Social media is becoming an increasingly popular B2B marketing tactic, with 84% of C-Level and VP-level buyers influenced by social media when considering a purchase.
B2B buying behavior is increasingly modeling B2C buying due to the ubiquity of digital resources, mobile devices, and the presence of digital natives—namely, millennials—present on buying teams. Social media has a tremendous influence on today’s modern buyer, with over 90% of B2B buyers using social media to engage with industry thought leaders and 72% using social channels to research solutions.
“Nearly 60% of B2B buyers browse existing social media conversations as part of their research process.”
Social media impacts B2B buying in a variety of ways. Company profiles on platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook enable businesses to share content, communicate with prospects and customers, and give buyers a glimpse under the hood to look at a company’s culture via posts like this one from Salesforce’s Instagram account:
Having a presence on social media helps companies foster a sense of community around their specific product, service, or brand. It’s not just the content you post that influences buyer decisions. The interactions that you have with customers on social media also influence buyers who are actively researching your solution.
Online reviews are another form of social influencing, with many B2B buyers turning to review sites like G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, and Capterra to read authentic reviews about a wide variety of B2B products and services. A recent study by G2 cloud found 92% of buyers are more likely to purchase a product or service based on reading a trusted review.
Example of product results page for the term “AB Testing Software”—Source: Capterra
Positive peer reviews help buyers feel more confident as they move through the complex decision-making process and sift through a glut of information from multiple vendors.
The importance of social media strategy
While most social media platforms support paid ads, there is a strong organic component to social media marketing that must be considered when reaching out to buyers using social channels.
Creating a comprehensive B2B social media strategy can help businesses in B2B industries like financial services and healthcare reach people authentically while ensuring the tactics they employ in a social setting work together to enhance and amplify their overall marketing and sales goals. There are five main elements to incorporate in your social media strategy as follows:
All popular social media platforms enable businesses to create a company profile. Some platforms, like Facebook and LinkedIn, provide dedicated business pages which act as extensions of your company website. Platforms like Instagram and Twitter allow businesses to create accounts that include a short bio and link in the profile. In either case, your social profile makes a powerful first impression, so it’s important to get it right.
Social post and content development
Organic posts are the backbone of all social media platforms, and this is no different for B2B companies. An organic presence requires content that is regularly updated and current. This content changes depending on the platform. Images and video dominate on platforms like Instagram and YouTube, while longer form posts are more acceptable on Facebook and LinkedIn. Your social strategy should include planning out what to post and when and incorporate a variety of content types depending on the platform. There are many SaaS tools available to help you plan, deploy, and track social media posts (e.g., SproutSocial).
Managing your social media communities is as important as having social media accounts in the first place. People except a quick response when they reach out to companies on social media.
80% of customers expect a business to respond to their social media posts within 24 hours, while 50% of customers would stop doing business with a company that fails to respond to a negative social post. Although these numbers refer to B2C consumers, B2B marketers need to be aware of these expectations. Your social media strategy must include a plan for managing and addressing every single comment, inquiry, and post submitted by prospects and customers.
Paid social ads
Paid ads on social media allow companies to amplify their organic posts, targeting people that are not directly following them. Most platforms support several different ad types and formats, each of which are designed to achieve specific goals (e.g., increasing followers, generating leads, contributing to brand awareness, etc.) Your paid social ads should work in tandem with your organic ads to ensure the widest possible reach within your specific target market. Paid social ads are also a great way to test the effectiveness of messaging, images, and video prior to rolling these things out on a larger scale.
Ongoing review and optimization of social campaigns
As with any marketing campaign, social media campaigns (both paid and organic) should evolve and change based on performance. In the B2B space, social media strategy should include a concrete way for you to track your campaigns and report on performance so they can be refined accordingly. Again, there are tools to make this task easier and automated.
The B2B buyer is social
For B2B marketers, it’s no longer a question of when you should reach out to buyers on social media, it’s more a question of how. Understanding the changing expectations and behaviors of buyers—and embracing them—is the first step in successfully using social media to reach modern buyers. You may even want to consider a social CRM which will allow you to easily manage your advertising, posts, social listening and more in one platform.
The bottom line for any social media campaign is to provide a good customer experience while expanding your digital footprint and being present for buyers regardless of what platform, device, or website they’re using to research a new solution.
Creating a social media strategy will ensure you have all bases covered, from creating compelling social profiles, to planning posts and content, to management and optimization. A little foresight goes a long way when it comes to being present for buyers in ways that are meaningful and impactful.