Posted 11.06.2019 by Josh Krakauer

B2B Social Media Success: The Complete Strategy Guide & Best Tips for 2019

Grow faster with a bold B2B social media strategy. Get our best strategies and complete guide for B2B social media success (make coffee first, it's a long one)👇

Social media is a game-changer for B2B marketers, and I am going to prove it.

The question is: are you more motivated by fear or desire?

Let’s start with desire: Imagine having a ninja-like ability to reach, understand, educate, attract, and influence your exact buyer—before they’re talking to you, while they’re researching you, and after they’ve purchased.

Thanks to social media, your brand lives closer to your customers than ever before.

Now let’s talk about fear: If you’re not engaging your customers, who is?

You can’t manage B2B social media like your neighborhood bar.

With longer sales cycles, more complex products, and fewer pop stars to help us pitch what we’re selling, determining which B2B social media strategy will lead to the best results is a whole different beast. In fact, according to a survey done by The Manifest, the biggest challenge businesses faced with social media was not having a formal strategy (24%).

To win in 2020, you need to play by different rules. In the modern B2B social media world, success requires things like:

  • Building a personal brand to influence customers.
  • Leveraging paid advertising on different channels for each stage of the funnel.
  • Connecting social media users to your CRM so you can measure ROI.

And that’s exactly what we’re going to cover.

Here’s what you will learn in this article:

  1. Best B2B Tips & Tactics: 7 best strategies, tactics, and principles for social media success across the sales funnel (+ brand examples).
  2. Goals: The different types of B2B Social Media goals to strive for in your strategy.
  3. Channel Strategy: Which social media platforms to choose and how to generate results on them.
  4. Budgets & ROI: How to measure your ROI (return of investment) from social media and set the right budget.
  5. Hiring: In-house B2B social media marketing vs. outsourcing it to an agency.
  6. Top B2B social media FAQ: More Q&A we couldn’t fit up top. 😎

In this guide we’ll mostly be talking about social media marketing, though we will also touch on social media’s role in customer service and recruitment.

So without further ado, here are the top tips and tactics to lead your B2B social media marketing strategy and campaigns for success in 2019 (and beyond).

Best B2B Social Media Marketing Tips & Tactics

B2B brands fall into the same pitfalls as everybody else: they aimlessly post with no brand personality, they’re not creating unique and value content, and come across as being too “sales-y” to their audience.

So how do you overcome these hurdles as a B2B marketer and become a winning case study for others? Follow some of these best approaches:

1) Bring personality to Paid social.

Organic reach is hard for a B2B brand. And here’s the truth for most B2B brands that marketers aren’t sharing: people are more likely to see your paid ads than your organic posts.

Don’t sweat it. Just make them great.

Make your Instagram grid an awesome landing page. Airtable’s feed is a great example of this. Well before they became active on Instagram organic, they were running lots of ads. When users clicked through to their account, here’s what they found:

Their feed doesn’t have much content, but the content it does have is intentional – a grid that reflects the same aesthetic as their paid ads. It’s visually pleasant, cohesive, and cements their brand image in the customer’s mind.

Intuit’s Quickbooks has a different strategy for creating a recognizable brand image. Their themed approach to organic content focuses on two things: color and customers. Every post uses their signature green and they frequently feature the small business owners they service. Their IG bio states, “The world’s largest workforce works for themselves. We work for them.”

There’s no disconnect between that mission statement and their content. Their voice is clear.

2) Celebrate your customer as the hero.

Brand storytelling 101 teaches us that “your customer is the hero” of your story. The most effective brands make this come to life in their content.

How?

Showcase who your customers are.

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.

Celebrate your customers wins.

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.

Tell their success stories.

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:

Share their testimonials and reviews.

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.

Interestingly, highlighting tweets from Twitter on Instagram has become a common phenomena. Have lots of customers talking about you on another platform?

Steal this concept!

3) Show your product in action.

As marketers we can get carried away with optimizing content to be more interesting (at the expense of relevance). But want to make it easier for customers to buy from you? Reduce uncertainty—show your product in action.

Feature a feature (with motion)

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.

Inspire: Photograph what’s possible with your product

Sticker Mule does a great job of this. They use their Instagram to showcase how clients are using their products. 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.

4) Build a pillar content strategy.

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 finish 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:

  • Step 1. Start with a single valuable piece of content, like an informative blog post, a detailed infographic, or a YouTube video packed with great tips.
  • Step 2. Break that single piece of content down into multiple, bite-sized pieces. For example, if your piece of pillar content is a full-length video, pull several value-rich clips (30 – 45 seconds long) to post across social channels.
  • Step 3. Post the micro-content on social media and drive traffic to the pillar content. These snippets should be informative and useful enough to stand alone but can also redirect traffic to the main post, video, etc.

Not everything needs to spring from your pillar content, of course. But having solid pillar content helps the rest of your content feel cohesive.

Show > Episode > Clip

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.

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.

 

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Today’s consumer has more choice than ever. For brands, this means stiff competition and a slim margin for error. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This week’s #BrandBuilder #podcast lays out how to win in this era when the consumer holds all the power. Listen to the episode in the link in bio.

A post shared by SnackNation (@snacknationofficial) on

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.

At Sculpt, we put on a monthly marketing event called Let’s Get Digital. It’s a 45-minute educational event enjoyed live, but it’s also recorded. That’s our show.

