Social media started out at as a tool to communicate and stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues. Eventually, it became popular among business-to-consumer companies to help find and communicate with their customers. Today it has become an integral part of any businesses marketing strategy and B2B is no exception.

When reading about social media, much of the information and success is geared toward B2C strategies. While these may be great and show promising results, they’re just not going to cut it when trying to reach your B2B audience.

You can likely land a sale after only one quick introduction when selling to the average customer, however, with B2B the cycle is much longer and the product is likely much bigger and more expensive. It’s like splurging on a new pair of headphones for yourself versus a business department spending a large chunk of their annual operating budget on a piece of software. It will also require a lengthy integration process along with many hours of training to train their employees how to use it. You didn’t make quite as big of a decision as the startup did. In this case, it’s going to require significantly more effort to convince the business to purchase the software than it is to convince you to treat yourself to some shiny new headphones.

That means the objective of social selling is different for B2B than it is for B2C.

For B2B it’s about presenting yourself as a credible expert and addressing pain points, while B2C is more about establishing a connection with your customer and speaking to experiences.

Here are some of the key practices to adhere to in your social media strategies:

Identify your target audience:

Depending on your product, you will want to identify whom you are trying to market to. You can attempt to simply cast a wide net and attempt to get your message across to as many people as possible, but you will be wasting your time and your money. It is important to cast a very narrow net and be selective with the leads you capture. It's about quality, not quantity.

Check out our last post revealing the 7 tips to earning higher quality leads to getting the highest return on your marketing efforts.

In order to achieve the highest possible quality leads, you’ll want to focus on the problem your product or service can solve, and identify those who need it most. If the product or service is new, take a look at your competitors to get insights on who they are targeting and who is following and interacting with them.

Some of these people might include:

-Current clients

-Potential clients

-Associates of current/potential clients

-Thought leaders

-Bloggers/Journalists

-Affiliate businesses

Choose the channels that work best for you:

Once you have identified your target audience, you can appropriately choose the channels that will reach them most effectively. Read on for a breakdown of our top 5 social media channels for B2B businesses.

  • Twitter

Twitter is a wonderful way to build credibility and influence. It should be used throughout the day to share a steady stream of information. Content should be entertaining and easy to consume. Most importantly, posted content should provide value to the reader. You will get better engagement by liking and retweeting posts by customers, influencers, and employees. Search for mentions of your company or key industry terms and when someone has a question or problem, respond to provide support and build relationships.

Services such as Tweet Full and Meet Edgar make Twitter easy by automatically sharing posts and engaging with customers without you having to lift a finger.

  • LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the largest network of professionals in a single location. This makes it easy to connect with others and build relationships in order to provide valuable information and support. Use it to promote educational content relating to your service and any announcements you might have. Join industry groups to take part in discussions and meet like-minded people, influencers, and potential customers. Provide solutions to those who express pain points.

  • Facebook

What was once created for college students to meet their classmates soon turned into a networking site to keep in touch with friends and family and now, has turned into a multifaceted marketing mania with over 2 billion users. 81% of B2B businesses are currently using Facebook to distribute content. Facebook has many ways to segment and target specific information to ensure you’re reaching the right customer profile. It’s important to avoid selling things on Facebook and trying to convert leads immediately. People on Facebook like to share and engage in content. Provide entertaining and informative content that your followers will want to share with others.

  • Instagram

While Instagram shouldn’t be your focus, it is an up and coming channel with B2B, especially startups, and can be used sparingly. It’s a great way to bring followers behind the scenes and show off your company’s culture and values. For example: Sharing fun pictures of the annual holiday party, featuring employees on their birthday, or a sneak peek of your latest project.

  • Snapchat

Snapchat can be useful in a similar way to Instagram, especially if you market to a younger audience. You can partner with influencers, offer exclusive content, and provide entertainment value. This will help customers develop a connection with the brand and help you build a solid foundation of trust by reminding them that there are real people behind all of those blog posts, advertisements, and sales calls.

Learn more about how to use Snapchat by reading our recent blog “Do you even Snap?”

Develop and maintain a consistent voice:

In order to develop and maintain a consistent voice, it is important to create a brand persona; not a buyer persona — a brand persona. This will serve as the voice of your company across all your social media channels. Not only does it help to humanize your social media presence but will ensure it maintains a consistent tone throughout, especially if you have multiple people posting.

Build a following:

Once you have identified your target audience, choose your channels, and created your brand voice, its time to build up a following. This step and the next step will have to be executed multiple times before you notice big results. They should remain in constant motion to make the most of your efforts. Once you learn what content your current followers enjoy, use the metrics you will receive in the next step to target your future content based on things that did well in the past. By focusing your efforts and providing great content, more people will want to follow you and current followers will invite like-minded people who they think might be interested in your content.

Tools like Quuu can help source curated content to share, Buffer to schedule it and upload to your channels as you find great content, and SocialQuant to grow your follows quickly in an automated fashion.

Measure and monitor your results

When you properly measure your social media marketing efforts, you are able to gain profound insights on which piece of content and messaging is resonating with your audience and impacting your sales funnel, or which piece was a flop. You can then use this information to better target your content and gain greater customer engagement. You can do this by making use of the analytical tools provided by the various channels or you can opt to use of one of the many, many services such available as Buffer, Google Analytics, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social.

Conclusion

As B2B marketers are increasingly adopting the use of social media, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the different networks. It’s important to know that you don’t have to be on every social media network to be successful and to see results. Choose a few that you believe will provide the biggest return for your business and become an expert in those instead of wasting your energy and resources trying to keep up with them all. No one single strategy will work for every B2B company. It’s important to tailor your social strategy to the needs of your company and the expectations of your customers. Happy Tweeting, er Linking, er posting!