Social media is changing rapidly.
Networks like Instagram and Snapchat are growing in popularity, and although they were once primarily the domain of business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers, more business-to-business (B2B) companies are jumping onboard.
At the same time, organic reach on Facebook is plummeting, and video—whether on Facebook, Youtube, or Snapchat—is more important than ever.
How are B2B companies adapting? A new study from Clutch, a business-to-business (B2B) research firm, sheds some light on the state of B2B social media in 2016, and what marketers should know.
So Many Networks, So Little Time
Though organic reach on Facebook is down as much as 52% this year, the network still reigns supreme with both B2C and B2B companies. Twitter isn’t too far behind, with ? of marketers prioritizing it above other networks.
In third place, B2B and B2C trends diverge, with B2Bs more likely to choose LinkedIn, while B2C companies look to engage customers through video content on Youtube.
While it comes as little surprise that the professional network is so much more popular with B2B organizations, the rise of Instagram, which came in 5th in the rankings, is notable. More and more B2B companies aren’t just limiting themselves to the old standbys of Facebook and LinkedIn. In fact, 53% of B2B companies report using the popular photo sharing network, nearly as many as B2C companies!
So which networks should B2B companies prioritize? It all depends on a company’s goals and the type of audience they’d like to reach. For some, that might mean pursuing thought leadership on LinkedIn, or pushing video content on Youtube. For businesses looking to showcase a fun company culture—perhaps in order to attract Millennial employees— Instagram could be a natural choice.
Facebook Outperforms Other Networks
Of course, any good social media team will stay on top of social media trends and assess whether it makes sense for a company to have a presence there. But even as Instagram grows in popularity, it’s unlikely to be the most effective social media platform for B2B companies anytime soon.
That honor goes once again to Facebook, with 62% of enterprises saying the social media giant also yields the best results. 14% see the greatest success with LinkedIn, and despite ranking #2 in B2B usage, just 7% of companies say Twitter is the most effective.
Whether Facebook’s effectiveness is due to paid or organic efforts isn’t clear. However, as it increasingly becomes pay-to-play, more marketers are seeing success with sponsored content, with 66% sayingFacebook is also their top choice for paid campaigns.
But determining the effectiveness of any network depends largely on what you’re trying to accomplish. Most companies in the study said the biggest benefits of social media are increased website traffic, enhanced brand image, and audience targeting capabilities.
For other popular goals, for example, building credibility and generating leads, content on LinkedIn may be more effective. However, Facebook’s huge user base and business-friendly features, including audience targeting, make it tough to beat—especially for businesses looking to drive traffic, build a positive reputation, and target specific audiences.
But Video is King
Just a few years ago, images were generally considered the most effective content for social media marketers. But in 2016, video has taken the lead, if only slightly. 23% of marketers today cite videos as their best-performing social media content.
Says Keith Kikadia of SociallyIn, “You can tell stories in a different way through video. Video can portray what a picture can’t fully communicate.” The medium is ideal both for modern-day attention spans—the shorter the video, the better—and mobile devices.
Though Youtube is certainly important to many B2B marketers, both for SEO and audience engagement, it’s no longer the only game in town. Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook all incorporate video features.
Facebook, in particular is emphasizing video, both in the feed, where videos outperform other content by a hefty margin, and through the rollout of new features like Facebook Live.
The B2B marketing world is more varied than ever. More B2B companies are incorporating video into their content strategies, both to adapt to platform changes and audience preferences. And B2Bs are also no longer limiting themselves to just LinkedIn and Facebook, instead experimenting with new networks like Instagram and Snapchat.
But as more options emerge for B2B marketers, it becomes more important than ever to truly examine the goals of the business and develop a thoughtful strategy for how social media can best help to achieve those goals. B2Bs don’t have to be active on every network, but they do need to know why they’re on the ones they are.
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