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What Role Does Social Media Have In Today’s B2B Sales And Marketing Mix?

Ten years ago, organic social media was enough for most companies – large, medium, small, B2B and B2C – to achieve decent results without spending a cent. As long as you had your audience (followers) and content that was even somewhat interesting, you had a pretty decent chance of racking up impressions, likes and shares.

Most companies embraced the general strategy of setting up on every channel, whether established or emerging – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest (remember Pinterest?) and pumping out the content to rack up likes and shares. For the most part, that strategy worked.

In 2023, however, the social media landscape has shifted, dramatically. It can be really challenging to achieve significant results through organic social media for a few reasons:

  1. Algorithm changes: Social media platforms often change their algorithms, which determines the content that is displayed to users. It’s hard to stay on top of these changes, even for the experts. Even small changes can impact the reach and visibility of organic content.
  2. Increased competition: There is more content on social media than ever before, so it’s really challenging to stand out and capture the attention of the right people.
  3. Decline in organic reach: Social media platforms don’t make any money from organic content, so many of them have been decreasing its reach. Even if you have a large following, your content may not reach as many people as it used to. You’ll have to spend money to get those clicks, with sponsored content and the like.

Damn, that’s tough. Should we give up on social media?

In short, no – don’t deactivate your company Facebook or LinkedIn page just yet. Social media still has a significant role to play in the marketing and sales mix, both in its organic form (no budget) as well as its paid form (a bit more on that later).

While organic social media has poor reach, there are other benefits. For starters, corporate social media accounts and pages have a very high trust factor, particularly if you’re offering customer service chat and support through the page with a reasonably fast response time. Potential customers will also be visiting your page to check out community reviews and recommendations, so it’s important to keep your organic social presence alive.

What about paid social media?

Paid social media is where things start to get a little more interesting. As I mentioned above, if you’re willing to pay to play, most social channels will welcome you with open arms.

There are a few different use cases for paid social media. The first is using it as part of your remarketing or retargeting strategy, with a known audience – and this can be incredibly effective. You’re remarketing to prospects who have already engaged with your brand through your website in some way, so you know there’s some level of interest and they’re likely to be researching solutions.

We explore remarketing in a little more detail in this recent blog. To recap the highlights:

  • It’s cost-effective
  • It’s subtle and excellent for maintaining brand awareness during long and complex sales cycles
  • It’s much easier to personalise remarketing ads based on the behaviour of the prospect.

On social media, this is called a “known” audience. The other side of the coin is an “unknown” audience, and this is where things get a little more complicated. Why? Because your audience mindset is a variable, and that makes things very tough.

Think about your own mindset when you’re engaging with most social media channels – whether LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or any other. Much of the time you’re scrolling mindlessly, or you’re looking for distraction. Sure, if you’re on LinkedIn you might be answering a work-related message or reading professional development material, but it’s very rare that you’d be looking actively for information on B2B products and services.

And the more complex the sales cycle is, and the higher the value of your product, the less likely it is that there’s going to be any measurable success from a social media ad to an unknown audience.

Please bear in mind that this advice is specific to B2B audiences with complex sales cycles. Paid social media can be an incredibly successful tactic for B2C brands with higher frequency and lower transaction values.

It can also be effective for cloud-based subscription services with low commitment, free trials and easy opt-out capabilities. Basically, if the risk and commitment is low, there’s a good use case for paid social media to unknown audiences in your mix.

But it can’t hurt a B2B to play around with paid social, can it?

Great question. To answer it, we’ll start with a generalisation: many social media platforms will deliver you leads in high volumes, but of questionable quality.

This is largely because of the factors outlined above – such as unknown audiences being in a “browsing” mindset when engaging with social media, but also because most social media lead capture tools make it really easy for people to autofill forms and express interest.

This is fine for companies where the products and services are of lower transactional value and don’t need much (if any) human involvement in the nurturing process. However, if you’re selling products or services that do require your sales team to get involved at some point, there can be negative consequences – simply because you’re probably going to get a lot of leads, and your sales people won’t be able to handle all of them.

Sounds like a good problem to have, right? Not always. One of our clients in the community services sector was thrilled when they initiated a Facebook ad campaign and soon found themselves generating hundreds of leads a month. Unfortunately these were not qualified leads so it was a lot of work to sort the good from the bad, and follow up accordingly.

In certain sectors (community services being one example), your reputation can suffer if you have people telling others in the community that you don’t respond to emails and enquiries.

Like so many things in life, when you’re adding paid social media into the mix as a B2B, more is not always better. Quality over quantity wins the day.

Two things to keep in mind with paid social media for B2B

If we can leave you with two pieces of advice on the topic of paid social media, it would be these:

  1. Always pick your channels very wisely – particularly when you’re spending money on social media. If you’re selling products or services to a business audience, does it really make sense to reach them on Facebook or Instagram?Sure, the right person might see an ad from you, but if they’re browsing through Facebook looking at family photos, they’re not going to be in the mindset to absorb information about something related to their business or job.
  2. If you’re a B2B, we strongly recommend focusing on LinkedIn. If you have the time and resources, take an account-based approach to the time you spend on LinkedIn.

We have one client in the energy sector who built a list of their top 50 accounts, then followed all the senior decision-makers from each company. They blocked out dedicated time each day to interact with these executives, by commenting on their content and initiating conversations. This was an incredibly effective way to land meetings with high-level decision-makers.

Be warned: while effective, this approach is very time intensive. If you’re looking for more effective LinkedIn engagement at scale, we always recommend checking out our LinkedIn Lead Generation tool. More on that here:

How can we help?

Higher Ranking is an Australian digital marketing agency that supports Australian businesses of all sizes to drive quality leads which generate revenue for your business.

We are proud to bring our LinkedIn Lead Generation tool to the market. It’s a one-of-a-kind solution that takes away most of the ‘heavy lifting’ of the traditional methods of LinkedIn lead generation, without compromising on the quality of the leads. We can also help with the other digital channels to support the sales cycle, including remarketing, paid social media, EDMs, Google Ads and SEO.

We’d love to show you how it works – you can book a demo using the link below.

Book A Demo Here

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