Each month’s episode covers an original topic like Paid Acquisition or Video Marketing. The 45-minute content is then atomized into 1500-word blog posts and 30-60-second bite-sized clips (see example).

One 45-minute show produces 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!

A Note about IGTV: Unlike videos posted to your feed, IGTV videos can – and in fact must – be longer than a minute. The exact length allowed depends on the method of upload: 1 to 15 minutes long if you’re uploading from mobile; up to 60 minutes if you’re uploading from the web. This is a good place to share slightly longer snippets or even host your pillar content. Share a preview to your feed and story to further distribute the content.

5) Pivot to personal: Elevate your team and leverage your leadership.

We touched on this a little bit earlier, but people trust people. What do we mean by that? Don’t be a faceless brand. Draw back the curtain a little bit and show the people that make up your business.

Here are a few ways you can do this:

Feature them in videos

Whether it’s for information, entertainment, or infotainment (a fun combo), put your team in front of the camera. 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.

  • Vlog Style: Gig-matching platform AppJobs understands the importance of creating trust and familiarity with their audience. That’s why their social media manager isn’t just calling the shots behind the camera—she’s in front of it.  As their primary spokesperson, Marina Amâncio answers the most frequently asked questions users have with a casual, Youtube-first, talking-head format that’s syndicated across all channels.

 

  • Trusted Source: Bosch takes this approach. As a result, their audience gets great information from a “more trusted” source – an employee in the field, not a logo. The flip side of that is that their team is positioned as qualified experts to speak on various topics. It’s a win-win.

Incorporate real employees into all visuals

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.

Feature leaders

Leverage the leaders of your company in your content. 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. It reinforces the idea that your company is a group of individuals, not just a faceless brand logo.

(Client) MidWestOne featured their president and CEO in this video about Rock the Chalk, an annual event they throw for the community.

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.

Rock the Chalk: A Celebration of Iowa City

Charlie Funk, MidWestOne CEO, shares why Rock the Chalk is such a special event for us. This year, we are celebrating Rock the Chalk’s fourth year in downtown Iowa City. 🎉It’s been incredible to see the event grow from only a few artists in 2016 to over 60 artists and 7,000+ attendees in 2018. Thank you to all those who have helped to make Rock the Chalk fun and unique over the years. Hope to see you August 9 in Iowa City Downtown District!

Posted by MidWestOne Bank on Thursday, August 1, 2019

 

6) Focus your organic social media strategy on your current customers.

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:

  1. Tactics that reach them
  2. Content that interests them
  3. Content that helps them succeed

1. How do I reach my customers on social media?

The first way to guarantee you’re reaching current customers on organic social media is with paid advertising custom audiences.

I know it sounds counterintuitive, 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.

  • Audience 1: Retarget your site visitors who know who you are but haven’t taken action.
  • Audience 2: Retarget your marketing leads who have not converted into customers.
  • Audience 3: Retarget your current customers to ascend them with new offers and engage them with content.

2. What do my customers find interesting on social media?

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:

  1. Look at the data for past, top performing content
  2. Conduct a content testing experiment

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 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.

3. How do I help my customers succeed on social media?

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.

7) Humanize your brand voice with bold copy, content, and community management.

As a business owner or B2B marketer, what’s the one thing in common that you share 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:

Make people laugh — Incorporate Humor

Yes, you can try too hard. Yes, you should try any way.

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.

Employee Frustration is Destroying Your Employee Experience

Software Frustritus (n): the feeling of being upset or annoyed at the inability to change or achieve something within a computer program or app. 🤬🤯It's time to pay attention to the employee experience: http://walkme.social/SoftwareFrustritusFB

Posted by WalkMe on Wednesday, January 16, 2019

 

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.

 

Share Fun Facts & Company Stories

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.

Stand Up For A Cause

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:

Define Your B2B Social Media Goals

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” – Zig Ziglar

(What would a B2B marketing post be without a Ziglar quote?)

Before laying down your social media strategy, take time to define — what are you trying to achieve?

Pro tip: All business goals relate to making and saving money. Don’t complicate it 😊

Your social media program impacts marketing metrics across the customer lifecycle. Break down the steps you track before, during, and after becoming a customer.

  1. Awareness: More people know who you are.
  2. Consideration: Generating marketing qualified leads through education and nurturing.
  3. Conversions: Driving sign-ups and sales from new and existing customers.
  4. Advocacy: Gaining reviews and referrals from customers.

Should you have one goal or many?

In reality, most brands have multiple social media goals. Having specific goals is what drives purpose behind your social media campaigns.

Here’s a rundown on the common types of B2B social media goals and how they can be measured:

1) Brand Awareness

You can’t build a business if your customers don’t know who you are, what you do, and how you help. Agree?

Done effectively, brand awareness creates excitement around your people and products, which will help you grow a loyal community and funnel in new leads. It’s an essential, if not obvious, part of your social media strategy.

Brand awareness can be broken down into:

  • Increasing awareness of new products
  • Increasing knowledge of new products
  • Increasing purchasing frequency
  • Increasing attractiveness of products

Metrics Used to Measure Brand Awareness on Social Media:

  • Direct Traffic: This refers to when users type in your URL directly to have access to your website. This means that users had to recall your URL in order to find you. Brand recall is a solid form of brand awareness.
  • Conversions: A social media conversion is when someone clicks on a link from your account that leads to gated content or a product.
  • Mentions: A great way to measure your brand awareness is how many times your brand has been mentioned online.
  • Brand Search Volume: The number of times that people have typed in your name or brand on search engines. Search volume is a good metric to see how your brand is doing organically.
  • Reach: This corresponds to the total number of accounts that were exposed to a social media post. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram all give the possibility to track your reach. Twitter will report impressions.

