70% of marketers have moved in-person events to virtual platforms1, and a recent Deloitte CMO study also found that of the participants, This presents the opportunity for specialist b2b companies to examine their social media presence and ensure these platforms are being used to their full potential.Whether you’re sprucing up your organic social, or reallocating exhibition budgets to sponsored activity, social media offers multiple options to help ensure you are reaching and engaging with your b2b audience.
Knowing your audience – and picking their preferred platform
With so many platforms available, you must first consider your audience. Be clear about your target audience by establishing buyer personas and research them – where do they spend the most time? What kind of content do they consume? This is where you need to focus your efforts prior to commencing any activity.
Doing some quick surveys with existing customers or via your sales teams is a good way of better understanding the social media habits of your target audience. Many of the platforms enable you to search for users by location, industry or keywords, so you could find out whether the kinds of people you want to reach are active on different platforms.
It’s also worth seeing where your customers’ customers are most active on social media – so you can identify how your customers are reaching and engaging with them.
Now, let’s look at the key features of the three main b2b platforms.
With flexibility in content type and industry-specific search filters, LinkedIn is a channel that we use or recommend for all of our clients. It is the top choice for promoting businesses, particularly in specialist industries.
Hosting the world’s largest professional network of 690 million users (including 40 million decision-makers), LinkedIn is responsible for up to 45% of all social media traffic to company homepages3.
When managed correctly, we have found that many of our clients see good growth in followers and engagements each month on LinkedIn. Paid campaigns have also brought in some great results, and we have seen some really interesting leads generated by sponsoring the content we develop for clients, as well as increased brand awareness and, consequently, increases in website traffic.
More recently, LinkedIn has brought in a new feature allowing organisations to host live events through the platform. In the absence of face-to-face events, this is helping companies to interact with their audience, hosting and showcasing live video content on their profiles, and gathering leads in the process.
Twitter’s 280-character limit makes it the ideal amplification channel for your marketing campaigns, and great for quick news updates. With an active user base of 330 million each month4, you can reach both broad and targeted audiences. Twitter’s hashtag functionality allows us to create, follow, and monitor the conversations happening in our clients’ industries, so we can see what’s trending, as well as identify potential customers for them.
We’re able to actively participate in the conversation through posting polls, responding to tweets, and messaging key users, so our clients are always engaging with the right people. By following relevant accounts and using hashtags to place our clients in front of their target audiences, we see good monthly growth in followers and engagements on this channel, with spikes around events or major news. It’s also a good platform for engaging with trade media, by liking their posts and resharing relevant articles. Not only can this help strengthen relationships with key publications for future editorial opportunities, but also reach the followers of those key journalists at the same time.
Instagram is often overlooked by b2b marketers, as it is perceived as more of a b2c platform. However, it has the highest engagement rates per post5, so although you may not be able to target specific parameters, its audience of 1 billion users5 is more likely to interact with content. We have seen good levels of engagement through this platform, and unearthed entire communities of relevant users by using hashtags and follower suggestions. This was certainly the case for one of our clients, who has seen their number of followers almost quadruple since we began posting and implementing a follower strategy on their account. Now, Instagram acts as another successful platform where they can interact with their followers and increase engagement.
Some good b2b examples of Instagram success include Mailchimp, which showcases its services and key messages in a bright and engaging way, and IBM, which uses reactive storytelling to put itself in the middle of news and events to highlight the company’s significance in areas of current interest. Although your business may be in more of a specialised area with a very specific audience, Instagram is definitely worth considering for companies with strong visual content, whether that’s photography or video.
Big picture – how can social media fit into my marketing strategy?
A good guide for b2b companies is to spend between 2-5% of their revenue on social media6. However
 ‘Research: 15-Plus Data Points On The Impact Of Covid-19 On Marketers’ Event Marketer, https://www.eventmarketer.com/article/research-data-points-impact-pandemic-marketers/
 ‘Deloitte study: companies redirected almost half of the marketing budgets towards social media and mobile activities during the COVID-19 pandemic’ Deloitte, https://www2.deloitte.com/ro/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/studiu-deloitte-companiile-au-redirectionat-aproape-jumatate-din-bugetele-de-marketing-catre-retelele-de-socializare-si-dispozitivele-mobile-in-timpul-pandemiei-de-covid-19.html
 ‘Using LinkedIn Marketing Tools to Promote your Business’ LinkedIn
 ’10 Twitter Statistics You Need to Know’ Oberlo, https://www.oberlo.co.uk/blog/twitter-statistics#:~:text=75%20percent%20of%20B2B%20businesses,at%20least%20once%20per%20month
 ‘How To Use Instagram For B2B Marketing In 2021’ Foundation, https://foundationinc.co/lab/instagram-for-b2b/
 ‘How To Set Your 2021 Social Media Budget’ THATagency, https://blog.thatagency.com/creating-a-social-media-advertising-budget-strategy