This is the first installment of the B2B Social Media series.
There’s no better way to reach a huge audience for relatively little money than with a B2B social media presence. That’s why more than 93 percent of B2B marketers use social media as a rising channel where B2B buyers hang out more often. When it comes to choosing the right social media channels, which one should you use?
Not all platforms are the same, and neither are all B2B businesses. The big question is, where does your audience hang out? Here are some answers – and the data to back it up. Interested?
B2B Social Media Networks – The Big Picture
As you might imagine, the B2B audience’s preferences differ dramatically from their B2C counterparts. LinkedIn dominates the B2B space, followed by Facebook by a margin of about 3-to-1 in audience size (see graph below). Twitter and Instagram are a distant 3rd and 4th on the list, but with millions of users, these platforms still deserve consideration.
Another way to look at the relationship is that 96 percent of B2C business use Facebook as compared to 88 percent of B2B companies. Conversely, 86 percent of B2B businesses use LinkedIn versus only 58 percent of B2C companies.
The Nitty Gritty
Even though it makes sense that the B2B audience favors the business based LinkedIn platform, each industry varies in regards to its B2B social media strategy. For example, both computer hardware and professional services rely heavily on their Facebook audience for B2B social media marketing. In fact, computer hardware B2Bs have a Facebook following up to seven times larger than they do on LinkedIn, as pictured in the following graph:
It’s worth noting that the software, financial, and machinery sectors also count on Facebook as much, or more, than LinkedIn. In contrast, the medical, engineering, motor vehicle, construction and biotech audiences all heavily favor LinkedIn for their B2B social media feeding. The network choices make sense since Facebook initiates a one-to-many conversation that addresses mass audience while LinkedIn is more focused on one-on-one sale.
After LinkedIn and Twitter, Facebook has a sizable B2B audience. This again appears to be sector-specific with professional services, computer hardware, software, financial, and pharmaceuticals giving weight to tweets. Instagram has yet to make a significant mark in the B2B world, but it manages to carve out a niche especially in computer hardware.
The Bigger Audience, The Better?
For B2B business, nurturing a relationship matters more than getting more followers. Engagement should be your primary metric for measurement. Research shows that niche industries with a smaller audience such as pharmaceutical and financial service size had a better engagement. And LinkedIn appears to be the niche industries’ best choice to hold a deeper, engaging conversation.
So Which One?
Most B2B businesses are on multiple social media channels. The average appears to be about six per company. Do you need that many channels to be effective? It depends on your goal — do you want to go viral to raise awareness or cultivate a relationship?
If you already have a massive presence, it’s time to clearly identify your niche and high-value segment. Then engage them on channels that allow for a deeper connection. Start with social networks that make sense to your sector and brand, then build out from there.
Social media can contribute greatly to success in B2B. In our device driven world, this makes sense as you can reach your target market 24/7 with an effective B2B social media strategy.
Feeling ready to plan out your social media strategy? Try our social media plan template to give your social presence a jump start.