Social media contests and promotions, especially on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, seem from the surface exclusively lucrative for B2C businesses. However, the Harvard Business Review discovered that 90% of business decision-makers initiate their purchasing processes by canvassing opinions from industry experts and peers, largely through social media.
With these kinds of findings, more and more B2B companies are embracing the evidence of social media’s ability to also impact their bottom lines. With continuously advancing segmenting and targeting capabilities, almost every social channel offers B2B businesses a prime, low-risk opportunity to generate more leads, and prime prospective clients for the sale.
While the medium and content distribution channel might be the same for any business, B2B businesses do need to think a bit differently about their approach when it comes to crafting contests and promotions to reach the audience they’re aiming for.
In this article, we’re going to start by covering the mindset you’ll need to create successful B2B campaign ideas, and then jump into specific ideas you can use today to create contests, promotions, and freebies for your content strategy.
Framing Your B2B Strategy Before You Pick A Campaign Idea
Before we get to the campaign itself, it’s important to remember there is a true difference for B2B brands when it comes to social media promotions. The most important factor that determines whether your campaign will be a success or a total flop is the focus.
For B2B social advertising, that focus needs to be buyer-focused. What does that mean?
In B2B marketing you have to consider the target decision maker, but you also have a key role (or two) who aid in the primary decision maker’s final choice.
In a buyer-focused mindset, you consider the needs of each of these important audiences, from their product or service needs to their professional goals and values. Ask yourself what their goals might be, and how you can help them meet their goals. Think about how your services amplify each target audience member’s individual and collective missions, visions and values.
B2B businesses also need to learn how to highlight their company culture.
A 2015 FORTUNE Knowledge Group report showed that corporate culture is incredibly important to building B2B relationships. For executives in the report, what a company believes in and stands for was ranked of higher importance than market share.
Knowing who you are and what you stand for allows your brand to find engaging and (most importantly) truly authentic ways to share those beliefs through social media. This worked well for Salesforce, a SaaS company who believes in the people behind their product, and saluted its employees through Facebook for reaching their “one million mile milestone”, which resulted in a wealth of engagement and attention online.
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind for the strategy that a B2B business is not constrained by its category.
Every business can move beyond the industry it’s categorized in through story, and building emotional equity. Your company stories are the way to inspiring your buyers to become emotionally invested in your brand. Never underestimate the power of story, as some of the most emotionally engaging ones come from some of the lowest-interest categories.
Now that the strategy is in place, let’s learn about three content categories and cover specific content ideas in each to support your B2B advertising plan.
1. B2B Contests
It’s true. Contests and sweepstakes are no longer a marketing option exclusive to B2C companies, and in fact, work well in a variety of end goals when thought through strategically.
When it comes to contest ideas, themes, and offers, so much creativity and brand personality can shine through. Just like we mentioned earlier, going into the contest with a buyer-focused lens, a willingness to share what your company believes in, and a relevant story, will be the key to reaching the audiences that make sense for you and getting your product or service in the coveted evoked set.
Deciding what kind of contest makes sense, regardless of your type of business, requires you to think about what you are trying to accomplish with the campaign. Do you want to drive more traffic to your website? Do you want to generate leads and eventually sales? Do you want to simply grow your following on a certain social platform? Start here.
Now let’s get into more specific ideas as promised.
Create a photo or video contest with the prize being either a long-term, free subscription or access to your software or services, or something else that would significantly play into your target audiences goals and move them forward. This type of contest’s greatest benefit is culminating user-generated content, and also brings in high-quality lead generation for the top of funnel.
An example of this done well comes from Hootsuite, a popular social media management platform provider who ran a photo contest called “I Work From Here”. The contest had users download the Hootsuite app (lead generation), as well as share with their audience where and how they worked through an image. Here is an example of a winning post.
The contest not only served as a way to generate leads but equipped Hootsuite with powerful, emotion-driven, real stories they could share with their audience.
Another play off of this type of contest would be a photo caption contest. The setup can be the same, except the focus of winning gets placed on the user’s ability to come up with a witty caption. A spin-off of this could be a voting contest for a feature of your product or service, and require the user to comment why they chose what the did. If you haven’t caught on, the goal here would be generating and increases engagement levels on platforms like Facebook and Instagram (which is a significant part of their growth algorithm).
A third contest idea is an innovation-based contest, that requires the user to submit an application form with an idea that is relevant to your business or space to win a grand prize. The benefits of this kind of contest go beyond just lead generation, and if set up correctly can lead to significant press and brand awareness for your company.
Cisco’s “Innovation Grand Challenge” did just this commanding thousands of entries by having their target audience submit their innovative ideas for a chance to win the funding and resources to make the idea happen. With Cisco being in the tech industry for a while, the contest also revived the brand’s personality, spoke volumes to their core values, and helped it stay relevant.
Pro tip: Remember with all of these contest styles, it’s important to keep your branding and design style consistent. Software like Woobox help ensures your branding stays intact throughout the entire promotion.
2. B2B Promotions
This category of promotional type ideas is effective for goals that are tied to lead generation, building trust, app or software downloads, and warming up cold leads moving them down the funnel towards a sale. Let’s jump into 4 specific promotion ideas.
Online quizzes are a highly engaging way to draw in new customers, we covered the science of why in this previous article.
Like the quiz example above from a Woobox client, personality quizzes work incredibly well if you understand the goals, hopes, and interests of the people you are aiming to reach. The key here is to remember that you are either aiming to reach the decision maker or what we will call a “champion” which is the person involved in the steps leading up to the decision being made.
To capture their attention, use the following title formula to design your quiz.
“Which (Blank) are You?”
This style makes the “blank” either the decision maker or champion’s title or job, or it relates to a specific interest of either target.
A tangible example comes from event technology platform, Eventbrite, creating the quiz “What’s Your Event Coordinator Personality?”
Raise your hand if you’ve ever signed up for a free trial? The brain loves free things, and many B2B businesses in the SaaS space have been capitalizing on this simple truth in their lead generation and conversion goals. An easy way to set up this promotion is by creating a custom HTML tab on your Facebook page. Setting up a custom tab to offer a “free 30-day trial” for example provides the ability to reach a larger audience on Facebook that was previously unavailable. The ultimate goal here to is move traffic from the Facebook tab, or any social channel, back to your business website where they can be converted.
Using the same concept of free as our previous example, this type of offer is the equivalent for businesses that do not have a physical product, but rather, provide professional services. This type of offer is used to collect relevant leads and get them on the phone with a sales team member to better understand their specific needs and move them closer towards conversion.
Showcasing Partnerships or Clients
This promotion would fall more into the category of a sponsored post and highlight a key partnership or client you’ve experienced great success with. Posting about key partnerships allows you to tap into new audiences and immediately says your business has similar values as those of the partner company. Again, Cisco is a great example of this type of promotion, sharing about a partnership they have with Live Nation, which speaks to their interest in the music space and educates both their current audience and Live Nation’s audience about how their technology allows multimedia concerts to be possible.
3. B2B Freebies
It is not a surprise that some of the most effective lead magnets for B2B companies are free downloads for things like eBooks, training, templates, and more. