B2B Sales Reps have roughly only 5% of a customer’s time during their buying journey (Gartner)
The reason for this is the huge shift in the way that B2B buyers actually buy in this era. They prefer to research on their own and they do so digitally. In fact, based on various reports, it takes anywhere from 7 to 31 digital touches from prospects learning a company exists to finally buying from them, and social media is a big part of that.
Additionally, the buying journey in B2B is becoming increasingly complex. In B2B we deal with a buying committee – of 6-10 people according to Gartner and the sales cycle often extends beyond 6 months.
There is no question that Social Media is one of the most powerful channels for B2B marketers. With it, we can build awareness reaching multiple buyers and influencers and nurture them throughout the buying journey until they mature into loyal customers.
Let’s revisit some important B2B social media stats:
- 90% of consumers will buy from a brand they follow on social media (Sprout Social)
- 84% of B2B buyers or decision-makers are using social media at some point during the decision-making process (LinkedIn)
- 78% of customers believe that social media is the fastest and most direct way to connect with a brand (Sprout Social)
Running social media the right way can lead to fantastic outcomes for your business. But it is important to keep in mind that Social Media operates differently from platforms like Google. Social media isn’t typically a platform where buyers actively search; instead, they turn to channels like LinkedIn to connect with peers and stay updated on industry developments.
Let’s Focus on LinkedIn
When it comes to THE social media channel for B2B, we have to focus on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is by no means the only channel for B2B marketers, although likely the largest and most important one. We need to be aware of the other channels (refer to Part V of my Book: The Four Key B2B Social Media Platforms; or you can also refer to this research by Gartner and more recently, this release in order to prioritize your social media channels effectively).
In terms of usage, LinkedIn’s platform has 61 million “senior-level influencers”—people who influence business decisions at their organizations. 4 out of 5 users on LinkedIn drive business decisions in some fashion, and 33% of B2B decision-makers are using the platform to research their purchase decisions. (Source: click here.) This is an audience you can’t afford to overlook.
But as we all know, LinkedIn presents a big challenge – it’s a very crowded platform. According to LinkedIn’s Q1 2023 data, there are over 58 million businesses actively using the platform, all contributing content in one way or another.
The silver lining is that a significant portion of the content being shared by B2B companies on social is often stale and fails to make an impact.
This creates a valuable opportunity for us to engage and connect with our buyers in a manner that outshines the rest.
A Few Tips:
That brings me to a few tips to consider:
- Ditch the Boring Stuff: There is still a lot of stock photography and posts filled with industry jargon, for example, that add little to no value for buyers. With careful planning and some creativity, we can easily stand out from the competition.
- Educate, Don’t Sell: Instead of pushing products, let’s take on the role of educators and informers. The focus should be on addressing the actual problems customers or prospects face and providing solutions. Deliver real business value, even if the audience isn’t ready to buy yet.
- Humanize Your Content: Connect with our audience on a personal level, fostering authenticity in the interactions. Social media allows more room for creativity. (For tactics that drive authenticity, refer to my )
- Revise Your Social Media Goals: It’s time to pivot your social media goals and redefine the approach. The objective is clear: to establish meaningful connections and engage with potential buyers in a manner that genuinely gives them value. Social media is a vital component of the entire demand generation strategy. The first aim of social media should be to establish authority in your field. Secondly, to guide buyers from your social media channels to your website. The goal is to cultivate awareness, targeting both in-market and out-market buyers, most of whom are still anonymous. Social media is not about driving MQLs but getting the right prospects to spend time with your brand.
How to get the Right Prospects to Spend More Time with your Brand on Social Media
To simplify social media marketing: there is a three-step process to master your social media game: Planning, Activation, and Optimizing
In my book, an entire section is dedicated to getting to know your dream buyers. This is the foundation for getting your messaging right.
Social media is part of the demand generation GTM strategy. We need to understand who our ideal customers are, where they hang out and consume information, and what type of content would acutely resonate with them.
The journey begins with Step 1: Define your ideal customer. Go narrow into the subset of customers you are poised to serve really well. This paves the way for the subsequent steps:
Step 2: Craft Long-Form Content that focuses on these customers’ core issues. Provide educational value by sharing valuable information that empowers these buyers. Demonstrate a deep understanding of their business that signals to buyers that we ‘get’ them. Offer unique insights and knowledge, and become a subject matter expert. To support your claims, include evidence such as case studies or customer quotes.
Success here often begins with a strategic selection of three to four content pillars. These pillars should align with your strengths and address the challenges faced by your customers. Being too broad waters down your message and can add confusion to your audience.
Once your content pillars are in place, the long-form content can take the form of blogs, webinars, or compelling case studies. Importantly, this long-form content should find its home on your website.
