Jessica Locke

I speak with marketers every day, and I hear the same thing over and over again – they see the benefits of using social media for marketing, just not for their industries. I typically encounter this issue with B2B marketers who don’t think their prospects are looking for their specific products or services on Facebook or Twitter, so they don’t see the value in dedicating resources to keeping these pages updated. I never cease to explain to them that social media marketing is important in every industry in the current online marketing climate.

Just the other day, I was speaking with a CMO at a company that provides a technical platform for financial advisers and administrators. When I first brought up her company’s use of social media, she laughed and told me members of her target audience (financial advisers) were not doing business on Facebook or Twitter. She thought social media messaging would devalue the technology her company sells.

This marketer – and any who share her viewpoint – need a fresh look at what B2B social marketing can be. Here’s some insight on social marketing’s reach and how Brafton’s B2B clients who may have once thought like this CMO are seeing success in the space.

Every industry has a social audience

Social media was once considered a space just for college kids to connect, but the huge (and growing) audiences on Facebook and Twitter are a valuable pool of diverse consumers. With 800 million active users on Facebook and more 100 million active Twitter users, surely a share of those users will be part of any business’ target audience.

The CMO I had on the phone didn’t believe social offered access to financial planners, friends of financial planners or even followers of financial planners. In reality, more than 84 percent of financial advisers use social media for business purposes. Social reach applies to all B2B companies. Whether it’s C-level executives, human resource departments and/or operations managers a brand is targeting, they are all very likely using social media not only to connect with their families and friends, but also to look for information related to the industry that they are in, or services they may be interested in incorporating in their business models.

Consumers turn to social for industry-specific information

I also tell B2B social skeptics to consider where consumers (including business decision makers) are actually getting their industry information. Of course, the major places people are looking for this information is in search engines – namely Google (#1) and Yahoo (#2). But marketers might be surprised to learn that Facebook is not that far behind, being the fourth ranked way people are accessing content, and Twitter rounds out the top ten, according to an Outbrain report.

What’s important for B2B companies to remember is that their target audience might be other businesses, but a business does not make purchase decisions. A person, and one who is presumably using social media, is making that purchase decision. In fact, Brafton has reported 61 percent of marketers selling to other businesses say LinkedIn, alone, has contributed to new business partnerships.

(Quality) social marketing content drives website traffic

Brafton B2B client Facebook clicks

B2B marketers planning social strategies should remember that the platform doesn’t have to be overly conversational or take away from a business’ professionalism or credibility. Brafton’s clients have seen success with social marketing by simply posting fresh headlines from their original news articles or blog posts with links to the full content on their websites. Using this as part of a social strategy helps these businesses maintain a certain level of professionalism and, importantly, directs traffic from social media directly to their websites.

A client in the plastic surgery industry saw some great results with Brafton-written headlines posted on its Facebook and Twitter pages. Between August 24th and September 17th, we posted 21 articles on its Facebook page, and the client saw 1,010 clicks on these articles, or about 48 clicks per post. The same articles distributed via Twitter brought 536 clicks, or 25.5 clicks per post.

Brafton B2B client Twitter clicks

The important thing to remember is that these clicks are getting Facebook fans and Twitter followers onto the website. The content, itself, shows social audiences that the client is up to speed in the plastic surgery industry, and once social users click back to the site to read more, they are closer to key conversion pages. These statistics are great, considering shared links across all sharing channels are clicked, on average, 4.9 times each.

Social traffic: Better traffic?

Finally, and probably most importantly, marketers can’t ignore the value of social traffic. A B2B client in sales management training is seeing great results from posting branded content on its Twitter page. Not only did the company get additional visits to its site, but it is seeing that Twitter followers are visiting an average of three more pages than any other site visitor, they are staying on the website an average of two minutes longer than other visitors and they are coming back to the site more than 64 percent more often.

This important traffic is coming from Twitter – a medium that many B2B (and maybe B2C) companies do not see any value in from a marketing perspective.

Here’s the client’s Analytics, showing Twitter-specific traffic.Social analytics

By the end of my call with the CMO from the financial platform provider, she admitted she hadn’t considered all of her social options. Not only was she convinced that social media marketing could work for her B2B business, but she was ready to set up her corporate social profiles.

Like many other social media skeptics I’ve spoken with in the past, she was not thinking of her prospective B2B customers as people – she thought of them more as the companies that they worked for. Facebook and Twitter have a much larger reach than some other traditional marketing mediums. News letters only go out to the prospects you send them to. You are limited to whatever audience is present at a specific trade show or networking event. Advertisements in trade journals only go to a select audience. All of these marketing channels have their purposes, but why not also take advantage of social platforms that can reach prospects you might not even know exist?

Another benefit of adopting social media marketing as a B2B business? You’ll be getting a leg up on the competition that may think social doesn’t reach valuable audiences – like you did in the past.