If you run a business, you already know how important it is to use social media to reach customers. Maybe you have accounts on every social network, each with hundreds or even thousands of followers. But do your B2B social media posts convert?
If you’re not sure, it’s time to learn about the social media marketing funnel, which models the path your customers go through from the moment they are aware of your company to after they buy a product or service from you. If your B2B social media marketing funnel is successful, it only ends once the customer is an advocate for your brand.
So if you want to increase your chances of ending up with loyal customers, take a look at the five stages of the B2B social media marketing funnel—and how to reach your audience at every step.
At the top of the B2B social media marketing funnel is always awareness. As you might guess, this step involves simply helping consumers locate your brand and basically become aware of its existence. Keep in mind that 75% of B2B buyers take social media posts into account before making a purchase, so your posts definitely have the potential to affect your bottom line.
The easiest way to get started is to recognize a problem your target audience might need help solving, and then offer a solution via the product or service you’re selling. This is not the time to try a hard sell. Instead, offer support for consumers and show the value of your brand so they’re interested in learning more.
So instead of creating self-serving, promotional posts on social media, produce content that can answer the audience’s questions. You can do this through a mix of organic and paid methods that will help customers find your brand.
Some of the most effective ways to get more awareness on social media include:
- Informative blog posts: Bring consumers to your website by sharing your blog posts that will answer their questions, making sure to rely on SEO tactics, such as using keywords you know your audience using to find content.
- Video: Create videos that help your audience solve their problems, such as tutorials with step-by-step instructions or useful tips that will improve their life.
- Contests: People are likely to participate in, like, and share your content when they have a chance of winning something, creating awareness for your brand.
- Paid ads: You can use paid social media ads to target an interest group or audience that is likely to be struggling with the problems your products or services can solve.
These B2B social media tactics can grab the attention of people who are not yet aware of your brand, but have the potential to become customers—whether today or months down the road.
The next stage of the social media marketing funnel is consideration, during which consumers are seeking more information so they can determine if your brand is right for them. They’ve already become aware of your brand and want to learn more before they buy, including what makes you better than the competition. In fact, 84% of B2B customers look for recommendations from peers before making buying decisions.
That’s why this is the perfect time to give them the information on your brand that they’re looking for so they can start building trust and get closer to buying. In particular, the following are some tactics to use:
- Case studies: Make it clear how you’ve helped other businesses in the past with your products or services.
- Reviews: Encourage customers to leave reviews on your social media pages so potential customers can see your value.
- Video testimonials: Many customers prefer watching videos to reading content, so another option is to use video show how you’ve helped other businesses in the past.
- Answering questions: Use online platforms—such as answering questions onTwitter or Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Reddit—to connect with your target audience.
Note that some awareness tactics can also work for the consideration stage, as video tutorials and blog posts can showcase your company’s value, too. After all, these tactics can build trust of your brand among potential customers.
Next in the B2B social media marketing funnel is the acquisition stage. This is when you need to focus on how to get people to convert, as they’ve recently viewed your social media posts, watched your customer testimonials, and read your reviews. Now they’re not only intrigued, but also starting to trust your brand and are becoming receptive to the idea of buying from you.
This is a good time to focus more on getting sales than just reaching out for awareness and consideration. A great way to start is with appealing incentives, such as the following:
- Coupon codes for new customers
- Free shipping
- Free gift with purchase
Today’s social media tools make it easy to target specific audiences with your acquisition methods. For example, you can set up paid social media ads with coupon codes to only show to new customers rather than current ones.
You can also set up your ads to be viewed by people who have looked at your website but not purchased, as a coupon code could be what they need to make their decision. Retargeting tactics like this one tend to be effective in B2B social media campaigns, as their click-through rate is ten times higher than regular display ads, and their conversion rate is often over 40% higher than usual.
If you want to continue your success for years, you can’t forget about your customers as soon as they’ve made a purchase. You should keep engaging with them so they’re likely to buy from you again, or even make you their go-to brand for years! So don’t slack off once you hit the engagement stage of the B2B social media marketing funnel.
Instead, make sure your brand stays on their mind by consistently connecting with them through social media. Your content should provide any support they might need after they’ve made their purchase. For example, you can create a Twitter chat using a specific hashtag, in which customers can easily find your chat on Twitter, and then either ask questions or simply read answers to common queries. Twitter chats typically result in a great reach and a lot of impressions, so they’re ideal for engagement with your audience.
You can also create your own hashtag that you encourage your customers to use so they can show off how they use your product or service. Whether you sell printers or marketing software, your business customers might enjoy the chance to share pictures, ideas, or impressive results they’ve gotten after buying from your brand. Sharing this way can make customers feel like a part of something bigger, leading to brand loyalty.
The last stage of the B2B social media marketing funnel is advocacy. This is where you turn your customers into advocates of your brand, or people who are excited enough about your products or services to recommend them to their friends!
You can start by creating incentives for them to share their positive experiences with others. For instance, you can give them a reward—such as a coupon or a small amount of free product—when they convince a friend to buy from your brand.
You can also encourage them to leave reviews or video testimonials, which you can then share on your social media pages. In fact, some brands allow their customers to create case studies or blog posts about how they used the product or service to improve their own business. They then share these on social media, which means they get free user-generated content to share and their customers get brand exposure. It’s a win/win for your company and your customers!
Another way to create brand advocates is to create a private online community for people who have bought your products or services. This allows any interested customers to connect with each other, discuss what they bought, and feel valued by a brand that invited them to join an exclusive online community. That’s probably why major brands—including Sephora, Starbucks, and Lego—all have online brand communities for their customers to join.
For more inspiration on how to use social media marketing at every step of the funnel, take a look at your own favorite brands and consider the tactics that most appeal to you as a customer. And if you need more guidance getting started on B2B social media for your brand, contact us today to get help from experienced social media professionals!
Jason is a 20+ year marketing veteran including time spent at Microsoft overseeing social media for Microsoft Advertising & Office for Mac. Once named to Forbes Power Social Media Influencers List, Jason is the owner and founder of Socialistics.