Inbound Marketing Strategy

How to Choose the Best Social Media Platforms for Your Business

by Nabeel Azeez

...This article was written by Tiffany Hathorn...

Trying to figure out how to choose the best social media platform for your B2B business?

That’s a good problem to have.

Why? Because it means two things:

1. You understand that not every social media platform is the right fit for every company.

2. You’re actively focused on spending your marketing time wisely.

So, let’s get find a solution to your marketing question. First, I have a few questions for you.

Who is your audience?

  • Who do you serve?
  • Do you work with small business owners or big businesses?
  • Do you prefer working with locals or do you have clients all over the world?
  • Do you market to established business owners or do you help people who are still in the beginning stages of their business?

 

What do you offer your audience?

  • Are you a brilliant web designer who creates top-notch, responsive websites for businesses?
  • Do you work with entrepreneurs to craft solid contracts they can use with their clients?
  • Are you a graphic designer who collaborates with copywriters to create both online and offline marketing materials?
  • Or perhaps you are a videographer who specializes in shooting professional-grade videos for internet marketers and Youtube professionals.

 

Where does your audience hang out?

Now it’s time to think about where these people spend their time online.

  • Are they scrolling through their Facebook timeline right now?
  • Do they spend a good chunk of their day watching stories from their favorite figures on Instagram?
  • Do they spend a lot of time networking on Twitter?
  • Reading articles and connecting with people on LinkedIn?
  • Maybe they are searching for content on Youtube or Pinterest.
  • Or they could be hanging out in one of their favorite Google+ communities.

I don’t want you to just read this and not actually answer the questions. If you don’t already have all of this written down, it’s time to do it. Seriously!

Grab a pen and paper (or open a document on your computer) and answer these questions. Take your time with them. Be as in-depth as possible. Then, once you have finished that exercise, come back to read more.

Ok, are you back with me? Good.

Let’s look at 4 social media platforms that your B2B company can use to boost your brand (and your bottom line). As you’re reading, keep your audience in mind.

By reading through the stats, case studies, and best practices in each section, you will hopefully come away with a better idea of which social media platform to use for your business.

 

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LinkedIn

When it comes to connecting with businesses and professionals online, the go-to spot is LinkedIn. It's a powerful tool for brand-building, network-expansion, and lead-generation.

On top of being one of the oldest social media platforms still in operation, LinkedIn also holds the distinct title of the world’s largest professional network in the world, with 500 million users (LinkedIn, 2017). In short, this is the place to see and be seen for professional.

In fact, according to a 2015 State of B2B Product Marketing Report (Regalix), 81% of B2B marketers trust in LinkedIn to help spread the word when launching a new product. This means that your audience is on LinkedIn, in droves, and that they actively view it as a reliable source of information on who to work with and what to buy.

 

LinkedIn Statistics B2B Marketers

 

If you are not active on LinkedIn, you are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to not only build relationships, but to establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche, conduct market research to gain valuable insight about your audience, and build online communities filled with people who could prove valuable to your brand.

 

LinkedIn Best Practices

Want to make the most out of your LinkedIn presence? Here are a few tips:

 

Focus on building relationships

LinkedIn is not the place to lead with a sales pitch. People are not there to buy, they are there to network and build relationships. Focus on getting to know other professionals and allowing them to get to know you.

 

Create groups for your audience

One great way to start building relationships with your audience is to create LinkedIn Groups in your niche and invite people in your target audience to join. Then, focus on making that group a valuable one that they want to not only stay in, but be active in.

By making connections, adding value, and engaging with your core market, you are establishing trust that can pay off in the form of sales.

 

Be active in other groups

In addition to creating your own groups, you should also join other groups related to your niche and goals. But don’t just join them and then sit around like a fly on the wall; join in on the conversations.

Ask questions. Answer questions. Participate in lively discussions. The more you talk, the more you are heard. Just make sure that what people are hearing positions you as someone worth listening to.

 

Update Your Status

Don’t forget to keep people updated on what’s going on. You’d be surprised by who pays attention to this detail.

