Why B2B marketing should now be social-first

Why B2B marketing should now be social-first

Post WFH, the digital lines between work and play are blurred, a behaviour accelerated by the pandemic. B2C brands have reacted quickly. Social and online are at the centre of their brand strategies. But with changes in the world of work, B2B brands have a golden opportunity to do the same, and move towards a more personalised, differentiated approach.  

The tipping point has arrived

Research shows that 75% of B2B buyers are influenced by information found on social media. The most effective messages in B2C marketing are emotional rather than functional. The same is true in B2B. The Harvard Business Review also found that it is now critical to tailor your proposition to reflect the personal concerns that business customers increasingly bring to the buying process.  

So how do you create a social platform for your B2B brand?

Social-first strategies for B2C and B2B brands are something in which we, at the tree, specialise. A social-first strategy in B2B usually requires a change of approach, says Tom Rabin, Strategy Lead, the tree.  

“Traditional B2B marketing starts with your product benefits – the value of being 'faster', 'cheaper' or 'better'. With social-first, B2B marketing however, we start with the audience and their interests. A complete understanding of audience behaviour means messages can meet their implicit needs. So, yes, a faster product explicitly means workplace efficiency for customers, but it also implicitly suggests they can get home earlier, see their family and improve their work-life balance, for example,” says Tom. 

The transformation of work has also meant that B2B brands are now competing with entertainment and news for the attention of business audiences. 

Bringing social-first to B2B 

The data on B2B buyers using social media continues to be compelling. Some quick facts: according to IDC, a whopping 91% of B2B buyers actively use social media. As many as 82% of B2B marketers report using LinkedIn as a means of networking and making professional connections. They also use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest, according to Statista.  

So the first challenge for B2B brands is identifying your target audience and their interests. Here at the tree, we use a wide range of market-leading tools to gain powerful, actionable insights for our B2B and B2C campaigns. Global Web Index, for example, offers demographic and psychographic insights while social listening tools like Meltwater enable data deep dives into what relevant audiences are discussing.   

Elena Georgiou, Strategist, the tree, says, “We aim to understand key moments for the audience in detail. During those moments, the creative, emotional approach works incredibly well.” 

B2B brands that create cut-through 

Our client, Arup, is a world-leading collective of designers, consultants and experts working across 140 countries and is dedicated to sustainable development.  They have been involved in many iconic architectural landmarks such as Sydney Opera House, 30 St Mary Axe, fondly known as London’s ‘The Gherkin’, and more. It is a great example of a brand creating content and compelling B2B storytelling on social to communicate with a variety of audiences.  

the tree manages Arup’s global social media presence and content across all channels. Recently, its audience-first approach led to a social media campaign around the Future of Work. The campaign showcases Arup’s consultancy practice on digital automation and takes a human-centred approach in rethinking the workspace and how building design affects performance. 

Elena says. ”There are six key audiences for our social media content, from prospective clients to employees to governments and planning authorities. Through this approach, potential future clients, for example, can learn about new ways of delivering projects but are also reassured emotionally that they are in safe hands and working with the market leader.” 

Personalised ads for business 

B2B marketing is not just about customers finding a solution at the best price. Today, it’s about tapping into the emotions and identities of the individuals behind these businesses. As Chris Savage, CEO and Co-Founder of Wistia, recently said: “If someone is getting personalised ads for their personal life, why should they not be getting personalised ads to help grow their business”.   

With the blurring of ‘consumer’ and ‘professional’ modes on social, the bar has been raised for B2B content forever. This also represents an extraordinary opportunity to move away from the commoditized, functional approach and into a golden era of creative, effective, social-first B2B marketing.