SMM, as a B2B-marketing tool, is one of the main trends of today's online marketing. Marketers, who plan to promote projects on social networks, face the problem of choosing a platform and which audience they are going to target. Almost all networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube, provide marketers with unique opportunities for promoting their business. However, most B2B marketers work with the limitations of a limited budget. It makes them stay focused on one or two platforms when running marketing campaigns.
In this article we compare some of the most popular social networks, in the context of using them for marketing B2B projects.
Keys for success in social B2B-marketing
Companies that work in a B2B environment and who use social networks to improve brand awareness attract audience and drive sales leads. However they should also turn their pages and groups into sources of authoritative and relevant information, if they want to make their marketing campaign successful. In order to do this, a quality media plan should be developed.
Picking a concrete informational channel is the first step in media planning. Use the following criteria when choosing a social network to conduct your marketing campaigns:
- Demographic, social and other segmentation of the audience.
- A social network’s popularity among your target audience.
- The types of content which are preferable by the audience of a platform and your business.
- The goals of a social network (for example, the goal of LinkedIn is to establish professional contacts).
- Tone of speech on a social network.
- The level of audience’s engagement.
- Presence of tools to use when implementing a B2B-marketing strategy.
Google+ – new SMM horizons in B2B
Google+ is turning into the new large scale social network for business beneath our very eyes. It has about 300 million active monthly users. This metric outpaces LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.
By posting content or links to content on Google+, you thereby directly influence its ranking on SERPs. First of all, it’s possible because material posted here is displayed on a personalised Google SERP for users, who are in your circles. Moreover, Google+ supports diverse types of content, including online videos (remember that YouTube is operated by Google).
Posting announcements of new content on your YouTube channel on Google+ is a good idea. Links from Google+ influence ranking, so by announcing videos on the social network which belongs to the largest search engine in the world, you improve the effectiveness of your content marketing campaigns.
Social signals, including links, likes, shares, comments and so on, are golden nuggets for content marketers. It’s because search engines seek to identify content’s popularity and value authentically through these.
Google+ lets you create business pages for brands. Users can subscribe to them and interact with projects on a personal level. In turn, brands get the ability to use this interaction to build relationships with their audience. B2B sales are primarily about building relationships.
Google Hangouts is another gift from Google+ to B2B-marketers. This tool lets you hold video conferences in no time. Moreover, you can publish a recorded conference after it finishes.
The mass usage of Google+ for posting entertaining content is a negative side effect of using this platform to implement B2B-marketing campaigns. Many users of this network (Google+) ignore business messages, and it lowers its value from the point of view of marketing.
Moreover, businessmen still don’t regard Google+ as a serious marketing tool. Network creators should put additional resources in its development and positioning it as a business-platform.
LinkedIn – opportunities for professionals
The professional network, LinkedIn is one of the most convenient platforms for implementing marketing campaigns. Here you can quickly find potential B2B customers, because this source was developed with a business-oriented focus. It has over 332 million registered users - as of February 2015.
The main opportunities which come from using this network as a marketing tool are, the personal branding of your top managers, attracting new customers by private communication and targeted ads. Daily interactions with your colleagues and partners and communication in topical groups or communities are the key factors to successful marketing in LinkedIn.
Accurate targeting is one of the main advantages of ads in this professional network. By publishing ads, you can segment an audience by geography, industry, demography and professional criteria. Lead Collection tool, which is a site extension, allows you to reactin real time to generated sales leads.
By using LinkedIn, a company can build personal relationships with its customers and partners. In order to do this, a project should publish interesting and useful content that stimulates users to follow a page. Discussions in topical groups are also a powerful marketing tool of LinkedIn.
This social network offers paid tools to stimulate sales for businesses. Lead Builder is one of them. It gives sales experts the ability to do the following:
- Create and save lists of potential customers.
- Search LinkedIn users, who match given criteria.
- Combine potential customers in groups by chosen criteria, by using Profile Organizer.
LinkedIn allows B2B-marketers to get important information about a potential customer. Moreover, this network gives them the ability to easily contact a chosen user – forget about ineffective “cold” sales.
The only cons of LinkedIn as of a marketing tool are a lot of useless and distracting functions.
Twitter – communications for tied up businessmen
Microblogging network Twitter is the simplest way to quickly deliver an important message to business who are always on the move. This network allows communication with the help of short messages and link to important pages.
Twitter is a comfortable tool for B2B-marketers. In particular, here you can find potential customers and combine them into private lists. By tracking users’ messages, you’ll learn their interests and preferences. This is the first step to effective communication with a future partner.
The success of B2B-marketing in online marketing depends on three main factors – online reputation, the ability to influence an audience via ideas and brand awareness. Twitter can be used to develop all of them.
The following characteristics of this service have made it regarded as an effective marketing tool:
- Hot news often appears on Twitter first.
- Twitter users often communicate with each other in real time, which turns this service into an online conversation with enhanced functionality.
- By using the Twitter app for your smartphone, you can share live updates about any event.
Event marketing is one of the most effective sales tools in B2B. Twitter search algorithms and hashtags let event holders quickly spread information about conferences, workshops, seminars and other events.
Twitter doesn’t belong to Google, which is a con. It means that a link to content, which is posted on Twitter, has a lower rank than an analogical link on Google+ in most cases. Moreover, Twitter users more often ignore messages, compared to the audience of other networks. Here you can easily find potential customers, but it doesn’t matter if they are going to communicate with you. Finally, a lot of users think that this microblogging service is overloaded with spam links, so they don’t take it seriously.
YouTube – the primary tool of B2B-marketing
Online video is one of the most effective tools of content marketing. In turn, YouTube, which belong to Google – is the best platform for publishing video content in terms of B2B-marketing campaigns. Quality videos, published on this platform, attract an audience and generate sales leads.
Pay attention to the fact that in this context, by quality videos we mean materials that are useful, catchy and helpful for your audience. Creators of marketing videos don’t have to compete with Hollywood stars with special effects.
The main helpful aspect of YouTube as a marketing tool is the ability to embed videos from it to any website or blog. This social network shouldn’t be regarded as a full-scale independent platform for conducting marketing campaigns. It’s hard to imagine how to build relationships with your target audience by using this audience alone. It’s much more effective to broadcast your channel on a corporate platform – this way you’ll increase brand awareness and attract an audience with your helpful content.
Facebook – a heavyweight of B2C-marketing
The largest social network in the world is absolutely the best platform for B2C-marketing. However, it can be used for running B2B-campaigns as well.
Business pages and topical groups are the main B2B-marketing tool for Facebook. Moreover, owners of business pages have access to user-friendly email-marketing tools that allow them to send newsletters to subscribers or followers.
Building relationships with business partners and direct B2B sales are possible on Facebook, but it’s a very difficult task.
And the best social network for B2B-marketing is…
…LinkedIn. This network is the only one that building relationships between companies and makes B2B sales effectively and purposefully. You can regard LinkedIn as the main social network marketing platform without hesitation.
Second place is shared by Google+, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Advanced B2B-marketers should work will all of these platforms when promoting projects, but if you are constantly running out of time, then focus your effort on one or two networks.