As an agency that is focused on B2B, we don’t often get the opportunity to engage in some of the more “fun” social media marketing campaigns that we see in B2C Marketing. Fortunately, we’re lucky to have B2B clients who are willing to push the edge and experiment with tactics that aren’t normally employed in their space.
Given this, every so often we sit down and look at what’s happening in the B2C space for inspiration—and we end up capturing some of the coolest and most innovative marketing, communications, and branding initiatives out there.
It’s great, some B2B companies really give B2C companies a run for their money in the creative social media marketing stakes. We’ve decided to share some that we really enjoyed, so here is a look at seven awesome B2B Social Media Marketing Campaigns of 2017 and some recommendations on building a stronger social media presence.
1. Creative and Timely Call to Action: Powwownow
Conference call and web conferencing service Powwownow’s multichannel campaign reminded everyone that a conference call was the quickest way to do business. The ‘call and conquer’ campaign launched at the beginning of this year did not go unnoticed. And that was not only because the company placed their advert on the radio, press, sides of cabs, and the London Underground, but also because their catchy slogans and attractive typography caught the attention of Twitterati, including some celebrity influencers who did their bit to spread the reach of the #callandconquer hashtag.
Some of Powwownow’s interesting pitches included ‘Savvy Doesn’t Get Snowed Under’, ‘Charisma can’t be found in an inbox’, ‘Strike back – Use a line you can rely on’, and ‘Smart gets it done in 60 seconds, not 60 emails’.
The company also seized on a timely opportunity by targeting customers inconvenienced by the London tube strike. By launching at the beginning of the year, they drove the message home that conference calls were the solution to business continuity during times of tube shutdowns.
2. Employee Advocacy: KuppingerCole and IBM
Independent analyst company KuppingerCole retweets their managing director’s tweets quite often and leverages the traction he receives from his 20K-plus strong profile. Another way of boosting the exposure of your company’s content is to have your employees share it, as IBM also practices. IBM employees promoted the company’s 2016 DataFirst Launch Event on their personal social media accounts, generating excitement and anticipation around the event. Many tweeted and retweeted event registration details, blog posts and post-event replays.
Employee advocacy on social offers great potential to expand the reach of your content. Companies have begun investing in advocacy platforms that drive employees to contribute to their employer’s social branding efforts. You don’t need a gamification-based platform to encourage your employees to share your brand content on their personal handles/accounts. You can take the lead by retweeting your employees and executives – particularly those with an active presence on social – on relevant, company-focused content to grab more eyeballs and engagement for a new blog post, product launch or upcoming seminar.
3. Customer Focus: Salesforce
Salesforce likes to shine the spotlight on its customers, and the strategy has paid off handsomely for the company. In the example below, Salesforce sparked off conversation immediately by asking customers how the company’s cloud solutions had changed their lives, mentioning that they would feature customer stories. The tweet garnered over 200 retweets and doubled the number of likes. Shortly afterwards, the company created and shared inspiring case studies/stories of people, which also received healthy engagement.
Salesforce’s customer-focused content is all about realness, as the company believes that people want to know about real human stories that strike a chord. When featuring your customers, make it about them, not you. They shouldn’t appear to be overtly promoting your product/service, rather tell an authentic story about its impact on their business and life. Be intentional when asking customers to share their story; there must be a good reason that motivates them to engage. In Salesforce’s case, it was the chance of being featured on their website and social networks. You can also weave a gamification element into the campaign that encourages interaction without deviating from the core message and purpose.
4. Facebook Live: General Electric
If you want to build trust and awareness on Facebook, you need to get started with Facebook Live (it is not only for B2C folks). Generic Electric’s Facebook page is full of videos, images and customer as well as employee stories. It also features live videos, a recent one being a live broadcast from the Radiological Society of America (RSNA) conference, the world’s largest radiology conference, where GE Healthcare created awareness around 3D printing in healthcare. The post received over 10k views and 200 likes, and importantly, conversations started almost immediately.
Live video can humanize your brand by showing your people in action; a live session feels more unscripted and less choreographed. It is very interactive, responding to your immediate interest or curiosity with insights in real time. If you’re explaining how to use a product or sharing educational content live, you can respond to individual comments vocally. If you plan to interview an expert or a customer, crowdsource questions from your audience to drive participation. Post streaming, dedicate a few minutes to answering the questions immediately rather than rewatching the stream.
5. User-Generated Content: The UPS Store
UPS’s Instagram strategy to generate user content – specifically from smaller businesses – has been around for a while and continues receiving healthy traction. Their strategy is simple and effective: have small business owners post content using the hashtag #TheUPSStoreCustomer, which UPS shares to its own Instagram account. Unlike Adobe, another popular B2B company on Instagram, UPS has only so much to work with in creating a visually alluring Instagram page. The photo sharing platform, after all, is about visuals. With their clever campaign, UPS leverages the aesthetics and interesting stories of their small business customers, while showcasing their own contribution to the well-being of those businesses.
Granted that it is easier for B2C companies to encourage user-generated content with contests, quizzes and rewards. To motivate participation from customers, think of campaigns that can be mutually beneficial. One is to feature a supplier or business you have worked with in developing a product or service. You can also explore a cross-promotional campaign with an allied, non-competitor service.
6. Influencer Buzz: Lenovo
How does a major technology company like Lenovo use influencers to draw attention to its social media campaigns? By building relationships with associations and organizations that enjoy a great deal of trust among its audience. Lenovo’s partnerships with educational non-profit organization NAF and MIT’s App Inventor program were good fodder for their social media content. In the example below, Lenovo touts its association with NAF and MIT to advance its mission of advancing STEM education. The mention of these reputable partners has attracted attention and retweets in what is essentially a simple tweet.
