Marketing in the B2B space can be challenging. Complicated products, higher prices and longer chains of approval all present barriers to prospects when they’re making their buying decisions.
And what if you’re stuck in a boring industry? Like, how do you give boxes of business software a personality that will attract people to your brand?
Social media marketing can be a great way to insert yourself into conversations prospects are having about the problems they’re facing, but you’ve got to be original if you plan on standing out.
With so much online noise, we can all benefit from looking in unusual places for inspiration for our social media campaigns.
Using examples I’ve come across personally, let me show you how to (respectfully) swipe some successful marketing concepts from familiar industries and make them work for you.
Reach outside your circle of BFFs
My fiancé and I have different hobbies. He plays video games online and I enjoy… going outside. Still, we share some of the same friends and like each other.
Similarly, if you’re a SaaS company looking for new audiences to tap, you shouldn’t limit yourself to “people who love business software.” Your audience doesn’t live and breathe your product. They have other interests, too.
Think about brands that offer different products or services, but have an audience with similar needs and interests.
Not sure who that might be?
Use Facebook Search to find parallel audiences
The quickest way to find other companies with crossover audiences is to use Facebook’s search functionality by simply typing in exactly what you’re looking for into the address bar at the top of your personal Facebook feed. For example, “Pages liked by people who like FreshBooks.”
It’s not foolproof (IKEA Canada might not be the best match) but a range of pages to choose from will appear:
Next, have a look at these companies’ channels to see what kind of content resonates with their fans. That’ll be your breeding ground for fresh social media campaign ideas.
Not sure what that might look like? Let’s dig into some specific examples.
Take a page out of the winning playbooks
Nobody appreciates their fans more than pro sports teams. As a proud New England Patriots fan (sorry not sorry Stef), I soak up every bit of content the team puts out.
By posting a variety of heartfelt and funny photos and videos to engage their social followers on Facebook, they stay relevant and fresh.
Player profiles, new memorabilia products, milestone graphics, the Pats volunteering in the community, and even fans’ pets get thousands of interactions.
But the most important thing I’ve noticed is that they show a lot of gratitude to their fans.
This may seem easy for a popular franchise, but what could you do for your own business if your brand isn’t number one in the world? ;) Take a look at what Shopify posted on Facebook at the 150,000 shop owner mark:
It’s a fairly simple post, but 441 interactions means it reached a lot of people.
There is a good chance a large base of your fans are also your customers — and they’re rooting for you to be successful. Don’t be afraid to share big wins with those who are willing to show their support. It doesn’t hurt to bank some extra social proof, either!
Be the host with the most
Talk shows have been around since the earliest days of radio. They’ve evolved from simple back-and-forth interviews to spawning some of the most viral videos of all time.
Jimmy Fallon is the master of helping the viewer get to know his guest on a deeper level by playing games like Box of Lies or performing epic lip sync battles. These clips have garnered millions of hits on YouTube and loyal, enthusiastic fans.
At the end of the day, whoever’s on the show is still there to promote their latest movie or album — and we certainly pay attention.
When brand advocate marketing software Influitive had a new product to launch, they wanted to avoid a social media campaign that was “Boring with a capital B.”
Drawing inspiration from the world of late night television, Influitive ran an episode of BAM!TV: it was injected with humour, and made fantastic use of their own brand advocates who were invited on the show as “special guests.”
These guests did a great job of educating viewers about the importance of advocacy, in turn validating the need for Influitive’s software. The brand also took advantage of the digital nature of the show by providing downloadable links to their marketing materials right on screen.
Using a combination of social, influencer, partner promotion and manual outreach, BAM!TV received over 1,500 views in the first 24 hours (their original goal was 2,000 total and they’re past the 4,000 mark now) and 461 pre-event leads collected on the page. During the launch week, Influitive tracked 574 tweets using the #BAMTV hashtag, with a combined reach of over 183,000 accounts.
Influitive’s VP of Marketing, Jim Williams, explains the rationale behind the campaign:
For us, BAM!TV was more than just a lead gen effort — it was a brand-building campaign for Influitive and a category-building initiative for advocate marketing. We did, however, come up with some clever ways to generate leads: calls to action to download relevant content, such as ebooks and case studies, were placed next to the video player on the landing page.
Another hilarious example of late-night material turned marketing gold was Hootsuite’s “Mean Tweets” video that was used to launch their new dashboard UI. Their clever use of pop culture scored them over over 86,000 views and spread the word about the campaign:
One word of warning: As our Marketing Manager, Corey, always reminds us: when you’re building out your own social campaigns, try not to let the element of “creativity” overpower the clarity of your message.
It can be tempting to add layers of complexity in an effort to be unique, but sometimes keeping it simple is best.
Get hungry for change
It may seem like “everything has been done before,” but try to step back and think about how you can use existing technologies in a new way.
Chef Dennis Littley was innovative when he started using Hangouts On Air for his Around the Kitchen Table cooking show. Rather than clinging to the standard Hangout interview format that was popular at the time, he was preparing dishes for his audience and friends live on the air.
The result is a rich viewing experience that makes you feel like a real insider. When it’s over, you’re so intrigued by his culinary skills that you can’t help but head over to his blog and sign up so you never miss a recipe.
Chef Dennis is now a well-known Google+ influencer with more than 709,000 followers.
When we were thinking of our own way to add Google HOA to Unbounce’s social media mix, we decided it had to be something different (and fun). And so Page Fights was born: our way of educating our audience about landing page best practices through a new medium.
Although HOAs seemed like the perfect way for us to deliver our content to marketers, we had a few tiny hangups:
- We needed to have full control of branding
- The standard HOA event didn’t really allow us to collect leads
Luckily, many of our #marketingprobz can often be solved with landing pages, so that’s exactly what we used to brand the experience and shape our own custom sign-up process:
We now have over 3,000 Page Fights subscribers and receive hundreds of landing page submissions per episode. Our viewers are some of our most passionate community members.
P.S. Want to have Oli and Peep of ConversionXL tear your page apart? Submit it to the next round of Page Fights!
Channel your inner schoolteacher
Truly great social media marketing aims not only to delight potential customers but to educate and empower them as well. If you find yourself in a messaging rut, try going back to basics and considering how you can deliver content as if you were a teacher simplifying a foreign concept for your students:
You may not be able to tie your product back to burgers, but dig into your repertoire of information to see what bite-sized chunks you can turn into lessons for your followers. Think about what they’re eager to learn and create content that both educates and leads your prospects closer to a conversion.
Evosite does an excellent job of instilling trust in its brand by releasing this series of “52 ways to improve conversion rates” on Google+:
Evosite gently piques interest via social by giving away small pieces of advice for free, establishing their credibility and hopefully enticing visitors to hire them for their services.
Salesforce takes a similar approach by sharing industry stats, but maintains a bit of mystery so prospects click through (to a blog post or ebook download landing page):
Where can you source content for this type of campaign?
Consider all the ways you can repurpose some of the great content you already have: focus on key takeaways from your most popular blog posts, stats that help validate your product or service, or even answers to FAQs in your existing support community.
Keep it classy
While it’s perfectly fine to borrow ideas from other industries, don’t copy too closely — nothing will jeopardize the trust your customer has in you faster than straight-up plagiarism.
Put your own spin on the content that inspires you and keep it true to your brand.
Where’s your favorite place to shop for new social content ideas? Have you come across any unique posts that could be turned into material for another industry? I’d love to see more examples shared in the comments.