03 Jan 2021 By: Jessica Wise
When it comes to social media marketing, many B2B companies feel that they’ve been handed the short end of the stick. Social media can be a challenging advertising medium, especially when it’s being used to promote an industry-focused good or service. It isn’t easy to develop content that will appeal to a wider audience. So, what should you do if your product niche is highly specialized (i.e. fire suppression systems for restaurants, metal detectors for event venues, torque wrenches for tractor trailer tires, etc.)? Get creative. Get engaged. And, get personal.
So, strap in. We’re about to tell you how to take your B2B social media marketing strategy to the next level in 2021.
1. User Generated Content (UGC)
User Generated Content (or UGC) is probably one of the most cost-effective ways to gain social traction. So, what is UGC? It’s content related to your brand that is posted by an account outside of your company’s official social media channels. These posts are usually made by brand supporters or consumers of your products and/or services.
Why UGC Is Effective
According to a study by TurnTo Network, a content solutions provider, 90% of customers say UGC has more influence over their buying decisions than email campaigns or even search engine results. Why? Because, consumers are far more interested in viewing the opinions of their peers than scrolling through carefully manipulated promotional posts. Thus, genuine reviews and storylines are more likely to boost revenue.
Unlike staged advertising, UGC builds customers’ confidence in a company. 9 out of 10 online consumers trust UGC more than they trust traditional advertising. In addition, homegrown videos and photos humanize a brand by depicting real-life experiences. In turn, people tend to be more responsive to this type of content. It’s just more relatable. Lastly, consumer-driven subject matter fosters a sense of community. When you publish user images, you let your supporters know you appreciate them. At the same time, you’re also promoting inclusiveness and engagement within your social sphere.
How To Get Great User Generated Content
The first step to obtaining great user-generated content is by openly communicating with your audience. Remember, you aren’t giving them control over your social media. You’re simply curating the content that they provide. Make an initial post to let your followers know what you are looking for. Whether you’re seeking testimonials, original art, videos or candid photos, your audience will need guidance to ensure streamlined, brand-influenced results. Without a clear goal, you might confuse users or receive unusable material.
Winning At UGC
Turn your quest for content into a contest. Also, encourage the use of hashtags, so you can keep track of the results. One successful example of this type of campaign is Starbucks’ 2014 cup design contest. The famous coffee company asked fans to draw self-inspired designs on their Starbucks cups. Then, they asked participants to post photos of their completed work under the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.
Take a similar approach, and craft a unique hashtag to match your theme. Next, monitor your keyword’s feed to see what your audience is posting. You can then comment on participating users’ posts, and select a “winner” to feature on your company’s page. These interactions will help you to build a relationship with your followers and increase brand awareness.
2. Interact With B2B Industry Influencers
Social media influencer marketing is a strategy where the focus is placed on influential people in your industry rather than on your overall target market. The goal is to identify individuals that will easily grab the attention of potential customers. In some cases, your customers might even qualify as influencers. The final step is to orchestrate joint social media activity.
Why Influencers Should Be Apart of Your B2B Social Media Marketing
It takes time and effort to build a relationship with potential influencers. But, rest assured, it’s worth it. Influencer marketing content delivers 11x higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing. Why is this approach so successful? Because, when someone who is a respected and knowledgeable industry source advocates for your brand, it increases your credibility. In addition, customers are more receptive to the subtle nudging of a well-placed endorsement than they are to a blatant sales pitch.
How To Acquire A Social Media Influencer
Find. Follow. Connect. These are the steps you will take to acquire a B2B social media influencer.
Start with an online search. Research hashtags to see who is talking about trending topics that relate to your business. Then, identify the corresponding social profiles that have the most followers. Once you have compiled a list of individuals that have potential, explore their posts on each social channel (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Do they have a voice that will align with your campaign objective? Do they have blogs, podcasts, or videos that fall within the scope of your subject matter? If your answer to these questions is “yes,” you’re on the right track!
Reeling In the Big Fish
You will have to develop a rapport with the influencer before you approach them for endorsements. User experience expert and CEO of Intechnic, Andrew Kucheriavy, recommends using an “ego bait” strategy to engage potential influencers. “Quote them on social media and in your blog and mention their name in a positive context. You would be surprised by the results this may produce. Influencers might share your mention with their audience, and they may link to your content or follow you,” says Kucheriavy.
