Editor’s Note: This is a contributed article from a guest author. Views and opinions may not necessarily be represented of our editors.
There’s hardly a single B2C business that doesn’t have a presence on social media. Coke, McDonald’s, Apple — every brand uses social media to effectively engage with their customers. But what works for B2C doesn’t necessarily work for B2B. The social media landscape has seen huge change for businesses over the past few years. To guide you through it, we break down the top social networks your business needs to prioritize in 2018.
No prizes for guessing this one. LinkedIn continues to rank as one of the most popular social networks for your company in 2018, with than 95% of B2B businesses using it for their marketing. With 500 million members, spanning everyone from graduates and interns to managers and CEOs, LinkedIn is a fertile ground for business-to-business marketing and networking.
Indeed, the site is geared entirely towards helping members meet and connect with people, with search filters including location, business, education, shared connections, and many more. If you met someone at a networking event in real-life, you can quickly and easily find them on LinkedIn. You can even share your profile using the introduction card feature, encouraging collaboration and networking at every turn.
LinkedIn also allows individuals and businesses to quickly and easily share and respond to content. The platform’s culture encourages engaging with shared posts, making it the perfect medium for connecting with people and sharing ideas. Businesses can quickly build up a network of interested individuals who they can continue to learn from and collaborate with.
This also makes it ideal for launching and promoting new products or services. With a solid base of engaged members, businesses can quickly and directly reach their target audience with their marketing. Describing their mission as “connect[ing] the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful”, LinkedIn is, and will continue to be, the top social network for businesses in 2018.
Pipping Facebook to second place is Twitter. Donald Trump’s favorite social platform might be a surprise contender given Facebook’s huge popularity with the general public, but Twitter has proven itself to be an effective tool for B2B businesses. Boasting over 300 million active users every month, it is the favored site for 87% of B2B marketers to connect with and market to prospective customers.
Twitter’s popularity with B2B businesses was no doubt bolstered by their 2017 update, raising the character limit for tweets from 140 to 280. This let brands communicate with more sophistication and coherence, without resorting to clumsy abbreviations when networking with potential customers.
The hashtag campaigns and polls so popular on Twitter are effective means of engaging audiences with brands and creating conversations. The dynamic, rapid nature of the platform means events can be responded to in real-time, letting businesses react instantly to share their thoughts and opinions to events. B2B companies can show that they are current and reactive, building their authority with their audience.
While naysayers lament its gradual user decline, the platform still wields considerable clout in the world of B2B. For creating conversations, sharing industry news, and building an online audience rapidly, Twitter is one of the best social networks for B2B businesses out there.
While it doesn’t get the top spot on the list of social networks for B2B businesses, Facebook still deserves a place. The recent Cambridge Analytica scandal has done little to curb its growth, and while it recorded a slight decline in users at the start of the year, it’s still very much a major player.
With over 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook has one of the largest user bases out there. Its acquisitions of Instagram and Whatsapp, amongst others, have bolstered its position on the global stage. While it’s obviously hugely popular with the B2C crowd, B2B businesses are still using Facebook to successfully grow their business.
One of its main draws is its affordability and accessibility. Businesses of any size can create a free page, and even the smallest of B2B companies can afford a modest sponsored post or ad campaign. This makes it an attractive option for startups or SMEs on a budget.
The platform also lends itself to rapid and fluid customer service. Direct messages are easy to send and reply to, and replying to comments shows your wider audience you are present and attentive. And by engaging with other businesses’ posts online, you can spark connections and build your network naturally. Simply commenting on a potential customer’s new business acquisition with a “congratulations” is enough to get your company noticed and start a conversation.
Facebook also lends itself well to a wide variety of media, including blogs, photos, and video. This lets you deliver messages to your audience in dynamic and engaging ways that will invite collaboration and connections. It might not be number one, but Facebook is still up there for B2B social networks.
Social media plays an important role in B2B marketing, but it’s vital that you set yourself the right goals. As Shopify explain to their B2B customers:
“While social media may not work for direct sales in B2B, it is a powerful source for both outreach as well as creating the kind of consensus that B2B decision making necessitates. Why? Because consensus is about people, and people connect with people.” (source)
Using social media to drive sales is fine, but it shouldn’t be your only aim. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are all great ways to build up your network. Rather than focusing on customers, look to find ideas, partnerships, collaboration, advice — these are all vital aspects of building a business that are no less important than your sales figures.
About the Author
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog dedicated to sharing business and entrepreneurial insights from the sector. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips