Uncovering the Secret to B2B Social Media Success
By Jenny Kosek for our 15 Ways to Build Your B2B Brand in 2015 blog series
By now, 84% or more of B2B marketers use some form of social media in their marketing efforts. Yet studies suggest social media usage rates for industrial companies are much lower: a Belgian study found that only 26.7% of industrial companies in that country used social media in their efforts. If you google “B2B social media” you’ll find a lot of e-books, inspiring articles, and success stories from B2Bs that are just rocking their efforts and swimming in leads…or so it would seem. In my experience, most B2Bs are still struggling to connect the dots between social media, their products or services, clear strategy, and measurable success.
In the past year, I’ve worked with B2Bs who all seem to be facing the same challenges with social media, and the challenge is summarized simply: what the heck do we do with it? The solution is also simple: be people on it. Not a business.
I think that’s the hardest part for B2B to embrace, because B2B is all about product. High-level technical specs, insider-only jargon, dimensions, measurements, metrics – not people-centric storytelling. And that is why B2Bs are still struggling with social media, which by design is about people, stories, and human connection.
General Electric (GE) receives well-deserved praise for cracking the B2B social media mystery. In their strategy, their products take a back seat to focus on the people affected or impacted by their products. They also have a lot of fun. Check out their recent Facebook cover photo:
Not a lightbulb to be seen. Just a lighthearted share of the emoji table of experiments that was trending in December 2014. And their posts? Even better:
A simply told story connecting not only GE technology to its people, community, philanthropy, and also wider healthcare issues. All of that in a short video. It’s social media done right.
Think about your product – when does it impact people instead of processes? Suppose your business is selling a piece of manufacturing equipment. To be blunt: sharing that piece of equipment on Facebook isn’t going to build an audience. Sharing content about the end applications of that equipment and its impact on people – for example, at some point in its lifecycle, will it help get ice cream to a child’s birthday party? Help power a household? Keep the family pet healthy? – now, those stories will make a social media splash.
In short, get past your products and build your social media story around your company’s impact on people. That’s your true brand story, and it’s the one that will make social media work for you.