Why use social media for B2B marketing?
The value of social media marketing in B2B.
B2B brands have often resisted social media marketing. Businesses selling major capital items and complex solutions assume their most effective marketing channel is face-to-face direct selling via a field salesforce. But B2B buyers are present and active on social media, and so its value should not be overlooked or dismissed.
However, the high volume of irrelevant content found within social media platforms can easily create cynicism among B2B marketers. But what such a stance fails to recognise is that social media has many more benefits than simply providing a channel for communicating social activities.
Social media is where your buyers and competitors are
According to figures from HubSpot, 81% of B2B buyers are more likely to view a brand positively and engage with it if it has a good social media presence. 76% of buyers are at the sales discussion stage while on social media, making them more receptive to any content shared.
It’s also true that many B2B buying decisions are made on social media. HubSpot reports that 50% of buyers use LinkedIn to help them make buying decisions. When it comes to B2B, research suggests LinkedIn is one of the most valuable social media platforms to have a presence on. Just make sure you’re posting content that resonates with your target audience yet still showcases your expertise as a thought leader in your industry.
Social media provides an opportunity to engage with and nurture your sales prospects, while social listening allows you to discover what your potential customers like or don’t like or are particularly vocal about. Seek out those opinions and join the conversation to engage and nurture leads. And if your competition is on social media – and it’s likely they will be – but you are not, you’re missing an important opportunity to connect with that audience.
Social media can be a ranking factor
One of the benefits of being on social media and sharing information on these platforms is the role it plays in helping your website to rank (social SEO). Search engines like Bing use social media as an SEO ranking factor, which means that using social media can help to increase your site’s visibility in the search engines. The search engine ranks pages with more social shares higher than pages with fewer or no shares.
However, it is less clear what role social media plays in helping websites to rank in Google. But what is clear, is that social media still plays a vital role in supporting SEO activities, albeit indirectly, and there are many other reasons why you should make social media one of your marketing tools.
Social media is highly personalised
What makes social media so addictive is that each user shapes their chosen platform to display an endless stream of relevant content. Unsurprisingly, this is highly useful for connecting with your target audience.
If, for example, you are targeting engineers of a specific demographic, LinkedIn – and specifically LinkedIn Groups – may be their primary source of information. Establishing a presence here would mean that you can target a useful and potentially lucrative audience directly.
As well as being shaped by the user, social media offers a personalised means of engaging with target personas. Communication becomes two-way, unlike traditional ‘push’ marketing, and customers will feel less like they are being given the hard sell.
In this way, social media resembles face-to-face sales, although it also allows your stakeholder to target you and for you to respond quickly and cost effectively. Interacting with your audience this way gives your brand a greater chance of being viewed favourably.
Social media is cost effective
This benefit does not mean it is cheap or low cost; an effective and engaging social media presence requires substantial investment as it is labour intensive. Posting on social media does not attract a fee unless you intend to use sponsored content.
But even here content has a low cost of entry, allowing you to control when and by how much you scale up, bringing a significant return on investment.
Social media is a content and media-rich environment
It is easy to see how deploying many types of media, such as audio, video, graphics, and copy often simultaneously is advantageous. This huge social media benefit means you can interact with customers through their preferred channel.
You could base this decision on sector - one client audience might respond well to video, while a more technical audience may prefer whitepapers. Delivering these through social platforms creates a central hub from which to deliver personalised content quickly to multiple audiences. You can then track how these people have interacted, leading us on to another benefit – the ability to measure social media activity.
Social media allows you to measure marketing activity
As with other digital channels, social media is highly measurable. Some results are almost instantly available – a high number of likes, shares and comments indicate that your content appeals to your audience. But the most exciting aspect is that social media can be linked to business metrics, including new business leads and sales.
This measurability is crucial for tracking the effectiveness of your content and monitoring your return on investment. Tools are available that aggregate data from social media platforms alongside analytics data taken from a website, offering a complete picture of performance linked to business KPIs.
Despite these immediate and easily implemented social media gains, some B2B business decisions-makers still consider social media as entirely for personal use. Ignoring easy to use marketing channel leaves them at risk of missing key opportunities to engage with a significant section of their target market.
1. Alfred, L., 2021. 37 LinkedIn Social Selling Stats You Need to Know. [online] Blog.hubspot.com. Available here.