It’s pretty easy to understand why B2C brands hop on the social media bandwagon every time there’s a new platform announced. First it was Facebook, then Twitter, and now Pinterest and Instagram. The one thing these platforms have in common is that they’re very image-driven, if not image-centric. As you know, using images in your social media messages is an effective way to capture attention and convey information.
However, it’s not as obvious how B2B brands can use these platforms. In most cases, the platform’s focus is decidedly unusual for the brand. For example, you don’t automatically think of your company’s accounting firm when surfing around on Pinterest.
Marketing data seems to be backing this up too. As of the second quarter of 2013, a large portion of B2B decision-makers only use social media for personal use, while only 27% of them are consuming social media content at all.
So should B2B brands even bother with these non-traditional social media platforms? In a word, yes.
To better illustrate this, let’s take a look at some B2B brands that are using social media in a non-traditional way and making it work for them.
HubSpot uses it to educate
Since they sell software services for inbound marketing, not products, you wouldn’t think that HubSpot would be able to use Pinterest very well. However they use it in a number of innovative ways. They pin items like “Totally Useful Templates,” “Peek at HubSpot Software,” and “Marketing Data.” By organizing their pins in educational categories, they show their expertise while not appearing overly sales-y.
HootSuite uses it to personalize their brand
HootSuite also sells services, and really focuses their Pinterest efforts on the people that make the company run. They’ve pinned Events items, Life of Owly (their mascot & logo), and even HootSuite items from around the world (Latin America, Europe, Korea, France, and more). When you’re selling a non-tangible product or service, highlighting the people that make or use your products can do more than talking about the product itself. Prospects have a better chance of relating to that kind of information, and so become fans of your brand.
Honeywell uses it to generate leads
Yes, you read that right. In fact, Honeywell is the #1 company page on Facebook according to the Fortune 100 Social Effectiveness Index — for both B2C and B2B. They’re almost at 20,000 Likes, interact with and respond to posts at a regular rate, and, this is especially important, share interesting industry content with their audience. Through their weekly “Fun Fact Friday” post, Honeywell drives engagement with prospects and generates new ones by posting unique industry-related facts.
IDG Knowledge Hub uses it to explain complex data
On their YouTube channel, IDG Knowledge Hub posts videos that explain topics important to their customers. One video explains “What Makes Effective Native Advertising,” while another tells viewers “Why First Party Data is Valuable to Marketers.” Using video actually accomplishes a number of things, such as personalizing the brand, as well as explaining the complex concepts to their viewers.
GE uses it to simplify their brand
We’re always curious about where our manufactured goods come from, so showing how to make B2B products is easy to do on social media. GE uploads photos of jet engines in various states of construction, or their wind turbines in action.
While Cisco uses it to show customers some best practice tips.
As social media evolves …
It’s important that business keeps pace with the changes. While not every new platform is going to be appropriate for B2B companies, help your clients understand the ways they could be using it. These five ways are a good start for them.
To recap, here are the unusual ways B2B companies can use social media:
- To educate
- To personalize their brand
- To generate leads
- To explain complex data
- To simplify a brand
I’m curious to see other examples of B2B companies using social media unusually. Hit the comments and let me know.