With social media giving no signs of slowing as yet, B2B companies that don’t have a marketing plan that includes this aspect are probably losing out on more business than they realize. That doesn’t mean you should rush out and create profiles on every platform you can think of, however. For one thing, there are far too many to manage them all effectively. In addition, not every type of social networking is well-suited to the B2B environment. So which ones should you consider and which should you skip?
LinkedIn (LI) won hands down in an April 2014 survey of B2B social media marketing activities. Results showed that 45% of marketers believe it’s the most effective platform when it comes to supporting their business goals, compared with only 20% who chose Twitter.
The result was something of a surprise for the industry, because previously Twitter has held the crown for being the best. But with respondents claiming that over 80% of leads generated through social media come from LI (compared with 12.7% from Twitter, 6.7% from Facebook and a miserable 0.2% from Google+) there’s no question it’s at the head of the pack.
Shifting Goal Posts
So what caused the change? A shift in objective, that’s what. For the past couple of years the main reason for business social media was to drive website traffic, and Twitter is very good at that. As inbound marketing has matured, however, the intent has shifted to the generation of hard sales leads, and for that purpose LI beats out Twitter.
LI also does better at strengthening brand image than Twitter, which scored higher in one area only—that of boosting awareness of a corporate brand. So the jury seems to be in accord that LI offers better opportunities for:
- Making connections that count, and
- Converting followers into business leads.
LI also has a more user-friendly platform for content, which is the hinge on which inbound marketing currently hangs. Video, in particular, is rising in popularity, and LI makes it much easier for users to access and view video links than Twitter does.
It’s Not All In the Numbers
Having said that, Twitter still has much higher user numbers, but unless they joined for business reasons it’s kind of a moot point. LI, on the other hand, is increasingly viewed as a “business” platform, and the majority of people who join it and interact with others are there for that purpose. So the LI pundits are arguing that the proportion of users who are likely prospects is higher than they are on Twitter. They may be right, there’s no way to tell as yet.
Making it Work
So what’s the secret to making LI work for your company’s B2B social media marketing? It seems there are a few specific criteria you need to employ to get it right. Here they are in order of importance:
- Get into group therapy: LI’s discussion groups might feel like a rope around your neck some days, but there’s no arguing with the stats. More than 96% of all LI group posts generated leads, and a whopping 86% of those converted into sales.
- Make a company page: although less than 60% of all LI updates are posted on company pages, more than 10% of leads generated come from them. In other words, they work.
- Keep your posts brief: the average length of a successful post (one that converts!) on LI is 248 characters including spaces.
- Ask questions: one in three posts that converts uses a question mark in its subject line.
Facebook and Other Stuff
One thing that seems clear is that Facebook is no longer top of the pops in the B2B social media marketing space, if it ever was. It may work beautifully for B2C, and because everything in business is constantly evolving there may be some change in the future. Right now, however, you’re better off focusing your efforts on LI if you want to see a return on your investment.
Making it work isn’t rocket science. It just takes a comprehensive social media marketing plan, a little time and effort and overcoming the distaste that so many B2B marketers have for social media.