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How to use social media for B2B

In 2005, just 5% of American adults used social media compared to 50% in 2011. That number has continued to grow with 72% of the public using social media today. While young adults are earlier adopters and continue to use social media at high levels, usage by older adults has increased in recent years.

Most social media users visit their network of choice at least once a day. What does this have to do with B2B? Simply put, most working adults in the U.S. use social media, and if your business isn’t showing up where the people are, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with current and potential customers. In 2019, 86% of B2B marketers used content marketing successfully to create brand awareness; 79% to educate audiences; 75% to build credibility; and 70% to generate leads, and 40% of B2B content marketers increased their investment in response to Covid-19. One of the major distribution channels for content? Social media. But don’t forget about the rest of the world, as more than half the population uses social media, with a 10% increase from last year, and internet users use an average of 6.7 platforms per month.

Below are a few of the reasons your business should be on social media–and don’t be surprised if your strategy needs to change.

Sales opportunities

With so much content on social media and the feed moving so fast, it’s easy to think that investing in social media may not be worthwhile. Will people actually see your posts? Will they care? And further, will they be motivated to purchase? In short–YES. 

A study by Qualtrics found that 92% of social media users have researched a new brand in the past month because of an ad, and 63% have ended up purchasing a product after seeing it on social media and researching later. While this study is more focused on consumer products, it still illustrates the larger, important concept that social media is a place where products and services are discovered and later researched.

Not only that, but a study by Forrester illustrated the dramatic increase in how impactful social media has proven to be to B2B buyers. When asked which platform they or their colleagues found meaningful or impactful during the buying process, 47% said exploring YouTube and LinkedIn in 2021, compared to 29% and 27% in 2017. In addition, exploring Twitter rose from 24% in 2017 to 43% in 2021, and Facebook grew from 32% in 2017 to 43% in 2021.

If you weren’t sure if social media could lead to purchases–especially for B2B–this information should put that to rest.

Community and customer service

Social media isn’t just for generating sales–it’s also a great place to build and nurture audiences and drive loyalty. People often turn to social media when they need customer service support and find community with users who are in a similar position. 

Providing prompt support, responding to comments on social posts and creating content that will act as a resource for users can strengthen your business’s relationship with its customers. 

Developing channels or pages specifically to highlight or connect fans and users is also a great way to nurture your communities. I personally belong to a few Facebook groups for social media platforms I’ve used, and I find them invaluable. While I may be one of the strategists who specializes in social media strategy at Liquid Agency, I’m able to connect with thousands of other individuals who have the same questions and challenges as me, and I’m able to turn to those groups for support and answers. Even if the chatter isn’t directly related to the product itself, the community is vital. 

Equally important, sharing user-generated content and user stories props up the community, and it’s the type of content many want to see. According to research by Gartner, 43% of consumers who follow brands on social media want to see content that’s created by people using the brand, which includes content like reviews, demonstrations and unboxings.

Humanize the brand

Businesses are starting to get the hint that just because they’re B2B, it doesn’t mean they should be boring. But it can still be tricky to figure out where to bring your business’s personality to life, and the answer for this is on social media–it’s even in the name. 

Adobe connects with consumers through social media content that’s edgy, cool, and relatable. Mailchimp also knows how to take advantage of social media, raising the voices of small business owners, providing marketing tips and tutorials and sharing their values with content that connects with their target audience in a meaningful way. 

Rather than purely focusing on product features and how it can improve your business with social content, this is where you can drive engagement through connecting with potential customers on a more emotional level. Instead of saying your tool will drive organizational efficiency, instead you could say it will help people get more time back into their day, so they can go home to their kids (or out to happy hour) knowing they put in your best work. Say goodbye to stress and tedious, timestaking tasks and hello to increased fulfillment and happiness. 

Featuring some of the staff that works at your business is another great way to humanize the brand. Going Live to share new product updates or tips or highlighting employees and their recommendations and advice is a great way to show current and potential customers the types of people they’ll be working with. This can make your business more relatable through its people.

Social listening

Social media isn’t just helpful for customer service–listening to what people are saying about your product or service, as well as your competition’s, can provide you with a wealth of knowledge to improve your product and user experience. Are there frequent complaints that could be addressed and lead to new features being implemented or corrected? Are people discussing the need for something that doesn’t yet exist, but could be an opportunity for your business to address, or even create content around, that could give answers? 

Hearing what the community is saying about the industry in general, not just your product or service, will give you a broader understanding of the needs of your users, what they do and don’t want and provide ideas for content to share in your marketing that will give them the information they want. It can also determine your business’s share of voice compared to the competition, track sentiment and monitor your brand health and reputation. And once you have this information, you’ll be able to make adjustments to your content and strategy to improve performance and connect with your audience in a more meaningful way.

It’s where the people are

I said this before, but it’s worth saying again–it’s important to meet people where they’re at, and there’s no denying they’re on social media. Rather than relying on paid search and SEO to get people to find you, show up in their feed. Let them learn more about the personality and culture of your business, rather than going straight into the sales pitch. Share content that will stop them in their scroll to take a second look and pique their curiosity to learn more about your offering. Social media is the one place where there are consistent, daily opportunities to connect with your audience in a way that’s not overwhelming or invasive. With the majority of adults in the U.S. using social media, this is one marketing channel that can’t be ignored.