B2B Social Media Marketing
I was at a conference recently, and was asked for good examples of B2B social media campaigns. It’s so easy to think about good campaigns – I immediately had entertaining and memorable campaigns rushing round my head like the Old Spice man on a horse videos, Oreo and Twix Twitter banter, Sony’s Pinterest campaigns, and Lynx newsjacking antics, but I was really struggling to filter for anything that wasn’t consumer focussed.
Social media is often associated with breaking down walls between companies and their consumers, and I was sure there must be some creative uses in B2B. It was actually harder to find good examples than I first realised, and that might be because the audience is more specific and targeted.
After some digging around, we came up with these examples.
HubSpot holds an annual conference called INBOUND. It is typically a four-day event in Boston where professionals meet, learn, watch, talk, network with thought leaders and other experts.
This year, HubSpot began posting full video clips of keynotes and guest speaker sessions on YouTube. Providing more content from live events allows an even wider reach for its live events through YouTube. Hubspot was able to accumulate over 30,000 views within a few weeks.
Here are two video uploads worth watching:
This is a keynote from Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post. She talks about a different form of leadership that is essential in today’s rapidly changing society.
This keynote is from Darmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of HubSpot. Darmesh focuses on how great companies are built. Great companies are focused on great customer service: “Your most valuable customers are those who sell the most”. In other words, provide your customers everything you can upfront.
No matter how large your company events and conferences are, you should always make them available for others around the world at any time. Conference keynotes do not have to be exactly related to what your company does – it can be focused on personal life and world issues. What’s important is providing your community the opportunity to gather together and think about things that are really important.
IdeaPaint produces a painting product that makes it possible write on normal walls whiteboard markers. IdeaPaint can replace your company meeting room whiteboards, or just use in your child’s room to make cleaning surprise drawings easier. Regardless, every piece of work can be captured and shared with others. And this is what IdeaPaint chose to do with its Facebook Page for the past few years.
The company’s on going Leave Your Mark Facebook campaign allows businesses and individuals to become inspired by examples of business creativity and individual creativity:
The Facebook Page campaign has accumulated over 20,000 likes so far – but more importantly – the campaign garnered an immensely loyal crowd. For companies that want to follow IdeaPaint’s social path, always demonstrate the creatively and passion from all your business and individual customers. Allow them to share their expressions of your company brand with others.
Virgin Media Pioneers is a community portal offering inspiration for entrepreneurs through video and interview content, internal social groups for discussion and opportunities, and live event postings. This online community launched in 2010.
Within the first year of launching the online community, Pioneers had over 1,000 members that produced over 700 blog and video entries sharing their experiences in building new businesses. Virgin Media has provided a great example on how large media companies can engage with small businesses by providing them ways to connect together and discover new business opportunities.
For example, Virgin Media Pioneers shared information about an annual startup investment contest called The Pitch. The community posting provided all of the needed information on where entrepreneurs can apply and learn more information. Pictured below is one of the 2012 winners, Sam Zawadzki, one of many Virgin Media Pioneers members.
Mongoose Metrics is a phone conversation tracking company based in Cleveland. The company maintains a very active Twitter account and spends hours interacting through Twitter on a daily basis.
Mongoose has achieved great results with its growth in Twitter followers so far. It grew from several hundred followers to over 13,000 followers today. If your company is delivering solutions that do not have much to tweet about, consider expanding your scope of twitter topics like Mongoose. You will have an easier time creating valuable information and conversation in the social media sphere.
Here are a handful of useful tweets from @mongoosemetrics:
EMC was one of the first large IT companies to provide large amounts of YouTube content. What is impressive about EMC’s approach to social media is that they have stayed committed to it for over 5 years. And up until now EMC has over 3.5 million views for their videos. Most companies give up on creating YouTube content after not having enough views in the early phases. EMC is a great example of commitment in creating useful and entertaining content throughout the years.
Here are two great YouTube video uploads from EMC:
EMC posted an explainer video that explains big data for those that do not know much about the topic. This is a great example because big data is a very hot topic in the IT community and the video can be referenced as in introduction to the topic by people who need to explain what big data is and why it’s important. This video received over 65,000 views within one year.
EMC has been involved in joint marketing ventures with MINI. In this video, EMC works with Pilobus in breaking the world record for the number of people that can fit inside a Mini Cooper (26 in case you were wondering). EMC has been active in sponsorships over the recent years and their efforts have paid off with nearly 800,000 views for this video.
Maersk started a community portal the middle of 2012. Its strategy was to create a closer relationship between the company and its customers. The company’s main goal is to make its brand feel more human and personal. Often people can only see the shipping containers with Maersk’s logo without ever having the chance to see and interact with the people running the company.
There are two main parts in Maersk’s portal. The first part is contains articles from Maersk’s employees that travel around the world. They share images of Maersk ships and containers voyaging around and allowing customers the opportunity to enjoy views from the ocean.
The second section allows readers and customers to submit ideas on what additional information they would like to hear from Maersk. In the example idea submission below, a customer is asking the portal to provide entertaining insights on how the shipping industry works.
