Marketing Transformation

How Goal-Focused B2B Social Advertising Can Help Drive Demand

By Liz Alton on July 23, 2019

There's good news for marketers: Your paid B2B social advertising may be doing more than promoting a piece of content, attracting followers, or raising awareness for your brand. A 2018 study from PricewaterhouseCoopers reveals that social media was the number one source of inspiration for consumer purchases.

But in the pay-to-play world of social media, you'll need to use every penny wisely. That takes proceeding with expert precision and getting your paid strategy to intersect with your larger social media efforts. But this delicate dance isn't always second nature.

That's why we're answering some commonly asked questions regarding a paid social strategy and offering up expert best practices, so you can start to use this space to drive demands, generate larger returns, and ultimately connect with your target audience.

Should B2B Companies Invest in an Organic or Paid Social Strategy?

One question I get over and over again is which B2B social media strategy is more effective: organic or paid. In some ways, that's the same as asking whether you should make great products or offer excellent customer service. Ideally, the answer is both—but of course, it's important to determine what's right for your unique circumstances. Often, those circumstances are related to your underlying objectives or goals.

In many B2B organizations, general marketing or awareness marketing is separated from demand generation. Demand generation is driving leads and trying to reach buyers in specific industries, target accounts, or likely buyers for certain kinds of products. The 2018 Demand Gen Report offers some interesting insights: 61 percent of respondents said that their purchase cycle had increased somewhat or significantly, and 45 percent confirmed they're doing more research or consulting more sources during the research process.

The survey notes, "Buyers have also become more consumer-like in their purchasing, as peer reviews, social media, and ads continue to play a bigger role in the decision-making journey."

The ways B2B buyers use social media when considering a purchase varies:

  • 47% browsed existing discussions to learn more about the topic
  • 38% solicited suggestions and recommendations from others on social
  • 36% connected with individual thought leaders to ask for their opinions
  • 36% connected directly with potential vendors
  • 52% of buyers attributed LinkedIn as having the biggest influence on their research process

Organic and paid social content can help you reach a wide variety of individual B2B buyers.

drive demand with b2b social advertising

Image attribution: bruce mars on Unsplash

How Can You Effectively Drive Demand With B2B Social Advertising?

One organization I worked with wanted to utilize a marketing solution that would reach industrial buyers. They invested heavily in understanding the market, digging into the dynamics at play, and exploring who the actual buyers were that made key decisions. After doing a significant amount of research and creating a variety of assets, they used B2B social advertising to get their content in front of their target buyers. Engagement rates rose, and there was a corresponding lift in sales.

Borrowing from those tactics, here are three best practices that can help you drive demand for your brand.

1. Audience Targeting

One of the biggest benefits social media advertising offers B2B marketers is the ability to target materials to specific individuals. For example, ad platforms often allow users to target their audiences based on location, interests, and other factors. In a paid LinkedIn advertising campaign, a B2B firm could get their tools in front of IT leaders at the companies they're trying to prospect. A similar campaign on Twitter might take into account the interests that people selected, such as a specific type of technology or recent technology news.

By using these factors as qualifiers, you're much more likely to drive meaningful demand with your paid social strategy and campaigns.

2. Experiment With Enriched Content

Increasingly, social ad platforms are rolling out the ability to purchase advertising inventory that's based on more than just a text update or static image. For example, a video ad can be a very effective way of capturing your audience's attention and getting them to take action.

According to Social Media Today, statistics provided by Twitter found that:

  • Brands who used videos in their Tweets saw on average 10 times more engagement when compared to their text-only content.
  • Cost per engagement gets cut in half when promoted Tweets include video.
  • People can't get enough—daily views for videos on Twitter are now past a billion.

In other words, if your demand strategy includes social advertising, expanding your asset creation to videos, Instagram stories, and other types of enriched content can pay off big time.

3. Support Different Types of Demand Goals

Demand-focused marketing can target a wide variety of goals. And one of the best ways to achieve them is to focus your campaigns and assets around your goals, and then test performance around KPIs.

For example, moving your brand or products into a new market might benefit from targeting messaging to consumers in a specific geographic area. Launching a new product, however, might call for an entirely different strategy.

By recognizing that this strategy can support the full range of demand generation goals, B2B marketers can generate more significant gains from their social media demand strategies.

Creative B2B marketers need to develop a wide range of strategies to help drive demand, and social advertising can help. Don't just look at your paid strategy as a way to amplify content or build brand awareness. Think in terms of specific demand-related goals, and be creative to see if you can turn B2B social advertising campaigns into another support of lead generation for your growing business.

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Featured image attribution: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


Liz Alton

Liz Alton is a technology and marketing writer, and content strategist, for Fortune 500 brands and creative agencies. Her specialties include marketing, technology, B2B, big data/analytics, cloud, and mobility. She's worked with clients including Adobe, IBM, Hewlett Packard, Twitter, ADP, and Google. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and an MBA. She is currently pursuing a master’s in journalism from Harvard University.