There are also more advanced brand awareness measurements, like unaided recall and brand lift (favorability, preference, intent). These require third-party verification and high ad spends. We recommend crawling before you run.

2) Engagement

Algorithms on social media reward engagement and interactions, which as a result boosts the visibility of your content towards a larger audience. Solid engagement is one of the keys to a successful digital marketing strategy.

In content marketing terms, engagement is often associated with the consideration and interest building stage of the funnel.

This has become a priority for B2B companies over the years, as 71% of B2B companies say that high engagement is the main goal of their content marketing efforts (2017).

Engagement does not precisely translate into business growth. It does, however, signal if your content resonates with your audience. That’s why measuring engagement is key.

Metrics Used to Measure Social Media Engagement

  • Conversation / Comment Rate: The (average) number of comments and responses on each post. With social feed algorithms rewarding posts with comments with organic reach, this is more important than ever. According to Avinash Kaushik, a high conversation rate signals that you are having meaningful conversations with your audience, and requires brands to add value to your followers.
  • Applause Rate: The number of reactions or likes per post. While likes are often referred to as a vanity metric, they do give you some insight into the value of your content. Are you interesting or not?
  • Amplification / Share Rate: The number of ‘shares’ per post. This metric is powerful because it tell us the content contained a message worth sharing, resulting in earned (aka viral) reach.
  • Video Views & Duration: The number of plays of your video, and the level to which viewers stuck around. Was your video interesting or not? For instance, a high number of 2 or 10-second views with a minuscule 100% completion rate tells us we got their attention—but couldn’t keep it.
  • Clicks Per Post: Measuring the number of times users have clicked on your link helps determine if your headline or article was effective.

Advanced: All of these metrics can be broken down and compared by the social media channel, month, content format or theme for deeper analysis.

3) Lead Generation & Conversions

Demand & lead generation is arguably the most important aspect of a successful digital marketing program. It defines the first stage of intent in a prospect’s path to becoming a customer.

There’s a good chance your B2B marketing team is measured internally on demand and lead generation metrics, so social media needs to be held accountable.

Metrics Used To Measure Social Media Lead Generation Efforts

  • Cost Per Lead (CPL): Calculate how much it approximately costs you to acquire one lead. This metric can be aggregated for all social networks, but works best as a comparison metric across paid campaigns and channels. If your CPL is higher than your benchmark, then you need to reconsider channels and approaches.
  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL): It’s great to have loads of leads, but if none of them match your lead qualification criteria, then all of your efforts will have been in vain. Measuring your MQLs will ensure that you are targeting the right audience. Companies have their own definition for MQL vs. SQL. In general, an MQL has not signaled intent and readiness to purchase.
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV or LTV): Predicting the net profit a prospect will generate over a period of time and assigning that value to each new customer is integral to measuring social media ROI.
  • Close Rate Per Channel: A careful examination of which channel generates the best leads for your brand is a good way to determine which platforms are worth pursuing and which aren’t.
  • Average Close Rate: Keep track of the quality of your leads to help you determine if you’re attracting leads with high conversion potential.

Setting social media goals not linked to sales?

B2B social media adds value to other departments in an organization. After all, social a customer-facing channel. It is best practice to break out those goals, budgets, and resources separate from marketing/sales.

Commonly those include:

  • Hiring: Acquiring new candidates and employees better/faster. KPIs come from the Talent Acquisition or HR team and measure social media’s role in the application pipeline.
  • Experience/Service: Solving customer problems on social media better/faster. KPIs are set by the Customer Success or Customer Service team and measure social media’s role in closing tickets and retaining customers.

Choose A Social Media Platform

Now that you’ve defined your goals for your campaign, it’s time to choose a platform that best corresponds to your objectives. However, with all the social media channels out there, how do we decide which ones are right for our business?

Here we have underlined the top 4 social media platforms for B2B success, and how each can be used to drive results:

1) LinkedIn for B2B

Being a professional networking platform, it’s no surprise to anyone that LinkedIn is the most popular social media channel among B2B marketers. Not only do 93% of B2B marketers agree that it’s the most productive platform when it comes to generating leads, but about 64% of all visits to company websites also come from LinkedIn.

There are over 600 million members on LinkedIn, and they’re not just on the platform looking for new jobs. They’re reading articles, checking status updates, and most importantly, looking to network with potential collaborators. This presents a huge opportunity for B2B businesses.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of using LinkedIn as a B2B social network:

  • Builds & Strengthens Personal Relationships: LinkedIn gives the opportunity for professionals to share their content and opinion on pertinent topics. This helps put yourself out there and is a great way to baby-step a relationship with prospects. There’s an added bonus to empowering team members on LinkedIn: Content shared by employees has 2x higher engagement than content shared by the company.
  • Launching Products & Breaking News: More than 90% of B2B say they prefer LinkedIn over any other platform for their product marketing. LinkedIn feeds tend to promote ‘big news’ and important updates, hence why your new job promotion or article mention gets an extra lift in reach.
  • Generating Leads: According to Hubspot, LinkedIn is 277% more effective when it comes to generating leads than any other social media platform. One reason why is because marketing, sales, and HR professionals can be themselves—literally. As opposed to running ads from the corporate account, which LinkedIn is plenty good for, professionals can post content, nurture relationships, and DM other LinkedIn users 1-to-1 to generate opportunities. According to LinkedIn, salespeople sho regularly share content are 45% more likely to exceed quota

How To Drive Results On LinkedIn

Use Native Formats

Who knew the most effective content format would be…PDFs?

