Using social media marketing in B2B markets?

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional
8 min read

How does social media compare to other channels for B2B Marketing?


Social media marketing might initially seem to be the only real preserve of the business-to-consumer (B2C) marketer. But in accordance with this research into B2B Social media marketing marketing by Omobono, not merely can business-to-business (B2B) marketers reap the benefits of social media, nonetheless it could possibly be their most reliable marketing channel of most.

In a survey of 115 marketing specialists in B2B roles, Omobono discovered that 79% rated social media as the utmost effective marketing channel, with 38% noting that when that they had extra cover next year, they might spend it on social media.

‘The overall results show precisely how far B2B marketing has shifted from broadcast media (owned or covered) and towards social engagement,’ notes Fran Brosan, Chair and Co-Founder of Omobono:

‘Social media now happens as the utmost powerfully effective channel across an array of objectives. 79% of the 115 senior level B2B marketers who responded declare that social media works well in meeting their objectives, from building thought leadership to deepening customer relationships.’

The graphic shows the way the relative effectiveness of channels was assessed – remember that they are soft measures such as for example brand positioning and thought leadership instead of harder measures like lead volume and quality.

Most reliable B2B marketing channels

This, needless to say, contrasts with findings of the B2C marketing community from famous brands Forrester, which includes indicated that famous brands Facebook marketing and YouTube marketing deliver less value than more traditional disciplines such as for example search marketing, e-mail marketing and online display advertising.

So how come social media proving so good for B2B marketers?

We are social humans and also have always used our social experiences as an integral section of our decision-making process. i.e. do I love this person? Do I trust them? MAY I see myself dealing with them?‘ says Graeme Delap, social media consultant at Amaze. ‘We encounter people each day in a number of roles and environments so when this pertains to a work context, the firm they work with, or the firms they cope with has built an extremely powerful connection centred on trust, knowledge and an capability to deliver on promises.

Social media is not any different – it’s the online exact carbon copy of these conversations and relationships so, when it comes to social media marketing, B2B firms tend to be best–placed to benefit from this opportunity since it is intrinsic from what they do each day – whether that’s sales or service.’

Bob Dearsley, LEADER at itpr and The B2B Marketing Lab, adds: ‘In the B2B world, Twitter and LinkedIn are both impressive mechanisms to operate a vehicle people to your site.

‘Let’s put this into context. To begin with, in B2B markets people don’t obtain companies without checking them out online first. Therefore the first place people head to consider, review and look you over, can be your website. Therefore, the more folks that you will get to your internet site checking you out, the more chances you have to do business.

‘What’s a good way of getting visitors to your website? Social media marketing. It’s much underrated in B2B markets with Twitter and LinkedIn being the most crucial routes for making sales interest.’

Best practices for B2B social media marketing

Social media marketing in the business-to-business world is fairly distinct from that in the business-to-consumer domain with regards to style, content and goals. So, just how do guidelines differ?

‘B2B marketers have to recognize that social media forms area of the online and offline communication ‘mix’ – optimising your time and effort rather than anybody channel,’ says Delap. ‘In social media channels especially, it’s not necessarily about the level of relationships however the quality and depth of the bond. For the reason that sense, many B2B firms frequently have a head start over their B2C counterparts.’

Dearsley adds: ‘A B2B audience traditionally still wants a thing that attracts their attention, like in B2C, but leading them back again to a website to learn more.

‘An important element is for B2B marketers to activate making use of their audience on social media. Posing a question that sparks a pastime is really a legitimate method of getting you to definitely engage with your organization. In the B2C world could it be about consumers engaging with the brand, in the B2B world it really is all about the answer and problem solving.’

And while there are a few common challenges shared between B2B and B2C – with the Omobono research revealing common concerns linked to ROI measurement and the digital skills and resources necessary to deliver a joined-up strategy – additionally, there are obstacles which are unique to the business-to-business world.

  • Getting executive buy-in

‘The have to ‘be social’ instead of simply ‘act social’ can simply generate fear since it is frequently presented as another way of conducting business or the necessity to adapt your organization,’ says Delap. ‘That is really a difficult thing to embrace and having less control – over message and audience response – can simply cause paralysis and internal debate over whether social media may be the ‘right’ space to obtain involved with. But clients are changing too and leading that change, in collaboration using them (instead of needing to adapt afterwards), is really a sensible method of take.’

  • Concerns over compliance and risk

‘Compliance and risk may also be significant barriers to overcome and concern with losing or damaging the relationships developed as time passes by staff in-store may also be challenging,’ suggests Delap. ‘This helps it be critical to join-up online and offline communication channels to make sure full visibility as smoothly (and quickly) as you possibly can – and allocating adequate resource and budget.’