 

Create and Share High-Quality Content

LinkedIn is the place for you to flex your creative muscles and show people that you know your stuff. Take time on a regular basis to share your articles, videos, and graphics with your audience. It’s a great way to show your expertise and (if done well) generate traffic to your website.

One example of a B2B company who did this brilliantly is real estate marketing firm, Drawbotics. As part of their service offerings, Drawbotics renders 3D floor plans. To illustrate their skill at this, they did something both fun and unique- recreating the floor plans of workplaces from fan favorite TV shows.

In their campaign, they recreated workspaces from shows like The Office, Parks and Recreation, and The IT Crowd. Then, they headed to LinkedIn and shared their work with a targeted audience. This paid off big time when Business Insider and Mashable got wind of their work.

The result? Major traffic boosts to their website, an increase in signups, and a substantial amount of sales across 40 different markets.

 

Linkedin What content gets best engagement

 

Pay Attention

Don’t just scroll through LinkedIn aimlessly. Use it for research purposes.

See what people are sharing and saying. It lets you know what they care about.

Listen to their questions. You might be able to provide answers.

Pay attention to what gets engagement from your audience. It shows what gets them to take action.

Use these insights to provide value and generate solid leads.

 

Create a Products and Services Page

People won’t know what you have to offer unless you tell them. Make sure you create a products and services page to let people know exactly what it is that you do.

You should also encourage your clients/customers to leave recommendations of your services if they are pleased. Recommendations can be a rich source of referrals, especially since those recommendations are shared with the person’s network as well as being visible on your page.

P.S. When creating your products and services page, take advantage of the ability to share video demos. People love videos!

 

Twitter

Twitter is invaluable when it comes to sharing content.

The more your content is Retweeted, the more eyes you get on your brand. The more visible your brand is, the more people will follow you. The more people who follow you, the more people could possibly retweet your content.

And, of course, all of this can result in lead generation for your business.

One business that is killing it on social media is HubSpot. They have perfected a blend of thought leadership and entertainment that is pitch perfect (as is evidenced by the engagement they get from their 793K followers).

They share a variety of content, from blog posts to white papers to videos and engaging questions. They also retweet rave reviews from business owners, which is a good way to share their social proof.

 

Hubspot Twitter content strategy

 

Twitter Best Practices

Here are a few tips on making the most of it when marketing your business.

 

Be relevant

When creating content, make sure it is relevant and timely. Share your latest blog posts and videos. Keep people updated on recent news. Use trending and relevant hashtags in your updates.

 

Retweet popular and relevant users

The name of the game on Twitter is reciprocity. When people see that you are following them and retweeting their content to your audience, it increases the likelihood that they will follow you and retweet your content.

Of course, you should make sure that the content you are retweeting is valuable to your audience. Otherwise, you’re just spamming them. And, of course, you should make sure that your original content is worth sharing.

 

Share industry insights

According to a report by Twitter and eMarketer (2015) , 96% of B2B buyers surveyed want more insight from industry thought leaders and 92% want led focus on products and more focus on the value they provide.

So, rather than posting sales pitches, focus on educating your audience, providing value, and creating content that they want to share with others.

 

Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself

Although sharing the same content in a small space of time can make us feel like a broken record, research shows that it can be effective to repeat yourself. It usually takes consumers multiple exposures to something before they decide to engage with it.

In fact, the same report by Twitter and eMarketer found that someone who sees a message from a business four times is 335% more likely to click on it than someone who only sees it once. So, don’t be afraid to repeat a post over the course of a day or a few days.

 

Host TweetChats

One great way to generate engagement around your brand is to host TweetChats (also known as Twitter parties).

These chats usually involve a series of discussion questions, sprinkled with other engaging content such as industry facts, product/service spotlights, videos giveaways and more. They also usually have a designated hashtag that enables people to join in and keep up with the conversation.

 

Position yourself (and your team) as thought leaders

Ever speak at conferences in your industry? Be sure to share pictures and videos on Twitter! Show your audience that you are experts in your niche.

