By Jonathan Mark, Group Director, Media and Marketing Services, Blue Fountain Media
There’s a misconception among B2B brands that social media only works for naturally fun, consumer-facing brands like beauty companies and fashion retailers. While it’s true that social media is a very effective tool for ecommerce companies, it can also be leveraged to produce powerful results for B2B brands. As of 2016, over 50% of the U.S. population uses Facebook. YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter all also have large, engaged user bases. Somewhere on social media there is bound to be an audience that’s interested in what you do. Tapping into them can be a boon for your business.
Below I’ve laid out a few ways you can use social media to the benefit of your B2B brand.
As a B2B company, you’re probably already investing in content marketing. Content marketing has the potential to establish your company as a resource for users searching for information on topics that pertain to your industry. But content marketing will only help you do those things if your audience is able to find your content. That’s where social media comes in. Social channels are a major component of the content amplification process because they act as natural discovery mechanisms. B2B product and service buyers turn to social media as part of the research process. You want your content to be there when they do.
You can use social media to make your content work a lot harder for you. Instead of simply producing a whitepaper and having it available on your website for download, you can tease key sections on your social channels and encourage more people to discover it. Instead of just giving a presentation at a seminar or event, you can transform your presentation materials into an infographic or presentation deck and publish on Slideshare.
Below, Square amplifies the reach of a blog post about technology that businesses should be investing in.
Define your voice
As B2B brands, sometimes we tend to think we’re required to speak in a voice that is formal, intellectual, and often filled with jargon. The truth, though, is that no one really wants to be communicated with that way. Social media is a great place to give yourself some leeway to create a brand voice that can exist in a more casual environment. On social media you can speak in a way that is more down-to-earth than the way you would usually communicate via your website or other marketing materials. In fact, it’s imperative that you do define an approachable voice on social media -- that’s what social media users expect. They’ll be turned off or bored by brands that approach social media marketing with a voice that’s too corporate or stiff.
Social media allows you to speak with a voice that is engaging and approachable, while still professional, and that’s a great way to get people to like you. It might sound trivial to focus on being liked (and being liked is only one part of the bigger picture) but people who like your brand and have positive associations with your company are much more likely to want to work with you.
In the example below, GE uses Instagram to hero employees and highlight technology. They do it with an engaging, approachable voice.
A major benefit of amplifying content via your social channels is that doing so will help establish your brand’s authority in whatever industry you’re part of. There’s tremendous value in becoming known as a thought leader:
• You will become an invaluable part of the conversation, someone others turn to for information or advice.
• You will be indicating to users that your brand is a serious and committed member of the industry who keeps pace with changes, innovations, and advancements in your area of business.
• Prospective clients who research your company via social media will see you as an active and authoritative voice -- someone, in other words, who they will feel more comfortable considering working with.
When it comes down to it, establishing authority is part of building trust. The simple reason is that people trust brands that are experts at what they do. By sharing content on social media channels that demonstrates your thought leadership you’ll be positioning your brand as a company of industry experts -- a position that will appeal to your customers and prospects.
Salesforce makes their Twitter page an indispensable resource for business advice and productivity tips.
Let leads find you
The last time you researched a new service or product, how did you go about it? These days it’s becoming more natural to turn to social media as part of the research process when looking for a new product or service.
Whatever tools or platforms people use to learn about the services or products your brand sells, you want to be there too. You probably already know that users turn to search engines when they’re doing research, and that’s why you’ve invested in search engine optimization and paid search. So if people are searching for information using social media, it makes sense to have a strong presence there too.
Social media is not just for lifestyle brands. It’s a powerful tool for B2B brands as well -- even ones who aren’t in industries that most people think of as exciting. It’s all about finding your niche audience and defining yourself as part of a thought leader in that community. Social media lets you amplify the content you create, establish your brand as both likable and trustworthy, and increase your visibility among potential customers.
About the Author
Jonathan Mark, Group Director, Media and Marketing Services at Blue Fountain Media
Jonathan has 15 years of experience providing creative marketing solutions across all digital and traditional marketing channels. He has worked at some of the biggest agencies in New York, beginning his career at GREY before launching his own startup, a food-themed social network. Jonathan sold his startup to Delivery.com which then tapped him to be its Vice President of Marketing, where he served prior to joining BFM.