By now, we've all heard how social media can support a brand and make it easier to connect with customers. But not all of us have the benefit of being a consumer-facing brand like Pepsi, Domino's, or Oreo. If you're representing a B2B brand, can you still take advantage of social media? Absolutely!
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As a follow-up to one of our most popular posts, here are 10 of our favorite examples of B2B brands using social media to build their brands and make an impact online.
10. Build brand awareness: MailChimp on Instagram
If you take a cursory glance at MailChimp's Instagram account, one thing is immediately clear: That gosh-dang monkey is everywhere. (Forgive my crude Utah language.) But there's a good reason for it. "Freddie" the monkey has been MailChimp's loyal brand ambassador since the beginning, and while he's gone through a few changes over the years, his fun personality still shines through.
As a visual platform, Instagram is specially suited to sharing Freddie's shenanigans and encouraging MailChimp fans to do the same. From figurines to knitted caps, he is a constant reminder of the brand without being too 'on the nose', and he keeps MailChimp top-of-mind for its followers. (Bonus tip? On the internet, you can never go wrong with cats.)
9. Show off your expertise: Huawei on Twitter
Huawei is the largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment in the world. Yet, if you asked the average American, it's unlikely they'd know much about this giant company headquartered in China. That hasn't stopped the brand from embracing social media in various countries and building up an appreciative audience for its content.
Huawei spotlights innovative technology trends and predictions for the future, inviting experts to weigh in on the tough questions ("Can AI ever function like a human?") that make for rich conversations. Its Twitter timeline is chock-full of thought-provoking quotes from industry leaders.
By taking the time to create smart, dense content, Huawei sets itself apart from other social media accounts who find it easier to keep things fluffy.
8. Join relevant groups: Lucidpress on LinkedIn
If we want to talk the talk, we'd better walk the walk.
Although Lucidpress isn't strictly a B2B brand, we serve a large number of businesses who use Lucid's software across various departments. To reach these businesses, we have found that it's better to go where your audience is than to expect it to come to you. One way to do that is to join relevant LinkedIn groups and share your content with them. It's this strategy that likely brought many of you here today, as a follow-up to one of our most successful LinkedIn conversations.
Due to the many comments and feedback in that conversation, we realized there was a content need we were not filling (that is, looking at social media from a B2B perspective), and it gave us the opportunity to serve our B2B users better.
7. Share your human side: Novartis on Facebook
As a B2B brand, it can be difficult to express humanity online. What I mean by that is a corporation can start to feel like a faceless monolith ("We appreciate your business") when compared to real, one-on-one connections with other people ("I'm so glad you called!").
Novartis, the multinational pharmaceutical company, has found a wonderful way to remind us that organizations are made up of real people with unique stories and goals, by spotlighting individuals who work or intern there on its Facebook page.
The best part about this strategy is that any brand can use it, because every brand has fascinating people working behind the scenes. Take a look around your office and see who's got a story to tell. We guarantee your users will relate and respond far better to that than to your next press release.
6. Create a community: American Express on Twitter
American Express has been recognized in the past for OPEN Forum, its small-business blog—and rightly so. But its dedication to serving SMBs crossed over into social media with the creation of the @ShopSmall Twitter account. @ShopSmall is active throughout the year, but things really ramp up in the fall in preparation for November's #SmallBizSat.
If you haven't heard, Small Business Saturday is a national holiday (first sponsored by American Express in 2010) that takes place between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It encourages shoppers to support small and local businesses—just the kind of places American Express hopes to service.
@ShopSmall is a hyper-focused social media account that leverages the larger SMB community American Express has built over the years, and the community's passion and enthusiasm are contagious.
5. Highlight user-created content: Maersk on Instagram
What do you get when you combine smartphone photography, shipping containers, and the open sea? For Maersk, the world's largest container ship and supply vessel operator, you get one hell of an Instagram account. Thanks to pilots, sailors, and travel professionals around the world, Maersk has a deep well of user-generated photos to share with its 77.4k followers.
And the pictures are good. Like, really good. If you had told me that one of the best business Instagram accounts out there specialized in photos of shipping containers, I'm not sure you could've convinced me. But after scrolling past sun-lit ocean horizons, grand heavy ships that miraculously still float, and even the occasional double rainbow... I'm a believer.
(And, like Maersk, if you decide to use this tactic for your social media, don't forget to credit the awesome folks who create branded content for you.)
4. Feature your customers: Square on Facebook
Like we learned from the Novartis example, stories about real people are compelling. But rather than turning its focus within, Square looks out towards its customers for social media inspiration.
Its Facebook page features slice-of-life photos of small businesses and the people who own them, people who depend on Square for payment processing. Next to the photo is a quote handpicked from a longer interview, where you get a glimpse into the daily lives of SMB owners around the country.
In this example, Fleet Coffee in Austin, Texas, is tagged so readers can easily visit their page. It's not hard to imagine that this feature brought Fleet Coffee a few new followers—which is a nice way for Square to give a little bit back to the folks who keep them in business.
3. Display your culture: Intuit on LinkedIn
Got a company culture that you're proud of? Share it! LinkedIn is the network of choice for business professionals, which means it's the perfect place to share updates about awards, activities, and other exciting announcements pertaining to your company. As you can see in this update, the award shows that Intuit values a diverse culture that offers opportunities to women in tech.
Sharing what makes your company a great place to work offers dual benefits. First, it assures potential B2B clients and partners that you care about your people and will likely work hard to treat them fairly. Second, it attracts top talent who shares your values, which makes it easier to keep your culture strong. So don't be shy—when it comes to culture, it's okay to brag a little bit.
2. Give a peak behind the curtain: Sunnybrook Hospital on Twitter
As you go about your daily work, consider that what might seem like regular routine to you could be fascinating and new for your audience. For example, take a look at the healthcare industry. Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, came up with a fascinating way to give its followers a peak behind the curtain—by livetweeting a patient's heart surgery.
As part of its efforts to raise awareness for Heart Month in February, the hospital livetweeted a coronary artery bypass graft over the course of nearly eight hours (with consent from the patient, of course). This unique use of social media attracted media coverage for their cause, which means the surgery and the strategy were both a great success.
To see the tweets, check out this Storify link (be advised: some tweets contain graphic medical content). Are there processes or procedures going on "behind the scenes" that you could share with your followers?
1. Don't be afraid to try something new: General Electric on Instagram (Stories)
It's almost impossible to talk about B2B social media without mentioning General Electric. The digital/industrial giant maintains a presence on all the major social networks and has earned praise for campaigns in the past like #ILookLikeAnEngineer, which highlighted women and minorities working in a white-male-dominated field. But what earns GE a spot on this list is not what they do on Facebook or Twitter.
It's the willingness to experiment with new forms of social media, trying out innovative content and new platforms that might scare other brands away. GE was on Vine the day after it launched, it's on Snapchat, and when Instagram launched Stories in August, GE was there with an exploration of the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua.
While it might not keep or update every platform, GE strikes while the iron is hot and earns valuable views in the process.
It turns out that, with a little ingenuity, B2B brands can make just as big a splash on social media as any other brand. Next time you're planning a social media campaign, try out some of these ideas. Did we miss any of your favorites? Share them in the comments below!