Businesses are made up of people—consumers—and 53% of consumers, according to The 2023 Sprout Social Index™, say their social media usage has been higher over the last two years than the previous two years. This makes social media fertile ground for companies to ramp up their B2B social marketing to supercharge outreach, brand positioning and client nurturing to improve sales and conversion rates.
The most common challenge that B2B brands face, though, is long sales cycles. And with it, comes the issue of nurturing customer relationships between these long periods. This is mostly because B2B products and services involve high costs due to their long-term use and potential impact, further increasing the decision cycle. Tough competition, disparate customer data and siloed teams compound B2B marketing hurdles.
Having a well-planned social media marketing strategy keeping in mind certain fundamentals, alleviates these challenges. Read on to explore this step-by-step guide on how to develop a social media marketing strategy that aligns with your key business goals with a customer-centric approach.
What is B2B social media marketing?
B2B social media marketing uses social networks to build relationships with potential and existing business clients. Sharing industry-relevant content, networking and engaging in conversations that establish expertise often contribute to this process.
Unlike B2C, where purchases are mainly for personal use, B2B involves buying for teams within an organization or sometimes for org-wide use. It involves multiple decision-makers, which leads to longer decision cycles, especially because of the cost involved.
Connecting with these decision-makers is key because their buy-in is what will ultimately lead to the purchase of your products and services.
This means your social media strategy needs to provide value at every stage of the buyer’s journey, from creating awareness to nurturing leads. This approach positions your brand as a trusted authority and influences business leaders’ perceptions and decisions.
5 B2B social strategy fundamentals
Creating a B2B social media marketing strategy needs to have an intentional approach. This means being attentive to what your teams post, who you interact with, including industry thought leaders, and how you engage with your audience and potential customers.
While goals and audiences will vary across industries, these five B2B social strategy fundamentals are pretty much standard and will inch you closer to achieving a clear strategy.
Align your goals to the business
Most B2B companies use social as a top-of-the-funnel marketing channel, disconnected from the rest of the business strategy. But it can be so much more.
Are you launching a new product and looking for ways to generate hype for it? And is your company looking to use social media intelligence to innovate its product development and go-to-market strategies? These are areas where social can give you an advantage. Use your platforms to amplify the message and engage in real-time with your audience.
Instead of treating social media as a one-way street, think of it as a multi-lane highway offering several benefits such as:
- Creating brand awareness: Social media is the perfect place for brands to stand apart and spell out exactly who they are, why they are unique and what value they can provide, through bite-sized pieces of content.
- Building a loyal community: Creating educational content such as blog posts, e-books, firsthand reports and how-to videos cements your brand’s credibility and builds a sense of connection and community. Each investment in your audience’s knowledge and trust in the form of content assets pays dividends by encouraging them to invest back in your brand.
- Building credibility and trust: Consistent, valuable engagement fosters long-term relationships, enhances customer retention and solidifies your position as a trusted partner. Testimonials, positive reviews and accolades (think: awards, customer milestones) are all ideal for social proof.
The key to realizing these benefits is integration—your social strategy should be a seamless part of your overall business plan, not an afterthought.
A social media management platform like Sprout integrates with different tools in your tech stack, including seamless connectivity with Salesforce. This integration provides a unified view of your customer’s journey by combining social media insights with customer relationship data.
Streamlining content scheduling, tracking engagement metrics and facilitating real-time audience interaction under one platform improves audience engagement and aligns your social media efforts with broader customer relationship management goals.
Plus, reporting insights from Sprout make it easy to tie social media performance to organization-wide data (like sales and website traffic) with comprehensive analytics that give a holistic view of how social interactions impact overall business metrics.
By showcasing tangible social media metrics, you can quantify social media ROI. And by doing so, you can get more buy-in while ensuring everyone is working towards the same goals.
Adopt a customer-centric B2B social strategy
A B2B social media marketing strategy is not only about what you offer. It’s about proving you understand your audience’s pain points and aspirations and have something to address those needs.
Before planning any social post or strategy, ask yourself these questions:
- How well do you understand the businesses and individuals you intend to engage with?
