The countdown to the New Year is on, and in 2019, it’s estimated that around 2.77 billion people will be on social media around the globe (up from 2.46 billion in 2017). Social media isn’t going anywhere, and its potential to get the word out to customers is finally attracting the attention of B2B businesses.
Inspired by the success of B2C in social media, more and more B2B businesses are looking to develop their own adaptable social media strategy that’s aligned with their marketing and sales initiatives and helps promote their business relationships and objectives.
After watching social media trends throughout 2018, deep diving into our own analytics and social insights, and listening to our customers about their experiences in the B2B social media space, it’s clear that social media is becoming a top priority for businesses to understand and implement.
So long, 2018; hello 2019!
At Appirio, we’ve been busy planning our social media calendar and goals for the upcoming year.
Through our brainstorming and strategy sessions, we’ve arrived at some game-changing predictions we believe will spread like wildfire in the social media marketing in 2019 and beyond:
Authenticity is no longer just for B2C brands.
B2C brands have spent the last year pivoting towards more authentic and transparent social media personas, and it’s time for B2B dive down this rabbit hole. But what exactly does ‘authenticity’ mean?
Instead of highly technical language and constant pushes towards products or business initiatives, it means B2B companies can now show the world who they are behind their software solutions and products. This means B2B brands will have to rethink their content, tone, and how they’ll engage with prospects and customers.
While this new approach might seem intimidating, but by doing so, B2B businesses that take this bold new direction will be able to build long-term loyalty and trust and mean it when they say, “This is who we are and what we believe in...now, please join us!”
How do we see this on B2B social media?
- Social posts highlighting company culture and internal moments that typically wouldn’t get attention for an external market
- Content — whether it’s a native post, or an update pushing to a blog link — that showcases and explains company culture. Appirio is already ahead of the curve here - check out all our culture-focused blogs here.
- Live streaming external and internal events on Facebook and Instagram is a way to show what’s happening, how it’s happening, and who’s involved
Transparency is a fundamental component of a successful B2B social strategy.
Companies can push out content all the livelong day on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but if they aren’t offering transparency in their findings, data, subject matter opinions, or breaking news... that content will quickly become meaningless.
Transparency is key for B2B companies when they think about updating their communication funnels and strategies on how they directly want to speak to their audience. Thanks to social, formal communication is no longer the main or only option. In fact, B2B companies should use social to push out news and information that would traditionally go into press releases or be hidden somewhere on a website. Social media is giving B2B companies the opportunity to directly grab the attention of the businesses they’re after with just a push of a button and a few @ mentions or hashtags.
What does social media strategy look like when it's fully executed?
- B2B companies can skip writing press releases to highlight news and write directly on social platforms while using audience targeting capabilities to ensure the right people are seeing tailored news and exclusive content
- Instead of just internally sharing data, B2B social media platforms can showcase real-time data as it comes in. If a campaign reaches its goal, and the results are newsworthy, it is helpful when there’s little to no turn-around time to push out a tweet or get up a LinkedIn post. B2B businesses that are brave enough to transparently share what’s happening behind the scenes — when it makes sense — shows them being beyond products and services; it makes them leaders in the social space.
Additionally, in a social media-based world — metrics are starting to matter more and more. Talk of reach and impressions being nothing more than “vanity metrics” is going away because that data really does matter. Sharing trends, industry benchmarks (and how often they change in this landscape), and social metrics that are happening in a B2B setting should (and will) become a part of any forward-thinking B2B company’s social strategy.
Tell a story or lose business.
Big consumer-facing brands love to tell stories through their social media content. Nonprofits love it too. The better the story...the bigger the impact through likes, comments, clickthroughs, and shares. Social media managers often say that if you can find a story with a happy ending, anything to do with animals, or a cute baby — you’ve found social gold. Yes, finding those feel good or tear-jerking stories in a B2B world can be hard, but it doesn’t mean B2B social media can’t tell meaningful stories or engage with audiences and get them to come back.
What should storytelling do for B2B companies in 2019?
- Tell and explain how the business can bring their clients value
- Show and explain how working together can be a customized experience
- Highlight past client success stories in the shape of videos, case studies, white papers, customer testimonials, and blogs
Prospective clients want to know how a business can bring value to them in tangible terms - that’s why there's no better way than conveying that value through past client success stories. Successful B2B social strategies will utilize video, graphics, and written content to help tell an immersive and meaningful story.
Move over Twitter, Instagram is stepping into the B2B game.
Twitter, what are we going to do with you? While Twitter still exists as the most timely and reactive social platforms, this platform has seen a shift in the last year or two thanks to the changing news cycle (according to the Pew research center, more Americans get their news from social media instead of newspapers ). Yes, Twitter still has around 500 million tweets pushed out each day, but when it comes to business, information is getting buried by the constant news cycle.
It’s important to look at the stats of Twitter vs. its budding B2B rival Instagram. On average, Twitter has around 500 million tweets sent each day while Instagram has 500 million active users pushing out around 95 million photos and videos. While these stats may seem somewhat comparable, they aren’t...Instagram is crushing Twitter with engagement.
Think about it? Would you rather watch a 30-second customer success story on Instagram from a client partner or would you rather read a 280 character tweet sandwiched between two depressing news stories?
Outside of engagement, Instagram is winning as a B2B platform thanks to its capabilities like Instagram stories, Instagram highlights, the ability to drive direct traffic to specific links like blogs or new products (for companies with +10k followers), and the power of following and searching for related hashtags. Not only are these capabilities engaging audiences, but they are also making consumers of all kinds expand Instagram usage from personal to business in an easy, intuitive way.
Yes, a year ago, many B2B companies were not on Instagram, and if they were — they were not active. Now, B2B Instagram is all about highlighting what we’ve already discussed — authenticity and storytelling capabilities, so it’s a natural fit.
B2B isn’t like B2C, but social is leveling the playing field.
Traditionally, B2C and B2B marketing strategies and tactics have differed, but in 2019, the very tactics that have successfully been implemented and activated continuously by B2C companies are going to be adopted by B2B business - and they should be. If B2B wants to make a dent in social media marketing, it needs to boldly go to the next level of engaging audiences and highlighting unique selling points and value.
These predictions are just the tip of the iceberg though when it comes to B2B social media marketing in 2019.
Find Appirio on your favorite social platform and tell us what you think B2B social will see next:
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