A smart marketer once advised me, when a platform releases new features, use them. LinkedIn provides marketers with the ability to upload documents, videos, and photos.

So why settle for posting links and calling it a day? 🤔

Arm is the world’s leading provider of silicon IP. They leverage LinkedIn to break news, celebrate employees, tell customer stories, and show the real-world impact of their products.

Start & Join Groups Related To Your Industry

Facebook Groups have grown so fast you might haven forgotten LinkedIn has the same feature. Not for long. Don’t be surprised if group posts start showing up more prominently in 2020 within your notifications and feeds.

There are more than 2 million groups on LinkedIn for every possible industry and niche, from e-commerce dropshippers to nutrition experts. A great way to generate leads is to join active groups and regularly provide value by answering questions from other members.

Consider joining Groups with the following three features: they are relevant to your industry or niche, highly active already (daily posts), and medium in size (not too big that you will get lost, and not too small that you can’t reach anyone).

Should you start a LinkedIn Group?
Don’t see a LinkedIn group your customers would find valuable? Consider starting one. The return-on-investment from the audience and industry recognition can be huge. Just be aware of the weekly posts, ongoing moderation, and personal invitations needed to make it successful over the course of one year (minimum).

Optimize Your Company Page

Linkedin company pages are musts for B2B marketers looking to promote their business on social media.

In 2018, Linkedin made important changes to company pages by adding new features such as the ability to share documents (Powerpoints, PDFs, and Docs), built-in content suggestions, and employee advocacy tools.

This expanded the possibilities of connecting with your target audience.

Here are some recommended steps to follow when optimizing your company page on LinkedIn:

  • Write a convincing overview of your company, that clearly describes the activities of your business
  • Add captivating banner images to your page that showcases your product or team in action
  • Add a call-to-action button that drives visitors to your homepage, careers page, or product landing page

Publish Original Content With LinkedIn Articles

If you’re looking to boost your credibility in the eyes of your audience and build a good reputation, then publishing on LinkedIn is the way to go.

LinkedIn has its own publishing platform that gives business leaders the opportunity to attract attention for their brand and build thought leadership.

Best of all, published posts are indexed on your profile, and get great distribution in the feed.

The Benefits Of LinkedIn Articles

  • Reach Your Audience (And Theirs): When you publish a new post, your connections may receive a notification and email from LinkedIn, helping your content avoid getting lost in the busy feed. When your first connections comment on the article, the article is likely to reach their first connections, too.
  • Builds Credibility: Publishing quality content on LinkedIn consistently establishes you as an industry expert and raises awareness for your brand. When your product, sales, marketing, executive or [insert department] team publishes posts, you can re-share it on the company page. Oh hey, free content. 🙂

Best Practices For LinkedIn Articles

  • Incorporate Rich Media: GIFs, images, videos, and Slideshares. They all display nicely on the clean LinkedIn publishing interface. Break up text and keep people on your articles longer by embedding visuals throughout.
  • Publish as Consistently As Possible: Consistency is key when it comes to publishing articles. Aim to post at least once per week, month, or quarter—whichever is most realistic to start.
  • Syndicate and Repurpose Content as a Teaser: While we don’t recommend completely regurgitating an article you wrote elsewhere, syndication is an important strategy with LinkedIn articles. Consider writing a new headline, sharing enough body content to add value on its own, then pointing people to the full piece off LinkedIn for the rest.
  • Promote Your Posts On Other Social Channels: Promoting your LinkedIn articles on other platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and email will drive more traffic to your post.

2) Facebook for B2B

Facebook has had quite the transformation. The Facebook of 2020 looks entirely different than that of 2015. User preferences are shifting, their products are splitting up, available ad inventory is declining, and all the while, ad sales are growing. That begs the question…

Is B2B Marketing on Facebook dead?

Is Facebook changing? Yes. But with the right strategy, B2B businesses can still reap massive results from the platform. Before you start to panic, check out these facts:

How To Drive B2B Results On Facebook

Join Active Facebook Groups (as a person)

Facebook offers the ability to its users to join groups based on their passions, interests or industry. 1.4 billion people are using Facebook groups to discuss their passions, chat with friends or colleagues and plan events. It’s very likely that in the past 12 months you received an invitation to join a group yourself.

B2B marketers can easily find Facebook groups related to their industry or niche. In these communities, they’ll be able to find professionals in their industry providing support for one another and discussing topics that are of interest to them.

Just like with LinkedIn, your goal should be to provide value to the community. The way to do this is to either post timely information about what’s happening in your industry or respond to questions someone asks that you can answer.

For example, let’s say someone posts in the group:

Hey everyone, I’m trying to drive traffic with Instagram ads but nothing seems to be working …What do I do?

