The State of Social Media for B2B Brands
Given the recent hype around Snapchat, I decided to write a blog post on the state of social media in 2016, but from the B2B perspective.
Mainly because everyone is like "You have to get on Snapchat now" and that's no necessarily true for every brand. The important social media channels in B2B are different than those in B2C, but few seem to clarify this.
As always, this article is based on real life experiences - both mine and from other marketers in the field.
Before I write about Snapchat, I will say that the popular Good to Great book from Phil Collins says that the highly successful (great) companies, evaluate every new technology based on their strategy, strengths and other factors, rather than jumping on it mindlessly, just because everyone else does it.
I believe that's a very good prism to look Snapchat through. Before jumping on it, think; does it fit my strategy and long-term plan?
Snapchat is an interesting app that will probably dominate to a length similar to Instagram or more. But. As happened with Instagram, I don't see many businesses regretting not betting on Instagram in the early days (remember the hype back then?).
The thing is, Snapchat's applications in B2B seem to be very limited.
First of all, if you don't have a charming personality on video you won't do well. You can do it as a hobby, but that's different than investing in it, right?
Secondly, it seems to be useful mainly for personal branding purposes, just like Gary Vaynerchuk is using it. If you have a personal brand already, you could use it to engage your audience in a different and more direct way.
One way that I could see Snapchat working for B2B brands is in having a person in your company who has some authority in the field and charisma Snapchatting with industry insights and having a title (like CEO) that gives him/her some extra authority.
I highly recommend following him both for his content and for his Snapchat game.
The key takeaway for me at the moment from Snapchat's rise is that the market is moving to video and that's what people in B2B should keep in mind.
Quora right now is unparalleled for B2B, yet few are talking about it.
I strongly believe it's the only channel that all B2B companies should be utilizing at least to some extent.
The reason for that is that you can go and instantly gain traction by providing insightful answers to questions, thus funneling traffic back to your site and recognition to your brand (company or personal). The other reason is that Quora's users are of very high quality and well educated.
Here's a couple more reasons why it's such a great channel and what you can do with it...
1) You can use it to follow some topics in your industry, and answer any questions that you can. This will build up your personal brand and people will visit your site from the link in your profile. Jason Lemkin is dominating with this strategy and his insights on SaaS are out of this planet. Definitely follow him if you are into SaaS.
2) Second option and with more direct impact: whenever you go to write a blog post, first head to Quora to find relevant questions and use your content to answer them.
Personally, I prefer answering each question with a custom and to the point answer, then directing readers to the relevant blog post for further reading. Others copy-paste their blog post or sections of it - I'm not an advocate of this tactic though.
Because I've seen that these kinds of answers tend to get more *upvotes* because they look more insightful, but much less comments, prestige and reputation from the readers. That's because if you start reading them, 10% of the answer is vaguely relevant to the question and the rest is fluff.
If you care about your personal brand, don't do that, you'll look like a spammer.
3) The third and sweetest option is to use Quora to find questions where the asker is looking for alternatives to your competitors, then go pitch your company as an option (while disclosing you're working for them).
Ideally, I'd suggest doing all three of these activities. If you need more details, check my marketing guide for Quora.
Although Facebook has a massive user base and very precise targeting options, I've found it increasingly hard to make it work for strictly B2B SaaS.
If you manage to make it work for you, that's great, but it's not the best advertising channel for B2B SaaS. In fact, it's pretty subpar compared to others.
Now, it's pretty good for retargeting your users with product updates and visitors with more content, but that's pretty much it and it can be hard to point out a direct ROI.
If you see fanpages of other B2B SaaS (even popular ones) you'll note that they have a few thousand likes, tops. This is a clear indication that people using these products aren't thinking about them when they're on Facebook.
However, if you haven't got over 1K likes for your Page, I'd consider getting some with retargeting because they're useful for social proof reasons (for potential customers, partners, awards etc).
If you attend a conference relevant to your product, I would consider going live, asking if anyone else from your followers is at the conference etc.
Lastly, Facebook groups seem more alive than ever and apparently they've replaced forums, even in B2B. Maybe you could create a FB group and a community around your SaaS users? (consider this only if you have >1,000 active accounts)
Instagram in B2B, in y experience, is really only good for personal branding and to show your company's culture and how it feels working for your company, thus attracting better talent that fits with your culture.
Remember how everyone was telling us a few years back to be on Instagram or we are losing out?
Well, as I said earlier, I guess us at B2B SaaS didn't lose much out. The only SaaS I have seen active on Instagram is Hubspot and I believe that's because they have capped every other channel. Plus they're mostly using it for hiring and recruiting purposes.
As it currently stands, Instagram is useful mainly for models, apparel companies, food companies, hotels and everything lifestyle.
B2B companies don't fit into that category.
As Gary Vaynerchuk has said, Twitter is losing attention... rapidly. To me it has become a link dump, especially in the marketing industry. Everyone's dumping links and no one is clicking them...
I thought it would be an important channel for the promotion of my personal blog WeeklyGrowth, but it just isn't cutting it.
Naturally, every blog is getting some visitors from Twitter - especially if an influencer tweets your article - but the effort is largely not worth it.
Of course, if tweets come as a byproduct of another promotional activity, they're more than welcome.
I have heard some people running successful PPC ads on Twitter, but they haven't worked for me. Also, the CPC is especially high considering the lack of attention Twitter has.
All in all, I won't be spending much energy or time on it for any purposes.
I believe LinkedIn's PPC has some potential, but you need to have a perfectly refined and highly converting funnel, or extremely high customer LTV (LifeTime Value) for its high CPC to work.
On the other hand, its InMails are the most undervalued marketing channel. They're ideal for outreach and LinkedIn even has a program to scale and automate them (you will need a budget of >$10,000).
For every 100 groups, only 2 seem to be active and I haven't seen any potential out of them. It seems that they've largely been replaced by Facebook groups.
LinkedIn has some valuable marketing channels for lead generation and recruiting, but it seems to lose its attention as a social network. Even the InMails will often be read in the Gmail of most users.
As you can see, the channels that are useful for us in B2B are vastly different than the social media channels that the consumers go and spend time. Sure, your target audience might be on this or that social network, but their frame or mind might be different than doing business.
People on Instagram want to see cool, lifestyle photos, not our lead gen report. They might want to see that report, but not at the moment...
Hopefully these notes will help inform your decision on where to focus your B2B marketing efforts.
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