Marketers are flooding their social media channels in order to promote their brands, and when looking at the growth of all these channels it’s not hard to see why. But they need to be careful not to abuse these platforms. Because some might not be as relevant for their brands and this is especially true when comparing B2C vs B2B channels. Below we examine the differences, and provide recommendations and insight based on research and our experiences.
With over 1.15 billion registered users, Facebook is the giant of social media. Therefore it would seem a no-brainer to get your brand on there. But for some B2B companies it can have a negative impact, especially if they are paying to get some exposure and clogging up users’ news feeds with product updates which are irrelevant and boring. For example, promoting solar-powered panels for business use in Scotland is not what we’d recommend promoting on Facebook.
Brands now have to spend money to get any sort of exposure. If you are a specialist/niche B2B company with only a handful of followers then you might be wasting your time. If you run a B2B service which targets SMEs, you will have a better chance of engaging with your audience on Facebook. Many small business owners use Facebook and are open to engaging with business content while browsing.
Facebook likes, links and shares contribute positively to your SEO ranking factor so if you are able to generate interest in your brand here then it can only be a good thing for your business.
Twitter has a large following of 516 million users, with 5,700 tweets going out every second – making it the second busiest social network in the world. It can work for both B2B and B2C – it just depends on the individual users who are using Twitter, their preferences and how active they are. This platform is a great way to generate links which can contribute positively to your SEO strategy and you have the opportunity to speak directly to your target audience. The 140-character limit means that brands need to be smart about the way they promote their links, and must remember that it is important to share relevant content from wherever they can find. Self-serving links only will get you nowhere in the Twittersphere.
No brainer right? Well yes it would seem that LinkedIn is the best social media network for business-to-business marketing. According to Statista, LinkedIn’s user numbers were around 277 million at the end of 2013 with that figure consistently rising meaning more growth is predicted in 2014.
Graph courtesy of Statista
LinkedIn also ranks as the highest referrer of traffic to corporate websites, which makes sense as users on LinkedIn are business focused.
Image courtesy of Investis.
LinkedIn offers you the chance to message decision makers directly from your profile, and if you are prepared to write informed, personalised and relevant messages to your potential audience you can expect to see extremely high response rates. We’ve run a number of lead gen campaigns using groups and similar interests to target certain people that we weren’t connected to. These have yielded response rates of 20%–40%, sometimes higher.
You also have the option to create groups, which can be extremely valuable when running alongside a B2B event. Expect to see ‘community/group manager’ job titles starting to appear on CVs. Groups have so much potential for lead nurturing and relationship building, but they need full-time management to really thrive.
Company pages are a great way to create a mini-site within the LinkedIn environment. Businesses can share content and engage with their target audience. What’s more, they aren’t hindered in the way Facebook hinders businesses, by making them pay to get noticed.
Google also likes LinkedIn (a lot). Just Google someone’s name and job title and the first page of search results will be pointing to the popular business network. Links from this social platform are also included in Google’s SEO algorithms. This means they will give your site much-needed link juice to boost your rankings and relevant web traffic.
You can see a number of fun facts about LinkedIn here which will also give you a better idea of how they are growing in popularity.
Google’s social media platform is a mixture between Pinterest and Facebook. You can scroll the pages for hours, or until you run out fresh content to view. This makes it ideal to stay in touch with B2C brands – they have better visual content to view and share.
We feel Google Plus is better for B2C, but it can also work for B2B. One of the big advantages of having a Google Plus profile is because it is run by Google. Start developing a following on here with users liking/sharing/commenting on your links then your SEO value is bound to rocket.
The problem is there are not enough daily active users, even though it’s predicted to reach 400 million users by the end of 2014. The reason for this growth is because Google basically owns the internet – Gmail has over 425 million active users with YouTube getting over 1 billion unique users a month. This makes it easy for them to start pushing Google Plus to every Tom, Dick, Harry and their extended families, plus automatically giving them an account upon sign up. However, we do not see the platform as a serious rival to Facebook anytime soon.
The above graph shows you what marketers consider to be the best social channels. As you can see G+ is not very popular. However, LinkedIn isn’t either, but that’s because the B2B audience is smaller and more niche, when compared to B2C.
Some great examples of Google+ Pages are:
They have so much interesting content, from old videos of Ayrton Senna winning a Grand Prix, through to videos of how modern F1 cars are made. There are interviews with the drivers, and even images of the track on race day.
B2B: Google Analytics
This page, by Google, is constantly giving tips and offering advice on the best way to use Google’s free analytics tool. Like the human brain, most of us are only using a small amount of Google Analytics’ potential. This page is great for those marketers and business owners who want to optimise their websites.
Pinterest content is dominated by food, clothes, shopping, jewellery, and gifts. This obviously means that B2C brands will be making use of Pinterest a lot to drive sales. It acts like a mood board of all your favourite things, with links to the relevant product pages. It is also a powerful research tool – brands can follow their customers/prospects and see what they are liking and re-pinning. This makes it a valuable tool for product development.
Despite being much smaller than Facebook or Twitter at 25 million users, it accounts for more than 23% of all social media-driven sales. More than 47% of online consumers in the U.S. have made a purchase based on Pinterest recommendations, and the average order placed by users of the platform is $179 — compare that to $80 for Facebook and $69 for Twitter. These figures show why it’s important to get more Pinterest followers.
Instagram and Tumblr are popular among millennials and are driven with visual content. Retailers, sports brands and celebrities are most likely to benefit the most from the above platforms but we do not feel they are relevant to the B2B world.