It’s a common misconception that B2B companies can’t speak to people like people.
It’s thought that if you’re talking to other companies, suddenly people stop being people. This simply isn’t true. Whatever you’ve created is still talking to someone, one on one. You are addressing a person.
Another misconception is that B2B companies can’t have a sense of humour, or fun, about their work. This, again, couldn’t be further from the truth.
We’re going to look at a few examples from some of the big players and see how they do it. These companies, at all times, remembered that their audience is made of people, not faceless companies. Here is how to have a fun social presence as a B2B company.
General Electric Company (GE) is a global digital industrial company. The Company’s products and services range from aircraft engines, power generation and oil and gas production equipment to medical imaging, financing and industrial products. Sounds pretty solidly B2B, doesn’t it?
GE uses their social channels to express their awe and fascination – not with their products, but with science and innovation as a whole. They have an Instagram following of 185,000, many of whom are highly engaged. What’s the secret to their success? They treat their audience how they would want to be treated; with intelligence and respect. Some of the work GE produces is highly technical – but it doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining.
Their social platforms are the ultimate lesson in ‘don’t sell the product, sell its context.’ There’s no call to action to buy, it’s just showing the incredible projects they work on. And as a follower, nothing could be more interesting.
Image taken from Maersk’s Facebook page
Just to be clear, yes we’re talking about the Danish shipping company Maersk. With an incredible 1.1 million people following them, it’s hard not to be in awe of Maersk’s social efforts. If you think about it, Maersk have got a major advantage; they work on a huge scale.
Big stuff is impressive to anyone, regardless if you’re a customer or a passing social user. One video shows a 2million volume shipping container being filled. As a sentence, that’s pretty boring – the video is anything but. The scale of it is incredible. And that is what engages Maersk’s users. What is everyday to their company is exceptional to anyone else. Their channels embrace that philosophy and put it centre stage. The result? Over seven thousand video views of a shipping container being filled.
As Screwfix serve both home DIYers and the trade, their social feeds tread a fine line between B2C and B2B. Their Facebook page is a solid example of how to use humour to engage customers. Most posts are a giant pun-off, sharing haphazard building techniques, dodgy installations and ridiculous everyday occurrences. It’s genuinely entertaining, and with the occasional smattering of product posts, Screwfix are successfully pushing their brand and speaking in the tone of voice their audience will relate to. Who says screws don’t have a sense of humour?
— HubSpot (@HubSpot) January 19, 2017
Hubspot market to marketers, which is meta, but they’re considered to be the best at it. Why? Well, they started in 2006, and then two years later recorded a profit of $2.2 million and then four years later recorded a profit of $54 million, so it looks like they’re doing something right.
One of Hubspot’s highlights is their Twitter feed. Aside from the fact they offer endlessly useful content, always seem to know a trend before it’s happening and are almost telepathic in the content it’s users crave, it’s also a good case study to model your own social efforts on. Problem solving is pushed over product. User’s need is placed before the company’s gain. They’re there as an encyclopedic reference point to return to again and again.
And most importantly, it’s fun. It’s fun to learn something that’s presented in a visually interesting way. It’s fun to see the trends that are coming up for your market. Hubspot’s human approach has earned them 737 thousand followers. They must be onto something.
Key takeaways for your own social efforts
A sense of humour is no bad thing, as long as it’s executed in the right tone of voice for your audience.
Your social content must have value, as well entertain.
What is everyday to you is out of the ordinary to others. Celebrate that.
About the author
Simon Landi is one of the founding members of Manchester-based marketing communications agency Access, and has been running the business since 1999. With extensive experience across many sectors including travel & tourism, B2B and not for profit, Simon’s background has seen him work for a variety of household names. His focus on engaging with customers at every stage of their journey, inspired him to develop Access’ very own live event social media tool EventStreamLive