In this blog, Matthew Creswick, Group Head of Marketing at The B2B Marketing Lab, explains why social media - even platforms previously considered to be strictly B2C focused - plays a key role in marketing campaigns and can help businesses to build brand awareness and generate leads.
The business benefits of social media are endless: when used effectively, it can be a fantastic way for your marketing team build brand awareness, but also allows your business to offer direct support to customers in real-time and can help to generate new leads.
But in order to do it well – you have to work hard at it.
In 2019, it’s much harder to generate an organic audience via social media compared to six years ago. Back when social media was first being used by companies, you could simply create a page, promote quality content and easily build a following and increase engagement.
Fast-forward a few years and while the barriers to entry are still basically non-existent – anyone can create and manage a social media account – in 2019 competition is rife and standing out is an ongoing challenge.
There’s also the issue of choosing the right social media platform for your business. Though LinkedIn is the obvious choice for B2B, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube shouldn’t be overlooked. Buyer behaviour has changed – and traditionally B2C platforms are increasingly being used by people (your prospects) to find out more about businesses and the products and services they provide.
This blog will elaborate on the business benefits of using social media channels that previously may have considered to be only used by B2C organisations.
1. It provides creative ways to engage your audience
You can use different social media platforms to advertise your business in a more creative way.
Take Instagram and YouTube for example. Businesses typically use Instagram to show off their culture and day-to-day activities, but it can also be used to display products, provide short explanations or promote certain services. It’s great for raising brand awareness and increasing engagement.
Instagram allows businesses to take a creative approach to storytelling by using the ‘Stories’ function. Photos and videos uploaded to a story disappear after 24 hours – which certainly plays on the fear of missing out that many of us have!
Many brands now advertise with stories to raise awareness or promote flash discounts. For B2B companies it could be used to promote discounts on products or services, advertise a webinar or upcoming video, ask questions or summarise an event.
YouTube, on the other hand, is a great platform for B2B companies that create quality video content. As the most popular video-sharing platform on the planet (and the second-most visited website online) it provides B2B companies with global reach. To achieve success on YouTube, B2B companies should create and share valuable videos, such as product demonstrations, how-to guides and advice, case studies, event summaries and thought leadership. Video content can often tell a story much easier than a written post – and will also be easier for your audience to engage with!
Finally, another benefit of social media platforms is that they allow you to set up a “business page”, which is an online profile for your business. You can include a phone number and address in your bio and the page can be found in search results. Instagram goes a step further and allows businesses and brands to add a ‘shop’ button to their profile. This button directs those who click on it to the business’ or brand’s products and services.
2. It exposes your business to a new audience
These platforms, especially Instagram, tend to have a younger audience (mostly under the age of 35). So, by using these platforms, your business could potentially reach new prospects, which in turn will raise brand awareness, increase website traffic and support lead generation.
Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn all use hashtags to tag and retrieve posts. If a user wants to find content on marketing automation, for example, all they have to type into the search bar is #marketingautomation. Using hashtags, businesses can increase the reach of their content significantly and potentially attract new audiences.
Of course, for people to find your content, you need to use the right hashtags – i.e. those that are being searched!
You can find out what hashtags are performing well and generate a lot of visibility by using a tool like Hashtagify.
3. There is more engagement on social media – particularly YouTube and Instagram
While social media use is widespread, some platforms are more popular than others.
LinkedIn and Twitter are more popular with businesses, but YouTube and Instagram have far more engagement. Over 80 percent of Instagram users follow a business page, proving that there is still a market for customer engagement on platforms that are not considered B2B.
YouTube’s user engagement statistics are nothing to scoff at either. According to HubSpot, 68% of YouTube users watched a video to help them make a purchase decision, while 80% of YouTube users who watched a video to help them with that decision said they watched the video at the beginning of the process.
The number of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) using YouTube has doubled since 2016, so if you’re not on YouTube, you’re missing out.
The benefits of social media for businesses are clear, especially at a time when most people have at least one social media account. Interacting with your customers on social media can raise awareness, attract new prospects and help generate leads. Whether it is through blogging, sharing product information or insightful videos, engaging with consumers on social media platforms – even those previously considered to B2C – can help your marketing activity significantly.
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