Posted 03.12.2021 by Josh Krakauer
B2B brands fall prey to the same pitfalls as everybody else: they aimlessly post without purpose, their content falls flat, and campaigns come across as being too “sales-y.”
So how do you overcome these hurdles as a B2B marketer to become a winning case study for others?
Follow the leaders. 🏅
We’ve done the hard work for you and compiled some of our favorite B2B social media examples from brands we think are crushing it.
Here’s our takeaway:
Organic reach is (especially) hard for a B2B brand. And here’s the truth that marketers aren’t sharing: prospects are more likely to see your paid ads than your organic posts.
If you’ve scrolled down the Facebook timeline of a Fortune 100 brand page, you know what we mean.
Don’t sweat it. Just step up your paid social style guide.
One way to do this: Use your Instagram profile as a landing page.
Airtable’s gorgeous Instagram grid is a great example of this.
Airtable has only pumped out 10 public posts in 10 months, but their paid team actively runs ads with the Instagram placement.
When users see their ads and click through to their account, here’s what they find:
What their feed lacks in quantity they make up in quality.
Additionally, their organic content reflects the same aesthetic as their paid ads. It’s visually pleasant, cohesive, and cements their creative values in the customer’s mind.
Intuit’s Quickbooks has a similar strategy for creating a recognizable brand image with social.
Their thematic approach to content focuses on two core elements: color and customers.
Every post features their signature green. They also frequently feature the small business owners they service.
Their IG bio echoes the customer-centric message. “The world’s largest workforce works for themselves. We work for them.”
There’s virtually no disconnect between their mission statement and content strategy.
Brand storytelling 101 teaches us that “your customer is the hero” of your story. How can you make that come to life in your content?
Reshare some of your customers’ content. Not only is it a good strategy for outsourcing a percentage of your content creation, it gives potential customers someone to identify with. The companies you’re targeting may sell different products or services, but they have similar needs and face similar problems.
Enter your awesome product – the solution to their problem.
This is possible even if you don’t have a physical product (we got you, SaaS brands!).
Check out how Notion shares what their users built with their software:
Now potential users can see exactly what’s possible by looking at how real customers are using the product and maybe get inspired to become customers themselves.
Remember that you’re positioning your customer as the hero here. So, it’s not all about you.
Turn the lens back on them, especially when they’ve accomplished something noteworthy. It feels good for your current clients when you celebrate them and it signals to future clients that you’re invested in their success.
Shopify does an excellent job of highlighting the small business owners they serve and celebrating their wins.
View this post on Instagram
Ok, we just got done saying it’s not about you.
But sometimes… it’s a little bit about you. Your customers’ successes are also your successes. Don’t be shy about that! Share how you helped them get there. IBM does a great job of highlighting the client while also illustrating their instrumental role in the project:
Welcome to #WimbledonRecreated 🎾 🍓
Starting today IBM and Wimbledon are serving up the first ever fully digital Championships, using @IBMCloud.
— IBM (@IBM) June 29, 2020
If you’ve ever fallen down the rabbit hole of reading Amazon reviews, you know that people trust other people. Even if those people are perfect strangers. The same is true in B2B.
Testimonials are a powerful tool and a solid part of any content marketing plan. Simple? Perhaps. But it achieves the goal of turning the spotlight back on your customer and building trust in your brand at the same time. SnackNation found a clever way to do this.
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Interestingly, highlighting tweets from Twitter on Instagram has become a common phenomenon. Have lots of customers talking about you on another platform?
Steal this concept!
As marketers we can get carried away with optimizing content to be more interesting (at the expense of relevance). But if you want to make it easier for customers to buy from you? Reduce uncertainty—show your product in action.
Sticker Mule does a great job of this. They use their Instagram to showcase how clients are using their products.
View this post on Instagram
A lot of that user-generated content is stickers, of course. ☝
But they’re also able to highlight all the other services they offer to small businesses—packing tape and labels, buttons, custom coasters, and more.
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Another approach: Post a short video or infographic that demos how a new product works. Trello does this on LinkedIn when they roll out new features.
B2B marketers often have big goals and small teams. Feeding the content marketing machine is one of the most time-consuming parts of the work you do. So when you finally produce that shiny new asset, why publish it once and call it done? Use your resources wisely by turning one larger piece of content into lots of micro-content. Here’s how it works:
Not everything needs to spring from your pillar content, of course. But having solid pillar content helps the rest of your content feel cohesive.
If you’re starting out with a piece of video or audio content as your pillar content, think of the process like television. You start with the idea for a series—your show. You produce episodes of that show and syndicate them across various channels and platforms. Finally, you choose clips of individual episodes to share on social media and generate buzz.
Show > Episode > Clip
SnackNation has a lot of success using this model with their popular show, “Brand Builder.” They post full-length episodes of the vodcast on their YouTube channel as well as the audio version on all podcast platforms. From there, the episodes are broken down into useful snippets for social media.
