Most social media marketing is the online equivalent of a billboard – something that people scroll past on the way to the content that they actually came to the site to see. But then again, there are exceptions.
Remember the ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge that flooded your Facebook feed a few years ago? With $115 million donated through the Challenge during an 8-week period in 2014, that social media marketing campaign can be considered one of the most successful in marketing history. The key to that campaigns’ success was engagement. The Ice Bucket Challenge prompted action and it got people talking.
In order to catch people’s attention, your social content has to be engaging for your potential audience. And while a 2012 study conducted by Forbes showed that 78% of respondents indicated that company posts on social media impact their purchases, not all industries are equal when it comes to the results they can expect from social media marketing. Engagement ratios, audience sizes, and follower growth rates vary across the board.
Social Media Guidelines for B2B Companies
First, let’s address a few points that often come up when we’re working with B2B companies on their social marketing strategy:
- B2B social media audiences, and thus the potential for engagement, will be smaller. It’s the rare B2B company that has as many customers as Coke or Apple, so you shouldn’t expect millions of likes and shares when posting content. Your goal should be to reach the right people.
- B2B social media interactions are generally a long way from becoming sales leads. The size of most B2B purchases means that there will generally be many steps in your target audience’s purchase evaluation, which means that “click to buy” type offers will fall on deaf ears.
- B2B audiences lean more toward instructional or problem solving content. Most of the time, B2B audiences are looking for training, education, or help with a problem that just landed on their desk. So, as much as you might want to post humorous blogs, this type of content likely won’t perform well for your business.
Let’s dig a little deeper into our last point. Social media tracking software provider TrackMaven conducted research in order to highlight differences among B2B industries. Based on their results, we can conclude some key points about various industries:
- Most engaging: Biotech, financial services, and engineering. These industries have mastered engagement, likely due to a combination of healthy debates and problem-solving content that is perfect for their audiences.
- Least engaging: Software. The software industry actually has a high audience growth rate, but its content strategy clearly leaves its users wanting more. Why? Most likely, software falls into the category of services like utilities that customers generally only think about when something goes wrong. The odds of them choosing to interact with, for example, a payroll services vendor for anything other than a complaint are minimal.
- Lowest audience growth rates: Motor vehicles and parts. At around 35% annual follower growth, this industry has the lowest audience growth rates of all the B2B industries observed. It can be argued that, for these industries a basic listening and informational presence could be enough.
B2B Tip: Maintain a LinkedIn presence but engage on Instagram. LinkedIn is used by 94% of B2B marketers, and most B2B companies have much larger followings on LinkedIn compared to any other social media channel. But, when you look at content engagement, Instagram takes the cake. B2B brands get 20 times more engagement on Instagram than LinkedIn.
B2B with a brilliant social media strategy: Intel
Intel faces a common B2B issue in that it has no direct contact with the users who ultimately buy its products. In an effort to make a greater connection with users, Intel has mastered social media by directly engaging its followers on multiple platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. According to Simply Measured, Intel’s social audience once grew by 175,000 people in a single month.
Intel’s secret? The company created conversations around a wide variety of content ranging from jokes about technology, to introducing new products or special offers, to participating in movements like the #ILookLikeAnEngineer campaign.
Social Media Guidelines for B2C Industries
As we did on the B2B side, we’re going to address a few common questions that we hear from B2C companies first.
- Recommendations, Likes, and Ratings Do Have an Effect on Your Business: Word of mouth has been one of the most popular marketing tools since long before the internet, and the same holds true on social media. A recent study found that positive recommendations will boost consumer’s willingness to pay by 9.5%, while negative reviews will lower that same figure by 11%.
- The Higher Your Price, the Farther You Are From Sale: A study by Western Kentucky University found that consumers make snap decisions for purchases under $20 advertised on social media, but the larger the purchase price, the longer they took to consider the decision.
- It’s Impossible to Manufacture Consumer Passion: As we’ll see in TrackMaven’s B2C social media data below, industries that have little natural connection with their audiences struggle with consumer engagement.
- Most engaging: The automaker industry is the model industry for engagement, which likely reflects the extreme enthusiasm its audience has for its products.
- Best audience growth rates: Hospitality is in the sweet spot for follower growth. Given the industry’s intense focus on customer responsiveness and regular offers of deals, consumers likely see a direct tangible benefit of following these types of companies.
- Least engaging: Telco, retailers, and consumer products. Not only do these industries have low engagement ratios, but their follower growth is lacking as well. In fact, food & beverage actually has negative follower growth (-.06%).These industries generally fall into the area where it can be extremely difficult to manufacture consumer passion for something like their phone service or toothpaste. Companies in these industries may choose to engage largely through coupons and discounts, rather than attempts at more significant engagement.
B2C Tip: Focus on creating casual, yet compelling content that speaks to your brand values. The goal of B2C social media marketing is typically to create brand awareness, not lead generation or direct transactions. Humorous, exciting graphics and visuals can help your campaigns go viral.
B2C with a brilliant social media strategy: GoPro
GoPro’s social media marketing and advertisements nearly all feature user-generated content. This strategy is not only affordable, but effective. GoPro’s YouTube channel alone has over 4 million subscribers driven by its passionate community.
Looking for more tips and trips on social media? Why not contact Young Marketing Consulting to discuss your needs?