- Is your voice targeted, tailored and far from generic when you reach out to these individuals?
- How personal is your social strategy?
- Are you treating them as a unique entity with its own aspirations and challenges in all your posts and interactions?
Create a customer-centric B2B social strategy using these questions as a foundation to understand what clicks with your audience. To answer these questions, use social data to see what your audience engaged with previously and listen to what they’re saying about you. Then translate it into a roadmap that deepens relationships with existing customers and attracts new prospects.
But to truly embrace a customer-first approach, it’s not enough to simply monitor data—responsiveness is crucial. The 2023 Index revealed that 51% of consumers think the most memorable action a brand takes on social media is simply responding.
Stay vigilant to @mentions and branded keywords. Adopt exceptional, holistic customer care to resolve issues and let them know you hear them. Position your customers as the stars of your social campaigns. Make every interaction intentional and a step toward getting closer to understanding their needs and preferences.
Regardless of the technicalities or intricacies of your offering, the right customer engagement can transform your brand’s reputation, making it relatable and genuine—a company that customers want to be loyal to and potential customers want to partner with.
Merriam-Webster’s 2023 Word of the Year is ‘Authentic.’ 2023 was also the year of AI, which has left many wanting more authenticity in their interactions.
Our Index report found that consumers overwhelmingly desire authentic, non-promotional social content from brands. They’re not just looking for a sales pitch—they want to connect and engage with you.
While personalization tailors our message, it’s authenticity that ensures this message resonates with sincerity. And one of the most crucial elements in building authenticity is the voice and tone of your brand. It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it.
Tailor your voice based on who you’re talking to (think: buyer personas) and where you’re talking to them (Facebook? LinkedIn?).
Authenticity can also turn generic content into two-way conversations. Shopify’s presence is proof there’s ample room for creativity and authentic human connection in B2B:
But what does authenticity look like for your brand? Here are four tips to create an authentic presence:
- Analyze top-performing posts to identify what elements of authenticity resonate.
- Initiate regular audience polls (LinkedIn and Instagram Stories are great for this) and surveys to gather direct feedback.
- Use listening tools to track conversations about topics in your industry and get social media post ideas to showcase your thought leadership.
- Highlight customer testimonials and stories across your channels to showcase real experiences.
While platforms may change and personas may vary, every interaction should echo your brand’s values to create an authentic, relatable and consistent brand experience.
Leverage employee advocacy
If you’re not using your employees as brand advocates, you’re not realizing their full potential.
Today’s customers rely on their peers to tell them who they should buy from, with 84% of people trusting friends and family recommendations.
At Sprout, we have a constant stream of content from various voices within our organizations that speak to different aspects of the day-to-day. For example, here’s a post from our VP of Product Marketing, Tim Clarke:
An intentional and well-organized employee advocacy program benefits you in four ways:
- Mitigates risks to brand perception by giving employees approved content to share
- Expands your social reach
- Improves employee engagement; and
- Drives more leads.
Use analytics to inform your B2B social media marketing
Which networks are the most effective? Are your efforts resulting in actual traffic or sales? Is it time to start running ads?
Social data reveals new areas for growth and improves prospecting. It also equips marketers with insights on how to better position themselves against their competitors.
Our 2023 State of Social Media report shows that 7 in 10 leaders agree that social is currently underutilized within their organization. And 97% of business leaders believe that the use of social data to understand market trends will increase over the next years. Given these insights, it’s the perfect time to use analytics to optimize and advance your B2B content marketing strategy and align with the growing trend of utilizing social data for market understanding.
For example, analyzing engagement patterns and feedback on social media shows what features your customers value most, guiding product teams in their innovation efforts and shaping a marketing strategy that resonates with what customers truly desire.
In the following tweet, a user of the productivity and note-taking app Notion asked others what they struggled with.
Notion responded showing exactly how social data informs product improvements.
Social media data can also support market research. Tools like Sprout’s social Listening solutions provide demographic information about your audience, so you know exactly who your ideal buyer is. Segment audiences based on factors like age, gender and location when monitoring a conversation about a specific topic for a more comprehensive grasp of your prospects.
