The ability to adapt quickly when something major and unpredictable happens has never been more essential than it has been this year. And, just like always, businesses that can adapt quickly in times of crisis are the likely the ones who will ride out that storm and survive (perhaps even becoming stronger for it).
One of the most visible ways a B2B audience will be able to see a business’s response to major developments is on social media. And, over the past few months, there’s been a true flurry of B2B activity on social, where organisations of all sizes have been adjusting their tactics in order to stay relevant, appropriate and impactful during this time. In line with this, recent research has shown that the way we as individuals use technology and the internet has been changing over this same time period.
For businesses, it means that it’s never been more important to take stock of the social media climate; paying close attention to the way your audience is using social – and what that audience wants to see from brands they follow.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the user trends affecting marketers’ B2B social strategies for the remainder of 2020.
Five ways user behaviour on social has changed
1. We’re all using social media more
30% more* in fact. This spike in usage has been prompted by the Covid-19 outbreak, and a subsequent need to stay on top of the latest developments and news (as well as that of keeping in touch with family and friends). Alongside users apparently consuming content more frequently, LinkedIn recently shared that the platform saw an uplift of 60% regarding content creation levels, compared to that of 2019*.
What this means for your social strategy: With customers and prospects spending significantly more time on social media, it follows that there are now more opportunities for your business to get noticed on platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
Incidentally, 26% of us are using LinkedIn more often than we did this time last year.
So, as well as your business needing to invest time and resource in maintaining your existing brand presence when it comes to your company’s social profiles, a sustained attempt at building a stronger social presence will be needed in order to win a greater share of voice for your brand, at this time.
#2. Users are accessing social on mobile devices more often
Recent research from Hootsuite/we are social reveals that, whilst social media apps already accounted for at least half the time we spent on our mobile devices during 2019, in recent weeks, the time we’ve spent using social on a mobile device has also increased considerably – even though we are all mostly working from home and not travelling around. It means the need for social content to be optimised has never been more important.
What this means for your social strategy: With the spike in users accessing social media from their mobile devices, there comes the urgent need for your brand’s social content (organic and paid) to be optimised as much as possible - it has never been so important.
#3. Consistently popular hashtags have now been overtaken
What’s trending, hashtag-wise, has also been affected by user behaviours. Whilst, on LinkedIn for example, terms like “innovation” and “recruitment” would usually make their ‘top ten of trending # list’ each month, the sheer magnitude of coronavirus as a topic has meant that what might have qualified as a popular hashtag across multiple social media platforms has now been displaced by more topical alternatives such as #covid19 and #coronavirus. In turn, hashtags such as these are themselves displaced at various points – by sub-themes (for example, #WhereisJohnson (trending May 2020) and #ClapForNHS (trending April 2020).
What this means for your social strategy: Your social team will need to be mindful that what they might have naturally used before in terms of hashtags might not lead your business’s content being discovered as often, so researching trending hashtags ‘on the day’ (but of course only including those which are most relevant to your content) will be key to counteracting the shift described above.
#4. Users expect even more from the content served to them by brands
Another aspect which has altered is that of users developing higher expectations of their social content. When it comes to delighting your target audiences with your business’ content, there are now ‘more boxes to tick’.
A new precedent has been set. As well as serving up relevant content to users, at the right time, and on the right channels, the most proactive brands (and any of their senior or technical expert employees with a social profile) will be actively working to identify how they can best support prospects and customers – all the while, taking into account the times we’re living in.
Being honest and authentic, and adapting quickly enough to new audience ‘pain points’ through freshly created content will become the elements of your brand which your audience remembers.
The global pandemic has brought with it what I perceive to be a heightened sensitivity from users to the content they’re digesting, and, unlike pre-COVID times, users are now looking for reassurance from businesses and brands, and more than ever, genuinely useful content.
What this means for your social strategy: Now is not the right time to cut back on content creation. In order to maintain great levels of visibility on your target users’ newsfeeds, your brand will need to keep serving up high quality, valuable content to users who have pain points that need ‘soothing’ with the solution your business can provide.
Keeping pace with creating great new content will also allow you to better stand out against your competitors – who, for the most part, will not be resting on their laurels at this time…
#5. Video is ‘front and centre’ on social
The importance of video content on social had already been gathering pace over the past few years - in fact, HubSpot Research already showed us that four of the top six channels on which global consumers watch video are social channels.
However, the recent global pandemic has acted as a catalyst for more video content being created by brands. LinkedIn recently reported increased activity in areas such as ‘Company Page’ activity, there’s been a 26% uplift in brands sharing owned posts that include a video.
What this means for your social strategy: If your brand isn’t creating video content for social media, you’re likely lagging behind compared to the other players in your industry. What’s more, video production is arguably more cost-effective than ever. Can you afford to ignore this content format?
In order to better ensure that future paid and organic social activity remains effective and impactful, keep the shifts in user behaviour we’ve outlined above, in mind. By factoring these user behaviours into the planning of future social strategy, your marketing team will better ensure the success of their future campaigns and tactical activity.
*LinkedIn’s Professional Impact Survey, March 2020
**Hubspot, Content Trends Survey