Just because your B2B brand doesn't sell exciting products or services, doesn't mean your social media presence has to be dull.
That might sound unrealistic coming from someone who works for a fashion retailer, but I've previously worked on social strategies for clients selling engines, insurance and (I kid you not) tractors.
When most people think of successful brands on social media, they think of big B2C brands while B2B companies tend to get overlooked. Although many B2B companies were slow to invest in social media, that's changed with the success seen by companies like General Electric and Maersk.
If global shipping and energy conglomerate, Maersk, can do it, any smart marketer can.
So stop thinking about how B2B and B2C strategies differ and focus on H2H: human to human marketing. Because whether your products or services are used by individuals or businesses, you are still selling to people.
Ronnel Smith, content strategist and writer, sums it up well.
Here are 4 common tactics used by B2C companies that B2B brands can incorporate into their social media marketing strategies.
Thrill Your Followers
Show off the human elements of your products and services. For example, give a behind the scenes look into your company and its culture to engage your community like Southwest Airlines.
Here’s an example from B2B mobile advertising technology company, Tune. They shared pictures of their open house recruiting event. Not only does it show personality and culture, it is a great recruitment tactic.
Show, Don't Tell With Social Media Marketing Content
They say a picture is worth 1,000 words and it might be worth even more when you only have 140 characters to connect with your customers! Powerful visuals have become the bread and butter of most B2Cs social strategies.
Include images in your Twitter posts. According to Buffer, Tweets using pic.twitter.com links were 94% more likely to be retweeted. And Tweets with images received 18% more clicks than those without.
Here at zulily we include visuals in every social post because they are so impactful. We're also creating and sharing more videos.
And these aren't your typical 3 minute product videos explaining features and benefits. Let's be honest, nobody wants to watch that. These are 30 to 60 second (or sometimes even shorter) clips that our followers find helpful and valuable like this beauty tutorial we recently created in house.
If you aren't doing content marketing then you're late to the game. B2B SaaS company Apptio explains their content marketing success here.
Give Experiences, Not Just Offers or Prizes
An intangible experience will strengthen your relationships with customers better than any offer or monetary prize ever will.
How many times have you entered to win an iPad at a conference? Can you even remember what brands were giving them away?
Do something different! Offer an intangible experience that will make the winner a customer for life and make you stand out in all entrants minds.
Starbucks's #WhiteCupContest is the perfect example of this where winners get their designs featured on reusable Starbuck's cups.
For B2B, get your customers and prospects involved. Crowdsource an idea for a hackathon, or invite them to a special webinar.
If you’re doing an event, use social media marketing to make your attendees famous. For example, Marketo Summit projects tweets for their attendees to see.
Use Social Media Marketing To Be Where Your Customers Are
Most B2B brands focus their resources on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, but don't be afraid of new or niche networks. Taco Bell has cultivated a "crazy engaged" following on the visual messaging app, Snapchat where 80% of their followers view the brand's content.
Your target audience probably aren't teenager looking for a late night snack, but follow Taco Bell's lead by going where your customers are.
Look for your customers on industry related forums, online communities, or platforms not typically used by B2Bs like Tumblr, Quora, Reddit, or Twitter's new Periscope.
I hope you find these social media marketing lessons from B2C brands valuable for your B2B company. Just remember to focus on human to human marketing above all else.
About the author:
Maren Hamilton is a Social Media Specialist at zulily where she creates fresh and unique content that's shared with their 3,000,000+ social followers. She's also a student at the University of Washington, earning her Masters of Communication in Digital Media. After hours, you can find her riding her bike, getting crafty or enjoying a good cider.