Influencer marketing allows you the opportunity to ride on the coattails of well-known and respected industry authorities. By indicating your relationship with them, you can draw greater attention to your CSR initiatives.
Another way in which you can weave influencer marketing into your B2B social media campaigns is by having customers with active, engaging social media accounts provide their testimonials, which you can then display on your page/handle and website. Even better if they can give you an on-camera video testimonial, which you can also share on YouTube or tie into future campaigns.
7. Bizarre and Funny: MailChimp
MailChimp took the funny route with their ‘Did You Mean MailChimp’ campaign, which won the Grand Prix trophy at this year’s Cannes Lion awards honouring the best in advertising. The company poked fun at the mistaken versions of its name, which ranged from ‘Kale Limp’, ‘Snail Primp’ and ‘Whale Synth’ to ‘Jail Blimp’, ‘Mail Crimp’ and ‘Fail Chips’. The idea stemmed from a research suggesting that people often don’t get the rather unique name of the company right. The humor-filled videos sought to create awareness around the correct pronunciation of the name.
MailChimp’s move was quite risky but it was based on facts and used humor in a novel way, helping the company positions itself as a creative brand.
If you have an idea or opportunity that can help you convey the light-hearted or imaginative side of your brand, by all means go for it. In a world of disruptive brands and advertising, unique, interesting and unanticipated social media campaigns can earn B2B brands big rewards.
You Cannot Do Without Visuals
Images and video capture most of the views on social media. An ease around sourcing high-quality photos or creating attractive infographics, short videos and memes, is essential to make the most of the marketing potential of imagery on online social platforms. That means spending time looking at how successful B2B and even B2C brands on social media are leveraging the power of visuals to get attention, strike a chord, and encourage fans/followers to interact with their content. It also means getting comfortable with image creation, editing and curation tools. There is no dearth of free and paid options, and the most popular ones include Canva, PicMonkey, InstaQuote, Unsplash, Pixabay, WordSwag and Photoshop.
Instagram is Not Off the Table
Instagram is not just for consumer brands and celebrities, it is a great channel to share visual content, whether that’s a simple, yet tasteful behind-the-scenes photograph or a carousel post of photos and videos showing your product/service at work. Instagram can earn you user-generated content and give you a chance to show off your creative side. If your customers are on the photo sharing network, you should follow suit. In an increasingly visual-dependent marketing landscape that is advancing into virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, there is no better time than the present to build strong visual branding expertise.
Live Video is Here to Stay
Live videos have a higher organic reach than even photos, which means you should start experimenting with them as soon as possible. Live streaming your event makes users feel part of your community and gives them the opportunity to participate and have their questions answered. Another advantage is that it allows users to view comments from other participants, helping them learn more about your company, product or a topic. You can even upload the videos to YouTube so those who missed the live version can engage with it. As video is evidence of quality content, uploading it to your website can also support your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
Did You Know?
The Average B2B Company Has a Presence on Six Social Media Networks
The popular social media channels to distribute B2B content are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Google+. Less than 25% of B2B marketers use Pinterest, Snapchat, Medium, Tumblr, iTunes and other channels. While you can plug the same content on multiple networks, the goal should be to optimize your content to the uniqueness of each network. For instance, Twitter is meant for real-time and frequent updates, and serves the needs of audiences seeking the same. What you should definitely do is recycle your best content and share critical posts multiple times to extend their engagement potential.
78% of Companies Have a Dedicated Social Media Team
Businesses have taken to social media in a massive way even though very few believe that their social strategy is mature while just 30% of B2B marketers say that their companies are effective at content marketing. Many are setting up dedicated social media teams to ideate and implement campaigns across the full spectrum of social networking opportunities on the web. Small organizations that lack the budget to hire digital marketing specialists are turning to local agencies to develop their digital marketing roadmap and win at social media marketing.
Six out of 10 C-Suite Executives Conduct More than Six Online Searches a Day
Besides Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, LinkedIn is the other website that Google indexes regularly. Optimizing LinkedIn and SlideShare for search engines makes sense. Moreover, executives are very likely to get answers to their queries on the world’s largest professional networking site.
Beyond being found online thanks to LinkedIn, you need a LinkedIn marketing strategy to position yourself as a knowledgeable, reliable and reputed brand. You can make the most of LinkedIn’s publishing platform to communicate professional or niche expertise, as well as apply SEO tactics to enhance your profile ranking on the network.
What Kind of B2B Content Performs Well on Social Media?
A key goal of B2B social media campaigns is to drive traffic to your website. The quality and relevancy of the content you post will determine if you can increase your newsletter subscriptions, see an upswing in sales, or get more inquiries and information requests. In this regard, certain types of content are more valuable than others. A funny meme or inspirational quote now and then is useful in communicating brand personality, but professional content is the bread and butter that B2B marketers lean on.
- Infographics: users need to visit your website to download the full version after supplying their personal and professional details.
- Ebooks: create socially shareable ebooks that allow readers to tweet that they are reading your book and include a link to it.
- Podcasts: your customers can tune into your podcasts at a time convenient to them, directly on their Facebook Feed.
- Webinars: if you host webinars frequently, nothing better than social networks to promote upcoming sessions to a large audience.
- Industry Reports: busy customers appreciate access to industry trends, developments and insights in a single document, at one place.
- Public Relations: there is still a place for press releases in social media, especially if you’re focused on brand building.
Social media is an integral part of the B2B marketing mix. With a structured plan, the right social media tools, an awareness of opportunities and risks, and a creative as well as open mindset, you can conquer your market.
Are you interested in discovering whether or not there’s an opportunity to apply B2C social media tactics to your B2B lead generation efforts? As a top digital marketing agency here in Boston, we are uniquely positioned to help you identify, leverage and maximize this opportunity. Contact us today to learn how.