Strengths and Weaknesses of Different Social Media Channels for B2B

In a world that is almost entirely reliant on, and to some
extent addicted to, technology, there has never been any better time than the
present to bring your business up to date and delve into the world of digital
marketing, predominantly social media.
But with so many different channels to chose from, all attracting their own unique mix of users, where do you start?  Here is a useful table showing the pros and cons of each of the popular digital channels available to businesses, highlighting which are most appropriate and useful for B2B companies.

Channel
Strengths
Weaknesses
Facebook  
  
  •       Large potential
    audience (1 billion users)
  •       Cost effective
    advertising

  •             Not
    predominantly a business channel so takes more time/effort to reach business
    people/companies

Twitter
  •       Great for
    monitoring campaigns (#hashtags)
  •       200 million
    active users
  •       Lots of
    companies using Twitter for business

  •               Limited
    engagement due to 140 character limit

Google+
  •       Owned by a
    search engine – makes for good search engine ranking
  •       Segmentation
    options allows for better targeting

  •       Time spent in
    ‘stream’ only equals around 12 minutes per day
  •       Doesn’t have
    quite as many users as Facebook and Twitter just yet (90 million)

LinkedIn
  •       Connections
    generate leads and sales
  •       Ideal for quick
    and easy networking
  •            World’s
    largest professional network with execs from every F500 company
  •       Also useful for
    job/skilled employee hunting

  •      Not for social
    use
  •       Can’t ‘connect’
    with people you haven’t met

Facebook
Facebook is often argued as being no place for business to
business companies, as out of the 1 billion users, the majority are on the
network for social reasons. But what people often forget when it comes to
social networking for B2B is that the companies you are trying to reach are run
by the same people that in their spare time have lives, friends and families
outside of the company, and more often than not enjoy using social networks outside
work.
Facebook was created for social purposes, and you won’t
necessarily get the luxury of easily targeting and reaching the person/people
in the specific role/team within a company with a few simple clicks. Finding
them on Facebook may be  bit harder than
that, but this con can be turned into a pro. With the right time and effort,
Facebook can be equally as useful if not more so for B2B as it can be for B2C.
Are any of your competitors on Facebook? No? Then why aren’t you? Because so
many B2B companies write it off instantly, you could get a competitive edge and
reach a previously untapped audience.
The best way to ensure you reach the right people through
Facebook is to use their cost effective targeted advertising options. These
self service ads allow you to run as many ads at one time as you like with ANY
budget, and be as specific or as broad as you like with targeting. It makes
narrowing down that 1 billion and tapping into that fresh audience a little
easier, and it won’t eat up a large chunk of your marketing budget either.
Oracle’s
Facebook page
is a great example of how a B2B company is succeeding on
Facebook. They have a large following (over 31,000 likes) and regularly post
engaging blog posts with large, crisp images which stand out and demand
attention.
The English Cheesecake
company
has increased sales via Facebook. They test new products, get customer
feedback and sell via the platform.
Twitter
With 200 million users, many businesses and brands, Twitter
is the ideal place for B2B social campaigns and even networking.
One of its main downfalls is that there is limited
engagement due to the fast paced, short and snappy nature of the news feed; 140
characters. You have to be creative about how you get your company’s message
across. But this downfall can also be seen as a strength, as challenging your
creativity can lead to great things. Summing up your company’s message in 140
characters may seem impossible, but it can help both you and your potential
clients learn a lot about the business due to what your prioritise and how you
choose to say it.
Hashtags, although no longer unique to Twitter, are still
one of Twitter’s original strengths when it comes to monitoring campaigns and
your company’s reputation online. Regularly searching your company’s hashtags
and other related keywords can show just how other businesses on Twitter react
to your company.
Hubspot’s is a
great example of a well run B2B Twitter account. They let various members of
the team post engaging questions and content to bring a variety of
personalities to the mix, and even have their CEO take over occasionally for a
day so people can interacting with the driving force behind the brand, which
sets them apart from other ‘robotic’ Twitter business accounts.
Google+
Google+ was referred to by Moz
as ‘the third sock that nobody wants’ when referring to businesses using more
than just two main social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, but in reality
with a growing user base and unique SEO impacting features, businesses can no
longer afford to ignore it as an option.
It may not have anywhere near the 200 million or 1 billion
strong user bases that Twitter and Facebook can boast, but 90 million users and
growing is not to be sniffed at. Especially considering that when users +1 a
post, it increases the potential of it ranking on Google.
There is also the clever segmentation feature called
Circles, which allows you to add different connections to 1 or more circles.
You can then create and share content that you know would be of interest to a
particular circle, and target the post to be seen by them, meaning you can customise
the content that each circle sees. Better targeting leads to more interest and
sales.
One of the downfalls of the network being ‘up and coming’ is
that people don’t spend as much time on it as they would Facebook or Twitter.
Therefore you need to be extra vigilant with posting times and be posting
several times a day in order to catch your audience’s attention.
A fine example of a B2B company using Google+ successfully
is Cisco Systems.
Their page is constantly packed with fresh and interesting content in a number
of engaging formats, from traditional question posts to boost interaction, to
engaging infographics and videos to encourage sharing.
Read more about what we’ve said on Google plus and why Google
is more than a social network
.
LinkedIn
LinkedIn officially declares itself “the world’s largest
professional network on the Internet in over 200 countries and territories.” It
has a user base that’s nearly 200 million million, which includes executives
from every company on the Fortune 500 list.

If that wasn’t reason enough to give it a chance, there is also the fact that
connecting with people on LinkedIn can drive leads and sales in the same way
that handing out your business card at networking events can. It has become
such a popular way for business people to connect that people often give out
their LinkedIn profile URL on or instead of their business card to new
acquaintances.

A person’s LinkedIn profile gives you the full run down of
where they work, what their job role entails, their previous experience, etc.
reading like an online CV. For this reason, executives of B2B companies often
use the ‘search’ function or go to a company’s page on LinkedIn to find the
person within the right role that they need to target when getting a foot in
the door with the company they are pursuing as a lead.
It can also be very useful for recruitment purposes, due to
the fact that a person’s CV is not only viewable online but specific
traits/experience is easily searchable, meaning the right person for your
company’s job opening could be as little as a few clicks away.
Company pages are as important for companies on LinkedIn as
they have features such as products/services tabs. Promotion spotlighting can
help the company be discovered by people searching on LinkedIn for a particular
need.
The Voices.com
LinkedIn company page
is a great example of a company page being used well
on LinkedIn. They regularly use the status update feature to post relevant and
interesting news to keep the page fresh, as well as having a fully optimised
products and services tab, there they have all their individual products and
services detailed with keywords to enable them to be found in searches and
recommendations from current/past clients on each individual product/service
page.
There are many more social media channels, and all bring
their own strengths and weaknesses to individual businesses and their campaigns.
For B2B, running creative campaigns on at least one of the above channels will
enable you to reach the right audience for your business. B2C company? Check
out the B2C version of this article!
If you like this story, do share and tweet me
@annmariehanlon, and share with me your own thoughts on these campaigns
and others!

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