 

Facebook

There is no doubt about it: when it comes to social media, Facebook is a giant. According to Investor Relations (2017), Facebook has 2.07 billion monthly users and 1.37 billion daily active users.

Chances are, if your clients are human beings on planet Earth, they spend time on Facebook. Its popularity amongst businesses and consumers alike makes Facebook a go-to option for internet marketers.

Free from some of the limits of other social media platforms (such as Twitter’s character limit, Instagram’s reliability on smart phones, Pinterest’s focus on images, and Youtube’s focus on video), Facebook provides users with the ability to convey messages using a variety of media. It allows brands to focus on ore than just a quick sale.

In fact, it encourages relationship-building in the form of fan pages and groups. You can also communicate with your audience on a deeper, more private level via their direct messaging system.

If your brand is concerned with giving people the opportunity to get to know the person (or people) behind the logo, then Facebook could be the perfect stomping grounds. By putting forth a public image that is not only professional, but sociable, you can successfully generate fans and solid leads.

Now, you may have read that Facebook shouldn’t be the focus of B2B marketers. That it’s a platform where only the B2C crowd can thrive. This, however, is not true. ProBlogger (run by Darren Rowse) is proof of that.

 

Darren Rowse Problogger Facebook content strategy

 

Darren has built his business with the goal of helping bloggers to go pro and turn their blogs into a profitable business.

On his fan page, he is doing everything right. He humanizes his business by featuring a fun cover photo of him and his team. They share content on a consistent basis (so you don’t have to wait weeks or months to learn something new). They also share a variety of content types, including blog posts, podcasts, freebies, and live videos.

Their content gets solid engagement in the form of likes and comments. They are also very responsive to messages, which indicates a keen focus on customer service.

People who take the opportunity visit their blog (which is where they house most of the content they share on their fan page) can purchase a variety of resources that help them learn to use a blog to grow their income or business. These resources are either created by the ProBlogger team or are affiliate products. Either way, Darren smartly uses his Facebook fan page to generate leads- and sales.

 

Facebook Best Practices

Here are some tips on how you can use a Facebook fan page effectively for your business:

 

Use your cover photo wisely

Your cover photo is often the first thing people pay attention when they visit your fan page. Don’t let it go to waste! You can use it to showcase your product or service in action. You can take the opportunity to shine a light on the people on your team (like Darren did).

If you have pictures of yourself (or your team) in a leadership position (such as at a conference in your niche), you can use that as your cover photo. Get creative!

 

Take advantage of Facebook advertising

Although learning to implement successful Facebook ad campaigns can have a learning curve, it is well worth it to understand targeting on a deeper level.

Take some time to play around with the demographics that you can target with your ads. You should also test out various images, headlines, and copy to see what converts best.

 

Focus on Lead Generation

I know it can be tempting to ask for the sale right away. However, Facebook (and much of marketing in general) is about building relationships.

Rather than going straight for the ask, invite your audience to take advantage of a freebie offer in exchange for their email address. They get good value upfront. You get access to their inbox, where you can woo them with even more great content.

All of this is priming them for the eventual paid offer that will be like a cherry on top of a sundae.

 

Highlight your company culture

If your company’s culture is something that you think makes you unique, then Facebook is a terrific platform to showcase it.

You can do this by sharing photos and videos of your team (both at work and in your downtime). You can also enable the reviews feature so that your clients can rave about your products or services (and you can address any clients that are not 100% thrilled, which is just as important).

 

Create Shareworthy Images

People on Facebook not only love to consume good content; they love to share it as well. Give them something worth sharing with their network.

Create images that are eye-catching, inspiring, and relevant. Post the photos along with a caption asking a question that begs for an answer. It can be that simple!

 

Use Video

According to MWP Digital Media (2017), when presented with the same information in video and text form, 59% of executives will choose to watch the video. Syndacast (2015) also found that 65% of video viewers watch more than ¾ of the video.

People pay attention to video and often pay attention to it until the end. So, consider converting some of your important content into video form.

 

Instagram

According to Sprout Social (2016) only 26% of B2B marketers use Instagram as part of their strategy. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used well.