Maersk achieved a strong user base over in less than two years. It currently has nearly 20,000 users according to statshow.com. If your company works in a line of business that looks boring and uneventful at first glance, consider following Maersk’s social path in breathing excitement into the company and allowing your employees to share thoughts and experiences that they encounter daily.
American Express launched the OPEN Forum in 2007 as an initiative to have more direct communications with small and medium businesses. Over the next six years OPEN Forum expanded its online community engagement across every major social media platform: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and Linkedin. OPEN made it simple for smaller businesses to interact with other community members and American Express by allowing them to participate through any social media platform that best suited them.
And the results are staggering:
The SAP Community Network (SCN) is SAP’s official user community portal. This portal was created in 2003 and is used by SAP users, developers, and partners in order to exchange help and best practices. The SCN is widely considered to be one of the best social communities within the enterprise software community. Currently it has over 2.5 million members.
But a recent change to the SCN is what we’re going to talk about, and the gamification of its portal. SAP wanted to encourage more community participation and it was looking for a cutting-edge way to do so. SAP’s answer: include missions, badges, levels, and much more to better motivate and reward user activity.
According to the SCN’s Wikipedia page, community activity increased by over 1000% one week after introducing gamification. Even a best-in-class B2B social media practice has room for improvements.
In late summer 2013, Uber and the NFL Players Association created a new partnership to help players travel safely during the 2013-2014 season. This was an initiative to promote safe driving for players and help avoid millions of dollars in fines and more importantly losing lives.
This partnership is one of Uber’s first efforts in breaking into the B2B market for private transportation services and is a great way to start because having the NFL as its customer is highly visible for other companies.
This example is not your typical B2B social media case study. Rather, it’s a great example a great partnerships that people would naturally talk about in the social media community. Tweets reached over 30,000 users within a week’s period (mid September) according to sumall.
In 2010, leading networking equipment supplier Cisco Systems launched a campaign to increase user activity on its Facebook profile. Called SuperFan, it encouraged the firm’s followers to compete for product prizes and, perhaps more importantly, exposure. At the end of every month, the page’s administrators chose one community member, with the basic criteria of: the more you share and engage, the more likely you are to be chosen.
When SuperFan was launched, Cisco’s Facebook page had just over 100,000 followers. Three years later and the number has rocketed to more than 400,000. These impressive results led to the company being recognised in BtoB’s 2013 Social Media Marketing Awards. When word started to spread about the campaign, more people naturally wanted to get involved. One particular entrant managed to attract a healthy dose of publicity for himself and Cisco by getting a pretty large tattoo of the company’s logo on his arm – the image gathered more than 1,000 likes. As Cisco put it, “dedication indeed!”. Another user baked a Cisco cake, and gathered more than 4,500 likes – it was all about thinking outside the box.
The success of Cisco’s campaign is simple; by giving its followers something to get excited about (exposure and prizes), the company gets more people discussing its products – both on Facebook and elsewhere. It is, however, important to bear in mind that Cisco is a big budget multinational company which already had a trusting following to build on. A big part of the campaign’s appeal lies in the opportunity to get exposure on a level that simply can’t be replicated by your average start-up.
Achievers is a software service focused on enabling employees inside companies succeed, with employee engagement and reward tools. The company managed uploaded approximately 20 presentations on Slideshare over the past 12 months. Achievers focuses on making its presentations informative and entertaining on topics about HR and employee behaviour.
One of its most successful presentations (over 60,000 views) is about disengaged employees:
If your company has interesting thoughts, consider sharing these thoughts through slides and on Slideshare. It’s a great alternative to YouTube if there isn’t enough time or resources to create video content. And remember: make sure your slides are equally informative and entertaining.
In 2010, computer manufacturer Hewlett Packard chose to use LinkedIn, alongside Twitter and YouTube, to introduce a whole new branch to its online presence. ‘Business Answers’ is entirely focused on building and maintaining relationships with the small business owners who use the company’s products. It achieves this by making it easy for people to ask questions and get genuinely helpful answers from other users and the company itself – something HP would’ve struggled to do without a platform like LinkedIn.
Hewlett Packard’s approach worked well because it allows the brand to integrate itself into the world of small businesses, instead of watching from the side-lines. There’s no doubt that with a better understanding of its target audience, any brand, large or small, will be in a stronger position to excel – or in this case, continue to be a dominant force in its field.
The fact that HP’s LinkedIn page now has five times as many followers as its Twitter profile is also interesting; it shows that the choice of platform is crucial. LinkedIn has worked well in HP’s case because it caters specifically for business professionals – the people it wants to reach. Take a quick look at the results of the 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report and you’ll find even more evidence that different platforms work for different businesses – especially for B2B marketing. It’d be a bad move to just assume Facebook will work because it has the most users.
Social marketing in the B2B world has many similarities to that outside of it. You’re looking to attract, and then maintain the attention of the target audience, and this is best achieved by creating meaningful relationships which hold value for both parties. This is something HP, Cisco Systems, and many other companies have done to great effect.
So… what do you think?
Have you seen B2B social media marketing work?
Have you seen it go down like a lead balloon?
I’d love to hear your experiences.