Conventional wisdom used to caution B2B organizations against using paid social media campaigns as a source of lead generation. However, just as social media platforms have evolved rapidly in the last ten years, so too have B2B social media marketing strategies. Paid social media advertising can provide your company with successful lead generation to micro-targeted audiences. Social media ads are just as important to your company’s digital strategies as organic social campaigns.
One in three consumers finds new brands on social media according to recent research from Sprout. (1) You read that correctly: one-third of your potential customers use social media to discover new products and services. But organic (or free) social media can only take your business so far. Social media ad campaigns target micro audiences to improve lead generation efforts by presenting your material to potential customers who meet the criteria of your ideal buyer persona(s).
Audiences are Key for B2B Marketers
The buyer persona audience match is what makes social media advertising most valuable for B2B marketing. You can build the audiences that your advertising appears to and target the people who match your buying criteria and no one else. Custom audiences can be built from demographic information (job title, industry, age range, level of education, etc.), geographic location, interests, behavior, and more. Your social media campaigns can also target existing contacts in your CRM, website visitors, current customers, or even mirror your established audience groups using AI technology. How you build your audiences varies a bit by platform, but the precision that audience-building tools within the social media advertising platforms provide allows you to focus your marketing efforts on leads that are highly qualified.
Organic vs. Paid
Organic social content does not have the same reach, or targeted scope, that paid ads do on platforms. Your friends and followers may see your content through organic social media outreach and engagement, but your great content and offers will NOT appear to the majority of potential customers on the social platform.
For example, a Facebook post from your company’s business page will appear in a percentage of your follower’s feeds. If you have 1,000 followers, a high-performance post might have 100-200 views. Or it might have 5. The actual number will depend upon Facebooks’ algorithm that day, how active your followers are on the platform, the quality of the content you post, and how many people engage with the post. However, if you paid to boost that post, or launched an advertising campaign, you could easily have thousands of views per day, and significantly increase your engagement (likes, shares, clicking on a link, etc.). Paid social media advertising gets your brand and content in front of likely customers without the uncertain ROI that organic social media engagement relies upon.
Paid social media advertising has one of the highest conversion rates of any advertising platform in the digital advertising sphere. If your B2B organization wants to increase lead generation rates, social media marketing is an essential component of your digital marketing strategy.
Not sure how to get started? Many agencies have B2B social media experts who can help. We provide this service as well: the Whittington Consulting inbound marketing team helps our B2B clients pinpoint digital marketing opportunities for their businesses every day. While not specifically social media, the topic of banner retargeting is a popular one right now to recapture people who visit your website but don’t take an action. Retargeting is the practice of placing cookies on the computer of a person who has visited specific pages on your website. When you purchase banner ad space, ads appear for your company on other websites when someone with that cookie visits. Retargeting can pay off for any B2B business, so we wholeheartedly recommend you consider retargeting if you're getting a lot of website traffic.
How Do You Decide?
Before your organization commits budget and resources to paid digital marketing campaigns on social platforms, it helps to look into research on social media marketing statistics. What platform you use depends on your target audience and requires an understanding of the social network you are using for lead generation. A SaaS company’s potential customers might be on different networks than a healthcare provider’s for example.
Next, you will want to prioritize the social media platforms your research has identified for your paid campaigns. You will need to identify your audiences, key performance indicators, and the content needed for each platform.
Your content depends upon the lead generation strategy your business implements to hit your goals. For example, if you choose to advertise on Facebook and promote company webinars you will need a registration landing page, a registration form, copy, and imagery for your ads. Perhaps even a video recording of the event to promote after the event. If you have several buyer personas, will you create unique content for each persona or create one master campaign? To take it a step further, you will also need to decide if your campaign will include organic post promotions, display ads, carousel ads, video ads, etc. The ad type will help you plan what types of campaign assets you’ll require. Let’s explore the different types of advertising you can utilize on different social media platforms.
Facebook Ads are one of the most popular paid social media marketing choices for many B2B mid-size businesses as part of their lead generation strategy and inbound marketing sales process. With its over 1.93 billion active daily users (according to Statista (2)) around the globe, Facebook has become the go-to for digital sales content for many key decision-makers.
Facebook ads help build awareness of your brand, send traffic to your website, increase engagement with your company, encourage app installs or video views, and improve lead generation. Facebook is popular among many different demographics and it can micro-target ads to very specific groups of people. The cost of Facebook campaigns is not prohibitive as you get started, with the ability to adjust daily spending in the $1-$5 range per campaign. The platform’s API integration list is long, making tracking and integration with your Martech stack simple (in most cases at least!).
Instagram Ads follow in popularity to Facebook, but their use is growing among B2B companies and younger generations. Each day, Instagram sees nearly 500 million active users according to Statista (3), many of them Millennials, as well as Generations Y and Z. Instagram Stories ads, use photos and videos where your company can add interactive content and track engagement and conversions. Instagram is owned by Facebook so your Instagram paid campaigns are folded into your Facebook advertising account which makes execution and reporting simple.
Visual content does well on this platform but many new users are at a loss for ideas about how to present their visual ads in this competitive medium. Ad content strategy as well as campaign design and execution is a skill set that takes time to develop. Fortunately, many resources are available, including the marketing team at Whittington Consulting. You can also find valuable resources from experts in the field (we recommend Hubspot’s blogs and Knowledge Base) and many social media agencies and tools can help.
