Tressa Sloane

When it comes to social media marketing, audience targeting is vitally important. But as with any part of a digital marketing strategy, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to using social networks to reach prospects. Whether you’re a B2B enterprise or a B2C business, it’s crucial to know how to correctly and effectively use social media best practices.

Let’s take a look at why social media tactics vary between B2B and B2C brands, and go over the most successful ways to connect with your social audience.

Different tactics for different audiences

You may think that the same social media tactics for one brand can work just as well for another. But that’s not true. There are a range of differences between B2B and B2C organizations, not just on an operational level, but for social media marketing as well.

For marketers, knowing how the sales cycle works for both is imperative. This will help you tailor your messages to your respective prospects, or else you’ll risk losing out on business.

For B2B enterprises, the sales cycle tends to be a longer process. There are often more people involved, as the point of contact may not be the decision-maker, or a purchase may require several rounds of negotiations before you reach approval. It’s for that reason that target audiences need to be more defined and centered on a certain group of prospects.

B2C businesses, on the other hand, are speaking directly to the consumer, who is more often than not the “decision-maker.” The sales cycle is much shorter, and the purchase often happens almost immediately once the buyer is ready. As a result, B2C marketers get a bit more leeway when it comes to content and social media as the target audience is larger.

Reaching your B2B niche audience

The foundation for any successful B2B social media strategy is knowing the audience. Because of the longer sales cycle, reaching prospects through social media starts with understanding your niche audience and knowing how to get their attention.

To start, think of your social platforms as lead nurturing tools. You want to guide your prospects through every step of the funnel, and these sites can help you, but it’s up to you to put the focus on the right metrics. Lead generation is one of the top factors that B2B companies should pay attention to when it comes to their social media efforts – are my social accounts helping me bring in more leads? How many leads from social media are converting? Asking yourself these questions gives you insight into how well you are targeting your social audience.

Next, think about your content. For B2B brands, establishing yourself as an industry leader by educating your prospects should a top social media goal. To achieve this, aim to share not only your blogs, but relevant content from other thought leaders in your space. You can use paid social campaigns to promote your longer-form, gated as well – whitepapers, eBooks, case studies and more.

Your voice is also an important factor, both in the content you distribute and in your overall social presence. B2B organizations are often seen as “boring,” but more and more brands are shifting away from stuffy language and tone. Showcasing company culture and positioning their brand have given B2B marketers more flexibility when it comes to developing a voice on social media. However, keep in mind that your target audience may or may not respond well to certain approaches, so be sure you’re choosing the right voice.

Let’s do some comparison. Below, we have the quintessential B2B social post:

IBM has a strong social media presence, and while posts like the one below follow all the rules of B2B social marketing, it still falls flat. Using a stock image doesn’t give any life to social posts, and the copy could do more to engage followers:

Now let’s take a look at a more entertaining approach from email marketing services provider MailChimp. In the brand’s Instagram feed, it showcases more of the human side of its operations. It aims to actively engage with prospects while at the same time not overly promoting its services.

Upside of a corrugated cardboard butler: the element of surprise.

A post shared by MailChimp (@mailchimp) on

Throw a wider net with B2C

B2C companies are speaking to a larger set of prospects with a much different sales funnel than B2B, which gives them different set of options for how they approach social marketing. But it doesn’t mean that their social media strategy can be haphazard. A carefully created B2C social strategy that engages prospects, increases brand awareness and builds community is what will bring in the results.

B2C companies should treat social media as an engagement tool rather than a lead gen tool. Consumers are making their purchasing decisions within a matter of minutes or days, so the ability to quickly engage with them and create a connection is crucial for making a sale.

So how can you do that? Well, begin with the content. Everyone is looking for a solution to their problem – whether they know it or not. The best way to provide answers is by creating content that is on the shorter side (blogs and visuals like video and infographics are great for B2C social) and speaks directly to your reader. Also, be sure you’re showing them how your offering is exactly what they are looking for, and provide a way for them to easily move on to the next step.

When it comes to creating a voice, B2C brands get to have a little bit more fun – if their target audience wants it, of course. The right voice helps to build strong relationships with the right prospects and creates connections from the very first stages of the journey. It also goes a long way at developing brand awareness and helping you stand out from the crowd.

Let’s look at some great examples of B2C brands that are ruling the social media landscape. First we have Taco Bell, known not only for its fast food options but also for its winning social strategies on a variety of platforms.

Taco Bell aims to make its customers a part of its marketing strategy. The brand is creating connections with prospects and helping them to satisfy their Tex-Mex cravings. Scrolling through the rest of the Twitter feed, you’ll see that Taco Bell’s voice stays consistent, giving it a distinct personality in the wide range of fast food social accounts.

Red Bull, which posts regular videos and photos of extreme sports and adventure from around the world, is another shining example of B2C social done right.

The energy drink company doesn’t necessarily need to overtly advertise its product. It uses its content to drive adrenaline, engagement and awareness among its prospects. Sure, the logo is prominent in several ways in Red Bull’s photos and videos, but it’s the action and excitement that grabs attention and keeps people coming back.

Building a successful B2B or B2C social media marketing strategy isn’t rocket science, but it does take a lot of work, research and effort. As long as you’re targeting the right audience for your business with the right content, you’re sure to bring in the right results.