Welcome to the Social Spotlight, where we dive deep into what we love about a brand’s approach to a specific social campaign. From strategy through execution and results, we’ll examine what makes the best brands on social tick — and leave you with some key takeaways to consider for your own brand’s social strategy.

Overview

We’ve said it before (and we live it every day!), but B2B social marketing comes with a set of unique challenges. One of the most daunting is that it can feel like many “best practice,” foundational social tactics just aren’t available to you because your audience is businesses and not consumers. It’s certainly not as straightforward, but taking cues from proven B2C tricks to build your B2B strategy is possible and can be very effective. Take Adobe, makers of the cloud-based software suite that creatives across the globe rely on to bring marketing, advertising, photography and videography work to life. By taking a tried-and-true tactic from the B2C playbook, Adobe has built a social content juggernaut that’s a daily inspiration to its richly diverse audiences.

Many B2C brands rely on user-generated content, or UGC, to supply them with a real-life look at how consumers are interacting with the brand and its products. Ever since Burberry launched The Art of the Trench in 2009, B2C brands have been encouraging (and sometimes incentivizing) their customers to use social to show others how a brand or product fits into their lives. In the Insta-driven landscape of 2020, this is a piece of cake for many B2C brands. But what if your customers are businesses, and your product isn’t something that’s inherently ‘gram-able?

Adobe realized that the key was to focus not on its products as the highlight of UGC, but rather what its products enabled its users to create, achieve and celebrate. By focusing on end users instead of software buyers and opening the brand’s social channels to them to share the inspirational, beautiful and memorable things they created using Adobe programs, the brand was able to create the want from the bottom up. Not to mention, providing a digital home to a community of like-minded professionals who share ideas, feedback and admiration with each other–all in the context of Adobe’s brand.

Other software companies would be wise to look at Adobe’s adoption of B2C tactics as inspiration to rethink their own social approach.

What you can learn

1. Put yourself in your end user’s shoes. We often focus on the needs of the business and how our software products meet them. But what does your product’s end user get out of using your product every day? How does it make them feel, and how can you use social to champion that?

    • Getting started: Use social to ask your audience what they’re creating with your product or to tell you about how your product helped them do something they’re proud of. Then think about how you can bring those stories to life on social.

2. UGC can mean many things, especially in B2B. Even if your software doesn’t enable beautiful end products like Adobe’s does, you still have the opportunity to let your users speak for your brand.

    • Getting started: Use a text overlay on relevant visuals to share a quote from a user about how your product helped them do something remarkable.

3. Don’t be afraid of emotion. Too much of B2B marketing is functional, devoid of basic human emotion. Whether you acknowledge it or not, your product makes people feel things when they use it. Maybe it’s elation that they can be more efficient at work, or pride in what they’re able to create. Don’t be afraid to ask them about those feelings–chances are they’re not alone in feeling them, and that groundswell of emotion can define new opportunities for your brand.

    • Getting started: Interview a group of end users 1:1, either in person, via social, email or on the phone. Ask them about the feelings they encounter in their daily work, and explore together what role your brand and products play in those emotions.