Like Facebook, Instagram campaigns can be budget-friendly for organizations dipping their toe into social advertising. The low daily campaign limits and small cost of pay-per-click ads won’t break your digital advertising budget. The flexible spending also allows your marketing team to A/B test campaigns, audience builds, and more to fine-tune your conversion rates.
One thing to keep in mind for your IG organic posts: hashtags are a staple on the platform and hashtag best practices follow different rules than their counterparts on Twitter and other platforms. Standard hashtags your audience follow are great, but you’ll want to experiment with creative/more personal hashtags as well. Think of them as part of your copy/communication strategy to link relevant content together.
Links are currently not allowed within Instagram’s organic posts or your profile information is limited to one link that is established in your Instagram profile settings. You can use a tool like linktree to place one featured link in your profile to get around this limitation.
We aren’t going to cover Snapchat or TikTok in this article, but advertising on one or both is something to consider if your company’s ideal customers are 25 or under. This demographic is not the typical customer for B2B organizations but there are exceptions! Instagram’s users have matured a bit and are good for B2B lead generation for buyer personas in the 25 + age range.
The LinkedIn Ad platform is often a go-to for B2B social media lead generation. They have the number one B2B advertising platform in the United States according to research from The B2B House (4). LinkedIn’s marketing services are a rapidly growing platform for content marketing. You can run ads and get quality leads with campaigns that target your ideal customers on the platform they use for professional connections and communication.
LinkedIn digital ads create brand or product awareness for your company, improve leads to your website, improve engagement, and increase video views and content/app downloads. This network is especially good for targeting other B2B companies and professionals. You can even create lead gen form fill campaigns and execute targeted email (through LinkedIn’s Inmail feature) within the platform itself.
LinkedIn’s audience attributes allow you to micro-target your advertising using professional criteria. This could include past or present job titles, more detailed breakdowns of industries/verticals, university degrees by type and major, companies, and more. Traditional social platforms like Facebook or Twitter focus audience segmentation around basic demographic or interest-based criteria, while LinkedIn has more career and industry-driven data points to choose from when building social media advertising audiences.
Keep in mind that LinkedIn is one of the more expensive social media platforms to advertise on when considering possible campaigns. However, the cost is not prohibitive if your campaigns generate qualified leads that result in sales. Consider a cost per lead (CPL) analysis to help your team determine ROI for this platform.
Twitter Ads deliver social media content to 211 million (5) daily active users through social media advertising where socially responsible ads, link clicks, and brand engagement is high for B2B digital lead generation. Hashtags also drive customers to your social media landing pages and increase lead generation to your website and business.
Twitter Promote uses an algorithm to promote your Tweets to your target audience and increase followers while Twitter ad campaigns meet specified business objectives that align with your company’s goals. Twitter campaigns are also fairly budget-friendly.
Some industries have very active Twitter users, conversations, and influencers that make them a good fit for B2B social advertising. For example, the legal community has an active user base who discuss professional standards, leadership trends, professional associations, events, firm culture, and more on the platform. Many businesses that sell to the legal industry use Twitter advertising for inbound marketing purposes.
Why would B2B companies advertise on a video platform? Well, think of YouTube as one of the world’s most popular search engines rather than the place to find funny cat videos and you’ll see why their video advertising opportunities could become part of your lead generation strategy. YouTube has a potential reach of over 2 billion users worldwide according to HootSuite’s research (6). That’s about 32% of the earth’s population and a little over half of all internet users on the planet!
While YouTube is more expensive than Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, it can yield results for companies whose potential customer groups use the platform frequently. You have several ad mediums to choose from: skippable and non in-stream ads, in-feed video ads, bumper ads, masthead ads, etc., but most require video advertising material from your team. Consider video production costs/in-house time, as well as actual ad hard costs, when evaluating YouTube for your digital advertising plan.
TikTok has also seen recent gains as a search engine masquerading as a social content platform but the demographic match for most potential B2B customers is not a good fit at this time. TikTok users skew younger than demographic stats for the majority of qualified B2B leads. Keep an eye on these metrics though, as they may change in the future.
Other Paid Social Media Advertising Resources
There are more paid social media advertising platforms and resources than those we explored here. Take some time to research platforms, review your buyer personas and their social habits, identify key lead gen objectives, and analyze your budget. In the meantime, we have some resources to share:
Help for Social Ad Content & Audience Building Strategy
- The Best B2B Lead Magnet Ideas for Content Marketing
- Content Roadmap: Aligning Content With Your Buyer's Journey
- Activities That Make Up An Effective Inbound Marketing Strategy
- 4 Steps to Building Rock-Solid Client Personas
Website Lead Conversion
- How To Drive Traffic to Your Website for Quality Leads
- 10 Reasons Your Website Struggles to Generate Leads for Your Business
- The Role of User Experience (UX) In Your Lead Generation Strategy
- 3 B2B Lead Generation Strategies for Your Website
- Marketing Lead Generation Tip: Using Contact Forms Effectively
Whittington Consulting offers many lead generation strategies and inbound marketing services to B2B mid-sized businesses as a prominent lead generation outsourcing agency you can trust.