The question of whether social media works for B2B and niche businesses comes up often.
If social media is mostly a place where individuals spend time, how can niche companies use it to connect to other niche businesses?
The reality is that regardless of your industry, we believe that social media can work. It comes down to having a strategic mindset and using each channel differently.
These are unique brands with unique audiences… and some of these are HARD jobs. Which means that it can be incredibly difficult to retain talent. Enter, social media as a way of strengthening and showcasing culture!
Transformational Vs. Transactional Mindset:
In order for social media to really work for your niche business, you need to adopt a transformational mindset.
Transactional social media is all about putting a message out there with the goal of getting a sale. It’s a short-term way of thinking and if that’s your strategy, which is best executed with paid ads.
Transformational social media is all about big-picture thinking. Its approaching social media with first asking the question of “for what purpose” are we going to use social media and what is our overall goal?
If you outline the why and how utilizing social media can/will support your overall goals and or mission of your business, then it’s important to dive into ideas on what needs to be implemented online. That will allow us to articulate the brand “why” message with clarity, strategy and do so while nurturing relationships with our clients, community, and team.
A transformational social media approach is all about creating an experience magnet that will enhance the brand image and draw those important to us closer.
So let’s break this down.
Business to business social media can be effectively executed by:
- Plan out company goals you’d like to achieve.
- Identify the “Who” you would like to be “social” with on social media? Ie What personas are you looking to connect with online?
- What channels make sense to place our magnets online ie what strategy can be implemented by utilizing social media to attract, retain or amplify our message
Diving into the questions above will help you to truly understand what you’re really trying to do at the end of the day with social media.
Are you trying to: grow sales? Reduce audience churn? Grow awareness? Shorten the sales cycle? Strengthen and showcase culture?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you understand what you need to do in order to accomplish your goals. It’ll also help you to determine what success looks like and how to measure it.
“Social media is a lot more than just Facebook, so it comes back to understanding your audience. In a B2B sense, you need to know the role that you’re trying to reach within that organization” - @mike_gingerich (click to tweet)
And it really always starts from the inside out; it starts with the culture of your organization.
Opportunities For B2B Brands:
As B2B businesses, social media presents so many opportunities.
We can use these channels differently to show up and provide value, showcase our expertise, humanize our brands, feature our teams, solve problems, answer questions, and shine a light on our customers!
Social media is about social, after all.
Showing up in a way that is human, with a goal of providing value to our audience and showcasing our team, is what’s going to generate a sense of community for brands.
That’s why it’s critical to think strategically about for what purpose you’re using each channel, and for who the content is for. That helps you get clear on how you can use these various channels to achieve your goals.
Because the reality is, different channels present different opportunities for brands:
This is where you can really become a resource hub and showcase and share your information and expertise!
This is a great channel to do in-depth tutorials and showcase your expertise via video. You can use a video social approach to do training and/or walk-throughs!
We love the idea of diving into groups on Facebook to find clusters of like-minded people. Showing up to provide value to these groups can be hugely beneficial. This can also be a great place to showcase culture!
As the most human of the social platforms, this is where we encourage really showcasing your team and the celebrations you’re having! Do shoutouts and showcase your employees.
Examples of Niche Businesses Using Social Media Well:
Nuclear Pharmacy: This company creates pharmaceuticals and what makes them special is they have a unique way of creating a particular product for heart-safe imaging.
We used social media to explain to patients what the various options were for heart-safe imaging, as most people don’t even know that they have options when it comes to the medications being pumped into them prior to imaging.
We used this as an educational opportunity to provide resources, so we made cheat sheet resources to support the doctor’s offices. We also used social media to provide information about heart health. It was a way of giving and helping everyone involved in the process.
“We might not be in direct contact with the patient but we are there to serve everyone along the way… and if we serve the hospital and the hospital serves the patient, at the end of the day, we’re serving the patient…” - @jessikaphillips (click to tweet)
The takeaway? >> Social media can be used to shine a light on the END customer, solve their pain points and be that hub of information.
Mr. Manhole: This company has a tool that cuts holes in the ground. They sell to people performing the job.
What we did was help Mr. Manhole use social media NOT to sell more cutters but rather to showcase the people who are using the tool to do their work! We’re shining a light on our customers and letting them showcase our product and how it’s helping them to get more jobs!
We used a Facebook group as a way of creating a sense of community around our installers. By showing up in the group with an attitude of what can we GIVE, we find ways to provide value. We’ll also spend time in other Facebook groups that our audience is spending time and participating in those conversations!
On LinkedIn, we looked at the entire sales process and mapped it out to see where social media had an intersection someway with the team or the brand, as a way to shorten the sales cycle.
To do this, we set up each team member in the brand with their own personal LinkedIn account so that they felt empowered to use their personal brands and show up with the mentality of giving.
Putting It All Together:
At the end of the day, it comes down to thinking bigger and looking at the big picture, because it’s not just all social media.
It’s less about the tool and more about the technique - the goal of showing up to provide value through blogs, facilitate conversation and connection, provide training videos, testimonials and more!
It’s about showing up to be a magnet, not a bullhorn.
Brands can use social media to find communities where like-minded people are gathering, show up consistently and provide value.
Social media can also be used as a way to spark ideas. Take a look and see what others in your industry are doing to drive conversation and connection across the various platforms.
When we take the time to go back to the start and think about who we are, who we are here to support, what their biggest pain point is and map out the sales process, we figure out how social media can truly provide a supporting role.
The question truly becomes less: "Can social media work for B2B?" and more—
What do you think about social media for B2B? Do you have examples to share?
Leave them in the comments below!