Why do some B2B brands struggle with their online image? The problem with social media and blogging is that it’s been seen as the reserve of teenagers, and not taken seriously until around 10 years ago. Generally speaking, it’s the older and more traditional B2B firms that are the slowest to adjust to the new climate of marketing.
With the internet democratizing the business landscape, corporations are in trouble. If they don’t get ‘down with the kids’, they’ll drift under the radar and lose business to cutting-edge startups who actually need to use smart tactics to be seen.
Do you think B2B companies just aren’t as outwardly exciting as B2Cs? Here are some brands setting the hottest B2B marketing trends, out to prove you wrong.
MailChimp knows that their product isn’t the most visually appealing thing in the world, and that it doesn’t lend itself perfectly to Instagram. Fortunately, it doesn’t get stuck in the ‘not a visual brand’ rut most companies do and comes through with awesome brand storytelling material, one image at a time.
We can’t all sell art, soap and smoothies, but we do all have employees and clients. These are all people with personalities and stories people want to hear, and make remarkable content in the B2B space.
Since Instagram doesn’t drive traffic to your site or allow for links to your blog posts, it’s main purpose is brand image. For MailChimp, it reinforces the playful and colorful culture of a happy, successful company.
Mailchimp’s Instagram themes tie in beautifully with the design of its visual blog content, using the same color palette and themes over all channels.
Volvo‘s online presence has always been strong, and their marketing team has come up with some innovative campaigns in the past. The shot below is from a customer storytelling campaign that links Volvo cars with their drivers in a way that nails Volvo’s picture of ideal customers.
However, when it comes to B2B marketing, Volvo’s viral campaign in 2012 is one of the most famous and effective examples of content marketing in the sphere.
Regardless of how cool you think it is that Volvo got Jean-Claude Van Damme to do the splits between 2 moving trucks, you can’t argue with the fact that around half of commercial truck buyers and owners would be more likely to choose Volvo when they next purchase a truck.
According to Volvo in 2013, the video had:
- Over 6 million social shares
- Over 10 million impressions on Google.com
- Extensive media coverage from all over the world: the commercial has been the subject of approximately 20,000 editorial pieces online so far
- Estimated earned media value of €70 million
Volvo’s viral video is a perfect example of B2B brands rocking the format and appealing to the right crowd. The overall message of the video is that Volvo trucks are so stable they won’t rip JCVD’s pants at the crotch.
“Where others just see machines, we also see data.”
General Electric, like many similar companies, are at risk of being dead boring on the internet. GE update their LinkedIn feed several times a week, providing more than 1,000,000 followers with new infographics, data, quotes and a series of images named ‘Emoji Science‘ which isn’t anywhere near as cringeworthy as it could be in the hands of a 123 year old corporation.
The brand’s Instagram — typically a B2C space — has different content to its LinkedIn feed for more visually-minded audiences. And, like MailChimp, it’s not just a drone of dry shots of machinery and equipment. Its images show the company’s industrial beauty in a sharable way, with videos, quotes and this surprisingly artistic close-up of a silicon wafer.
Salesforce never misses a chance to constantly update its social platforms. Its annual conference — Dreamforce — creates a basis for an immense amount of content over the following months, with commentaries, videos, quotes and more.
As if the biggest SaaS company in the world needed more brand awareness, Salesforce is ever-present in the B2B space and keeps up appearances with quality content on Twitter and Instagram.
Here’s a recent tweet to celebrate National Coffee Day, in line with coffee as the unofficial drink of ambitious business people and red-eyed developers everywhere. Check out those Salesforce cups!
Everything about Salesforce’s content is so keyed in with the brand. The colors, themes, and interests of its target audiences have been met perfectly with blog posts like Can Your Salespeople Articulate Value Or Does it Sound Like Magic? and 3 Simple Strategies for Scaling Your Sales Organization.
HootSuite‘s owl is like Salesforce’s blue cloud. An iconic symbol that ties its brand together. HootSuite uses Instagram as a way of reaching out to businesses, but also individuals. One of the major aims of HootSuite’s social media presence is to communicate company culture to potential hires and make it look like it’d be a brilliant place to work. It does this in a similar way to MailChimp — visual storytelling.
While a lot of their content on Instagram is in line with the sorts of things the platform is famous for (cats and food), HootSuite’s content promoting its cool company culture attracts new hires, humanizes its staff and paints a vivid picture of the company behind the product.
What Can We Learn From These B2B Marketing Trends?
A 2015 report from the Content Marketing Institute outlined the most effective elements of B2B content: infographics, video and storytelling. The content I’ve looked at in this post covers it all, but as for specific, popular areas we’ve got:
- Happy clients
- Employees with personality
- Brand mascots
- Life in the office
- Artistic product shots
- Data on images
- Big budget viral videos
What are the most successful B2B marketing trends you’ve seen? Have you got any companies you think are worth mentioning?
Share your thoughts, and let’s chat in the comments.
Benjamin Brandall is a content marketer at Process Street, and runs Secret Cave on the side. Find him on Twitter here.