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Social Media - An Effective B2B Channel?

78% of Finnish people use social media on a daily basis. B2C companies have rapidly understood the opportunities social media provides for customer acquisition and engagement. B2B companies, on the other hand, have been more cautious. Companies are wary, as there is no evidence of how activity and likes impact sales. The buying processes for B2B products and services are usually more complex than for consumer products. The former might, therefore, use social media primarily for brand building rather than product marketing. However, social media should not be an overlooked platform, as 55% of B2B customers are using social media to seek information about products and services.

Difference Between B2C and B2B social media usage

When primary sales are to other firms, marketing communications highlight service and the building of trust and value. In B2C marketing, the price and arousing emotions are the main focus of marketing communications – to show what a customer can experience and feel when they own a certain product or use a specific service. Potential customers are interested not only in the products on offer, but also the companies behind the products.

Customer Experience

Customer experience underlines an omni-channel approach, which in today’s business environment requires social media presence. Digital communication is part of building a strong brand that brings added value to customers. Social media provides companies with an opportunity to build themselves a personality and a more personal relationship with customers. This requires decisions on the style of communication, as the style of social media can be quite relaxed.

B2B companies use social media to raise brand awareness and demonstrate their thought leadership. The benefit of establishing oneself as a thought leader is that once a customer realizes their need for a product or service, strong brands will have a lead against others. Studies show that up to 90% of the customer journey may have been completed when the customer first contacts a company that addresses their needs.

Benefits of Social Media

The importance of offering customers good and relevant content has grown, and social media has proven to be a natural platform for companies to engage with customers. Especially the opportunity to build a two-way dialogue has been seen as a strength of social media. According to consulting firm McKinsey, the most prevalent benefits of social media to business are: the lowered costs of communication and marketing, the increase in efficiency of marketing, higher customer satisfaction, the increase in speed and easiness of obtaining information, as well as an easier channel for contacting experts.

Instagram

Instagram is a visual platform, which is great for engaging customers. People are looking for a more personal experience when they follow a company on Instagram – they want to be inspired and entertained. Good content includes, for example, pictures taken by customers and surprising places where the product is used. Additionally, a company’s history and culture can be turned into inviting content.

Here is an example from Caterpillar (@catproducts), known for their building machines:

Posts that are in line with your customers’ interests are guaranteed to succeed. Adobe engages customers with artistic pictures, while IBM followers receive content about sports events, technology and the abilities of Watson. IBM has multiple posts about its employees and offices around the globe. Incorporating pictures of employees helps to give the company a face and brings a personal touch.


B2B Instagram accounts worth visiting:
Mailchimp (@mailchimp)
Fedex (@fedex)
Hp (@hp)
Adobe (@adobe)
IBM (@ibm)

Difference between Instagram and Facebook

Out of all social media platforms, Facebook has the most followers, almost 1.8 billion in total. Facebook is a more informative channel than Instagram – you can expect to find information about the companies’ opening hours and office locations. The platform works well as a mean of communication for informing about upcoming events, except for opening hours and special offers.  Facebook allows for more text on posts than Instagram. Links to a company’s blog posts and newspaper articles about the company’s achievements are good content for a Facebook timeline.  

Moving image

The importance of video content has increased in marketing. Facebook is a useful channel for sharing video content, while Instagram has limited video length to one minute. Additionally, the Facebook algorithm seems to favor video content, which is given more visibility than other types of content. The goal of a video can be teaching – for example, demonstrating how a product or service solves a certain problem or teaching about things relevant to the industry. Presenting industry trends in a compelling way increases the sense of expertise and will likely make individuals interested in the industry follow a company’s content more actively. Facebook live makes it possible to send live video to followers, which works well for building an authentic relationship with followers.

Conclusion

Facebook and Instagram are viable channels for B2B marketing. With relevant and targeted content, it is possible for companies to find sales leads and grow brand awareness. Instagram is a highly visual platform, while Facebook is more informative in style. High quality content and expertise in multiple channels helps in establishing thought leadership.

Cheers,
Let's be in contact if you want to talk more about social media possibilities.
- Mika Käyhty / CEO & Partner

Posted 6th of March 2017

Mika Käyhty