Choosing the Right Social Network for Your B2B Brand

Increasingly, we see businesses turning to social media as a means of pursuing prospects and engaging with potential customers. But which platform should you choose? LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter – what are the differences, and which one will benefit your business the most with outreach and lead generation?

You may feel like you have to be present on all platforms in order to be successful at marketing. But this is not the case. If you determine which platform your target audience is on you’ll be able to focus on making that network as engaging as possible. It may be free to start your presence on a new social media site but managing that presence takes a lot of resources over time. Below we discuss the top social networks that B2B brands are using, the demographics of each, and how their attributes could help strengthen your marketing strategy.

LinkedIn Pros:

LinkedIn

Professionalism:
LinkedIn has always been the professional social network which makes it easy to have a business related conversation. According to a study done by Pew Research Center, 20% of Internet users are on LinkedIn. 36% of those are college-educated, and 34% have an annual household income of at least $75,000.

Recommendations:
On your LinkedIn business page there’s a section where people can leave recommendations about your products and services. This is a fantastic way to provide authentic testimonials for prospective customers while adding social proof to your brand.

Targeted Advertising:
LinkedIn allows you target your advertisements based on company size, role, industry, etc. which means you can find your exact B2B target audience easily. This can be really useful when you are trying to get visibility in front of a very specific set of business decision makers.

Manual Prospecting:
LinkedIn Search is really great for finding target prospects based on their location, company, job function, seniority, etc. This comes in handy when your sales team or business development folks are looking for new high touch accounts to go after. The fact that LinkedIn shows how you are connected to a prospect makes this even more valuable.

LinkedIn Cons:

Building a Following:
It is pretty difficult, as a brand, to build a following on LinkedIn without spending a considerable amount of money on LinkedIn’s exclusive advertising products. No self-serve ad products enable you to get to your target audience connected directly to your page (this differs from Twitter and Facebook). LinkedIn brand pages are also relatively new and the user base is not yet used to following company pages. I expect LinkedIn to make some interesting changes to promote more individual to brand connections but it may be worth the wait before you invest heavily in a LinkedIn brand page.

Expensive Advertising
While LinkedIn Ads give you precise targeting, they are also pretty expensive. The minimum bid for a LinkedIn Ad is $2.00 per click on both display ads and sponsored stories. Depending on your conversion rates and the stages in your customer funnel this could cause your customer acquisition costs to become prohibitive.

Facebook Pros:

Facebook

Everyone is on it:
In October of last year, Investopedia reported that 93% of adults in the U.S. are Facebook users.  Currently Facebook’s largest growing audience-age demographic is 45-54, closely followed by 35-44 year olds. Due to the vast number of Facebook users, the likelihood of finding your target audience is huge, plus when people share your brand and content it is reaching a much larger audience.  This means that you’re able to create brand awareness as well as increase traffic to your website and Facebook page.

Cheap Advertising:
Advertising is cheaper on Facebook when compared to Google Adwords, LinkedIn or Twitter Ads. There is no minimum bid for most Facebook Ad products and it is pretty common to see a cost-per-click below $1.00. Facebook has some really good ad products to drive new likes to your business page at a low cost. This is a great way to build a following and leverage the vast size of Facebook. Smallbiz Technology also offers a great post comparing Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter advertising, and concludes that Facebook is the best network regarding affordability for successful advertising campaigns.

Facebook Cons:

News Feed Optimization:
There is no guarantee your audience will see your posts even after building a large following to your Facebook page. Facebook uses an algorithm (formerly known as EdgeRank) that selects which of your followers will see your posts. That algorithm looks at the type of content you posted, when it was posted and how engaged a user has been with your page in the past. This gives marketers an incentive to create great content but it also means you will normally need to promote a post through paid ads if you want it to be seen by the majority of your followers.

Professionalism, or Lack Thereof:
The conversational mindset on Facebook is the stark opposite of LinkedIn. Most people are in personal mode while on Facebook and are more apt to consume and share pictures of friends, cute cats and viral videos rather than B2B e-books and whitepapers. Facebook is focused on the social graph of friends and family that you know in real life. Those individuals don’t normally work in the same industry as you or have the same career path so it can be tough to get people to share and engage with business related content. What’s worse is that you can’t proactively engage with anyone on Facebook as a branded page. This means you have to wait for your audience to engage with you before being able to have a conversation.

Google+ Pros:

Google+

Search Engine Optimization:
Google+ is the newest social network on this list and many brands are still trying to figure out how it should be used. The biggest advantage to having a presence on Google+ is higher ranking for your content within Google Search. According to Cyrus Shepard on Moz Blog, whether by plan or not, Google + was built for SEO. Every post you make on Google + is automatically indexed, which is unique to Google +. Facebook’s privacy settings and restriction make user data inaccessible to Google, whereas Google +’s data is immediately available to this search engine.

Google Authorship is also a critical tool Google + can provide you, as it protects your written work from being plagiarized. Google does this by tracking your posts so that theft is easily traceable. Also you’re ranked by your content and online persona, which directly feed into your SEO.  Haris Bacic (@HarisBacic) wrote a great article on how Google Authorship and Author Rank play a huge role in your SEO.

Google+ Cons:

Activity:
While there are 350 million users on Google +, those aren’t necessarily active ones. Google stated last December that 500 million people had created Google + accounts, but only about 135 million were actively posting on Google + pages. However, Google + is gaining more recognition as a wise choice for B2B marketing due to their SEO and fantastic ranking system.

Twitter Pros:

Twitter

Engagement:
The big advantage to Twitter is that a brand account is treated almost exactly the same as an individual account. This means you can be much more proactive in reaching out to people and having conversations. As a brand you can engage one-on-one with and of your potential customers and get on their radar in unique ways unlike Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+. The openness, short and real-time nature of Twitter content makes it the platform king of engagement.

Twitter Search
Twitter allows you to search any topic or handle and pulls up every relevant piece of information that fits that keyword. This allows you to not only find your target audience with whom you can engage immediately without having a direct connection, but also lets you jump into conversations happening in real time about a topics related to your brand. This makes it very easy to gain mindshare in the industries and function groups you are targeting.

Interest Graph
The real-time conversation factor that Twitter provides is unique to this network. You’re able to engage with anyone, at any societal rank and discuss topics you’re interested in. Finding your target audience is made easy by Twitter search or using applications like Socedo that aid in helping you find leads using this social platform. Leaders and influencers in your industry are having conversations they’re interested in, in the topic area that you’re also wanting to be a part of.  Twitter has an unmatched capability to engage in conversations with leading influentials in your industry, which also means your brand is being exposed to their audience (an audience I’m sure you want to tap into).

Twitter Cons:

Noise:
There’s a lot of noise since your home feed could be populated by thousands of Tweets by your followers a day. Sifting through this noise, as well as having your voice heard can be a challenge. If you want visibility, you have to Tweet a lot. Content curation as well as scheduling Tweets using platforms like TweetDeck or Hootsuite will help you stay on top on the conversation.

Expensive Ads:
The ad platform for Twitter is expensive. It forces the purchaser to pay for any type of engagement even if they don’t click all the way through to your Landing Page. Business Insider has a great article about the truth about Twitter advertising. That said, the openness of Twitter makes it easier to have a successful presence without needing to depend on paid ads.

We have only covered the top four platforms that could help your B2B marketing efforts. Read our new article that talks about using Pinterest, Vine, Tumblr and Instagram.

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