If you’re not using video right now, it’s time to reconsider. There are various approaches you could take: vodcasts, talking-head style videos, interviews with industry specialists, or recorded live events all perform well.
Each month’s episode covered an original topic like Paid Acquisition or Video Marketing.
We then atomized the 45-minute content into 1500-word blog posts and 30-60-second bite-sized clips, like this one. 👇
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One 45-minute show produced the source material for dozens of pieces of content.
Choose the type of show your team can execute best and start making the most of your content!
Speaking of videos, put your team in front of the camera. Whether it’s for information, entertainment, or infotainment (a fun combo), people trust people. So, don’t be a faceless brand. Draw back the curtain a little bit and show the people that make up your business.
By doing so, you can personalize your brand and create some valuable content at the same time. It also lends staff a sense of ownership and authority to be the face and voice of the brand. This is one of the first steps toward starting an employee advocacy program.
How to do it:
Don’t pay for models; you’ve already got a crew full of smiling faces to feature. For best results, try incorporating your staff in product demo photos.
Drift does this. They replace stock photos with real employees around their office. In fact, it’s such an integral part of their company culture that it’s in their brand guide.
A message from the president, CEO, founder, etc. is inspiring and lends authority to a post. It’s also a good look to have higher-ups in the company involved in projects and campaigns. A solid executive social media strategy reinforces the idea that your company is a group of individuals, not just a faceless brand logo.
Hearing him speak about the history of the event and the company reinforces that message that the video is presenting: despite their growth and success, MidWestOne remembers their roots and respects and loves the community where they began. A statement that becomes that much more meaningful when given by the leader of the organization.
The customer journey doesn’t end when you sell them the product or service. And it’s a good thing it doesn’t because it’s a lot easier to turn a current, satisfied client into a repeat client than it is to conjure new clients out of thin air. So, rather than creating content aimed at an abstract persona, ask yourself, ‘what content would my current customers want to see?’
Here are the three areas to focus on:
The first way to guarantee you’re reaching current customers on organic social media is with paid advertising custom audiences.
It sounds counterintuitive, we know, but read on.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat all allow you to run ads against ‘custom audiences’—contact lists you upload into their platforms that matches your data with their user database. By connecting your CRM, adding their tracking pixels, or uploading email lists manually, you can retarget your exact buyer at different stages of the sales funnel.
Use our Social Media Swipe File Template to build a gallery of good ideas and social media examples. To get you started, we’ve filled it with some of our favorite examples of great social posts — both paid and organic.
Steve Jobs said that ‘People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.’
And while anticipating your customers’ desires is great for innovative product development, it’s not a terribly reliable marketing strategy. Unless you’re Apple (RIP headphone jacks…), the easiest way to find out what your customers want is to listen to them when they tell you.
This goes back to asking, what would your current customers find interesting? Remember: Social media is a channel people use to cure boredom, learn new things, and deepen relationships.
If you have trouble answering that question, you can do one or both of the following:
Since these are your current customers, they’re hopefully an active part of your audience as well. That means you should have the analytics data to determine which types of posts perform best. Start by analyzing the engagement rate and action rate of your past 6-12 months of posts across platforms to surface the top performers. Then dig into the themes and topics those cover, like ‘customer success storytelling’, ‘team culture’, or ‘funny industry content.’
The other method is to conduct a lightweight test against your current audience and see which topics produce the best results.
On Facebook, create a paid campaign with ad sets for one or multiple versions of your customer audiences. For instance, Page Fans (1) and CRM/Email List (2). Inside of the Ad Sets add at least 3 creative variants with different topics/themes of the same format.
Set a budget of at least $20/day per ad set and turn off the campaign after 3-5 days—or longer if the ads haven’t completed their learning period. Adjust based on the size of your audience, we’re not aiming for crazy high frequencies.
Analyze your campaign performance. During the testing period, did Facebook optimize one ad over the others after signaling it as the top performer? The number of actions and cost per action should reflect that.
Rinse and repeat with narrower topics or different formats.
The point is to keep your current customers needs in mind when rolling out organic content. They have the potential to be your greatest advocates. If all of your organic and amplified content is geared toward a hypothetical persona, they’ll passively like without following, scroll past you, and stall out on their customer journey.
Don’t just sell to your customers; invest in your relationship with them by providing value and support.
One way to do this is to build a community to connect your customers to each other. By narrowing the community down to just customers, you’re giving them a space to share insights, concerns, and feedback with you and each other.
You have options when it comes to choosing a platform to host your customer community. ManyChat and DigitalMarketer.com have customer-exclusive Facebook groups while Drift has 3 different Slack groups for customers to connect.
You can also use Discord, LinkedIn Groups, or host the community on your own site. Consider which channel would work best for both your and your customers’ needs.
As a business owner or B2B marketer, what’s the one thing you know for sure that you have in common with your employees, partners and customers? We’re all human beings with real human feelings, right?
