google Plus is dead. It’s the platform that never really got going, especially outside of America, despite the fact it’s owned by Google. Google Plus was meant to be a place where posts could be organised by way of interest, and had the potential to work. It just didn’t.
In reality Google Plus is full of businesses trying to take advantage of an audience that doesn’t exist. It’s riddled with spam posts and very little user engagement (particularly considering Google tells us there are almost 400 million monthly active users today).
If your business already has a Google profile, you could share your content here on the off chance it helps your SEO. We would not advise Aussie B2B sellers create content specifically for Google Plus.
Google Plus user stats
- 395 million monthly active users
- 55% of users are based in the US
Why content matters on social media
With all social media platforms, engagement matters in order to keep your post showing up in more people’s feed. A great title and image will get you a click, but fantastic content will push people to engage. You need to give people a reason to be interested.
Often people are tempted to use social media only for short posts that may be accompanied by an image. While these can help to keep your profile and page fresh and looking interesting, B2B companies really need to be sharing original longer form content to make a noticeable impact.
There is a time and place for both broad-themed posts about trends in your industry as well as posts that highlight your expertise in a specific area of your field. Showcasing your unique insight into a problem is more likely to get you noticed and remembered.
If you’re not sure where to start with creating content for your website or social media platforms, get in touch with us to go through some options.
Want a more in-depth understanding of content marketing?
Download our ebook, Content Marketing: The Key To Business Growth, and learn the fundamental concepts of content marketing and the ways it can be used to accelerate your business’s growth.