5 fundamental differences between B2B and B2C social media marketing

Like all things in communications, thinking about your audience – their wants, needs, interests – is vital in creating a great strategy with impact that will generate good results. Social media marketing is no different as a form of online marketing creating and sharing content across social media networks for publicity.

Utilising social media as a part of your marketing strategy is often a cost-effective, engaging and direct approach to customers, with the capability of increasing your business’ visibility to a realm of online users. It is a great tactic for a number of reasons, including: improving brand awareness, creating more brand authority, two-way communication with your customers, and resulting in increased traffic to your website through click-through content. Brand competition on social media is high, and if your competitors are already online and dominating the social space in your market, then it is time to act now! Don’t let your competitors take your potential customers.

Now, although the basic principles remain the same, there are some fundamental differences and things to consider when deciphering between a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) approach. In fact, social posts for a B2B business will probably look very different from those created by a B2C business. In today’s blog, we will look at five of the main differences between B2B and B2C, and why it is important to consider these differing factors going forward in your core communications strategy.

1. Content

Social content is so much more than words depicting your brand messaging about business or industry news, product or services. Content can also be visual, audio, static, animated – and on social media, the more eye-catching the better.

Your content needs to really engage a reader, and provide value. They are looking for something that relates or means something to them – what do they get from your post? This should always be a thought when creating content for social media. Articulating your messaging in the right way, as a thought-leader, ensuring it isn’t a sales promotion will improve its success, earning it more engagement and interaction. In turn, this will help a profile to be at the top of the reader’s newsfeed (and mind) when the time comes to make business decisions! It is all about staying active and relevant.

B2B businesses can leverage numerous types of content on socials; linking to case studies, white papers, webinar events, videos, infographics. There is also the opportunity to comment on relevant industry news and showcase your expertise in your sector.

In B2C, social media content is usually very commercial. B2C generally has a larger audience and is seen as a more casual form of communication – often quite entertaining, using banter or with a double entendre.

Social Media Advertising

2. Channels

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest… there is a proliferation of social channels. Naturally, some platforms prove more relevant to the B2B market.

Until Instagram and Facebook successfully stole its ‘story’ functionality and its popularity declined, Snapchat was the preferred platform for young audiences, with the added advertising capability quickly meaning that brands could directly appeal to audiences in this way[1]. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, however, seem to remain the top platforms for B2B communications, potentially even the “staple” channels for many companies and their social endeavours.

Social media users use different platforms for different reasons – for me as a consumer, LinkedIn is work-related and where I explore news and updates in my industry. Twitter, because of its instantaneous nature, is good for monitoring the news. Facebook and Instagram are social and where I connect with my friends and family. I have a different objective and use for each platform, so would most of your customers…

Typically, the three social networks that B2B businesses should focus on are LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook – targeting customers and prospective clients during their working day AND in their downtime – we’ll get more into that in point 3.

LinkedIn at its core, is a business network, equipped with targeted discussion groups that you can tap into to know what is of interest to your customers in their key sectors. The reach of Twitter, assisted by adding popular (but relevant!) hashtags on your posts help to further your message to new prospects and industries. Facebook is one of those sites most individuals routinely go to and scroll through during the working day. A habit!

As Buddy Media suggests: “the less people want to be at work, the more they are on Facebook!” Facebook also has great targeting options to be able to target your customer, drilling right down to job function, location, interests etc. making sure you reach who you need to.

3. Timings and frequency

Audiences use different online platforms for different uses, but they use these at different times of the day. It could be during the day at work, during their downtime on lunch or at home!

B2B brands tend to perform better on Twitter and LinkedIn during the week, for B2C, weekends and evenings are where their social posts see the best engagement[2].

What are the best timings to schedule your posts? According to Quick Sprout

  • LinkedIn – weekdays during business hours. The best times for engagement is 7 – 8am, 5 – 6pm. Mondays and Fridays are apparently the worst days to post!
  • Twitter – weekdays for B2B, weekends for B2C; 12 – 1pm and 5 – 6pm is best for the highest click through rate – lunch time and on the commute home!
  • Facebook – Thursday, Friday; 1 – 3pm for the most engagement.
  • Instagram – Monday; out of work hours.

4. Goals and objectives

For B2B, the main objective for using social media marketing tends to be to increase brand awareness, build credibility and for lead generation. B2C social media marketing focuses mainly on social engagement and awareness.

Of course, the goal and objective of a campaign varies from business to business, campaign to campaign. However, the traceability of social media, the ability to measure clicks, engagements, interactions, lead generation or traffic to a site or specific web page, is why social media marketing is so appealing.

Word cloud social media

5. Measurement

Although B2B and B2C content, strategy and audience habits are different, there is something of crucial importance that remains the same across both fields: measuring the impact of your social media communication.

There are several metrics that can be used to measure “success”, but again, success is subjective following what you have set as your goal or objective. Social media is unlikely to directly influence a business’ bottom line, and we would never promise that it could, however, brand awareness, credibility, lead generation and further promotion can indirectly achieve a business more sales by improving its visibility to new potential customers online and across socials.

Some measures of success could include:

  • Increase of followers
  • Increase of traffic to the specific page or website
  • Level of engagement from followers (likes, shares, comments)
  • Number of visits/visitors or click-throughs
  • Leads gathered, for instance the number of downloads or registrants

Although being able to see and demonstrate return on investment by the numbers achieved… not everything is measureable on social media. For instance, brand awareness, customer service and satisfaction cannot be accurately known by any reporting metric.

In order to stay competitive in this world where everyone is already online, it’s better for brands to employ a social media strategy and to be active in this space. Of course, some social channels are more suitable for specific businesses compared to others – if your customer demographic is not active on Snapchat, then it isn’t practical and doesn’t make sense for you to employ a social media strategy across this platform. It is better to invest in one or two social channels, for instance LinkedIn and Twitter, and manage these platforms well rather than spread yourself too thinly trying to utilise all channels for the sake of it.

Social media is all about connecting the dots and touching all the bases you can with your existing and prospective customers. It is about keeping individuals in the know with what you’re up to, what’s new, what’s the important issue within your industry right now, where they can download that all-important whitepaper of yours!

Whether you believe it or not, or whether you don’t (yet) see the value of social media, it’s better to have it than not. Why let your competitors have all the retweets, eh?

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For more information about how McOnie can help to create a clear, compelling and effective communications strategy to strengthen your brand and grow your business, email: info@mconieagency.com

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/snapchat-update-facebook-instagram-stories-clone-shares-stock-price-ipo-a7888411.html

[2] https://contently.com/2015/01/14/infographic-the-best-times-to-post-on-social-for-b2b-b2c-brands/

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