This week in #bufferchat, we were joined by Amanda Vera to explore B2B strategies for social media! We discussed how B2B social media marketing differs from B2C, the particular social media platforms that work well for B2B companies, what metrics are important to focus on, and so much more.

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, every week on Wednesdays, 9 am PT / 12 pm ET / 5 pm UTC, for valuable industry insights and networking with nearly 400 other smart marketers and community managers. It’s a fun time!

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Q1: How does B2B social media marketing differ from B2C?

From Amanda:

  • Overall, it seems the follower base is focused more on the how-to story and innovation, less on glitz or something flashy.
  • Important to share case studies/white papers/anything technical that will gain customer understanding.
  • Channels also used a bit differently – Facebook may be more focused on Community Relations, Twitter on news.

From the community:

  • “Sometimes storytelling gets lost w/ B2B. Companies are people. People have stories. Therefore, companies have stories.” @KatyWrites
  • “I’m eager for the day we see it as Human 2 Human (H2H), social =social whether to consumers or brands.” @Kymberlaine
  • “B2B has a longer decision-making process. You must invest time cultivating a relationship with your potential buyer.” @EmilyViteri95
  • “B2B and B2C social media marketing are very similar. At the end of the day you’re marketing to people.” @Yung_adQ
  • “Business is about providing value to a customer. That customer can be a business (B) or a consumer (C). Value is key.” @sbruington

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

Q2: Are there particular social media platforms that work really well for B2B companies?

From Amanda:

  • As many might guess, LinkedIn is strong for B2B –high % of people using it from our experience/from research.
  • WeChat is also a newer untapped resource for some B2Bs. Great opportunity to really connect with audience there.
  • So much can be done with Twitter. Again, it’s an education cycle with so many B2Bs.
  • Some companies diving into Snapchat and Pinterest, which is brave for B2B brands – usually slower to adopt newer channels.

From the community:

  • “LinkedIn for “community of interest” debate and thought leadership; Twitter for (timely and relevant) information.” @jgombita
  • “Whatever the platform, engaging, sharing and helping out works better than just posting content.” @learningsnacks
  • works well for business connections you already know. works best for finding new business connections.” @Kirstensdigital
  • “We use Facebook to promote culture/employer brand. Twitter/LinkedIn to promote expertise.” @martinlieberman
  • “I think that they can all work in some way. it really depends on your goal, audience and strategy.” @danielleirogers

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

Q3: What are ways for B2B companies to find their audience on social media?

From Amanda:

  • An obvious one – promotional campaigns on social to target audiences! Great success for us there.
  • Always helps to use the right hashtags, especially on channels like Instagram!
  • Also great to follow relevant media outlets – we’ve found great success in this b/c the follower base is always so targeted.
  • You can always ask them during events and shows too – great to take a poll when you’re able to do so in person.

From the community:

  • “Key word and hashtags searches are a great way to find the right B2B leads.” @lifeofaworkgirl
  • “Engage with your audience’s content. People can tell if you’re selling vs. building relationships.” @nicoleyoley159
  • “Check out hashtags of trade shows/confs in your industry and look at who’s tweeting!” @michemakeswords
  • “Listening, of course. Also following writers/editors in industry is a great start. They know people.” @leen_machine
  • “Twitter chats or other type of events for the types of clients you’re interested in. Go to them and just talk 1:1.” @nick_leffler

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

Q4: How can a B2B use social media to help with lead generation?

From Amanda:

  • Tie social media into marketing automation campaigns – you’ll nurture the leads through the buying cycle this way.
  • Drive social media posts to gated content! Give them something they want to download/learn.

From the community:

  • “Most B2B leads aren’t sales ready when you meet. Need time, a relationship. Social helps with both.” @damonclarksaid
  • “Promote useful content on social media & gate it behind an email sign up form. That’s a warm lead.” @nsphire
  • “Use social media to uncover data, trends, build lists, quantify data, create targets, build relationships to analyze data.” @DevDawg
  • “1. Educate your audience. 2. Provide offers (e.g. ebooks) and distribute through social media. 3. Use CTAs.” @ramoscheryle
  • “The most important thing to remember: social is not about a hard sell. It’s about fostering relationships.” @RecoveryBrands

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

Q5: What sort of social media metrics might be useful for a B2B to focus on?

From Amanda:

  • Really depends on the channel. We look for RTs from targets. Helps expose message to right people on an even bigger scale.
  • Measurement must match up with goals. Don’t rely on vanity metrics – look for shares, social traffic.
  • Tracking clicks on any links is critical. Most people won’t click unless the info is truly relevant.
  • and most CERTAINLY conversions! We all love those!

From the community:

  • “Conversion. Who clicked through from your social profiles to your website/blog? And what did they do once they were there?” @nicoleyoley159
  • “Engagement metrics not vanity metrics. I will take comments/shares over followers/likes any day.” @leen_machine
  • “Engagement, clicks through to website & shares. Anything that shows someone going one stage deeper.” @sarahnbeeson
  • “Clickthroughs. Likes gives only hints. Engagement. Replies. Traffic increases. Even Linkedin looks.” @calgarydreamer
  • “We focus on what types on content get the most interaction – #polls, #photos, #infographics.” @JesGeoffroy

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

Q6: Which companies are doing B2B social media really well?

From Amanda:

  • I admire GE – love to watch what they are doing with technology and just how they tell their story in unique ways.
  • Caterpillar is another – loved their campaign! Their instagram is also stunning based on the industry.

From the community:

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

Q7: What #1 recommendation would you give a B2B that wants to “up” their social media game?

From Amanda:

  • Really owning the 80/20 rule – make sure at least 20% of your content is truly yours!
  • Establish thought leadership through what you’re posting – become an authority within your industry.
  • Talk more about simply participating in event or doing a tradeshow – really tell a story! People are drawn to that.

From the community:

  • “Engagement is KEY. Build a relationship by reaching out to your audience to start a conversation. You need to develop trust.” @winniegiang
  • “Creating a library of content in different forms is huge. From e-books, other downloadable guides, and more.” @StoreCoach
  • “Be human. And don’t be afraid to explore new networks to work with. Don’t just stick to same formula, times change.” @MattQuanstrom
  • “Be consistent! If you post regularly, keep that up and don’t leave your followers without content for too long!” @lucinda1983
  • “Don’t create noise! Define goals, watch your metrics & have a little fun! Being real stands out.” @RhondaHugs

See all the great answers to question 7 here!

Thank you so much to Amanda for sharing her insights and to everyone who participated in this awesome chat!

Catch #bufferchat each Wednesday at 9 am PST, 12 pm EST, 5 pm UTC. Join our new Slack community with over 1,000 members to continue these awesome conversations all week long!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Image sources: UnSplash

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Written by Arielle Tannenbaum

Community Strategist at Buffer. In addition to her love of community building, Arielle also loves vegetables, cooking, practicing yoga, meditating, living mindfully, and exploring the connections between health and happiness!