With another new year comes another renewed effort to keep on top of the latest developments and practices in social media.

What’s going to be important in 2020 for you as a B2B marketer if you’re wanting to improve your use of social media to drive engagement and leads? Here are some things to look out for…

The shift from organic to paid social will continue

It’s no secret that, across the leading social platforms, what’s displayed on our newsfeeds is being weighted heavily towards paid social content. As organic loses more and more traction, it means sponsored content, display advertising, promotional DMs and ads will take centre stage on our screens.

The dichotomy many marketers face however is that with paid ads comes the risk of undermining what can be great about organic posts and interactions.

What I mean by this is that the ability to provide one-to-one attention and convey integrity is more difficult with paid social. For example, there is arguably less perceived ‘authenticity’ attached to paid social as the audience can see that the content is an ad, a sponsored post, a sponsored InMail, and so on.

But an organic company post where the poster goes on to answer ad-hoc queries (or is otherwise helpful to the audience member) … that kind of event can instantly gain a company some kudos, enhance its reputation and increase its following.

With organic, you’re not forcing the content onto someone so much. Instead, the content is seen because that user already follows your channel, is connected to an individual or is part of a group they’ve willingly joined.

Bearing all of this in mind, when you also consider that 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level or vice-president level executives are influenced by social media when making their purchasing decisions, can you really afford to put all your eggs in the paid social basket, just to achieve more reach - or should you be upping your efforts on organic too?

The expectation for personalisation, by default

72% of buyers expect communications from B2B companies to be ‘pre-personalised’ in a way that suits their needs.

But how has personalisation become an expectation?

We need to consider that your target audience has, over time, become used to generally better, more tailored experiences online through their day-to-day digital experiences; whether that’s switching on Netflix and seeing recommendations based on previous viewing behaviours, accessing a BBC news app with a pre-personalised set of news categories, or ordering their weekly food shop and receiving suggestions of other grocery items they might like to try.

(In fact, we’ve all been conditioned in this way when you think about it.)

Many aspects of a person’s digital experience are therefore just ‘the norm’. For example. without even thinking about it, we enjoy:

  • More tailored, detailed results on organic search
  • Better access to customer service teams via live chat mechanisms
  • Recommendations for products and services, bespoke to us, as individuals
  • The ability to manage transactions, our banking and business finances on the move – via mobile apps (and better Wi-Fi availability)

With all this tech at play, personalisation becomes more important than ever, because, even in a B2B marketplace, it’s still living, breathing humans you’ll be engaging with.

So, when it comes to ways to enhance your social (and in fact, digital) marketing strategy for 2020, personalisation has got to be high up on your list. Use social listening to establish your audience’s ‘pain points’, desires and interests and carefully use the targeting available in your paid social campaign to segment and focus in. Maybe even explore the use of personalised video too.

The challenge for marketers though, will be to ensure your communications are authentic, whilst also sounding ‘human’ enough against any automation you use.

LinkedIn is still the social platform for business, but is there also a place for Facebook?

Whilst LinkedIn is still the obvious place to visit for all things B2B social networking, Facebook remains the social platform with the largest membership - with 40m users in the UK alone (this equates to 71% of the UK adult population).

Lately, Facebook has been quietly developing and building upon its Facebook Group and Business Page offerings; adding little bits of additional functionality here and increasing the possibilities for new business and commerce-related interactions there. In contrast, LinkedIn has been inadvertently hindering the potential of its own Groups feature; meaning that they’ve now become receptacles for spammy posts and self-promoting links, with little conversation or genuine interactions being generated around that.

With over 60 million active Facebook Business Pages (global figure), and 1.4 billion people worldwide using at least one of the 10 million Facebook Groups in existence, could Facebook be a reasonable place to start conducting some of your B2B marketing activity – beyond organic social posts? Maybe.

So, in addition to the activity you’re conducting on LinkedIn, look to explore how your company might be able to reach a new or hard-to-reach professional audience by trying some new Facebook tactics. For example, consider whether a peer-to-peer professional Facebook Group might be a viable option - where you can lead the conversation, but not dominate it.

A renewed effort to harness employee advocacy

With the enduring challenge to be noticed amongst the constant cacophony of noise and sheer volume of content, it means that you’ll need to be thinking of better ways to attract, engage and convert people through your company’s owned social channels.

Some companies are building employee advocacy into their social strategy - where your employees share your social posts with their own audiences.

The volume of onward sharing that could be harnessed shouldn’t ever be overlooked - especially when you consider that employee advocacy programmes with at least 1,000 active participants is worth around £1.5m in terms of its advertising value.

From experience, getting employees to share company content has its own challenges and obstacles. It’s not an easy thing to establish in-house and get rolled out, and maybe that’s why the number of companies operating a programme effectively are few and far between. But if you can start laying the foundations for an employee advocacy programme as soon as possible - perhaps with some back-up from one of the great online employee advocacy/content-sharing tools currently available - you surely won’t regret it.