This is where you can respond with:

@OriginalPoster — I’ve struggled with traffic and conversion rates from Instagram, too. What I’ve learned is the right tactic depends on what type of audience you’re targeting (B2B/B2C, Lifestyle) and the offer you’re presenting. A few things you can do is (Tip 1), (Tip 2),(Tip 3), and (Tip 4).

If you’d like more ideas, I wrote a list of 30 things you can try on my blog – come check it out at [link] if you’re interested or DM if you have questions.

Create Engaging Video Content

Video marketing is big business on social media. 54% of consumers want to see more video content from a business they support, and 88% of video marketers are satisfied with the ROI they get from their efforts. Facebook gives the ability to B2B brands to use video in different ways:

  • Facebook Video Ads: When it comes to word of mouth marketing, video outperforms text and images by 1200%. Facebook lets you run videos as a standalone objective to get more views, or as an ad format for any objective (traffic, conversions, reach). We recommend testing videos as a creative format against a still image or graphic, or a video featuring a person against one with a product and text.
  • Facebook Live: B2B brands on Facebook can leverage live video to engage with their followers in real time. Facebook Live drives 6X more engagement than non-live videos, and is perfect when it comes to webinars, Q&As and live product demos. If your goal is to generate leads, it’s best to wrap things up with a strong offer for those watching all the way through.
  • Facebook Watch Series: In 2017 Facebook launched Watch, and the product is fairly sticky. B2B marketers can optimize for Facebook Watch by delivering video content (for example: weekly interviews with big names in your industry) in the form of a series.

Hubspot regularly posts instructional videos about marketing on its Facebook page. In the example below, users can learn how to create a good email title.

3) Twitter for B2B

Forget traffic, this one is all about the relationships.

With 300+ million monthly active users and 500+ million tweets being sent out every day, Twitter has become a place to “see what’s going on” around the world. It’s no wonder that 87% of B2B marketers use Twitter as a content marketing tool.

(Unfortunately, a smaller percentage actually get it right.)

The beauty of Twitter is the connection it creates between brands and their audience in real time.

Here’s how using Twitter for B2B marketing can benefit you:

  • Relationships with the right humans: This goes back to everything we’ve been saying about humanizing and personalizing your brand.One-on-one interactions help drive engagement but, more importantly, they also help build meaningful connections with users. Cement your brand in your customers’ minds as responsive, helpful, and engaging. You know, human. You’ll be amazed at the caliber of people who pay attention to relationships here.
  • Social listening = customer intelligence: The best marketers don’t guess; they listen. Twitter is a great place to do just that. And don’t just listen to what your audience is saying in response to your tweets. It’s very useful to know what your audience is saying about you, but not to you. So search mentions of your brand, products, and general industry topics to gauge audience sentiment and content opportunities.
  • A second net to solve problems (faster): Customers who need help with a product or are experiencing issues turn to Twitter for immediate assistance. Customers value the immediacy of your response here, and lots of third-party tools now integrate with Twitter DM. #Efficiency
  • Important announcements that spread quickly: Twitter is a great way to break news about updates and changes, and respond personally when customers have questions.
  • SEO benefits: Recent and engaging tweets can appear in relevant Google search results, which can lead to more followers and traffic to your website.

How To Drive Results On Twitter

1. Develop a distinct brand voice and personality

Brands are a collection of unconscious associations in your consumer’s mind. One of the most powerful associations you can build is the personality of your presence on Twitter.

Struggling to define your brand’s voice?

  1. Write to your target audience: You’ll find it easier to write consistent, cohesive copy if you have the same person in mind every time you compose a tweet.
  2. Set the tone: What’s your company’s vibe? Ask yourself: How do you want to make people feel? In general, are you more likely to be funny, serious, ~edgy~? Keeping that in mind…
  3. Bring your brand to life with relevant words and visuals. Translate the brand attributes into the colors, imagery, ad messaging, and response copy you use across social.

An example of a B2B company with a noteworthy Twitter account? Square. Their content is focused on the small business owners they serve and the overall tone is informative, casual, and encouraging.

2. Play to trends

Twitter is a great place to go viral. The good news is that you don’t even have to be the one going viral to get a piece of the pie. Hop into the conversation on an already trending topic or respond to a tweet that’s getting tons of replies. The funniest or most helpful responses tend to get high numbers of likes, retweets, and replies, too. So invest some time into crafting a winning comment. If it helps, shift your mindset to consider the comment as content.

3. Share videos

According to Twitter, 82% of users watch video content on the platform, and would like to watch more video content from brands and celebrities. So why not maximize video content to drive more engagement to your brand?

Use snackable video snippets from that pillar content we talked about earlier to economize the process.

4. Tweet at the right times

Twitter is all about immediacy.

In fact, a tweet’s half-life is only 24 minutes. It reaches 75% of its maximum reach within 3 hours and then starts to decline rapidly. This means if you’re looking to reach the most amount of potential leads and maximize engagement, the timing of when you tweet is crucial.

Use a combination of Google and Twitter analytics and good, old-fashioned trial and error to track traffic and engagement.

Test, rinse, repeat.

4) Instagram for B2B

Instagram’s visual-based platform is great for B2B businesses to promote their brand. Don’t believe us?

  • 200+ Million Instagrammers visit at least one Business Profile daily.
  • Consumers Are Buying What They See On Instagram: Instagram is a powerful tool when it comes to promoting your product. 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram.
  • It Influences Consumers’ Buying Habits: Instagram is changing the online shopping process. 80% of users say Instagram helps influence their purchasing decisions.

