Social media has grown and evolved almost exponentially in the 21st century; if I asked a teenager today if they had heard of – or used – MySpace, they would probably look at me with a mixture of confusion and/or disgust. Before MySpace, we had Friendster and before Friendster, we had Six Degrees – a platform I can honestly say I hadn't heard of until my colleagues told me about it!
Let’s face it, social media today is almost unrecognisable when compared to the platforms of five, ten or even fifteen years ago. The times of sharing music on MySpace and sending love on Bebo have quickly faded into memory, remembered only by those of us old enough, whilst the times of watching videos on Facebook and updating your Snapchat story have taken their place.
As we move towards 2018, I find it hard to believe that any business has not tried to embrace social media as a means to grow their audience and increase exposure; after all, it’s a cost-effective and relatively straightforward method to improve engagement, increase website traffic and potentially generate leads.
But when it comes to your business’ B2B marketing activity and “being part of the conversation” what social media channel is best? How should you go about choosing the right social media platform for your business?
What are the best social media channels for your business?
If you’re just about to start with social media marketing, trying to decide which channel to focus on by comparing which social media channel is 'best' won't help you - this is because you haven’t accumulated any data to base your decisions on!
Instead, you should try to identify the channels where your ideal prospects are most likely to be hanging out – and where you should focus your marketing. There's no point marketing on snapchat if you're target audience don't use the app.
Therefore, in order to get a better understanding of the channels utilised by your potential prospects and which one you should focus on, we’ve compiled a list of the best and most popular social media channels for businesses, as well as who they are used by. This list will help you when it comes to choosing the right social media platform for your business.
Facebook is the largest and most popular social media channel in the world with more than 2.07 billion monthly active users. Yes, 2.07 BILLION!!
The Facebook Messenger app has more than 1.2 billion monthly active users, ranking second among mobile chat apps worldwide, according to Statista. A recent survey by Facebook also indicates that 53% of its survey respondents would be “more likely to shop with a business they can contact via a chat app”. Considering Facebook Messenger is the second most popular chat app, it’s a great opportunity for businesses to engage with potential prospects. It also offers advanced paid media targeting options for both businesses and brands - both B2B and B2C - and content is varied - from funny video content to helpful whitepapers. The diversity of content means your business has more options when it comes to content creation.
In terms of demographics, in the UK and the US, Facebook is used mostly by 25-34-year-olds, closely followed by those aged 35-44.
Twitter is, arguably, the best platform for any B2B business to get its message out. With Twitter, you are able to post bite-size updates, answer questions, converse with other Twitter users, comment on Tweets and re-tweet. Many B2B companies use it as a means to engage with potential prospects and the latest news, but it can also be used as a customer service channel; Twitter users can use it to ask your business’ customer support department questions and they can respond in a prompt and timely manner.
In terms of B2B businesses really proving the benefits of Twitter, HubSpot is just one of them. Check them out! Be careful however, far too many companies use Twitter just to shout about offers and deals. Think like you are at a cocktail party: make conversation, talk to other people and most importantly, create a community. Don't stand in the corner just talking about yourself!
As a professionally-orientated platform, LinkedIn gives you a direct line to your potential prospects and it is where they spend most of their time. It’s a great platform for salespeople looking to conduct social selling and identify potential prospects, it enables B2B salespeople to target people based on employment level, job title, specific skills and industry. Content on LinkedIn is typically of an informative/helpful nature and many users will share blogs, eBooks, articles, research papers and much more. In terms of demographics, statistics from a report by Expanded Ramblings indicate that 44% of LinkedIn users are female, while 56% are male. A report by Hootsuite shows that almost a quarter of LinkedIn users are aged 18-29, while 61% of LinkedIn users fall between the ages of 30-64.
Without a doubt, every B2B business has a LinkedIn profile - it is an absolute necessity if you want to engage with potential sales prospects in a professional environment.
With over 800 million monthly active users, Instagram is a great source for businesses to keep their customers up-to-date with the latest products, developments and events. Like Snapchat, Instagram is incredibly useful where the promotion of your business/brand is your primary objective. There are a number of B2B companies utilising the Instagram platform, one of the most notable being IBM, which uses it to promote its culture, offices, technology and much, much more.
Instagram is mostly about high-quality video and photos, so keep that in mind! According to Social Media Today, Instagram is the fastest growing platform, predominantly used by females, and 90% of Instagram users are under 35.
Snapchat, while more inclined to B2C than B2B as it doesn’t offer a way for B2B businesses to actually track traffic from Snapchat to their website, has quickly grown in prominenceand enables businesses to build relationships with their audience. From a B2C perspective, it provides brands with an easy way to engage with and sell directly to their audience. For B2B marketers, Snapchat is an opportunity to showcase the business, improve brand exposure and potentially attract more leads.
In terms of demographics, Snapchat has an active user base of 173 million, 71% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old, 45% are aged between 18-24 and roughly 70% of Snapchat users are female, according to Omnicore Agency.
You wouldn’t think it but, General Electric (GE), a multinational conglomerate corporation, actually uses Snapchat. GE use it to showcase its geeky personality and to encourage interest in what it does!
Reddit is hard. A quick Google search for “who uses reddit for b2b marketing” reveals very little. It’s not actively used by B2B marketers to “promote” but rather to educate and get support. Having looked on /r/marketing, one of the subreddits, a lot of the articles are “how to” guides, insights, comments and questions. Reddit isn’t necessarily considered as a channel that B2B marketers use, but it does hold some potential. So, rather than using this platform to pitch your business’ content, try to create non-brand articles that are useful for the participants on the platform. Reddit has the power to bring thousands of new visitors to your business - as per an article by Manish Bhalla, CEO of Fatbit - and he’s not wrong!
Also, article frequency on Reddit is high, meaning it can be hard to get your content to stand out, but more important than that is getting responses. If you can get enough positive responses and upvotes on your article, it will eventually reach the front page of that particular subreddit. However, make sure you consider what is on the subreddit before you make a post - and make sure it’s not self-promotional but informative!
Experiment with each social channel, monitor your activity and if it works - keep at it!
When it comes to choosing the right social media platform for your business, take the time to assess each channel based who they attract and what your target audience is. While each social media channel will naturally attract more of a certain demographic, it’s important to appreciate the fact that you may have customers on each and every one of them. Before you go all in with your social media marketing strategy on just one channel, invest a small portion of your budget into the channels you believe your audience are active on, once you have, make sure you engage and measure your results - if it works, do more of it!