It’s essential to recognize that content marketing and social media should be connected. Social media serves as the bridge to drive traffic to your website, enhancing the reach and impact of your content.
Before finalizing your content for social media, consider these three critical questions:
- Is it primarily talking about me/my company or the customer?
- Does this content provide genuine value to them?
- Does it create momentum?
Step 3: Repurpose and Reframe the long-form Content into various formats for the various channels.
For 2024, it is important to experiment with videos (if you haven’t done so). More than half of tech buyers think video is the most useful form of content (Isoline Comms). In fact, over half of B2B tech buyers voted video content as the most useful form of content and 7 in 10 B2B buyers watch videos throughout their sales journey (Google)
Step 4: Distribute the content both organically as well as via paid to reach a broader audience (more on that under Activation)
Here is a great example of a recommended SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT RECIPE created by Vende Digital, a top B2B digital marketing agency based out of the U.S.:
Produce 2-4 long-form content per month.
Repurpose the long-form content as follows:
- Slice into 2-3 organic social media posts for various platforms every week to ensure that your core content reaches your audience.
- Commit to creating and sharing 1 video content per month.
- Implement monthly digital paid campaigns.
- Every quarter, introduce at least a piece of fresh thought leadership content. This can include hosting webcasts or other engaging events that establish your brand as an authority.
ACTIVATION: THE HOW
A successful Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy is one that reaches and engages with all potential prospects all the time and consistently.
Target both in-market and out-market buyers:
In B2B marketing, it’s easy to become fixated solely on the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) prospects only. Yet there lies immense value in nurturing future buyers. (Read my past article on in-market versus out-market buyers here). The right approach should cover both in-market and out-market buyers at all times.
For the future buyer, the primary goal is content consumption. In contrast, for in-market buyers, the goal is driving momentum; providing direction for them to move forward, and putting the focus on buyer enablement.
Use both organic and paid channels:
Distribution-wise, what works organically generally works equally well in paid campaigns. In paid social media, the goal should also be ensuring your information reaches interested prospects that you would not reach organically. The emphasis is on content consumption.
Focus on User Generated Content (USG) and leverage Influencers :
Engagement in organic reach can be challenging, but influencers can be a powerful solution. What I am talking about is both external and internal influencers.
Internal: Encourage various voices within your organization, from C-suite executives to subject matter experts and salespeople, to be active on social media. In fact, encourage all employees to be active advocates for your company.
Humanizing your brand by getting employees to post on platforms can be a game-changer. LinkedIn, in particular, has a distinct algorithm for personal profiles compared to company profiles, making it an ideal platform for personal engagement. Getting your founders and C-level executives involved is critical, as it adds credibility and authority to your brand. According to Sprout Social, 70% of buyers feel more connected with a brand if the CEO is active on social media.
External: First, approach your happy customers and partners and encourage them to create and share content related to their experience with the brand. This can significantly boost engagement and create a sense of community around the brand.
Secondly, experiment with paid Micro and Nano Influencers. Influencer marketing has evolved significantly, and in 2024, it will continue to play a crucial role in social media strategies. Don’t rely solely on macro-influencers, but also on micro and nano-influencers who have smaller but highly engaged niche audiences. This shift allows for more authentic and relatable content.
REFINING & OPTIMIZING:
The aim here is to drive the campaign in the right direction with actionable insights. It revolves around two fundamental elements namely, testing and monitoring with analytics.
- Test various creatives and experiment with multiple content types, such as infographics, and videos with a human touch. Test different calls to action (CTAs) and different headlines. Diversity in content formats and offerings can provide valuable insights. Ultimately, let your buyers and customers guide you on which content resonates the most with them. This is dynamic, so I would recommend continuous testing.
- To measure the effectiveness of your social media strategy, incorporate self-reported attribution within all your lead forms, and ask how prospects heard about you. Install the LinkedIn Insight tag and website pixel to gain a deeper understanding of your audience’s interaction with your content. ai gives you the ability to track the engagement of organic posts by individuals. Look at it once a quarter to identify the top posts. Those that hit the most can be used for a paid social media campaign.
To measure your social media success the right way, look beyond just the surface-level metrics in the usual social media analysis reports such as the number of followers, likes, and so on. Avoid adopting a myopic perspective, because social media often plays a role in the buyer’s journey without necessarily being the last touchpoint before conversion. Recognize that social media is an integral part of a broader demand generation strategy.
Therefore, when measuring success, look at the bigger picture rather than getting lost in the details of individual posts and channels. Measure incremental improvements in the number of opportunities generated, cost per opportunity, and cost per acquisition per channel.
This blended approach offers the right, comprehensive view.