Once you have subtly made the influencer aware of your presence with strategically placed likes, shares and mentions, reach out to them directly (via email or private message). First, compliment them on their work. Then, explain who you are, and what your business does in a way that will appeal to their interests. Next, ask if they would be open to collaborating on a joint social media initiative. Offer to commission them to write an article for your blog or propose a giveaway that they can offer to their followers. Lastly, leave them with your contact information and a carefully crafted win-win proposal that highlights the benefits of a partnership. Try this approach with several identifiable influencers on your list, and you’ll have a stellar campaign going in no time.
3. Announce Giveaways Or Award Discounts
Who doesn’t love free (or discounted) stuff? Recent studies have shown that promotional offers can have a huge impact on consumer behavior. According to a report by Oracle, 71% of consumers decide to join a loyalty program because they will receive a discount on their purchase, and 63% sign-up for the promise of free products. These are the top two most attractive rewards to consumers.
Determine Your Campaign Purpose
Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Are you seeking recognition for a new or undersold product? Your campaign goal can be any number of measurable actions such as increasing your website traffic, building your email list, boosting your social media following or even increasing the sales of a particular product or service. Once you determine what your purpose is, you will have an easier time structuring your campaign to achieve corresponding results.
Consider Your Audience
Many B2B marketers instinctively view giveaways as an opportunity to cast a wider net. When, in reality, the prize should be strategically conceived with a target audience in mind. Ask yourself: What needs does your product or service fulfill for the buyer? Then, consider those needs, and use them as a guide.
Focus on reaching a demographic that will continue to express interest in your brand once the contest has ended. Sounds difficult, right? “Fortunately, targeting has gotten a lot easier in the digital age. You can purchase look-alike traffic from advertisers such as Facebook, or you can enlist your current fans and partners to help you spread the word,” says marketing expert and Joyride Managing Partner, Matt Konigsmark.
So What Should You Give Away?
It’s obvious that giveaways are a surefire way to create a buzz. So, if you want more exposure, it’s time to start brainstorming. According to ShortStack CEO, Jim Belosic, “The prize you choose has to fulfill two roles: It must attract your target audience and it must showcase your product or service. It’s an incentive and an advertisement.”
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the prize has to have blanketed appeal. Yes, promises of a MacBook, an all-expense paid trip to NYC or cold, hard cash are all items that will excite the masses. However, it’s more important to envision giveaways that will be appreciated by people within your intended demographic. And, as long as those prizes tie in with your brand or industry as well, you’re doing it right.
In terms of entries, remember that it’s important to put quality before quantity. As a result, you’ll receive a higher percentage of qualified sales leads. For instance, if your audience is made up of decision-makers at financial institutions, try giving away an all-expenses paid trip to an industry-related trade show or seminar. Or, if you’re in the business of licensed software or online entertainment, award the winner with a free trial or a limited membership.
4. Align Your Posts With Trending Topics
What easier way to break into the spotlight than to ride the coattails of a viral news story or a trending hashtag? When you incorporate notable topics into your social media strategy, you won’t just garner the attention of your current followers. You’ll also draw in new supporters that have enthusiasm for the same subject matter. Viral content is valuable in other ways, too. It can give you inspiration for original content. And, it can keep you informed on industry trends.
Keep Your Ear To The Ground
If you’re going to find impactful, shareable content, you’re going to have to do some social listening. Fortunately, many social platforms have an area where they showcase trending news stories (as with LinkedIn’s trending topics panel ). These areas serve as a great starting point.
You’ll also have to put your ear to the ground in other places. Start by keeping an eye on your brand influencers’ activity. There’s a good chance that they already have their finger on the industry’s pulse and are posting tons of reusable articles, videos and infographics.
Applicable social media groups are another great resource, and free to join. For example, because I do B2B social media marketing for a live chat software company, I became a member of the Live Chat Solutions and Software group on LinkedIn. You can find similar groups that pertain to just about any industry. You just have to look. These micro-communities tend to be a buffet of industry blogs and trending topics. (Hint: They’ll also give you another place to share your published blogs).
Additionally, you’ll want to conduct keyword searches within each social media platform to see what people are talking about. This is where the hashtag comes in…
Hop On The Hashtag
Hashtags help to organize posted content into “conversations.” The key is to pinpoint hashtags that are trending but also relevant to your brand. Then, piggyback on their popularity by incorporating the appropriate topics into your B2B social media marketing strategy.
