According to recent studies, more than a third of decision makers believe that social selling will become the default way to engage with future buyers.
Social media is no longer a platform reserved for engaging with and influencing B2C customers. In today's world, B2B marketers and sellers are now using social media channels to nurture relationships and drive sales - to great effect. In fact, new Forrester research suggests that sellers and marketers see social as the dominant sales channel of the future.
So, when it comes to success in the B2B landscape social media provides huge opportunities, but marketers and sales professionals need to be aware that there’s a whole world of opportunity outside the realms of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. In this article, we explore these new, exciting and invaluable platforms.
29% of respondents selected messaging apps like WhatsApp or WeChat as their preferred business communications channel - HubSpotTweet This
29% of respondents selected messaging apps like WhatsApp or WeChat as their preferred business communications channel. What’s more, WhatsApp has currently has 175 million active daily users and counting.
As one billion global users will contest, WhatsApp is a channel that reigns supreme as a social messaging service. Now equipped with a range of business-orientated features, WhatsApp offers organizations the chance to communicate with customers and consumers on a personal level.
Its broadcasting feature allows users to send messages to a group of people at the same time and if a recipient answers a message, the communication remains exclusive to the sender and the recipient. This feature alone presents a great deal of opportunity for social sellers to branch out to new prospects and positively engage them. Communications that could work include:
- Contests or free giveaways
- Notifications on sales or other limited-time promotions
- Links to landing pages for new content (e.g. eBooks or webinars)
- Breaking industry and company news
- Invitations to events, conferences, speaking engagements, etc.
- 'Thank You' messages and post event follow-ups
- Help chat/technical support
In addition to this, the recent scrapping of paid advertising now enables businesses to directly in a non-invasive fashion, much like Uber uses Facebook messenger.
A relatively new platform for B2B brands to use effectively, some B2C brands were early adopters of the channel. Take Clarks for example, one of the first to use WhatsApp to roll out an interactive storytelling campaign to promote its Desert Boot. The brand used live chat to connect customers with ‘key figures from subcultures of the past 65 years’ through 3 characters with links to the boot and its place in history, taking users on a journey back to 1960s Paris, the Mod era, and Reggae Jamaica.
Boasting over 300 million monthly users, Instagram is a channel that has a tremendous reach and influence. 70% of users report having already looked up a brand on the platform, while 63% follow a brand. Based on these findings alone, it’s safe to say that for businesses looking to sell their products or services socially, there’s plenty of scope.
Marketing automation platform MailChimp is among the most creative Instagram feeds when it comes to B2B brands. As a result, MailChimp's 35.1k followers benefit from a fun, creative and unique feed that blends its branding most appealingly and authentically.
This makes it easier for the audience to feel closer to the brand, strengthening the bond between business and user in the most genuine way. Take the post below to promote their 2016 annual report: while usually perceived as dull content, this eye-catching design works well to engage, inspire, engage and ultimately promote. As you can see, with a host of positive comments and 520 likes, Instagram posts can prove to be a roaring success.
A highly visual platform, Pinterest thrives on high-quality images that creatively showcase a brand or product. Alongside engaging product images, the ethos of a company can be portrayed through featuring individual employees, while infographics connect with customers and promote pinning, causing pins to be shared.
You can also pin videos from your company feed from YouTube, Vimeo along with audio from Soundcloud, and slides from Slideshare. And as 93% of pinners shopped online in the past six months, it’s a branch of social worth tapping into.
One business making waves on Pinterest is electronics mogul Phillips. With 4,300 followers and 16 boards, the brand stays true to their legacy with most of their pins dedicated to improving the lives of its consumers and services of its B2B customers. Stories of innovation, inspirational gadgets and historical milestones of the brand fill the page, lighting it up with inspirational content.
One of the company's boards, ‘Into the Light’, showcases the uses of their lighting across the world from the International Youth Culture Centre in China to a wind-controlled lighting installation ‘Silo 468’ in Finland - and with over 37,000 followers, these efforts have certainly worked.
No longer a niche photo-messaging service, Snapchat has evolved into an established social media platform with over 161 million daily users, with 34% between 18 - 24 years of age. Brands like Cisco and General Electric are using Snapchat to connect with fans and customers in a way that's cost-effective, personalized and engaging.
Also, Snapchat boasts new functions that enable analytics including advertising API, image recognition, and Bitstrips. As a result, the platform is now moving from a closed, private space to one where dark social is being lit up through technology and acquisitions.
The key to using Snapchat successfully when it comes to B2B is developing a strategy complementary to Snapchat’s core purpose and appeal: storytelling. To yield maximum results, many B2B brands choose to allow an employee to act as a brand ambassador and promote their account via other social channels.
Take Cisco, for example, a brand known for its networking and telecoms technology. Not the most exciting content to promote on Snapchat you would think. However, its success on the platform is that it focuses on the people in the business providing an insight into their culture rather than the technology it creates. This gives the brand a more human side and talks to consumers in a way that suits the platform.
Through their series 'Day in the Life of an Account Manager', a Cisco employees day is chronicled in their daily tasks using humor, emojis and lenses.
An often overlooked yet effective social outlet is interactive blogging platform Tumblr.
At present, Tumblr has around 550 million active users globally, most of which are using the platform to share written, content, images, videos, infographics and other forms of interactive content.
One brand winning on the Tumblr battlefield is luxury car manufacturer, Lexus.
With its moody 'The Signal’, Tumblr campaign, Lexus focused on publishing ads that resemble fashion adverts, rather than run of the mill automotive captions and images. By tapping into a younger demographic, the car manufacturer not only boosted its credibility but also won the Best Tumblr Campaign at the 6th Annual Shorty Awards.
For today's marketer and social seller, there's a wealth of opportunity when it comes to connecting with new prospects and promoting products or services to an engaged audience. Emerging social channels such as WhatsApp, SnapChat and Pinterest have breathed new life into marketing and sales, and for those who harness their power, the possibilities are endless.
The key for B2B brands is to remain creative, stay innovative and keep your finger on the pulse to enjoy the commercial success you deserve.