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July 5, 2017 (Updated: January 26, 2023)
You likely understand the value of social media in your business strategies, but it’s a bit different when communicating with other businesses instead of customers. You may have assumed that it’s more difficult or less productive, as many B2B companies keep their lazily designed social media profiles on life support as an afterthought.
Fortunately, business-to-business social media isn’t that hard to get right. In many ways, it poses more benefits for your time invested than ordinary social media from your business to customers. Check out the secret to B2B social media success and how to achieve it quickly and affordably.
All About Advertising
Image via Flickr by Rusty Sheriff
If there’s one reason why B2B companies should build a solid social media foundation, it’s because of paid advertising and its related tools. When using social media ads for business-to-consumer, or B2C, you’re vying for the attention of people who are likely not looking to buy at that moment or who will be easily distracted by something else. With B2B strategies, each person who sees your ad is more likely to take it seriously, as every businessperson is hunting for new advantages, cost-effective alternatives, and similar benefits that you offer.
Even if you prefer direct contact, software like Facebooks’s advertising platform give you mountains of information to build your own lead lists. After test-running your ads for a while and building up some analytics, you might discover an overlap with your industry and another you never expected or a geographic location where your business is needed more, which then helps you search for potential businesses to contact directly about your products or services.
Rank Your Keywords
B2B social media, particularly with boosted posts and advertising, can be great for raising your Google search rankings in the best keywords for your industry. Social media posts with lots of shares and other interactions contribute heavily to search rankings, and ads will kickstart their visibility toward the right crowd. You can also get the help of creative experts for a strategic content marketing package with social media posts, blog content, ads, and more, all working to push you to the top of your desired search terms.
Let’s suppose you’re an office furniture company posting about the back support of some of your chairs, using a phrase like “best office chairs for back pain.” Businesses that need new furniture and that search for that phrase will find you higher up in the results. B2B is just as good as B2C when using social media for SEO rankings, but many B2B companies oddly forget about it. Remember that every post and interaction contributes to how you’re discovered outside of social media.
Which Platform to Use
Out of the many social media platforms to run pay-per-click ads, a B2B advertiser can’t go wrong with LinkedIn or Facebook. LinkedIn ads are highly cost-effective and terrific if you have a global B2B customer base, as over 70 percent of their users are outside the United States. Facebook may seem less targeted toward the professional market, but it’s still by far the biggest platform and the most regularly visited among its users. Some businesses may find smaller platforms with more specific audiences a perfect fit, such as Instagram for photography and art.
Each platform offers different types of ads, such as the new lead generation ads on Facebook that invite the viewer to enter their email address right on the spot. But let’s say you’ve figured out which social media website to set up camp and the type of ads that work best for your budget and goals. Here are some tips to get the most out of your advertising dollars.
The Boring Assumption
Many types of social media ads come in the form of posts that can be shared by viewers, generating even more results. Sadly, a lot of B2B social media is dead on arrival because the account manager assumes that their B2B interests are boring and un-sharable by the public and are meant only for the eyes of potential customers. This paradoxically reduces your reach and the number of interested clients who find you.
Don’t go into your B2B social media on the assumption that you can’t find an interesting angle for the majority of people. If you need ideas, start with the Plutchik’s emotion model and look at the emotions people can feel. What about your brand’s founding or current objectives or actions would people love? What would surprise them or make them sad or scared? Could people be angry about a problem that your business solves? Put simply, don’t post anything that you don’t think would excite you if you weren’t a guaranteed customer of your product.
Humanizing Your Profile
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How your message is presented and the identity connected to it is just as important as the message itself. Fewer people will be interested in something from a dry brand logo as opposed to a character who represents the brand, for example. You can have fun with this and even act in character when you engage online. Professionalism comes first, but don’t forget that the less your profile and avatar look like a bot account, the more people will interact with you. Advertising is great, but it’s all meant to get you talking to more businesses.
One of the best (if controversial) examples is the Wendy’s twitter account, which is known for its brutally sharp wit and sassy attitude, especially when tweeting at competitors. Not everyone loves it, but the attention such a daring and human brand icon generates is enormous. Find a way to use your B2B interactions like a real person, and don’t let your social media platform blend in with the rest.
It makes no difference whether B2B is your bread and butter or you have some B2B goals that could take your B2C company to the next level. If you already have experience interacting with potential customers and the rest of the public, all it takes is a few perspective changes to get the same results when interacting with other businesses. Capitalize on the advertising potential while using the sites for actual social interaction and you’ll be well ahead of most other B2B companies trying to catch each other’s attention.
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