At first, it may be difficult to determine which trends to tailor your content to. It helps to ask yourself: What are people talking about within your industry? What common interests does your audience have? Also, keep in mind that the hashtags that you utilize will most likely differ depending on the social media channel you’re using. Not every story that’s going viral on Twitter is also going viral on Instagram, and so on.
Finding Trending Hashtags on Social Media:
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn has an entire page dedicated to trending hashtags. You can check it out here.
- Twitter: Twitter has a window where you can view the trending hashtags and news stories of the moment (pictured below). You can even customize the results, and tailor them to match your profile preferences and/or your geographic location.
- Instagram: Tap the search icon. Then, tap the search bar that appears at the top of the application. Next, tap the “Tags” menu. Begin typing your keyword of choice into the search bar. Popular hashtags associated with your keyword will populate in the list below.
- Facebook: Facebook eliminated its trending news section in 2018, so without social listening software it might be difficult to pinpoint trending stories on this platform organically. Additionally, hashtags aren’t as widely used on Facebook as they are on other social channels. If you do choose to use them, limit your hashtags to 3 at most.
It’s Quality Not Quantity
At any given moment, industry experts, prospective customers and the competition are all engaging in conversations on social media. In fact, 82 percent of B2B prospects are active on social media. So, if you aren’t seizing the opportunity to like, mention and share trending content, you’re missing out on valuable exposure.
However, if you share just anything, you won’t see results. The content you share should be current, relevant, and, most importantly, of the highest quality. “People are more likely to follow you and listen to what you have to say if you’re consistently sharing or producing quality content that your audience cares about,” says Sujan Patel, co-founder of growth marketing agency, Web Profits. Thus, the frequency of your posts isn’t what will drive engagement. The value behind your posts will.
In regards to hashtags, be careful not to overuse them. Also, make sure you are utilizing a hashtag to legitimately contribute to an existing conversation. “The key to hijacking a hashtag is not to hijack it at all. Instead, you should aim to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful, natural way,” advises Mark Hayes, Director of Communications at Shopify.
Finding The Perfect Share
Be sure to fully evaluate potential links and posts prior to sharing them. Did the material come from a credible source? Is the information truthful and accurate? Will it appeal to your audience? Avoid sharing pages with an excessive amount of ads or links that will require the reader to scroll before reaching what they’re looking for. This may mean setting extra time aside to conduct content research.
There is tons of material to sift through on the web. So, it might seem overwhelming to dig through piles of news stories and popular content. Fortunately, there are some great free social listening tools out there to help you track what’s trending. Or, if you’re looking for a more powerful content generator, try using a paid platform like Hootsuite or Sprout Social.
5. Create Videos
If video isn’t already part of your B2B social media marketing strategy, it should be. Every major platform (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) supports video content. More importantly, its proved to be a wildly successful form of advertising. According to research by the online publication, Small Business Trends, social videos generate 1200% more shares than text and images combined.
Why Do Audiences Love Videos So Much?
Unlike static print and digital advertisements, videos provide a sensory-rich experience for viewers. Paul Slack, founder & CEO of the full-service B2B digital marketing firm, Vendesocial, says video is appealing to consumers for the following reasons:
- People would rather watch than read — it’s easier.
- It tells a story and adds a dimension of motion and color that text cannot.
- Video can educate and inform (tutorials).
- It fosters a personal connection.
Hence, video persists as a powerful way to improve brand awareness and foster engagement.
What Should Your Video Be About?
You might not believe it, but there are scads of topics that will serve as the perfect subject matter for your next B2B marketing video. Here are a few to get you started:
- Customer Testimonials – Did you know that 92% of potential buyers prefer to hear the opinion of their peers before they make a purchase as opposed to being bombarded by traditional advertising? Your existing customers are your biggest fans. Use that to your advantage. Ask them to use their phone or webcam to record a short video of themselves discussing why they love your brand. They’ll toot your horn for you!
- Product or Service Demos – Explainer videos save people time. Instead of having to sift through case studies, reviews, or white papers, your customers can see for themselves what your product/service is all about just by watching a 30-60 second video clip. Product videos can also help clients better understand complex topics and processes that would otherwise be too difficult to visualize.
- Feature Company Events – Let your audience get to know you! Whether your team is attending an industry trade show or having a blast at the annual company BBQ, videos that show real people attending real events will humanize your brand and appeal to viewers.
