Just as they have been with most things digital, B2C marketers are ahead of their B2B counterparts in adopting the latest social marketing trends. While our B2C friends have been leveraging social media stories since they originated on Snapchat several years ago, it’s taking the B2B world a little longer to figure out where they fit in the digital marketing mix.
Why should B2B Marketers Care?
Social stories are the newest way social platforms are trying to engage their users- and they’re working. Research shows that social media stories are growing at a faster pace than newsfeeds and offer a new way for marketers to advertise. As businesses try to personalize their brands, marketing via social channels is more important than ever. The new story formats allow the brand message to be told in a logical, linear pattern, rather than having it split across newsfeeds.
While B2C companies are adept at talking directly to the consumer and adding a personal touch to their marketing through these stories, B2B business have been slower to adapt. But ones who are doing it are realizing another source of content that is helping to drive leads and interactions with key accounts.
How Do Stories Fit in a B2B Marketing Mix?
B2C businesses have discovered that they can use these stories to insert themselves into the daily lives of consumers by connecting with them on a personal level. But what they’ve also found is that they can gain valuable information from these customers with clever ad copies, interactive games, surveys, and even clickable downloads.
Make no mistake, what looks like a fun exercise of posting behind-the-scenes pictures of a photo shoot with the question, “which of these shoes should we photograph next?” is a clever way of understanding what the target audience is looking for from that brand. B2B businesses can leverage the same tools to better understand what their target audiences are looking for from them.
In an increasingly mobile world, B2B companies are going to have to find more unique ways to reach customers where they are. Since stories were designed from the onset for camera-equipped smart phones, they are the closest thing to “live news” that marketers have. It’s a way to connect to the personal lives of buyers and interact with them in almost real time.
Do Stories Really Drive ROI?
While it’s easy for a B2C business to have direct sales via stories, it becomes much more difficult for an enterprise B2B account. However, there are still several clear benefits to stories that B2B businesses can take advantage of and can even use to directly impact bottom line.
First, there’s the brand awareness aspect. According to TechCrunch, WhatsApp’s Stories now have over 450 million daily users, Instagram’s have over 300 million, Facebook Messenger’s had 70 million in September, and Snapchat as a whole just reached 191 million, about 150 million of which use Stories.
As social stories platforms become more mature, their analytics are also becoming more robust and offer businesses a better look into the effectiveness of ad campaigns. For instance, Instagram has been testing Instagram Analytics as part of Facebook analytics. The analytics expand tracking website clicks, impressions, new followers and Story exits to show lifetime value, retention rates, audience overlaps with website visitors, app downloads and Facebook likes. While the tracking and analytics at the individual level has been proven and is sufficient for B2C companies, it will be interesting to see if the social platforms are able to provide means to aggregate insights up-level from individuals; tying them to the organization/account which the individuals belong to since B2B companies measure efficacy at the account level and not necessarily at the individual one.
Stories can also have a direct impact to bottom line and leads. The “Swipe Up” feature allows you to access landing pages, which can contain submission forms. By using data to auto-populate those forms as much as possible, you can also increase the rate of form completions and, in turn, pipeline.
One of the biggest values of stories comes in the data that users themselves are willingly providing. By using polls or commenting within stories, businesses can gather direct data from customers about their interests and buying habits. Of course, it will be up to companies to ensure the experience they are giving their users is intriguing enough to entice them to willingly share that information.
So, while it appears our B2C friends may be having a good time posting product photos or behind the scenes office shenanigans, there is likely a savvy marketing strategy taking place from which B2Bs could take some notes. As stories mature and social platforms figure out how to better implement their ad strategies for stories, they will only become more important for marketers to leverage as a part of their overall digital marketing mix.