Can social advertising work for B2B?

Sprout Chat

It’s a question we here often from B2B prospects: we know our customers are on social, but can we really reach them effectively with social ads? My answer is, of course, always “yes!”  That doesn’t necessarily mean every business should dump their current marketing efforts and start randomly promoting tweets & posts, AND then expect fantastic results. B2B social advertising is a bit trickier than selling a widget. With some careful planning and proper implementation, social advertising can prove to be a very valuable channel for lead gen. We’re going to dig more deeply into this topic today during Sprout Social’s tweetchat #sproutchat today at 12pm PDT.  Join us if you can!  If not, we’ll be provided a quick recap so you can relive the magic at your pace. As a supplement to that chat, here is more context around the topics we’ll be tweeting about.


How does performance for paid social media compare to other paid channels?

As an agency that has relationships with a variety of different organizations, we get a variety of responses.  They range from glowing to not-so-glowing. Before this question can be answered however, you need to define how performance is being measured. Regardless of the channel, you’ll need to identity the core KPI.  Do you want increased brand awareness? engagement or generating quality? new leads? nurturing existing customers? Whatever your goal is, it is only after you understand what your goals are, that you can determine if one channel is out-performing the another.


Which form of paid marketing do you think is most effective for B2B brands?

This is really going to depend on the industry and where customers spend their time. We work with a lot of SaaS companies, where paid marketing activity takes all forms: online advertising (PPC, social, display) email, direct mail, webinar promotion & content syndication.  All of these paid marketing activities play key roles in generating leads. Email and direct mail tend to perform well, as does content syndication (assuming you have the resources to develop the content in the first place). Social advertising tends to fall in the middle of the paid advertising spectrum.  That’s not to say that there aren’t times when we see acquisition costs from social that are in-line with other channels.


What kind of ad content performs for lead gen for your brand?

Before we start working with any of our B2B clients, we ask: “what the state is of their existing content library? do they have product videos? white papers? case studies? demos? webinars? If the answer is yes, we all breathe a sigh of relief–creating quality content is hard!  If not, we know it’s going to be more challenging to prove that any paid marketing channel is going to effective. Different content can perform in different ways. We’ve found that generating leads from whitepapers or case study downloads is generally pretty easy to do, but the lead quality suffers. Demos are obviously high on the quality list and webinar registrations tend to fall somewhere in the middle.


Are LinkedIn newsfeed ads (aka sponsored updates) effective?

Absolutely! But like any marketing channel, you need to develop a plan and anticipate testing different content in order to find the winners. Some general best practices to maximize performance from LinkedIn sponsored updates:

  • Create separate campaigns for each audience group to allow for better control of budgets & bids so you can more easily understand how a particular audience is performing
  • Include 2-3 pieces of content per campaign. Unfortunately there is no way to “rotate ads evenly” in LI, so it’s common to see a single piece of content quickly rise to the top due to higher engagement rates
  • Tag all your destination URLs so it’s easy to track lead quality back to the campaign/audience & ideally piece of content.


Are number of video views an insightful metric to gauge success in paid campaigns?

This is a tricky question, at least as it relates to paid social advertising specifically and one that is hotly debated. Reason being, most of the social platforms now utilize auto-play.  As soon as the video is visible in a user’s screen, it starts to play regardless of whether I, the user, want it to. This can easily inflate the number of video views.  Don’t focus solely on the number of views to determine success, but instead look at what percentage of the video users are watching and where are they dropping off. If there’s a common exit time, shorten the video or think about adding a link to your website to encourage viewers to visit your site.


What are the best ways to use video for B2B social ads? 

We’ve tested video for a few clients and the top two use cases for video ads were to showcase product tours/demos and videos of webinars or presentations. If your marketing goal is focused on trying to fill the top of the funnel, webinar recordings will likely be most effective. Product videos can be great as a remarketing tactic or even as a way to nurture existing clients with creative ways to highlight product updates.


Share Your Perspective

How has social advertising worked for your B2B company?  We’d love to hear your results!


What’s Next?

If you are unable to join our tweetchat, we think you might enjoy our on-demand webinar about Instagram Ads.  In just a few clicks you could be well on your way to Instagram ad bliss. Go there now!

Ian Mackie About the author
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