Your Target Market Determines Social Media Emphasis

It’s always a great feeling when a study comes along that validates what you already believed. That was the case with a new report that shows that social media has a higher impact for business-to-consumer (B2C) companies than it does for business-to-business (B2B) companies.

We have both as clients, and we encourage use of all forms of social media for the B2C organizations. But we’ve always counseled B2B clients to keep their business clients in mind and be targeted in their social media usage, with less emphasis on the fun-and-games outlets.

For some of our B2B clients, their audience is higher-level executives, for sophisticated and high-end products and services. These aren’t the ones likely to spend time on Pinterest or Instagram.

But B2B companies do find that platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as YouTube and Facebook, can help increase sales. Our guess is the mix will depend on the particular product and service and industry. If you sell pet food to a dealer network, Facebook would likely be a winner for you; if you sell $50,000 pieces of communications equipment to enterprises and service providers, Facebook probably isn’t your best bet.

But good YouTube content – demonstrating the functions and benefits of that expensive piece of equipment – can be valuable. So can well-crafted articles posted on LinkedIn and promoted via Twitter.

Overall, the study found that 58 percent of B2C companies say social media successfully generates revenue for them, and 46 percent of B2B companies agree.

But B2B companies tend to use social media to establish themselves as authorities and thought leaders in their industry – more through LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter – while B2C companies use it to drive consumer purchases, via Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and of course YouTube.

As one individual quoted in the report explained, “If I have responsibility over purchasing something for my organization, I generally do that on company time, where I’m dedicating effort to that project, and I’m not going to think to go on social media to do that.”

He added that a social media emphasis “just makes more sense for B2C companies because of the mindset people are in when they’re on social media. They’re in consumer mode, not business mode.”