According to Pew Research, in 2014 about 75% of the people who use the Internet participate in social networks. So, if you are still wondering IF you should be involved with social media get that thought right out of your head. Of course you should be creating social media buzz! The question is which social media strategy will work best if you are a B2B company?
And to answer that question you need to know this: Where does your target audience hangout online? Complicating matters for B2Bs is the fact that while, yes, you’re selling to other businesses, you also have to be aware that each of those businesses is made up of real people who also use social networks. So, in a way, you are selling to both businesses and individuals.
Let’s look at the four top social media sites — LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ — and see if we can sort this out. [UPDATE JAN 2015: Pew Research just released some new social network demographics you may find helpful.]
What is it? You may think of LinkedIn as a place people go when they are job hunting, but it’s more than that. It has become a hub for professional networking for many industries, especially for businesses offering technology services, consultants and self-employed individuals offering a variety of creative services.
Who uses it? You’ll find — and can get access to — business owners and high-level executives on LinkedIn. Demographically its user base skews a little older, is very well educated and earns a six-figure or better income.
How do I get started? After you sign up, create a strong personal profile (especially if you are a freelancer) and an official company page if you want to promote your brand.
What is it? Twitter is effective at reaching a broad audience with short (140-character) and clear messages, so it may not necessarily be your best choice for B2B marketing.
Who uses it? About 19% of adults online use Twitter. It is a youngish audience (over half are 18–49) that communicates via mobile devices and has completed at least some college — but with an income that is probably less than $75k/year.
How do I get started? Because of the focus on immediacy and “newsiness” be prepared to Tweet often if you choose this social network. Go to twitter.com to sign up.
What is it? The. Big. Dog. At least for now. An amazing 71% of adults online use Facebook; 864 million people login to Facebook every day. It is a network that encourages interaction among its users (with the LIKE and SHARE buttons), and those users stay an average of 20 minutes every time they visit.
Who uses it? Almost 30% of Facebook users fall into the 25–34 age group, a prime demographic for many businesses. And there’s a pretty even distribution between men and women.
How do I get started? If you’re among the 29% of adults online who don’t have a Facebook account, sign up here. Create a business page. Facebook advertising allows you to get very specific about the requirements for your target audience, so this is one place you might consider spending a little of your marketing budget.
What is it? This is Google’s answer to Facebook — and it is beginning to gain some traction thanks to the way Google treats it in search results.
Who uses it? About 22% of adults online use Google+ and roughly 25–30% of Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z login each month.
How do I get started? We recommend you follow these steps to get started with Google+.
We hope this helps you decide which social networks to start with as you establish your B2B marketing strategy. Be prepared for a bit of trial and error. Every business (and their approach to social networking) is unique; what works for one may not work for all. So, make your best decision and jump in — and let us know how it goes!
About Deborah Young
Deborah is a reformed tennis bum and inbound marketing strategist whose main professional purpose is to support local business owners, experts and entrepreneurs by helping them understand the impact and importance of online marketing. She is one happy camper when she can help clients be more visible on the Internet, increase their own customer base and become more profitable. How can she help you?