Why are so many B2Bs still under-performing B2Cs in social media marketing?

I've said many times before that social media is no longer simply for B2C companies; yet if you look at the most influential brands on Facebook this year, according to Mavrck, it reads like a who's who of B2C names: Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Samsung Mobile and MTV, followed by KFC and Nike.

So why is it that B2Bs are generally failing to make the same impact as their B2C peers? A recent article on Adweek offered some thoughts on the subject...

Differences between B2B and B2C

Although both teams can use social media in a similar way and for similar results, there are some innate differences between the B2B and B2C worlds that affect their strategy. B2C marketers need worry less about targeting when attracting new business – products like KFC and Coco-Cola tend to be pretty universal – but B2B marketers can't adopt this top-of-the-funnel, checklist-based approach.

It's also worth noting that B2C companies tended to be the early adopters of social media marketing. Unsure how to get started, many B2Bs simply mimicked the approaches of their B2C counterparts – and while imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, it's not the best path to success.

Finding a new way

Adopting a 'checklist' mindset quickly turns social media management into a series of tasks, such as posting content or following clients. But in order for B2Bs to see real ROI from their social media efforts, they must use it to target specific leads and gather insights into buying behaviour.

One example of a B2B company doing this to great effect is Intel, which has more than 25 million Facebook followers and almost 5 million on Twitter. Intel utilises user-generated content to engage – and crucially, build relationships with – other brands. But not every B2B is as savvy as Intel.

Creating an effective B2B strategy

Social media is so much more than the sum of its parts. The first important step is making sure that you're present and active on the platforms that are most relevant to your business and its audience, rather than spreading yourself too thinly across them all. It goes back to that checklist mindset again – Facebook? Tick! Twitter? Tick! Instagram? Tick! LinkedIn? Tick? – you don't necessarily need to be everywhere all at once!

Secondly, use customer segmentation data and surveys to your advantage. These can tell you a lot, such as which platforms your clients and customers use; what their pain points are; their company strategy and key partners. You can use this information to speak directly to their needs, via the platforms they use most.

Finally, remember that the key to social success is listening and interacting. Yes, it's important to provide personalised, relevant and trust-building content; but it's just as important to mix up your own content with clients' blogs, helpful answers and relevant industry news. It's about give-and-take and the worst thing you can do is to only ever talk about yourself!

How else do you think B2Bs can up their social media game?

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