One popular brand that uses Instagram beautifully is MailChimp. From their simple-yet-effective bio (“Build your brand, sell more stuff. ✉️🐵📷) to their visually creative images and videos, they continue to build a brand that gets people’s attention.

 

Mailchimp Instagram content strategy

 

Instagram Best Practices

Here are a few tips on how to establish your brand on Instagram:

 

Have fun

Let your tie loose. Snap candid photos of your team. Be silly. Show people the behind-the-scenes looks we all love to see.

 

Think outside the box

Don’t just share pictures of your products and services. Show your audience how you are part of their community or lives on a deeper level.

 

Tell a story

Brains process visual information faster. Brains also love stories. Instagram is the perfect way to take advantage of these things. Use your entire Instagram profile to tell the story of your brand, your mission, your offerings, and your team.

 

Use hashtags wisely

Take advantage of trending and timely hashtag. Use #TBT to talk about past achievements and cool events. Look up fun holidays, like #MayTheFourth and #NationalTalkLikeAPirateDay and find a fun way to tie it into your business.

 

General Social Media Best Practices

Now that we’ve covered the various individual social media platforms and how to market your B2B company on each one, let’s talk about some general social media marketing tips.

 

Let your brand’s personality shine

There is a space in between professionalism and sociable – find your spot there and get comfy.

No one wants to follow a brand that is always stiff and boring. But they may not take a brand seriously that is all fun and games. Find that balance and you will have the best of both worlds. If you have someone managing your company’s social media, get clear on your brand’s mission and voice so that they can match the tone.

 

Mix it up

Don’t share just one type of content. Mix things up. Share promotional messaging as well as stuff related to your industry in general. Post interesting articles, eye-catching graphics, relevant videos, and more.

 

Highlight your clients

If there is no anonymity clause in your contract, give your clients a shout-out! It serves the dual purpose of giving them some publicity and showing people who you are doing great work for.

 

Engage with your audience

Don’t just talk AT your audience; have a conversation with them. Ask questions. Be responsive. Let them know that you are listening and that you care about what they have to say.

 

Be consistent

The brands that are most successful on social media are not the ones that post something occasionally. They have a publishing schedule and they follow it. Don’t neglect your profiles! Stay away too long and your audience may forget you.

 

Hire a dedicated Social Media team

Or at least a dedicated social media manager.

Growing social media profiles is hard work and long hours. It's almost impossible for an employee with other job duties to grow your online audience. At most, they will be able to consistently grow one channel at a time.

The communities on each social media platform engage in different ways and respond differently to content formats. So, what works on Twitter may not work on Instagram. What works on Facebook may not work on LinkedIn. And so on.

Hiring a dedicated social media manager will allow them to focus all of their effort on growing your audience and creating a positive relationship with them. Oh, and by the way, good social media managers don't come cheap.

Becoming a power user on just one platform is a skill learned over time. A social media manager who has mastered multiple platforms is rare and the results they can get you are worth every penny.

 

Conclusion

This is a lot of material to absorb, so allow me to summarize the major points.

First, you MUST have a deep understanding of your audience. Who are they? Where do they hang out online? How can you help them? What are you offering them?

Second, you must determine which social media platforms will help you achieve your business goals and will give you the best ROI.

Third, CONTEXT matters. The content you create and publish must be adapted to the communities on the different social media channels. While there is significant audience overlap across the channels, they behave and respond differently depending on the channel.

Fourth, act like a human. Have real conversations with your audience. Don't only use your social media accounts as a promotional tool. Find ways to help and serve, and your audience will reward you with their business.

Fifth, hire a dedicated social media manager. Look for people who have mastered the use of multiple social media platforms and pay them well. The growth of your brand and increased sales are worth every penny

 

...Did we miss any social media best practices? Got a social media platform we forgot to mention that's giving you great results? Leave a comment below and let us know...

 

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...This article was written by Tiffany Hathorn...

Written by Nabeel Azeez

Head of Growth at Ubrik Media.

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