This understanding of audience demographics leads directly to the next step: tailor content for specific channels based on knowing which platforms buyers use at different stages of the pipeline.
Social media intelligence nudges you closer to creating content that increases market share, aligns with your prospects’ needs and contributes to overall growth.
Tactics to try today
Making your social presence more exciting can be a challenge, but it’s definitely not impossible. Consider the following tactics on how to build a B2B social media strategy:
Refine your brand voice
Refine your brand voice and create a guide to ensure consistency across content types, platforms and audiences.
Tailor your communication to the personas you’re addressing in your B2B social media strategy. An executive might appreciate a different tone than a social media manager, but your core message should always shine through.
For example: look at the difference in tone of voice between the LinkedIn posts of Dock’s CEO, Alex Kracov:
And its Content Lead, Eric Doty’s LinkedIn posts:
Eric’s post carries a hint of humor that makes it relatable and enjoyable. This lighter tone doesn’t detract from the value of the content—instead, it adds a human touch, inviting more engagement and conversation.
On the other hand, Alex, while maintaining a conversational style, leans more towards an authoritative tone. His post conveys expertise that instills confidence and trust in the audience. Plus, considering that 70% of consumers feel more connected to brands with CEOs that are active on social, his post (and overall presence) humanizes the brand.
Yet, despite their different approaches, both posts are engaging and provide valuable insights, breaking the stereotype that B2B social media marketing has to be stiff or overly formal.
Apart from this, tailor your content based on social platforms too.
Each social platform has its own personality. Your LinkedIn tone might differ from X (formerly known as Twitter), but your brand’s character should be unmistakably consistent across all channels.
Alex’s X posts, for example, are much more snappy and to the point. His profile picture is unique and he provides value, albeit in a different format and style.
You can tell it’s the same person at the same company with the same genuine intent: giving valuable insights and being approachable.
Create content that offers value
B2B professionals often struggle with a balancing act between formal interactions and the underlying human connections. But an important reminder is that behind every organization, there’s a wide array of individuals, each bringing their unique perspectives, needs and motivations.
This intricate ecosystem of B2B is, in many ways, a sophisticated version of the B2C landscape. And the tactics that charm, captivate and convert in the B2C world can be seamlessly adapted to resonate in the B2B landscape.
Your guiding principle should always be to consistently offer value and enrich the experience of your audience.
And how do you achieve that? Here are three ways we do that at Sprout:
- Inform them with insightful content
- Educate them with expertise
- Entertain them with light content
Every professional is also a human being, seeking content that resonates, enlightens and sometimes even delights. Ingrain that in your strategy regardless of where they find you.
B2B engagement isn’t just about broadcasting messages. There are two additional aspects to consider: reactive and proactive engagement.
Reactive engagement involves responding to customer interactions, while proactive engagement involves actively engaging with your target audience. Both require personalized engagement, which means tailoring responses and interactions to each customer’s specific needs and history.
Our recent Index report highlighted that customers expect a response within 24 hours. So, shaving off those response times isn’t just good practice—it’s essential for successful reactive engagements.
Four tactics on how to personalize and speed up reactive engagement:
- Respond to customer inquiries or comments within a day to meet their expectations and build positive relationships.
- Establish clear processes for smoothly transitioning customers from initial social interactions to dedicated support teams.
- Incorporate personalized responses and friendly greetings in your interactions to provide quality care and enhance your brand’s image.
- Use tools like Sprout that connect with your CRM for a 360-degree view of each customer’s history and preferences to enable tailored responses and deeper engagement.
But while reactive engagement is nearly table stakes for social media management, you also want to consider how you’re thinking about proactive engagement.
- Create dedicated social content that speaks directly to specific personas within target organizations—whether it’s executives shaping the vision or managers influencing on-the-ground decisions.
- Consider the interests and preferences of your target personas to craft research-driven content your audience is tempted to share with their networks.
- Engage directly with comments and posts from target brands or their employees on posts outside of your own. Personalize your responses by weaving in relevant links to resources like webinars or whitepapers.
