B2B brands have been playing catch up with consumer brands in social media for a few years, but the industry is picking up pace and social media is now an integral part of B2B content marketing strategy. Meanwhile, social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are constantly changing - whether they are adding new features, creating new ad products, or partnering with technology firms to augment their services.
There are several B2B social media and content trends marketers should watch.
As Facebook Turns Up the Volume, It's More Difficult to Engage B2B Audiences
Because participation in social media is free, newsfeeds are increasingly cluttered as brands jockey for position. This is true on most popular social networks, but it is especially true on Facebook. At the end of 2014, Facebook updated its news feed policy to penalize blatantly promotional posts, making room for paid promotion and non-promotional content.
Content distribution and engagement is the beating heart of B2B marketing, and posts promoting content such as reports, campaign links, and product placements are losing reach. Every post on Facebook must genuinely enhance the conversation. More importantly, it must add value to the conversation the audience wants to have with the brand. Audiences want brands to get out of their branded Facebook feeds, and be honest about their ability to serve their customers on that platform.
Social Media is Less Free Than Ever -- Advertising is a Must
Paid promotion is on the rise, and will continue to grow. With their algorithms kept under wraps, social networks are -- and will continue -- downgrading organic promotional posts while they upgrade sponsored content. While Facebook's shift was the most widely publicized, it's materializing on most platforms.
Paid social media offers valuable targeting options, allowing marketers to reach the right audience with their content. Marketers should maintain their paid search budget, and add a social advertising budget as a marketing strategy mainstay.
While the interfaces to launch paid social ads are easy to use, they are also easy to misuse. Marketers should invest considerable time experimenting with, testing, and analyzing ad performance. Bring in content specialists, be they employees or from an agency for the best outcomes and ROI.
Linkedin Continues to Enhance Its B2B Marketing Services
Nearly all B2B marketers use LinkedIn as B2B's most popular social network (Content Marketing Institute). A majority, (62%) of those marketers consider LinkedIn the most effective social media platform, accountable for more than 80% of B2B social media leads.
Since 2014, there have been reports that LinkedIn intends to move into the $450 billion B2B marketing space, turning its products into a $1 billion business by 2017. LinkedIn has invested $175 million into the B2B marketing platform Bizo to reach this goal; and added analytic capabilities further bolster these claims.
Twitter Data Will Improve Alongside its Engagement Quality
Content marketing on social platforms is at its best when it is agile and spontaneous. Customers prefer to engage with businesses that respond quickly and completely. Twitter is perfectly situated as a cornerstone to real-time content and social marketing. Twitter now offers Audience Insights, designed to uncover data about followers, non-followers who engage with organic tweets; and reveal useful data for paid social campaigns.
Twitter's relationship with IBM lets enterprises incorporate Twitter data into their decision-making through IBM tools, placing social data with the decision makers who can make the best use of it.
B2B Content Marketing is Confounded by Analytics, Mobile, and Paid Social
Analytics, mobile, and social make B2B content more complex requiring B2B marketers to continue to invest in various types of content to achieve the desired customer engagement and ROI. Understanding what content ignites an audience demands testing, with data and analysis leading the way.
Less costly devices, coupled with faster internet connections, facilitate customers spending more time perusing social media on mobile devices. Landing pages promoted with content marketing must be mobile-optimized.
Content and social marketing are part of a complex marketing ecosystem, with moving and interdependent parts. Ultimately, if you are smart about the platforms, prepared to properly invest in content marketing, and relentlessly committed to understanding your customers, your brand will thrive in social media.