In this blog post, we explore the best social media platforms for business use, as well as how B2B companies can select the right social media channels to increase brand awareness, engagement, lead generation and customer acquisition.
Social media has become a vital aspect of digital marketing strategies. Whether your business is small or large, social media provides a great opportunity to amplify your reach and promote your products and services to a wider audience. Through social media, you can increase brand awareness, engagement, and lead generation and reach new customers in cost-effective ways.
But with so many social media platforms available, deciding which platform(s) to dedicate time, effort and marketing spend on can be challenging. The key to overcoming this is by having a thorough understanding of the functions and benefits of each channel.
First of all - don’t just dive right in!
With more than 3.48 billion social media users worldwide, it can be tempting to dive into every social media channel to get as much coverage as possible.
However, you only want to be active on and posting into channels relevant to your business, therefore knowing which channels your prospects are using, will enable you to create a targeted social media strategy.
There are four social media platforms that B2B companies should focus on:
Despite only being launched nine years ago, Instagram is the fastest-growing social media network with 1 billion monthly active users. More than 500 million of these users are active on the platform every day and 71% are under the age of 35.
With 80% of Instagram users following a business on the platform, it’s an excellent way for businesses to grow brand awareness and highlight their products, services, events, offer discounts and much more. Taking these actions is crucial for businesses, especially as 60% of Instagram users (that’s 600+ million people) use the platform to seek out and discover new products.
Instagram also enables B2B companies to connect with their prospects by sharing their experiences in an authentic way. We recently hosted an event, Grow with Inbound, and kept our followers updated throughout the day using Instagram Stories, our own hashtag: #GrowWithInbound, and several other Inbound Marketing-related hashtags.
Using hashtags in social posts is a great way to reach a wider audience, i.e. those who are interested in a particular topic, as well as enable you to be found by users who don’t follow you on Instagram.
Lastly, it’s important to consider the quality of the content you are posting on Instagram, after all, Instagram is a very visual platform, so high-quality and eye-catching photos and videos are essential!
From our perspective, Instagram is still seen by many as very B2C-focused. However, the incredible volume of daily active users means it’s a platform that you can’t afford to be on.
In the era of information overload and viral marketing, Twitter is one of the most effective social media platforms in terms of reaching a large audience quickly.
That said, one of the main challenges on Twitter is standing out on an extremely busy platform.
As of June 2019, according to Internet Live Stats, every second, on average, there are more than 6,000 Tweets – that’s over 350,000 tweets sent per minute and 500 million tweets per day!
Don’t let the volume of Tweets and standing out dishearten you – the platform is more for:
Keeping up-to-date with news, events and developments in real-time
Building brand awareness and developing a following
Retweeting and connecting with like-minded individuals
Engaging with different audiences.
One of the ways we do this is by creating industry news Tweets for our clients. This ensures that the content distributed is valuable and relevant to its target audience. We also make a point to engage with those who follow, comment and/or retweet the content we post on behalf of our clients.
Also, for businesses operating in an extremely competitive marketplace or looking to rapidly generate traffic to their website, a great way to do so is through paid social campaigns. With them you can target clearly defined audiences on specific platforms, ensuring your content is seen by the right people, at the right time. This maximises your chances of obtaining qualified leads.
Remember: Twitter is a conversational platform. Ask questions, reply to mentions – 77% of Twitter users feel more positive about a brand when their Tweet has been replied to – engage with other Twitter users, and retweet content and wider industry news. If you do all of the above, you’ll quickly increase interactions, create a following of people interested in what you do and generate new business opportunities!
LinkedIn is probably the first social network that comes to mind when putting together a B2B social media marketing strategy. It’s the most popular social platform amongst B2B marketers – 92% use it in their digital marketing mix and 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.
Why? Well, because LinkedIn provides businesses with a direct line to fellow industry professionals (90 million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers and 63 million are in decision-making positions), making it an efficient and cost-effective way to generate high-quality leads.
Due to its professional, business-orientated environment, LinkedIn has significantly less content ‘clutter’ than other platforms (particularly Twitter) and is more about providing valuable, relevant content at every opportunity. This increases the chances of being noticed and engaged with by potential leads.
One way we use LinkedIn is by sharing content and updates in LinkedIn Groups that are tailored to our client’s buyer personas.
For example, we promote eBooks for a client that operates in the chemical safety industry. Through LinkedIn Groups, we are able to target a range of people: from PPE professionals to industrial safety product distributors.
You can join groups based on certain industries, locations and employment levels. Being able to do so has been beneficial in increasing the conversion rates for the eBooks we promote.
But while LinkedIn is much more targeted, compared to other platforms, its active user base is somewhat smaller: only 303 million unique monthly users of its 630 million user accounts are active. The platform’s user demographic has slightly more males, (57% male users, 43% female) and LinkedIn users are typically slightly less likely to use other social networks.
We also use LinkedIn to increase brand awareness. We encourage our employees to promote and post our content (e.g. eBooks, blogs, articles) on their personal LinkedIn accounts. By establishing your employees as spokespeople and thought leaders, you can position them as experts and engage with a wider audience.
Need more tips on using LinkedIn for content marketing? Check out our blog.
Video has become integral to digital marketing strategies, and it’s clear the benefits are paying off: 87% of businesses now use video as a marketing tool (up from 63% in 2017), and 88% of marketers state video gives them a good ROI.
YouTube is officially the internet’s go-to video-sharing/hosting service and is the second-largest website behind Google. Over one billion hours of video are watched every day and it’s used equally by males and females.
But why is video so important?
Videos can be used to educate and increase user understanding of products and services – and with 96% of people watching explainer videos to learn more about a product or service, video is a format that you should be using!
We recently started a series of HubSpot training videos, where we share best practice tips on various HubSpot features. This has enabled us to demonstrate our expertise, connect with new audiences that prefer video and solve their challenges in a personal and interactive way.
An example of one of those videos can be found below:
Another great thing about YouTube (and video in general) is that videos are easy to share: 48% of people said they’d be more likely to share video content with their friends, ahead of any other type of content.
However, as video marketing continues to grow, competition is also increasing. To stand out, B2B companies need to be creating valuable, high-quality video content that answers questions and solves problems – rather than just sales videos. How-to guides, product demonstrations, case studies, tips and tricks – these videos will be far more effective at attracting people than sales assets.
Of course, whilst educating the customer is crucial, it’s important to remember that videos are also a form of entertainment, so above all, ensure your videos are clear, engaging and interesting to watch.
Go forth and socialise!
That's it. We hope our analysis of the best social media platforms for business and who they are most applicable to has helped. Please note, this should be taken as a guide. The most appropriate (and lucrative) platform(s) will ultimately depend on your business and your target audience.
It’s also worth noting that your prospects will be active on more than one platform, so posts should be unique to avoid overlap in your strategy e.g. your Twitter followers may be more interested in news updates whilst your LinkedIn followers may want to know about your services in more detail.
With this information in mind, experiment, monitor, analyse and evaluate your efforts and if this activity is successful – replicate it!
Obviously, you'll want to create lots of content to promote on these channels - but how can you create lead-generating content?