The B2B world has embraced social media as another route to market. And there are a number of companies who are successfully incorporating social media into their wider marketing efforts with great results. Here we celebrate some of those B2B campaigns that we think have been doing great things and take a look at the five key attributes that they share.
1. Keep it personal
The clue is in the name – social – so endeavour to keep it ‘social’. Companies that are using tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even SnapChat to deliver B2B content recognise that it’s about delivering the human side to a brand. Whether that’s engaging prospects, employees, industry bodies or other stakeholders, relationship building is one of the biggest benefits of social media for brands. Some of the most successful campaigns around often use and involve the audience. Take savings and investment company Standard Life. It wanted to up its engagement and conversation with financial advisors so it reached out to the audience and created an expert panel who came together to deliver advice and commentary during the Chancellor’s Autumn statement. This meant the campaign championed the views and opinions of advisors rather than driving out product messages. It utilised Twitter as its main channel but followed up on its website. The results were great. Check out its win at the B2B Marketing Awards.
2. Be visual
More than ever delivering great visuals is important in gaining standout over social media – some tools such as Instagram and Pinterest are built on it. As readers scroll down through the pages its pictures not words that grab their attention. IBM’s Hidden Figures campaign does this beautifully. Built around the release of movie Hidden Figures that reveals the contribution of three women during the 1960s space race. IBM computers take a central role in the movie and stills and trailers for the film are littered across IBM’s social media feeds and its website. It also uses the content to create debate across the bigger question of diversity in STEM currently. IBM has used visuals from the film to front the campaign and has rolled offline activity at CES during a debate session with its diversity officer through to creating an augmented reality (AR) application that profiles early unsung heroes of innovation in STEM fields that it is pushing out over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
3. Have a social strategy
Don’t just put your pictures and videos on social media tools because you can – think carefully about their use and how they add value. Decide how the tools can integrate into your wider marketing plan. As with any campaign, be clear about your objectives and what you want to achieve from social media. Do you want to reach a certain audience specifically? Then think about sponsored content. Or do you simply want to open up discussion and engagement? Either way be prepared to use social media within the boundaries and context of a clearly defined campaign.
Again, IBM’s Hidden Figures campaign clearly demonstrates how social fits within a wider online and offline marketing campaign and it’s easy to see how the company is able to utilise current discussions to push its heritage in computing alongside its responsibility as a fair employer.
4. Bring some B2C to your B2B
While we often differentiate between the two, B2B and B2C brands can learn from each other. One brand doing B2B and B2C well is credit card company American Express. Its ShopSmallUK campaign urged consumers to shop locally (of course using their AmEx credit cards) but at the same time it built a great B2B campaign around the UK’s small shop owners. Twitter and Facebook campaigns urged consumers to nominate their favourite local shops or share stories of how far they’d travel to visit them. It also bought in videos of celebs discussing the merits of the high street, and gave card members £5 credit when they spent £10 or more at a participating small business, encouraging revenue generation for these small businesses.
What’s more AmEx also offered businesses a free online advertising tool that let the shops create their own digital ad. AmEx then promoted the ad online targeting potential customers located nearby. Small businesses where then able to use the ad on their own social media feeds supporting AmEx’s and their own brand awareness even further – clever.
5. Remember you’re a brand
This is just as important for B2C organisations as it is for B2B brands. People trust brands less than they trust other people. Since social media is populated by people it figures that those engaging with you across your feeds like your brand or want to engage in some way. Don’t forget who you are as a brand and start acting like a person. While you want a personality it needs to align with your brand. The most successful B2B campaigns are the ones that deliver a consistent perspective on who and what you are – one that talks the same way, delivers the same content and looks the same which ever channel it uses. While you as individual an delivering that content over twitter might have an irreverent or dark sense of humour the brand that employs you to manage its feed might not. Don’t cross the line.
As a final point to leave with you about great social media campaigns, remember that the traditional B2B sales funnel has changed. Potential customers are engaging over social media way before they even reach a sales person or company representative. This means that building social media elements to a campaign or even a dedicated campaign to run across a social media channel is vital in communicating with prospects.
Claire Lamb has worked in technology PR for 20 years and has survived more bubbles than Michael Jackson.