- Repurposed Blogs – Don’t let the content you already have on hand go to waste! Develop a video that summarizes and highlights the key points in one of your most popular blog posts. Then, drive more traffic to your website by including a link to the full article in the body of your post.
- Live Webinars and Trainings – Who doesn’t love a free opportunity to expand their professional knowledge and/or skills? Host a live webinar or training that covers an industry-related topic. This will give you the chance to engage with your audience and hold real-time Q&A sessions.
You Don’t Need Spielberg and His Crew
If you’re responsible for the marketing of a small-to-midsize business, there is a good chance that funds are tight. Hiring a crew of directors, actors and videographers probably doesn’t fit into your budget. When you factor in time, cost, and available resources, the idea of launching a video campaign can seem pretty overwhelming. The great news is that it’s possible to create beautiful, engaging videos without breaking the bank.
Use Freelancers and Interns
It is possible to find budget-friendly videographers if you look in the right places! Freelancers and interns can be gold mines of affordable talent. According to Nasdaq, projections show that 43% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2020. So, there’s no shortage of available candidates. Websites like Upwork and Freelancer are a great place to start your search. Capable experts can be commissioned at nearly every price point. Interns are also a great resource. There are loads of eager college students out there that are dying to land their first gig. They’ll love the extra cash, and you’ll be surprised by the professional quality of the videos they can produce.
Take Advantage of Affordable Web and Mobile Applications
Just because your video wasn’t created and edited using cutting-edge software, doesn’t mean that the final cut can’t look sleek and professional. There are loads of free and affordable video applications on the market. Below are a few of our favorite platforms that offer basic plans at no-cost.
- Lumen5 – With Lumen5, you can simply paste your blog URL or actual blog post into their web application. Lumen5’s A.I. system will automatically match the words with appropriate video content. Then, the platform will generate a rough draft of your branded video. Another plus is that there are tons of free videos, photos and music clips that you can use to customize your project. Or, you can upload your own!
- Animaker – No one said your actors had to be human! Animaker is an online DIY tool that will help you create engaging animated videos with its simple drag-and-drop interface.
- Adobe Spark Video – This app allows users to effortlessly create videos that are primed for social media. You will be able to combine video clips, photos, icons, and free soundtracks into a compelling video on any iOS device or via web browser.
Smartphone Cameras Can Get the Job Done
Every day, smartphones are becoming more advanced. Many Androids and iPhones now come equipped with high definition, built-in cameras. In fact, entire short films have been shot using smartphones. All you need is a steady hand, appropriate lighting, and a well-planned concept. In addition, smartphones are also ideal for shooting live videos for Facebook Live and Instagram Live. Don’t worry. These social outlets are no stranger to raw, uncut footage. In truth, 82% of their viewers prefer live video from a brand as opposed to typical social posts.
Here are some great tips on how you can create awesome business videos with your iPhone.
What Makes Video Worth It
Video doesn’t just increase your engagement and boost web traffic. Studies show that 64% of marketers report that they have experienced increased sales as a direct result of video. The medium is also known to improve SEO rankings. According to research conducted by Forrester, it’s 53 times easier to rank a video in Google’s search results than it is to rank for other content. In fact, video content is becoming even more search engine friendly due to an increase in closed captioning. 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. Thus, many marketers are beginning to include closed captions with their videos, making them more searchable.
In B2B Social Media Marketing, There Are No Guarantees
Unfortunately, there is no exact formula or foolproof strategy that guarantees success in B2B social media marketing. If an infallible approach existed, everyone would already be following it. An element of trial and error will always exist when it comes to increasing a company’s social presence. The methods that work for one company, may not appeal to the audience of another. Try all of these suggestions or just try a few. Don’t be afraid to adapt these strategies to better meet your companies objectives. No matter what route you take, make sure you monitor and track your results. It’s the only way you will ever find out what strategies will truly work for your brand.
1. TurnTo Netowrk: http://www2.turntonetworks.com/2017consumerstudy
1. ZDNet: http://www2.turntonetworks.com/2017consumerstudy
2. Inc.com: https://www.inc.com/bill-carmody/influencer-marketing-delivers-11x-roi-over-all-other-forms-of-digital-media.html
3. Oracle: https://go.oracle.com/LP=75917?elqCampaignId=173071
4. Zoominfo: https://blog.zoominfo.com/20-shocking-social-selling-statistics/
5. Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/miketempleman/2017/09/06/17-stats-about-video-marketing/#7998f022567f