- Use Sprout’s tagging feature to categorize content by personas and glean insights into engagement patterns.
A direct and personalized approach doesn’t just encourage engagement—it develops long-term business relationships anchored in trust and mutual understanding.
Stay on top of customer conversations
Listening provides us with the ears to capture the voices of the rest of the market.
Dive into a competitive analysis using your listening tools to understand the landscape and position yourself innovatively in 2024.
Implement tools like Sprout to track and analyze customer interactions and get the context needed for personalized engagement. Sprout’s Listening solutions provide you with a robust channel to capture the voices of the market.
In a world that’s moving at the speed of social, every mention, direct or indirect, is an opportunity to engage, learn or pivot. That’s why Sprout’s Topic Query Builder enables you to create and manage specific social media search queries to monitor and analyze relevant conversations and trends. Set up systems to get alerts for indirect brand mentions or associated keywords.
Also, use the word cloud feature that visually represents frequently mentioned words or phrases from social media conversations. Get a quick way to identify prevalent themes and topics.
Expand your employee advocacy program
Every team member in your organization has the potential to be a dynamic brand ambassador. Your employees, especially your sales team, are your brand’s most genuine voice and a valuable social selling asset.
In fact, 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media. But to unlock this potential, you need the right tactics and tools.
Expand your employee advocacy program to attract the right employees and the right leads.
For recruitment, think about the immense value of authentic employee stories. These aren’t scripted corporate messages but real-life experiences. Here’s an example from Sprout:
Sharing a ‘day in the life’ or showcasing the real, unfiltered moments behind the scenes makes your brand more relatable and attractive to potential hires.
Then, consider the untapped power of your sales team.
Through employee advocacy, every salesperson becomes a potent social selling asset. By sharing company highlights, achievements and insights, they not only establish themselves as industry thought leaders but also cultivate deeper, more trusting relationships with prospects and customers.
Here’s an example from our SDR. Sharing wins is a subtle yet impactful way to nurture leads and drive sales through B2B social media marketing.
Facilitate the program by giving your employees a platform where they can easily curate and share these stories and insights.
Our Employee Advocacy platform streamlines the process, providing curated links, media and even suggested copy. It doesn’t just amplify your brand’s voice but does so with consistency, clarity and ease.
And lastly, check what’s working and what isn’t. Use metrics like leads, web traffic and event registrations to quantify your advocacy program.
A triple-edged approach to expanding your employee advocacy program empowers your organization to harness the potential of each team member as a brand ambassador.
Focus on the most B2B-friendly platforms
Focus on platforms where your target audience is most present. A targeted approach delivers your content to the right people, leading to more meaningful interactions and effective lead generation.
Based on recent research from the Content Marketing Institute, there are a select few channels that are “best” when it comes to your B2B social media strategy:
- LinkedIn: The ultimate B2B network known for thought leadership content, employee engagement and a robust ad platform.
- YouTube: Perfect for how-to tutorials, interviews, presentations and commercials.
- Instagram: Ideal for visuals (think: infographics, brief how-tos) and culture-centric content.
- Facebook: Most Facebook B2B marketing centers around ads, but it’s also a good hub for employee-centric, non-promotional content.
- X/Twitter: A prime place to spot trends and interact with customers and business influencers alike.
- TikTok: Surprisingly emerging as a viable platform for B2B, especially for brands looking to showcase their innovative side or connect with a younger professional audience.
Create a B2B social media marketing strategy that clicks
B2B marketing leaders are at a crossroads—they’re facing the intense challenges associated with the macroeconomic environment, reductions in budgets and headcount and ever-increasing expectations from customers.
And yet—there’s also tremendous opportunity with more data available than ever to allow us to truly understand and respond to the needs of the market. These insights guide you on how to build a B2B social media marketing strategy that spotlights evolving customer needs so you can empower your sales and success squads and amplify your brand’s resonance.
Check out our guide on how to translate your B2B social data into actual revenue and use it to position your brand as a leader in the market moving forward.
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