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Social Media Marketing: How Is B2B Different From B2C?

Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. were first introduced as a platform for people to meet and socialize online. Over time, businesses realized social media’s potential, and began to use them as a marketing tool. B2C were early adopters of this trend, but B2B are yet to fully explore SM’s reach.

If the whole idea of using social media is to create awareness or reach out to prospective customers, then why do B2C and B2B companies have a totally different outlook towards social media marketing. Both business entities have similar goals, so what’s the difference? Do marketers adopt totally different tactics? Let’s explore.

Medium – how B2B and B2C use content differently

Along with the internet, content too evolved, it no longer means only text such as blog posts, case studies, and white papers. Content today encompasses a wide range of information that includes images, videos, PPTs, and infographics.

Marketers promoting B2C entities tend to favor more personal, casual, and light hearted content. For them the goal is to capture people’s attention, to make them connect with the product or service emotionally. Since, B2C has a large potential customer base the mediums to reach them must be diverse as well.

To effectively achieve these two goals marketers can use blog posts, the medium with the best ROI. Images and videos are other powerful mediums that transcend all language and cultural barriers. Can you think of a person who wouldn’t be impressed by the short films that surfboard and motorcycle makers Deus Ex Machina create? For them videos go beyond sales pitches, they make videos that strike an emotional chord with the viewers.

On the other hand, B2B marketers have plenty of tricks up the sleeve, in the form of case studies, ebooks, white papers, webinars, and many more. Unlike B2C companies, content created for Business-to-Business organizations are generally formal and professional. Most marketers forget that even in B2B the end goal is to connect with people. The emphasis in this case must be to build relationships and create trust.

Channels – social media networks that B2B and B2C use

In the eyes of the general public, social media is still about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and to some extent LinkedIn, but there are a lot more niche channels dealing with different forms of media and communication. While a plethora of channels is readily available to the marketers, not all can be put to use. Let’s examine channels that are most effective for B2C and B2B.

Facebook is still the numero uno go-to channel for marketers to promote Business-to-Consumer entities. It’s an amazing tool for promotion, customer support, and improving community engagement. Then again, Twitter is not far off. Actually, it’s more democratic and open than Facebook. Here the text or mini-post you publish is visible to everyone; you can’t decide who sees it and who doesn’t. The key here is to understand how the channel works, how to use hashtags to your advantage, and preparing a strategy to effectively reach the target audience.

As someone who’s fond of online videos, there is no better channel for me than YouTube. It’s true, visual content such as videos and images are the most effective ways to capture attention. While creating videos and images can lighten your purse, if marketed properly using channels such as YouTube and Instagram, these media types can add personality to your business and attract more customers.

B2B and B2C both use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, though the strategy and content they use may differ to suit their audience and business goals. But, unquestionably there is clear overlap of marketing channels. There is one channel that B2B companies must focus on, and that’s LinkedIn. The discussion group in LinkedIn is something marketers must leverage as much as possible for distributing content and to improve engagement. While creating content for LinkedIn focus on your customer’s needs, and avoid overtly promotional material.

Awareness vs. Lead Generation – Differing priorities of B2C and B2B

Of course, the above mentioned points are just a small part of a long list of differences between B2B and B2C social media marketing. The one that’s paramount is the difference in the objective – what should be the end result – the goal of a social media strategy.

Given the potential customer base of a B2C company, marketers set awareness creation and community engagement as their first priority. The mediums, channels, and the tactics to use, all depend on the ultimate objective – in this case – awareness creation. To create awareness, marketers generally focus on content that can go viral and reach a large audience base.

The first target of any B2B social media marketing strategy is lead generation. Because the target base of a B2B is smaller, the stress must be more on reaching out to the customers, creating trust, building reputation, converting your customers to advocates of your brand and to use them to generate more leads.