You might think there’s a hot new social media platform every few months. After a while they all run together, and it seems like they’re all best left to other people (and maybe even other businesses).
But are they? If you aren’t actively involved in decisions regarding your business’s social media presence, you might you miss out on something useful -- something that could move your business forward with a fraction of the effort and time (and therefore money) of traditional networking and branding.
Social media marketing offers a low-cost, high-ROI way to engage your prospective customers and keep your company on the minds of your customers during a longer sales cycle. The trick is choosing the right platform to specialize in. Here’s a look at the most influential social marketing platforms and how you can maximize their usefulness for your business.
Why it’s worth it:
LinkedIn is the the obvious choice for B2B lead generation because it is used in more of a professional nature. It also recently opened up its content network for all users to publish and promote original content -- a bold move that has many users stepping up their personal content marketing initiatives. What wins on this platform are creative headlines, thoughtful comments in group settings and unique content.
LinkedIn is a fundamentally closed network, which means that you can only interact with users who have mutually given each other permission to do so. Because of this fundamental privacy, your network will not grow without active networking. Other networks, on the other hand, provide engagement opportunities through communal hashtags and trending topics.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking to build a strong personal network based on real-world connections, LinkedIn networking (and possibly paid advertising) is a great time investment. It's also the closest thing to actual face-to-face networking, so it's a good social media entry point.
Why it’s worth it:
You might be thinking, "Facebook for B to B companies? That's not right for us." Facebook’s claim to fame is the fact that it is still the largest and most active social network in existence. No other platform offers the same reach in almost every demographic, and marketers are eager to take advantage of this benefit with targeted paid ads that can work for many business segments.
Unfortunately, Facebook is having increasingly public struggles with its news feed algorithm and approach to marketing. Many marketers are finding that users who sign up for their updates do not see them, and Facebook is moving closer to a pay-only marketing platform. For a business with the budget, paid advertising might still be worthwhile. But if you enjoy Facebook for its free platform that allows you to access your fan base, your days are numbered.
Bottom Line: Facebook is the most popular social network, but not the most popular for B to B companies. It can still be effective because of its paid advertising potential.
Why it’s worth it:
Twitter is a large and growing communication platform, especially among 18-29 demographic. Though Twitter can be overwhelming at first, it offers plenty of opportunities to share your message and engage with users in new and exciting ways. The repetitive and cyclic nature of the platform means that you can target your messages for a variety of segments on a variety of topics. It’s high touch, but also high engagement, perfect for B2B-style conversation that leads to conversion.
Being so popular in a younger demographic makes it harder for B2B businesses to make leads (though they are there -- we promise!). If you’re targeting an older, more established population, then the people you’ll want to do business with likely aren’t engaged on this platform. But if you are targeting a younger crowd, you would do yourself a huge favor to invest in an engaging Twitter presence.
Bottom Line: Twitter is a platform that can be helpful for younger professionals to drive company awareness. It requires more time since the life of a tweet is so short, but because it's an open network, anyone can read your updates.
Why it’s worth it:
Google Plus has the world’s most powerful search engine behind it -- and the SEO benefits that come with it. These benefits are pushing thousands of businesses to the platform each month and as overall usage grows, so does adoption across each demographic. B2B businesses will see results in website traffic and in reach from pushing content updates on the platform.
Google Plus is growing swiftly in the B2B market, but growing more slowly in the B2C market. The best way to know if it’s right for your business is to do your research, then work carefully to take advantage of all that Google Plus can offer.
Bottom Line: Known for a more technical audience, Google Plus might be a good option for a manufacturer or technical industry. It's good for SEO but still lags behind LinkedIn in terms of active participation and engagement.
Social media isn’t typically the most important or interesting part of business, but there’s proven value in investing in a social media presence as part of a B2B inbound marketing program. Do your homework, commit to the right platforms for your business, and let us know which are best for your business.
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