Social Media Best Practices for B2B Businesses

October 5, 2020
Contributor: Rupal Bhandari

Social media is a versatile channel for any marketer given the creative flexibility it offers. But social media marketing for a B2B company is not just about posting witty content.

Social media marketing gives a B2B marketer opportunities to have some fun and entertain followers — but that can be complicated for a B2B brand with products or use cases that don’t necessarily result in widely shareable content. No wonder 85% of businesses are failing to utilize social media in B2B marketing and communication.  

However, the reason to continue trying is substantial. 

As much as 46% of B2B buyers turn to social media at the very beginning of their buying journeys (full report available to Gartner clients only). This underscores the importance of a B2B social media strategy in buyer journeys. 

B2B businesses should look to the following best practices to redefine their social media strategy and recoup missed opportunities.

Here are two tips right away:
  • Choose a social media platform already used by your target audiences or customers. Make it a point to explore industry-specific social media platforms and perform research on all available platforms to ensure opportunities aren’t overlooked.

  • Boost organic audience numbers by encouraging current customers to follow the business on social media. Include profile links in all emails and marketing materials.

Create a "who" and "why" content strategy

Creating a roster of five social content types and alternating the posts with relevant hashtags a few times each month is no longer a viable B2B content marketing strategy in 2020. Instead, teams should look to build unique connections with followers by determining who the target audience is and why they follow their brand. 

Generally, the “who” is identifiable through the social media channel's analytics, which should provide a detailed demographic breakdown of all followers, including age, gender, location and other interests. Such insights are crucial for building an effective social media strategy.

The “why” can be determined through the followers themselves. 

About 46% of B2B buyers use social media for early-stage sales cycle tasks, such as learning about the different solutions available for solving their unique problem or need; 40% use it for middle-stage tasks such as comparing different solutions; and 35% use it for late-stage tasks such as identifying need-to-know information regarding potential solutions before finally making a purchase (full report available to Gartner clients only).

This means a B2B business’s social media content need not be centered on the brand but on the products or services being sold. Effective social media content should focus on thought leadership from industry experts, customer-generated content and content around ratings and reviews.

Some elements of fun, such as trending memes or challenges, will multiply the effectiveness.

Here are some suggestions to create content that resonates with followers:
  • Create posts about customer wins to showcase products or use cases in action.

  • Display domain knowledge by providing helpful resources and expertise about the targeted industries; don’t limit the content to cover only the products or services. 

  • Look to employee stories, company milestones and common customer support queries to fill out the social content and engagement strategy.

Measure social ROI

Businesses often keep track of the likes, comments and shares social media posts generate, but struggle to accurately measure the return on investment (ROI). To address this gap, start by tracking metrics beyond what is visible on the brand’s profile. 

These three categories are a good place to start:

  • Brand awareness: Who knows about the business? Dive into metrics such as social mentions, reach or impressions of social media posts and volume of direct traffic to the website from social media.
  • Engagement: How many people showed interest in the business? Look at metrics such as comment rate, applause rate, share rate, video views, and durations and clicks per post. 
  • Conversions: How many people purchased the product or requested a demo after discovering the brand and content in social media? Metrics such as marketing qualified leads, customer lifetime value, close rate per social channel and cost per lead can help bring this picture into focus.  

Successfully gauging brand awareness and engagement can help teams understand the overall effectiveness of their social media strategy as well as measure the dollar-for-dollar value of marketing efforts. 

Other recommendations to keep in mind:
  • Measure and track each social channel separately to understand each platform’s strengths and weaknesses against the broader marketing objectives. For instance, Facebook could be good at generating more leads, while Twitter could be more effective in striking up a conversation about the brand. 
  • Give every lead a score to better understand where and how they were acquired compared to other marketing channels. 
Build trust and improve reach through employee advocacy 

Satisfied customers are of course the primary source for popularizing a brand, but satisfied employees make even better brand advocates. The words of an enthusiastic employee show great drive and are strong indicators of a good brand. And businesses with a highly engaged workforce are also 21% more profitable (full report available to Gartner clients only). 

Therefore, employee advocacy should be a critical part of a business’s social media strategy to build trust and reinforce the brand’s voice and personality. 

Employees likely already have social media accounts on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. They may already be sharing content produced by the business, especially if they’re enthusiastic about their work or industry expertise. When building an approach to encourage employee advocacy, be sure to provide guidelines, resources and rewards, which help streamline posting and ways to more effectively measure returns. 

However, asking employees to participate in brand advocacy should not mean making it mandatory or providing them with content to copy and paste on their personal profiles. Instead, help enthusiastic participants find ways to position themselves as industry experts and build credibility for the brand alongside their own. 

Here are a few quick-to-implement ideas:
  • Educate employees on social engagement best practices to promote standardization and consistency in online behaviors. 
  • Create a high-trust and employee-friendly culture, making employees voluntarily wanting to associate themselves with the brand and discuss their work with industry peers as well as potential customers.
  • Make employee advocacy fun, incorporating appropriate hashtags and games that employees want to join. 
The bottom line: No cookie-cutter strategies

No marketer should look to follow a cookie-cutter strategy for social content marketing. Social tools and platforms evolve rapidly, and a strategy or approach that works today may not work six months from now. Help teams understand how to consistently assess what is working, and empower them to create content that follows new trends and formats, to better align to the broader channel and program goals. 

 

Rupal Bhandari
Rupal Bhandari covers sales and account management markets. She received her master’s degree from the University of Delhi, India, and has created content for some of the world’s leading technology products and companies. Connect with Rupal on LinkedIn.

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