Social media platforms for effective B2B marketing: the strengths and weaknesses of the big players

The increase in internet penetration and customer savviness has developed a strong case for social media marketing. Businesses that earlier spent a large percentage of their marketing budget in television or print advertising started taking notice of the immense potential that social networks had. While it is true that retail and B2C businesses were some of the earliest adopters of social media marketing, B2B companies have also recently started experimenting with social media.

According to an April study by Social Media Examiner, 93% of the 1900 B2B marketers who took a social media marketing survey market their services through social media. These marketers were also successful in using social media to get new clients and improve their search engine rankings. 87% of these marketers use Facebook for marketing, while LinkedIn isn’t too far behind at 86.6%. Twitter has an 84% usage. B2B marketers are also most likely to use Google+ compared to their B2C counterparts.

Let’s attempt to segment the most commonly used B2B social media platforms according to their strengths and weaknesses.

Facebook

With a 901 million strong global user base, it is hardly surprising that Facebook is the social platform of choice for both B2C and B2B marketers. Why is Facebook so successful?

  • 1. Wide reach: Millions of users worldwide use Facebook to connect with friends and family. They also use the platform to stay updated with their favorite brands and to discover new products and services through friend referrals.
  • 2. Ability to post high resolution infographics: With the new Timeline feature, companies can post infographics that are targeted to their clients. These have the potential of becoming a huge deciding factor during the sales cycle.
  • 3. Use of Facebook Ads: Facebook Ads allow B2B’s to create highly effective ads that can be targeted to their demographic market.

 

A B2B may argue about the impossibility of finding prospective clients on Facebook and they’re right to some extent. Think about it. In most cases, a company CEO will use Facebook only to stay connected with their family because they’re pressed for time, but there could be a lot other influential people within the organization on Facebook.

The only downside of using Facebook for a B2B is that may not be able to garner as many fans as a B2C owing to the niche nature of their business; however a lot of B2B’s have experimented with different strategies for getting the maximum out of their Facebook page. For example: A company selling medical equipment can create a Facebook page dedicated to a particular disease or disorder, while an advertising agency can create a page for small business owners and provide them with free tips and strategies to market their businesses. This not only helps them build an engaged community, but also helps them build new business partnerships.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is perhaps the only social network that is designed for fostering business partnerships, networking, and building strong business relationships. By connecting with potential clients and other businesses, you not only learn about their business, but also have an opportunity of presenting your services.

Here are some of the benefits of using LinkedIn:

  • 1. Connect with business professionals – With LinkedIn’s InMail service, you can send a pitch email to a fixed number of LinkedIn users every month. Use this pitch to describe your services and how you can help them. Mention your USP and give them a link to something free, like a whitepaper or even an infographics, that provides them with details about what you do and why it is important for them to hire you.
  • 2. Participate in groups – One significant advantage that LinkedIn has over other social networks is the group feature. Find groups that are relevant to your business and actively participate in them. This helps you connect with group members at a personal level, so whenever they need services your business offers, you’ll be the first one they contact. Another great method of building relationships is the “Answers” feature.
  • 3. Connect with group members – Interacting with group members on the group is great, but connecting with them enables you to learn more about what they do. When sending a connection request, make sure you thank them for accepting it and include a short bio.

The obvious shortcoming of LinkedIn is that its user base is not as widespread as Facebook, though it makes up for it by connecting you with serious professionals.

Twitter

If you ignore the bots and spam profiles following you, Twitter can help you appear as a serious business. No, it’s not only for the Kardashian’s! Many B2B’s are using it to connect with clients.

Make informed, intriguing posts and provide your followers with something that is of value to them. Twitter can be very time consuming, but you certainly don’t need to spend hours and hours on Twitter. Using a social media management dashboard like Buffer or HootSuite can help you manage social marketing efforts better.

The strengths and weaknesses of each platform can be best judged on the success rate of your campaign. If your current strategy is getting you good results, tweaking it can get you better results. Keep experimenting with different methods till you find one that is immensely successful for your business.

Khusboo Aulakh writes for Broadband Genie and Mobile Genie, the social shopping sites for broadband, mobile broadband and the best mobile phone deals.