How to Drive Results on Instagram

1. Set up an Instagram Business account

You do have a Business Profile, right?

Instagram introduced business profiles in 2016, giving businesses access to a variety of tools and functionality, including analytics on your posts and stories, third-party integrations and call-to-action buttons.

If you want to advertise natively and get data on your audience, you need a Business profile. To make the switch, all you have to do is to click on the settings icon on your profile page, and tap on the Switch To Business Profile link.

2. Create and curate content tailored for Instagram

To excel in Instagram, you have to understand what works there and what audiences want. In general the formula of entertaining and informative works well here.

Keep in mind in 2019 it’s best practice to use square photos and videos (1080 x 1080).

3. Share client success stories

Not only is featuring testimonials from clients a great way to establish trust with your audience and leverage social proof, combined with appealing visuals they can make for a great piece of content.

Make your customer the hero by highlighting their big wins. Drift launched its new product “Drift Automation” with a video featuring one of its pilot customers, Keap.

4. Take a peek into your corporate culture

My favorite definition of organizational culture is that it’s a succinct answer to “the way we do things around here.” Prospective customers and employees alike want to know more about your company’s people and place.

From day-in-the-life takeovers to office snapshots, human-focused stories tend to perform well.

Hoosuite uses the hashtag #hootsuitelife on Instagram to give followers a glimpse into their company life.

(Dog-friendly offices? Enough said. 👇)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

2018—what an exciting year! We are all rested up and looking forward to everything that’s to come in the new year. What are your new year resolutions? 🎉 #hootsuitelife #2019 📸: @evarobin

A post shared by Hootsuite (@hootsuite) on

5. Leverage Instagram Stories

With Instagram Stories, users can upload videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours. Stories will show up at the top of your audiences feed. You can also choose to save stories to a highlight reel on your page.

Stories are a great place for more casual, less polished content. This opens up the opportunity for B2B companies to humanize their brand and have more personal interactions with their customers.

CoSchedule has an entire highlight reel called “Culture,” which is dedicated to fun behind-the-scenes content.

Setting B2B Social Media Budgets & Measuring B2B Social Media ROI

How much should I budget for B2B social media marketing?

There’s no widely-accepted budget formula for social. Here are a few things you should keep in mind to set a social media marketing budget:

1. Annual Sales Formula: A simple calculation is to take 5-30% of your desired gross revenue goal and set it aside for marketing. Then take 10-25% of your marketing budget and allocate it to social media activities. For example, if you forecasted sales of $10,000,000 in 2020 and assigned 10% to marketing you would have a budget pool of $1,000,000 for marketing / advertising expenses. That would leave $100,000 – $250,000 for social media, or ~$8,000 – $20,000/mo.

The next step is to decide how that breaks down between the core social media expense categories:

  1. In-house team members: Part and full-time employees dedicated to social media channels. One social media manager + half of a graphic designer’s time = 1.5 FTEs.
  2. Outsourced work: Agency and freelance team members dedicated to social media activities like content creation, community management, and paid media.
  3. Paid media expenses: Total ad spend from social media channels like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
  4. Tools and software: Web and mobile applications dedicated to managing and measuring social media like scheduling tools, monitoring tools, ad tech, and reporting tools.

Some brands distinguish budget by stage of the funnel. For instance, top-of-funnel awareness and lower-funnel conversions, as well as paid and organic activities.

Consider a 60/40 split with 60% towards brand building activities like community management and listening, content creation and publishing, and paid amplification. Then dedicate 40% to sales activation activities like influencer buys, retargeting ads, and direct-response ads.

2. Campaign Budgets: Social media budgets are often set for one-off events and initiatives as part of a larger marketing budget pool. In that case, determine how important social media channels will be to the success of the campaign, then assign a percentage of total expenses break down social media.

3. Recruitment Budgets: Using social media to attract talent? Repeat the sales formula calculation using your expected recruitment budget for the year or per candidate.

What are the best ways to measure ROI from social media marketing?

Let’s get something straight: True ‘ROI’ is a measurement of dollars gained or lost.

You may consider marketing-specific measurements as a gain, but you’ll have a hard time selling it to the C-suite.

That’s why ROI is easiest to measure in the form of an individual channel or campaign (versus the totality of your efforts).

Thanks to tracking pixels and powerful CRM software, success can be attributed to leads that originated on social media, or conversions assisted by social media. Analytics software can be used to analyze which social media channels your visitors came from, what they did once they landed on your webpage, and the actions they took after completing a form.

Let’s say you invested $10,000 total on a paid media campaign leveraging LinkedIn and Facebook ads for a new product launch. You reached 100,000 professionals, drove 2,000 people to your landing pages, and collected 50 emails (MQLs).

So what was the ROI?

There are several possible answers.

  • ROI – short-term: Those leads are now known prospects moving through your sales funnel. In 3 months, if 10% of those 50 leads convert into closed deals with a customer lifetime value of $10,000, you stand to generate ~$50,000 from the campaign. ROI = $50,000 – 10,000 / (10,000) = 400% projected ROI.
  • ROI – long-term: After 6 months, or 12 months, how many additional campaign leads have converted? What was the expected value of those deals? That’s when things get interesting. 🙂
  • Indirect ROI: What is the ‘value’ of a page visit? How does the CPM for this channel compare to another channel? What other social or conversion actions can you attribute to the campaign (like saves, engagement, or downloads)?

