4 Ways B2B Marketers Can Build Trust Through Social Media

November 9, 2021
Contributor: Amita Jain

Leverage the power of social media and user-generated content to create a helpful, authentic brand.

Despite being the top channel for marketing, according to Gartner’s CMO Spend Survey 2021, social media continues to be puzzling territory for B2B marketers. Few understand which platforms to choose beyond LinkedIn, and most use social channels to push out brand-centric content.

Social media is a two-way street: a channel for content distribution and an opportunity to listen, enable discussions and join conversations with your brand’s opinion.

As software buyers spend more time online, marketers can’t afford to struggle on social media. They need to relay information that relates to the buyer journey and helps prospects make important purchase decisions.

As a B2B marketer, what can you do to make your social media interactions relatable, trustworthy and authentic? These four tips will help you optimize your social strategy and better leverage the power of the internet community to create a brand that buyers find relevant.

1. Diversify your social platforms, but shrink your network

LinkedIn is a natural social platform for B2B marketers. But you can’t ignore other relevant networks such as Facebook (Meta), Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, in order to reach a broader audience.

Every platform has a different emphasis and characteristics, requiring diverse content types and messaging strategies. Select the relevant platforms for your social media strategy with this question: Where is my target audience active?

Preferred social platforms used in the B2B purchase process

Outside of the core networking sites, platforms such as Instagram, Reddit and software review sites are gaining in importance for B2B buyers as they diversify their information consumption.

While you expand your reach on multiple channels, focus on building tight social communities within each. Navigate consumer caution by creating small, cozy groups which users feel comfortable in and can trust. The fear of data hacks and misleading information has made users wary of connecting at a deeper level with people or brands on social media.

Shrinking the size of your community will keep aggressive trolls and bots at bay (full research available for Gartner clients). You can still run public pages with a wide following, but these small groups will become your avenue to create deeper connections and focused discussions.

Tips to engage the right B2B audience on social media:
 
Every social media marketing channel works on an algorithm. Organically, it shows your content to only those followers who have interacted with your posts, or ones whose activities and interests match with your post. To take full advantage of a social media platform:

  • Collaborate with sales to identify individuals or buying committees most likely to engage on social media and target them through account-based marketing (ABM).
  • Understand what buyers want with social listening tools. Find their pain points, biggest needs and areas of concern.  
  • Deploy paid social advertising to leverage the wealth of data with platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn to precisely target your audience segments.

2. Become a thought leader by posting relevant and helpful content

A common mistake by B2B marketers is to focus on “buy from us” content that’s overly commercial. Instead, create content that helps buyers solve a business need or provides them with prescriptive help, such as software comparisons, aligned to their buying journey.

Remember the 80/20 rule to craft content for every B2B social media channel. Eighty percent of your social content should belong to “what others say.” It can be third-party or user-generated content, such as sharing posts or giving links to helpful articles. Twenty percent of your shared social content can be branded content, such as your white papers and customer success stories.

Remember the 80/20 rule when sharing social media content

So, for the major portion of content sharing on a social media platform, be empathetic, credible, informative and relevant. That’s what users value.

Tips for B2B social media content:

  • Learn what’s trending with your target audience by using social listening tools or review sites. Identify the trends, opinions and criticisms from your buyer group to go beyond your usual content type.
  • Find an interesting angle to your otherwise technical product for your content marketing strategy. For instance, if you sell arborist software, you can post an interesting graphic or video on trees in your region to capture buyers’ attention.
  • Provide prescriptive help to make the buyer’s purchase easier. Give them insights into your research findings and user surveys to help them recognize an underappreciated trend. For example, you can help them filter for the best-fitting software solution by providing comparisons by price, features and integrations.

3. Leverage user-generated content to encourage dialogue

Ninety percent of consumers trust product recommendations from other people over brands vouching for themselves. This is where user-generated content (UGC) comes into play.

UGC posts perform much better than generic posts. Fellow buyers speaking up about your product or service acts as social proof, validating its usability and performance.

UGC content is an opportunity for a B2B marketer to earn loyalty from existing customers and encourage word-of-mouth social marketing, a defining measure of a good marketing strategy.

Tips to produce user-generated content for B2B social media marketing:

  • Customer reviews. By turning your customers into your brand advocates, their reviews attract similar buyers and generate engagement from high-value prospects. Procure testimonials on the buying experience, customers’ assessment of the product or before-and-after stories. You can also share “in-the-trenches” content posted about you on third-party software review sites.
  • Employee advocacy. Feedback from employees is perceived as one of the most authentic ways to learn about a brand and internal company values. Empower your employees to participate in social conversations around your brand by building a strong employee advocacy program. Capturing behind-the-scenes moments is a common post type to introduce employees on social media.
  • Influencer marketing. The right influencers can further your marketing goals and uplift low brand trust. Influencer marketing uses the natural consumer desire of getting product recommendations from celebrities or people they respect. Ground your selection for influencers in three key attributes: reach, relevance and resonance. Reach shows followers, unique visitors and pageviews on their profiles. Relevance gauges their subject-matter expertise and their content-fit with your brand voice. Resonance is about the ability of influencers to make a convincing case for your product and drive audience behavior.

4. Show your brand in action with videos

Videos get high engagement on social media, and more importantly, they can simplify the complex products of B2B sellers by demonstrating software in action. You can leverage the storytelling power of videos by publishing short-form tutorials, an explainer series and customer success stories, among others.

Your choice of video publishing platform depends on where you want your content to be consumed, its duration, and other technicalities such as aspect ratio. While all — LinkedIn, Facebook/Meta and YouTube — can be used for creating brand awareness videos such as industry trends or product presentations, YouTube can pay higher dividends in the long run given the longer shelf life of its video content. A B2B brand can also use live streaming options such as LinkedIn Live where the target audience is most active.

Tips to optimize videos for B2B social media marketing:

  • Always keep videos short: 5 seconds to 3 minutes.
  • Make them fun. Find an interesting way to talk about your product. Use humor or emotion.
  • Connect videos to the buyer's context. Understand what content buyers want at different junctures in their purchase journey.

The bottom line on B2B social media

Even though the eventual goal is to get buyers to your site, the power of social media is harnessed by its ability to expand reach beyond direct conversions. Facilitate authentic connections and build your brand credibility by changing how you communicate on social channels with the above recommendations.

Always remember, the upshot of boosting engagement on social media is not just to get people to buy, but to make sure you are the first on their mind when they are ready to buy.

Amita Jain

Amita Jain covers B2B content creation and strategy to help businesses reach their marketing goals. She received her master’s degree from King’s College London, U.K. Exploring the world of art and reading fiction are some of her usual happy distractions outside of work. Connect with Amita on LinkedIn.

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