  • Having a narrow definition of social media

‘Some channels have emerged to become more ideal for B2B than others – Twitter and LinkedIn, for instance, are employed extensively and successfully by businesses to market their services, build relationships and share expertise,’ says Brosan. ‘But it’s significantly less common to get business conversations on other social networks, such as for example Facebook or Instagram. People overall want specific information at specific times about specific issues. Needless to say, specialist groups do exist around particular disciplines plus some areas have become well networked – financial services, specialist IT, legal services and marketing, for instance – but to penetrate an extremely small subsector within these takes research and commitment. Relationships have to be built as time passes, one moment of connection at the same time. Using social media to supply the proper information to the proper person at the proper time could be a frustrating process, nonetheless it is crucial.’

Delap adds: ‘It is actually a lot more than just Twitter and Facebook. For instance, industry forums certainly are a rich – and frequently overlooked – source of insight and influence.’

B2B products/services are harder to ‘dramatise’

‘Firstly, they are generally complex and need a degree of expertise to seriously understand the points of differentiation between one product and another,’ notes Brosan. ‘Secondly, B2B purchases often produce results in the long run, so it’s harder to make a quick ‘before and after’ story which people instantly get. Thirdly, sometimes they’re not critical purchases. Much business equipment is purchased because people require it, not because they’re longing to possess it or believe it’ll create a critical difference with their business. They could save money on the long term should they choose the right thing, they could enhance the experience for customers, but they are activities at the margins – not decisions of major strategic significance. So simply producing this content which properly engages the audience correctly could be a massive challenge.’

B2B benefits

So how do B2B firms go above these challenges to reap the huge benefits that SMM can offer?

‘When considering social media from the B2B marketers’ perspective, it really is about targeting those who are clearly thinking about solving the issue that’s being discussed,’ recommends Dearsley. ‘Focus on what it is possible to position your organization as understanding the problems faced by your prospects – the truth that you ‘get it’ – and for that reason might help them.’

Brosan agrees that it’s crucial to put yourself in the customers’ shoes – also to also think about the mindset that they can maintain when considering your organization online.

He explains: ‘What information they need depends on where they’re in the buying journey. For example, have they just attempt to see who’s in the market, or are they evaluating a small amount of suppliers because of their expertise in a particular area? It will be determined by who they’re and their role in the buying decision’.

A user may want an in depth white paper which evidences the product’s capabilities and includes technical spec sheets, but their boss, be it the finance director or CEO, may only desire to be reassured that company is really a reputable partner. A graduate could be interested in if the company actively engages making use of their neighborhood, whilst a skilled hire might search for peer endorsements of the senior management team.’

Brosan highlights the ‘casual/curious/committed model’ produced by Omobono, which illustrates how audience needs might vary and how individual bits of content could be flexed to react to those needs.


Elsewhere, when it comes to more practical advice, B2B marketers must be sure that ultimately to operate a vehicle people back again to their website.

As Dearsley explains: ‘By providing a web link to an extended article on your own website, such as for example an ebook or your site, you will get engagement together with your website directly from your own social media post. But be sure you involve some clever software on the site to track that activity.

‘With B2B marketing it’s not about just obtaining a reaction. It’s about obtaining a reaction and driving them back again to your site. Then good content on your own website can in fact generate leads, as people offers you their contact details, provided you have proved you know everything you are discussing and will help them.’

And, needless to say, you can find always the fundamentals to note, with regards to skills and resources.

‘It’s vital that businesses allocate the proper resources with time, money and skills to increase the chance social media presents also to differentiate themselves from competitors,’ explains Brosan. ‘Getting the proper team and partner pieces set up to provide truly valuable and standout content, consistently and at volume, may be the next thing for B2B organisations to help make the the majority of their social media investment.’

Delap’s B2B Tips

With that at heart, Delap gets the following more general bits of advice for B2B marketers.

  • Spend time crafting your social media strategy and plan your operational activity to provide that strategy.
  • Be very specific about how exactly to gauge the business objectives set, so value could be attributed to the task.
  • Listen carefully and monitor the conversations around your brand and competitors before you engage.
  • Do not get sidetracked by the vanity of accumulating fans or followers.
  • Be clear concerning the social media channels which best ‘fit’ your audience – what they already do in those channels and the behaviours, attitudes and relationships you’re attempting to develop.
  • Accept that not all social media channels are right for the business.

Delap adds: ‘If done well, social media is a lot more than with the capacity of adding real value to a small business and underneath line. It’s no more a choice to err privately of caution rather than become involved. Your clients expect, and need you, to take the lead.’

Andrew Yates, CEO of Artesian, echoes these sentiments. ‘If you’re not already carrying it out, progress. There’s lots that B2B marketers can study from their B2C colleagues, so start finding examples which are transferable. But, like every investment, be clear on what you’re looking to get out of investing money and time into social and know very well what and the way you will measure success.’

David Linder

David Linder

MSc in Marketing from the University of Salford. Facebook Certified Planning Professional Facebook Certified Buying Professional

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