Measuring the total reach, the size of the engaged (retargeting) audience built, or the attributed brand lift will only give you a proxy for success, but still extremely valuable to measure and report.

Hiring A B2B Specialist To Manage Your Social Media Marketing

Running a B2B brand is hard enough, let alone mastering social media. This is where hiring a B2B social media specialist comes in, to lessen your workload, focus on other aspects of your business you want to manage, and create powerful strategies that generate results.

This isn’t a role you can just pass off to the intern. A qualified social media manager or agency can provide immediate value and launch campaigns that will drive B2B marketing results.

But how do we find the perfect candidate? Competent social media specialists are hard to come by. On top of that, they need to correspond perfectly to a brand’s current needs, budgets, and goals.

Should I Hire a Social Media Agency Or Social Media Manager?

One dilemma that many B2B teams experience is the balance between internal and external resources. While both options have their benefits, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to managing social for your brand.

To help you in your choice, we’ve highlighted both possible options, their pros and cons, and what to look for when hiring either of these.

1) Hiring A Social Media Agency

If you know exactly what success looks like and you’re trying to conserve internal resources, then hiring a social media agency is the way to go. Having the budget to hire a quality social media management firm that gets your brand voice and goals is well worth it, considering the time it will buy you.

Keep in mind: You don’t need to outsource all of your social media marketing program.

Pros of Outsourcing Social Media Marketing:

  • Quality and consistency of social data reporting and analytics — thanks to efficiencies across clients.
  • There will be less trial and error: an agency will bring experience and lessons from working with many clients to the table, which in return will accelerate your social media results.
  • Social media agencies have access to advanced tools that can have an important effect when it comes to growing your audience.
  • You will be working with a variety of social media experts, from analysts to creatives, who individually will be able to bring their unique skills to each platform.

Potential Cons of Outsourcing Social Media Marketing:

  • Hiring a social media agency can be expensive for early-stage entrepreneurs and businesses who have smaller budgets for testing and limited time for communication.
  • Since agencies set scopes of work for everything they do, they may not handle all of the ancillary and administrative tasks an in-house social media manager would do.
  • They have their own process. Most social media agencies will begin by auditing your past performance and analyzing your audience. This phase could last 1 week to 1 month.

What To Look For In A B2B Social Media Agency

  • B2B Proof / Results: When searching for a social media partner, ask them for B2B case studies and/or links to social media campaigns they are managing right now for B2B clients. While most large clients have strict confidential agreements, the existence of the engagement itself is usually fair game.
  • Client references: In some instances, they will supply names and contact info of clients that will answer your questions. You can also scan Facebook, Clutch.co, G2, or Google to see what previous clients have shared. Keep in mind, agency reviews will primarily showcase the super positive or negative experiences. (Just being honest here.)
  • Consume their content: Can you get a sense of their personality and people from their social? Is their blog content genuinely useful? Conduct a surface level audit to judge their first impression.
  • Audience & industry experience: An agency that has worked in your niche or marketed to your audience may be able to generate results faster.
  • Pricing structure: Do you want to pick from a pre-set menu or customize your approach from scratch?
  • Communication cadence: Communication plays an essential role in any healthy partnership. Consider your communication preferences and the options they provide. Will they send you weekly status updates? Review monthly reports? Will they setup a shared Slack channel?

Here at Sculpt, we focus on building social media marketing programs that help B2B businesses grow their audience and revenue. That means prioritizing the right channels and mapping content opportunities across your buyer’s journey. We connect 1-to-4 times per month on your performance and progress to make sure you exceed your goals. You can schedule a strategy call right from our chat bot if you’d like to learn more. 😊

2) Hiring an In-House Social Media Manager

An alternative to hiring an agency is to hire a social media manager directly in your company. The main advantage of having an in-house social media manager is that he or she will have closer access to the rest of your organization. That can mean more responsive content and better connectivity with key people and updates.

Pros of Hiring a Social Media Manager

  • A social media manager may have a better sense of your brand’s actual customers.
  • While an agency works for multiple clients, an in-house social media manager will make your brand the sole focus of her work.
  • You’ll have full control over the tasks of your social media manager and how they complete them—including non-social assignments.

Cons of Hiring a Social Media Manager

  • It’s rare to find social media managers that are well-versed on each social media channel.
  • It’s even more rare to find an individual social media manager that is skilled across all 5 social media roles—paid ads, analytics, content (writing and visual), community management, and strategic planning.
  • With social managers, you’re going to have to pay for overhead costs such as insurance, bonuses, and benefits.

