Everyone knows by now that social media is an essential component of any modern marketing campaign. But for B2B companies—especially those peddling less-than-exciting products—determining exactly how to bring their brand voice to social media in an exciting and engaging way is no easy task.
Let’s take a look at five companies that have successfully put an entertaining, humanized twist on their business to business social media campaigns.
1) General Electric
Stereotypical as it may be, there’s a commonly held belief among millennials that older folks—and older companies—can’t “do” the internet. That may be why when 122-year-old General Electric was nominated in four social media categories at the 2014 Shorty awards, more than a few heads turned. In additional to the standard social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), GE is also available on Instagram, sharing all the amazing photographs. They often run contests on Instagram as well to keep the conversation fun
To gain that award winning social media relevance, General Electric had to humanize its brand. The company does a stellar job relating its advanced technologies to real world, socially relevant issues. That along with visually stunning images of their technology gained the company its reputation as the “most exciting boring brand” out there. A high compliment for marketers in charge of making the lightbulb sexy.
Since its founding, MailChimp has used social media platforms to exude that quirky, fun startup personality that millennial social media fiends adore. But we came to love them most the day they took their sponsorship of the virally successful NPR podcast “Serial” to a new height—tipping their hats to their own “Mailkimp” ad with this witty instagram post.
On Instagram, MailChimp manages the best blend of promoting a culture instead of a product and not taking themselves too seriously. That’s probably why the company was recently named one of the 10 best B2B Instagram profiles by Social Media B2B. And although Instagram is clearly the company’s platform of choice, they do carry that same quirky-fun culture across their social media presence.
[Check out The Small Business Guide To Instagram]
3) Jobsite UK
In 2014, top UK employee recruitment conglomerate Jobsite scooped the Shorty Award for Best Use of Social Media by a B2B brand. The award came for Jobsite’s “The Advantage” campaign, featuring a video spoof of the hit show “The Apprentice” and highlighting the company’s brand proposition of “Real Jobs for Real People.”
Jobsite fueled video views and social media shares by joining conversations on Twitter in already trending hashtags. Ultimately, Jobsite’s “The Advantage” video received over 700,000 views in a seven week period, with 64% of those coming from social media.
4) Maersk Line
How do you make shipping containers engaging? Well, just ask Maersk Line. The world’s largest container shipping line is also making waves as one of the most frequently cited B2B social media success stories.
In 2012, Maersk rivaled 500 other companies—including well-known consumer brands—to win Social Media Campaign of the Year from the prestigious European Digital Communications Awards.
The shipping giant’s social presence includes accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Flickr, and Tumblr—all of which serve to further their mission of getting closer to their customers.
As the world’s largest IT and consulting services company, IBM had a unique market to reach with its targeted B2B social media campaign. So, where exactly does the professional IT community hang out online? As it turns out, mostly in the same places as everyone else.
Combining a savvy and comprehensive series of platform profiles (primarily on Twitter, LinkedIn, and later Instagram) with focused social media training for sales rep teams, the company has seen strong ROI for their efforts. Within the first 3 months of launching a 2013 campaign promoting their public Cloud service, the company saw a 55% increase in Twitter followers, with more than two thousand click-throughs driving clients to rep sales pages.
Most recently, IBM was recognized by Social Media B2B for leading the pack in Instagram engagement among business to business companies. Social Media & Engagement strategist Katie Keating cited user-generated (mostly employee) content and a focus on capturing moments as key factors to that success.
What’s The Secret To Success?
Looking through the above companies’ social sites, you may find yourself wondering: “How did they do that?” and maybe, “How can I achieve the same results for my brand?”
The common thread we’re finding among successful B2B social media campaigns is this: even if your product is sold from business to business, marketing is always, in its most essential form, a communication from human to human.
Who is the human being behind your business-customer? Who is the decision maker? Remember, that person is not a business robot making decisions from a purely algorithmic standard of pros and cons. Your customer is a living and breathing human—a consumer—who puts pants on before going to work every morning the same way as everyone else.
The short cut strategy is to focus on AWESOME images. People love a good photo! So take really compelling photos to help your content succeed.
Tapping into the consumer-driven emotions of those decision makers is what makes the most successful social media campaigns stand out from the humdrum B2B crowd.