Over the next couple of  months, we’ll be discussing how B2B businesses can use social media effectively as part of their marketing mix. The first blog in our Social Media Marketing for B2B Business series begins by asking the question – is it all actually worth it?

How Can B2B Businesses Use Social Media

Marketing a B2B business on social media can be hard. Social media is an incredibly crowded space and it’s easy to think that you won’t be noticed unless you’re sharing the latest Harry Bieber or Justin Styles song (whoever they are) or a funny video of cats (because that’s what the internet was built for!). The truth, however, is that with well over 100 million social media accounts in the UK, a valuable B2B audience is out there, you just need a clear strategy and perhaps a rethink of your objectives.

Using social media to build brand awareness

B2B businesses are used to a very direct communication culture of lead acquisition and conversion. When a social media follower doesn’t immediately translate into a warm lead, let alone a conversion, it’s easy to presume that social media isn’t the right platform. However, social media is one of the most effective tools to increase brand awareness, but that can be harder to measure.

When it comes to cost-effective, targeted advertising, there are few better channels than social media, particularly Facebook Advertising. Your message can be placed in front of the right audience, with forensic targeting down to age, gender, location, occupation and even interests, which means minimal wastage. The low cost of social media advertising enables you to continually test copy, images and calls to action, constructing the most impactful message for your audience. As impressions and reach clock up, so too does your brand awareness and recall.

That’s before you even consider ‘dark social’ (unmonitored platforms such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp), where hundreds upon thousands of word-of-mouth recommendations take place every day. I’ve recommended countless software solutions to colleagues and friends on these platforms, yet that will never appear on any sales report.

Understand and interact with your audience

The problem is that a lot of businesses see the metrics of followers and likes as their ultimate goal when in reality it is just one part of a bigger picture. If your key objective is followers and fans, then social media is just a vanity exercise, and should instead be driven by valuable interactions with your audience.

It’s important to instead try and understand how your audience interacts with social media and, more importantly, how you can add value to that relationship. ‘Social media’ is such a catch-all definition that we often lose sight of the key term – ‘social’. Effective social media is about humanising brands and opening up channels of conversation – social activity that builds brand affect and loyalty.

One of the best ways to do this is to ask your audience questions. B2B businesses are built upon products that solve problems and offer solutions, so engage your audience by asking them about the problems they face and their motivations. LinkedIn is a particularly influential platform for this type of communication, where the volume of your audience is not as important as the depth and quality of the relationship – which mirrors the approach of any traditional B2B marketing activity.

Social media shouldn’t purely be viewed through the lens of lead volume. You also need to think about less tangible goals, like your customer relationships and service, referrals, thought leadership and brand awareness.  Though harder to track, it all feeds back into your digital strategy, which ultimately leads not only to an increase in the number of leads but an increase in their value as well.

So, if you’ve been discounting social media as part of your B2B marketing mix, make sure you follow our blog where next time we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the power of Facebook Advertising for B2B businesses and how you can demonstrate a real ROI from your social media advertising.