What To Look For In A B2B Social Media Manager

  • They Understand Your Brand: It doesn’t matter if a social media manager has thrilling, innovative ideas for your Instagram or LinkedIn account – if they’re not in line with your brand voice, they simply won’t be a good fit for your business.
  • They’re Committed To Collaboration: Whether your social media manager comes to your office every day or works remotely from home, a social media manager isn’t isolated from the rest of your team and is a pro at collaboration. They’ll need to be proactive at sourcing ideas and input from team members across the organization.
  • Copywriting chops: What do stakeholder reporting, content marketing, paid ads, and community management all have in common? Copywriting is the glue that ties them together. Writing is a fundamental skill for successful digital marketing programs. When looking for a potential social media manager to join your team, ask them to write sample copy in a variety of formats—ad, customer service responses, about us bios, Instagram stories, and short and long-form captions.
  • Visual content skills: Your social media manager is going to play a key role in producing images, GIFs, and videos throughout the month. That means your SMM needs to be a pro at sketching coherent mockups for designers, or excellent in editing environments. Ask your candidate for a portfolio of visual content they’ve designed or co-created for other brands in the past.
  • Forward-looking mindset: Social Media is changing every day, which is why a social media manager needs to be thirsty for new information about user behavior and platform updates. Ask your potential candidate what sources they use to stay ahead, and what they’re looking forward to testing next.
  • Customer empathy and service: 72% of people expect a response to their social media complaint within 1 hour. Considering that a customer that experiences good service with a business is 3x more likely to recommend the brand to their peers, hiring a social media manager that takes customer service seriously is paramount. Lay out sample scenarios and see how they’d respond.

Best case scenario: Hybrid team

Realistically, one social media manager can’t do all five social media roles without tactical support. And ideally, your agency isn’t operating in a silo. The best case scenario would be to leverage the flexibility of an external resource and the customer connectivity of the internal team.

In practice, that means the agency is lifting up the in-house social media manager with audience research, content strategy frameworks, process improvements, and timely opportunities. Or if the in-house team is comfortable with strategy, the agency is creating batches of scheduled content and paid support for growth goals.

It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

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B2B Social Media FAQ

B2B VS. B2C Social Media: What’s the difference?

Let’s break down the basics.

B2B social media marketing refers to the marketing of products, services, and career opportunities to the employees of other companies on social media. B2B companies can come in a variety of forms: professional service providers like marketing agencies, medical equipment sales, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) to name a few.

B2C (business-to-consumer) social media marketing deals with the process of promoting products and services to consumers. Often we’re describing social for business like food service, bricks-and-mortar / online retail, and consumer packaged goods. More frequently today we’re talking about DTC e-commerce, subscription services, and mobile apps.

Fundamentally, social media has the same utility between the two business models—connecting brands with customers. But we’ve found a couple noticeable differences between B2C and B2B social media marketing.

1. Relationships vs. Direct Sales.

Where does the relationship begin?

With B2C marketing, the relationship with a brand often starts with a purchase. You might see an ad on Snapchat or a deal in a Facebook Group and become a customer. It might take months of targeted social media advertising to reach purchase consideration, but the value begins when we receive a discount, or start using the product. After purchase, the brand’s social media channels might become a place for new deals, lifestyle inspiration, and product information to encourage repeat purchasing.

With B2B marketing we’re selling high-ticket goods, so our goal is to foster long-term relationships with employees and decision makers of customer companies by positioning our brands as approachable experts. The value journey on social media often progresses in sequential stages — from awareness and consideration, to purchase and ascension — with the top-of-the-funnel possibly taking months or years.

2. Employees as key audiences and influencers.

In B2B organizations, your human resources are one of the most effective marketing tools for brand advocacy. When distributing information like articles, announcements, or offers, programs often start with employees sharing to their networks before expanding out to new audiences.

In modern B2B marketing organizations, personal brand building is encouraged, not stifled. An employee with a large, professional social network can be used as an asset to reach new customers.

Will Social Media work for boring industries?

Many B2B firms believe that social media won’t work for them because they’re in a “boring” niche and it’s better to focus exclusively on client referrals, offline sales channels like tradeshows, or online channels like Google ads to generate clients. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

For example, CBRE is a global real estate firm that dominates when it comes to brand awareness on social media. What could be a boring corporate feed on Instagram is instead a showcase of some of the world’s most beautiful architecture.

Which B2C social media strategies work for B2B?

Whether you’re targeting a B2C or B2B audience, at the end of the day, you are still communicating with individuals. All humans, regardless of the niche, have wants and needs that they desire to fulfill. Social media tactics known for B2C such as giveaway contests that offer an incentive for action, or developing content optimized for commenting (to instill a feeling of belonging), can also be used by B2B businesses to increase their reach.

From our experience, social media strategies used for B2C can be even more lucrative for B2B. Take inspiration from brands with similar values, even if their business model is different.

What if my customers aren’t using social media?

According to IDG, 84% of C-level and VP-level buyers are influenced by social media interactions in their buying decision. In total, they found 75% of B2B buyers consulted information on social media before purchasing a product or service. By not having a presence on social media, you are missing out on opportunities to network with important clients.

As a low-cost experiment, develop a research project of your own. Assemble a list of 50 of your customers, and 50 of your prospects. Create a separate column for their social media profiles on as many channels you consider relevant. After taking stock, note if they’re following your brand or employees back. What did you learn?

Is LinkedIn the best platform for B2B social media?

While it’s true that 78% of B2B marketers agree that LinkedIn is the best platform for achieving their specific objectives, that doesn’t mean you should put all of your eggs into one basket and not leverage other platforms.

Are you still here? Thanks for sticking with us all the way to the end! 😅

Still have a burning question about B2B social media that we didn’t answer? Leave it in the comments below and we’ll add it to the post. 👍

Josh Krakauer

Josh Krakauer is the CEO of Sculpt, that social media agency you just discovered. He uses words and pictures to make people smile, laugh, think, and buy.

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