The rules of engagement: Changing habits in B2B social media

Christian Hall

Social media is engrained in our daily lives, taking on average 2 hours and 23 minutes of our time per day as we're glued to our smartphones. Sounds a lot, but not a lot is meaningful engagement (cat videos anyone?) For most of us it's a highly personal activity, news from friends and family, updates from groups we belong to and an influx of 'relevant' ads being targeted directly at us. In fact, digital media consumption has more than doubled in the last 10 years. It's not just the volume of social media that is changing in our lives though, it's the different formats and techniques that are being used to vie for our attention. For marketers, this provides opportunity and challenge in equal measure.

The business of social

In the B2B space, social media has become another string to the marketer's bow when it comes to distributing content, but consumption levels between job roles and the types buyers want are marked by some big differences. A recent report from NetLine (2019 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand) highlights that the amount of time between content touch points with the same brand is growing - meaning the sales cycle in B2B is getting longer, and your content needs to work harder to get a result.

"Different formats and techniques are being used to vie for our attention... For marketers, this provides opportunity and challenge in equal measure."

What's also clear is that with so much content being generated (both for web pages and social media), the need to rise above the noise has never been greater. Engagement with social content is increasingly challenging, and that can lead to it being hard to justify social strategies, but the long-term rewards are large. As Google points out in its Zero Moment of Truth survey, it takes around 18 touch points to actually get a customer. It's a long road that you have to travel with social, and the habits of consumption need to be considered as a top priority in your next campaign.

Changing habits in business content

For B2B marketers looking to rise above the online noise, understanding your audience (and continually reassessing it) is always the top priority. By delving into what they are actually consuming, marketers can more concisely connect their objectives with the interests and pain points of their audience.

That’s all well and good, but we know how time poor many exec-level professionals are, barely finding time for their own emails let alone consuming good content and acting on it. So, what can be done to ensure your content sticks out and there is engagement right away? The chart below from NetLine’s survey shows the increase in days between content requests from 2017 to 2018. This reflects an ongoing trend over the years – professionals are taking longer to come back for more. That means content needs to have impact with relevance, usefulness, and readability.

B2B Content Consumption Netline

In 2018, B2B buyers were taking longer to come back for content than in the previous 12 months.

On the flip side to this, the survey highlighted that time to consume the content had gone down. That could mean they are not consuming it with any real attention, or simply the content is getting across its main messages quicker. That doesn't change the fact that c-suite and owner-level job roles are the hardest to reach and engage with. Marketers should continually innovate with content types and incorporate relateable themes that draw the intended users in.

How social media formats are evolving

There's an ever-growing list of content types that can be effectively leveraged in B2B marketing, but innovative formats for consuming content are largely down to social media distribution. We've seen a big shift in formats that maximise the space available, particularly on mobile (where today's content consumption is happening more and more). In the video marketing area alone, we've gone from widescreen, to square, to vertical (elongated) content. Then there's live video, 'stories' and looping sequences. It's a similar story for still images in social posts. No longer are we tied to restrictive sizes, the rules have relaxed across the board and now Twitter will cater for almost anything within reason!

In the B2B space, the relatively untapped power of influencer marketing should not be underestimated either. The amplification of your content benefits from the right promotion, and the more naturally engaging the format of your social post, the better it is for ready-made sharing from influentuial people in your sector.

B2B Content Carousel Ads

Professional networks like LinkedIn has a maturing content distribution platform with engaging ad formats such as the Carousel Ad that was introduced in 2018.

You still need the right stuff!

Content is still king, but only if it's of quality in the first place and never strays from the sole purpose of connecting with the user's needs, behaviours and aspirations. Make sure any of your content pushed out through social media is consistent with other areas of your marketing. Also make sure you post regularly and refer back/promote any related content that someone would find useful.

Here at TBT Marketing we live and breath good content that resonates with the right buyers. Need to accelerate your marketing campaigns and hit all stages of the buyer journey? Give us a call on +44 (0)1373 469270 or email us at [email protected] and we would be happy to chat to you.

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