Social media is an inseparable part of the modern digital landscape. Social platforms are ubiquitous and all-encompassing — from individual users to brands that market to consumers and other businesses. If you’re looking to grow, then you are already leveraging social platforms to spread your brand’s message and entice users to pay attention to your value proposition.
But is your social media strategy aligned with your audience? Is your social media marketing adjusted for end consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B)?
Not sure which market you’re strategizing for?
Let’s look at what makes B2C or B2B social media marketing different and which one will work for your brand.
What Is B2C Marketing?
Business-to-consumer, or B2C marketing, comprises tactics where a brand sells a product or service directly to a consumer (an individual). It’s the prevailing type of marketing not only on social media but in general.
Picture this; you’re browsing through your social feed and find a small business that sells natural cosmetics. You like their products, so you go to their website to learn more, are happy with what you find, and make a purchase. In this case, you’re the consumer of the brand.
This is how most B2C social media marketing operates. It targets audiences that are potentially interested in the product or service and passes them through a relatively fast sales funnel, as there is only one person to influence.
B2C brand interactions are fast, direct, and primarily transactional. A consumer wants something, and they get it right away. Their emotions drive them.
That said, B2C marketing isn’t without its challenges. It still needs to prove the brand’s value to its target audience. But compared to B2B, the process is much easier and straightforward.
What Is B2B Marketing?
B2B marketing is the abbreviation for business-to-business marketing or the offering and selling of products and services to entire organizations. The client, in this case, is another company. While relatable to B2C markets, these purchasing factors are further complicated because multiple stakeholders make decisions within an organization.
Often the first point of contact is not even the person who will decide to buy from you. Marketers and sales representatives pass through a network of decision-makers and have to charm them all into finding their sales offer satisfactory. This whole process makes B2B marketing a more complex and time-consuming event.
How Do B2C & B2B Marketing Differ?
Inevitably, marketing campaigns for B2C and B2B markets require us to understand what makes each different. Let’s compare them.
As we’ve mentioned, the number of stakeholders for B2B and B2C varies wildly. As an end consumer-based company, you wouldn’t have to go through an extensive sales pitch and value proposition verification process. You have one person to convince, and that takes less time.
When marketing to B2B, you might communicate with one person, but you’re selling to an entire organization. Your point of contact is just one person of many stakeholders. This person is often under pressure (spending the company’s finances) to make the right decision.
In Gartner’s “5 Ways the Future of B2B Buying Will Rewrite the Rules of Effective Selling” research, we find that 93% of B2B buyers purchase based on the overall decision of the stakeholders in the company.
To ease their stress, B2B buyers would rather prolong the purchase process to ensure their decision aligns with the company’s needs.
Moreover, over time, the number of stakeholders in an organization that buyers have to consult with has grown. According to Demand Gen’s 2020 B2B Buyer Behavior Study, 61% of B2B buyers saw an increase in the number of team members involved in the purchase decision compared to 2019.
You have millions of potential customers when you offer your product to the B2C pool. You have the entire world or the population of your geographical location (if your offering is location-bound) to market to. The distance between you and your customers is relatively short and abundant.
With B2B, things are quite the opposite. The number of companies you can engage with is much smaller. You may also feel more significant pressure from competitors, some of which might already be established leaders in your segment.
B2B companies have one advantage here; greater profit margin. While competition might be tight, B2B marketing stands to yield a larger payoff. Compared to when you sell products to end consumers, you have to win the trust of many more of them to reach sales targets. When you’re in the B2B market, on the other hand, it may take longer, but convincing a handful of companies to choose your brand will help you hit sales goals.
Another factor that makes B2C and B2B social media marketing different is the sales cycle. In a market ruled by end-users, urgency and convenience are kings. That translates into the way B2C brands market and create their customer journey.
A typical B2C buying journey goes something like this:
- The buyer has a problem.
- You offer the fastest, most trustworthy, and most reliable solution.
- The buyer decides to give your product a try.
Getting your customer from pain to solutions is relatively quick and straightforward. People want something, so they get it.
In the B2B sector, things are different. The more stakeholders you have to convince of the benefits of your offer, the longer the sales cycle will be. Not to mention, the higher the price tag, the more tension-ridden the buying process will be.
In a typical B2B buying journey:
- An organization needs a solution
- You pitch your offering to the buyer
- The buyer presents the solution to stakeholders.
- Your company provides evidence of your value proposition.
- Once stakeholders trust your brand, a purchase happens.
The process is often more complex and time demanding and relies heavily on you establishing great relationships with the stakeholders first. To keep the stakeholders engaged in the whole process, marketers in the B2B sector need to nurture the leads continuously.
Consistent touchpoints and seamless experiences at each stage of the buyer’s journey should be a priority, and these priorities should be reflected in your social media strategy.
How Are B2C & B2B Social Media Marketing Similar?
B2C and B2B marketing are different. What might not be immediately apparent is that they are also similar. Both strategies rely on people’s decisions, and people are emotional. Willingly or not, our emotions influence how we perceive and navigate the world, including purchasing.
Even highly complex B2B buyer teams are simply people with pain points, desires, and goals. People who can be persuaded that your brand offers the solution they need.
As a B2B marketer, remember that you’re speaking to a person instead of a faceless entity, which will guarantee you’re one step closer to establishing a trusting relationship with your potential clients.
You should consider that even if B2B buyers are emotionally biased, your marketing message can’t be the same as for the B2C market. The emotional needs of B2B social media target audiences should be approached from a different perspective.
For instance, if you’re selling security software to an end consumer, you can appeal to the trouble-free browsing of their favorite websites. But when you’re trying to sell it to a B2B company, you should emphasize the protection and safety of the company’s data that your product offers. The emotional angle is different, so it has to be accounted for when listing the benefits your target audiences will receive by choosing your brand.
All marketers have the same goal — to grow their brands. And they do so by connecting with customers.
They research, analyze and brainstorm the best ways to persuade prospects that what the brand is offering is what will resolve a particular pain or satisfy their needs. Marketers, however, have to adjust their approach based on their audience’s industry, stakeholders, and goals.
B2C and B2B social media strategies are different. While both count on people and their emotions, each requires a different approach. You should plan and strategize social media content for these clients accordingly.
Build your brand’s social media presence, always keeping in mind who your audience is and what motivates them.
The opinions expressed here by Guest Contributors are their own, not those of Rise Marketing.