When’s the last time you were scrolling through your social media feed and thought, wow, that gravel and sand manufacturer sure shares some compelling content on Instagram!? What if I asked you the same question, but instead of a gravel producer, I said a makeup or shoe company? Business to consumer (B2C) branding, even before the age of social media has always taken center stage over B2B branding. This theme occurred for a variety of reasons, from the longer lifecycle of a B2B deal in comparison to a B2C one, the higher price per transaction in B2B, and the fact that each deal typically involves many decision makers. However, thanks to globalization and digitalization, B2B branding has become the common theme of some of the fastest growing B2B companies. And, since 2.62 billion people logged on to a social network in 2018, starting your brand building on social media is a great place to start.
Shifting B2B focus to the brand
B2B brands have a matrix of elements that impact the customer’s decision-making process. Firstly, B2B deals pose a plethora of functional needs that must be met before making the sale such as competitive pricing, support, and even explaining future planned product developments. Secondly, all consumers, no matter if they are in the B2B or B2C arena, whether they know it or not, their purchasing is driven by their emotions. A study conducted by Harvard University measured the feelings that drive consumers’ behaviors, naming them “emotional motivators.” They found that these “motivators” are a better measure of the future value of a customer more than any other metric. Because of this fact, more and more companies in the healthcare, technology, pharmaceutical, and financial services fields are investing in brand building to attract and retain customers, which can lead to growth and profitability.
Getting Started: How to Develop a Strategy
Now that the importance of building a B2B brand is understood, let’s begin with how to build that brand on social media.
To get started on developing your brand building strategy, first, be sure to understand your target audience.
Once you start thinking like your audience, you’ll be better at targeting and resonating with them on social media. To identify your audience, use a mixture of qualitative and quantitative thinking. Start with taking an abstract view of your audience, and ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the connection between members of my audience? Is it a topic or an industry, or a geographical location?
- What problems do they face?
- What websites do they visit and enjoy?
- What questions do they ask when deciding to make a purchase?
- What accounts (influencers and brands) do they follow on social media?
- Why are they even on social media. Is it for information, sales, or to connect with industry professionals?
When you begin to dig through these answers, you’ll find the reasons that your customers purchase yours (or your competitors) products or services is more than just what lies on the surface.
Next, take a qualitative, analytical approach to research on the audience. If you are just starting out on social media, pull website data from Google Analytics and get an understanding of the location, age, and interests of your visitors. This exercise gives you a strong starting point for deciding what types of content to produce and share on your social media accounts.
Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, you can move on to decide on what you want to accomplish through your social media efforts.
What’s going to determine if your efforts were a success?
Goals can vary on social media. One could be to increase reach, and another could be to drive traffic to your blog.
Once you know what you want to measure, you can decide what metrics you’ll need. Say the goal of building your brand on social media is to bring followers to your website. You might track things like:
- Post clicks
- Page views
- Traffic sources
- Time on site
- Bounce rate
To measure post clicks, use a link management tool so you can begin to understand what types of content your audience engages with, what copy is working, and how you can use these insights to tweak and grow your strategy. For each branded link clicked, track the time, geographic location, if it was a unique or nonunique visitor, traffic sources, devices, browsers and more. This helps to diagnose how your content is performing on a social network and what brings the most traffic back to your website. Once the user gets to your site, you can track how they behave with your website through Google Analytics. The info Google Analytics pulls shows if the content that was clicked on was engaging, by telling you how long the user stayed on the page, and how many pages were viewed before they left your site.
Once you understand your audience and how you’re going to measure your efforts, it’s time to begin posting. Let’s take a look at some tactics you can follow when it comes to posting to build your brand on social media.
How to be exciting on social media as a B2B brand
It can be a challenge to move from strategy to action on social media. The best B2B brands are not afraid to show their personality, create a conversation, take a stance, tell a story, and share content from their fans.
- Be conversational
If the purpose of your brand being on social media is just to tick the box that you’re on it, you’re not going to see much growth or brand development. The whole point of using social media to grow your brand is to be able to get to know your audience and explain to them who you are and why they should care. If you are hyper-focused on selling or metrics, your brand will not be able to grow. Conversational marketing platform, Drift, also builds their brand through conversations with their customers on social media. Although they are B2B, they chat with their audience in an informal and humorous way.
- Show your personality
B2C brands have always had the chance to be sassy or cheeky on social media. Whereas, this has been a bit of a taboo here in the B2B world. You can develop a conversational voice on social media without going as far and honest as Wendy’s or Innocent Drinks. Start by using the words “we” or “our” rather and I. Nobody wants to talk with a robot on social media. Your audience wants to be able to engage and interact with you, as a human. MailChimp remains playful and edgy while still selling a serious email automation tool through advertisements unified by their strong branding.
Notice IBM’s language their Twitter profile. To give this B2B giant a warmer feel and reminds their audience they working for them through their copy.
- Focus on the benefits you provide to your customers
Stories have and always will be a part of our culture. Tell your story, your customer’s stories, and articulate just how you can benefit them, rather than telling your audience to purchase your product or service. Strengthen your messages with testimonials from your customers. Not only will it create stronger brand advocates, but this type of social proof can also inspire and trigger purchases by new audiences as well. Square does a great job of showing their benefits through inspiring stories from their customers. Here’s a spotlight on a restaurant that is their customer, Yassin Falafel. This case not only gave Square more credibility and respect, but it also inspired other restauranters to trust them with their credit card processing,
- Feature your customers through user-generated content
It can be difficult to source customers using your product, especially if you’re a SaaS company. It’s not every day that your customers are running to social media with screengrabs of their most recent positive experience of your tool (although we all wish they were!) Instead, to get around this, send swag bags to partners or large clients. WeWork, coworking space, takes advantage of user-generated content to show off their facilities and attract new customers.
- Take a stance
According to Forbes, 43% of millennials value authenticity in brands over content. This means they want a brand that stands for something. Most companies partake in some form of corporate social responsibility, however, it’s best if it’s at the core of your brand. Social media is a great place to showcase your efforts. This also has an added benefit of making your brand more human and relatable. Cisco is an example of a company that has its CSR strategy embedded in its brand. They have always been known to give back to the world they operate in, from creating its “Networking Academy” 20 years ago to provide technical training to students around the world, to getting involved with a recent natural disaster.
Building a B2B brand on social media does not mean that you have to be boring or even serious. Social media is a place to meet, learn about, and interact with your audience. Rather than being fearful of jumping in on taking a chance on your social media efforts, think about how much they can help to grow your overall brand. Have you tried any of these tactics when building your B2B brand on social media? Have you seen any success?