When I ask people about their B2B branding social media efforts, the most common answer I hear is, “Oh yeah, we’re on LinkedIn.” As one of the oldest and best-known social networks, LinkedIn with its roughly 200 million users is the default starting point for many B2B brands.
It’s an easy leap to go from personal profiles and connections to LinkedIn Groups and company pages. And that’s the extent of the effort for many B2B firms. Other more ambitious companies add Twitter and Google+ to the mix or maybe a Facebook page to round out their social media plans.
“Well, that’s more than enough!” you might be thinking. These “Big Four” can be plenty to handle, but sticking to the core might not be get you the results you need. Fortunately, there are legions of social networks available for your company to tap into. If you want to accelerate your branding efforts, it makes sense to explore them.
These other, lesser known sites give you a plethora of options for branding your business, enabling your company to stand out from the crowd while connecting with a niche group of more targeted prospects.
Good Things in Small(er) Packages
Finding your audience is especially critical in B2B branding. Not everyone is a buyer, or even understands your products. To be successful, you must find and foster connections with people who make a difference.
In general, participation on most social networking sites still represents a minority of the adult population:
- 6% of online adults say they use Tumblr
- 13% of online adults say they use Instagram
- 15% of online adults say they use Pinterest
- 16% of online adults say they use Twitter
- 20% of online adults say they use LinkedIn
- 67% of online adults say they use Facebook
(Source: Pew Research Center, Internet &American Life survey, 2012, http://pewinternet.org/Commentary/2012/March/Pew-Internet-Social-Networking-full-detail.aspx)
A glance at the chart above might make you wonder of the effort required make your mark simply isn’t worthwhile. However, the point of social media for any business is to connect and build relationships with the right prospects, not just anyone.
That’s where lesser-known social networks come into play. They have smaller audiences, and that is a good thing if you pick the sites that best match your target audience.
With this in mind, consider these sites to broaden your horizons:
You’re probably used to sharing content from your blog and content marketing on sites like LinkedIn. Take that a step further with these knowledge-sharing sites. You can post your own content and curate materials from other sources to showcase the expertise of your team.
Quora is a question-and-answer site where users post queries about all kinds of topics. Share your responses or start your own questions. Similar to the now discontinued LinkedIn Answers, Quora is an excellent platform for building awareness of expertise and thought leadership within your organization.
Toolbox offers users the opportunity to share knowledge and access content including expert blogs and research. The site includes Q & A with industry experts. Major communities represented on Toolbox include information technology, human resources and finance professionals. (Toolbox was acquired by Ziff Davis Media in 2012.)
Internal or private social networks are starting to extend their reach to customer communities as well. This provides excellent options for cultivating relationships with existing customers, providing transparent, highly responsive service and proactive information sharing.
Yammer is a private social network for businesses and their customers. With an easy to use interface that’s a snap for those who are familiar with Facebook and Twitter, Yammer is designed for closed networks (employees and customer groups) to facilitate collaboration, file sharing and knowledge exchange. (Yammer is owned by Microsoft.)
Chatter.com (by SalesForce.com) offers similar services.
If your business extends beyond borders, consider major business-to-business social networks in other countries. These platforms both have serious professional membership numbers, making them ideal sites to extend your global reach.
Viadeo is a professional social network based in Paris, France. Boasting over 50 million members worldwide as of 2013, Viadeo is rapidly growing with an expanding international presence in Europe, Russia and China.
Xing – is a German social media platform with expanding membership in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Smaller than Viadeo, Xing offers personal profiles, groups, discussion forums, event coordination and other community features similar to LinkedIn.
Once you’ve explored these B2B branding social media platforms, you’ll be eager to find more niche sources. Do a little poking around on Google and you’ll likely find sites dedicated to your end users interests, as well as those of your buyers. Both of these are good places to expand your community and share your B2B brand message.