So why do we so often revert to stale stat posts and boring updates?
According to HBR, building an emotional connection with your customers is a greater predictor of success than customer satisfaction score.
Customers want to do business with brands they feel that they can trust. So what is the easiest way to get a prospect to trust a brand? When they get reminded that within your business there are actual human beings just like them that are working behind-the-scenes. Here are the best ways to do this:
Yes, you can try too hard. Yes, you should try anyway.
Funny content is one of the four tenets of good social media content people share, and a powerful tool for driving engagement. It’s no laughing matter in the business world.
According to research done by Nielsen from their Global Trust in Advertising Survey, humor appealed to 51% of European audiences and 50% of North American audiences, resonating more than any other marketing theme.
Take that, sex, sports, and pets!
Funny is often associated with memes and cartoons. And while there’s a place for that, you can find your voice in other ways.
Humor in Content: WalkMe
Digital Transformation platform WalkMe frequently brings the funny in their organic and paid social videos. To ‘humanize’ one of their core offerings, WalkMe coined a new term — Software Frustritus: the feeling of being upset or annoyed at the inability to change or achieve something within a computer program or app — and brought it to life in different executions.
Exhibit a) The reaction video.
To compliment a blog post on frustrating user experiences when on-boarding employees, WalkMe tested different software and had their employees share their live reactions.
Exhibit b) The commercial.
Humor in Community Management: Slack
Take Slack for example. The workplace messaging app is a pro at 1-on-1 customer engagement.
Seriously, they kill it. You won’t have to look far for some hilarious examples.
🔮"Outlook not so good" We just fixed this, so please reload Slack two (2) times and it should be back to normal.
— Slack (@SlackHQ) August 12, 2019
Legend has it that the ghost of Slackbot will appear behind you while looking into a mirror.
— Slack (@SlackHQ) August 12, 2019
One easy way to humanize your brand is to share real stories about the history of your company, which can include all of the hardships, failures, and lessons you’ve learned over the years. Post a #throwbackthursday pic of your humble beginnings. Share a behind-the-scenes video.
Company anniversaries or milestones are a great time to share this type of content.
According to Accenture research, 63% of global consumers want to purchase products and services from companies that stand for a purpose that reflects their own values and beliefs. One powerful way that leading companies build an emotional connection with their audience is by standing up for causes that are dear to them.
Bosch uses their #BoschCares campaign to share how their company supports causes and projects, like this event for to get kids interested in STEM:
Hashtags used to be the best way to join a conversation on social media. They were, and still are, an easy, effective way to make your content searchable for anyone who might be interested. But they’re a little one-directional and social media is shifting in favor of more personal and collaborative content. If you really want to create engaging, interactive content, participate in trends and challenges.
Challenges have been part of the social media landscape for a long time (we all remember the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014), but they really hit their stride in 2020. The overflow of TikTok videos onto other channels like Twitter and Instagram has definitely contributed to the rise in popularity. But there’s also an inherently community-driven element to challenges which is particularly comforting and engaging during these isolating days of social distancing.
Instagram rolled out a “challenge sticker” for stories in early 2020. The sticker makes it easier to search and join challenges, even if you haven’t been nominated to participate. You can also get in on the action by publishing challenges on your feed (and syndicating across channels).
Take it a step further and come up with your own challenge or a twist on a current popular challenge. Encourage your audience to share and participate.
Tip: search TikTok for trends and challenges to try.
Why? Challenges and trending “sounds” are the bread and butter of TikTok content creation meaning there are a lot to choose from.
Speaking of TikTok…
If done right, TikTok can be a legitimate awareness channel – read our B2B TikTok guide to find out more about whether or not it’s a fit for your brand.
But that’s not all it’s good for.
TikTok is an incubator for some of the most creative, original content being made online right now. What does that mean for you? It’s one of the best places to go for inspiration and to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s new and trending in social media. Trends that start on TikTok spread everywhere. Even to more stereotypically B2B channels, like LinkedIn.
Don’t be afraid to swipe through TikTok to find inspiration for your swipe file.
It’s also a great testing ground for new content formats and ideas. Content that performs exceptionally well on one channel will likely also do numbers on any other channel you cross-promote to. The same is true for content you test on TikTok with the additional benefit that the stakes are incredibly low. There’s almost no risk to trying something new and potentially weird on TikTok. And yes, we do mean weird.
Like, robots-reimagined-as-Among-Us-characters weird. 👀
@apexmotionSo you’ve already seen what our robots would look like as humans, but what would they look like as Among Us characters? 👀 ##fyp ##edit ##amongus ##tech♬ Bad Girl Online – FizzyQuake
Bonus: as an early(ish) adopter, when the opportunities do start showing up on TikTok, you’ll already be crushing the game instead of playing catch-up.
If you add these 23 tactics to your B2B social media playbook, you should have plenty to keep you busy.
But if you’re still looking for more B2B social media content examples, ideas, and strategies, we’ve got you covered:
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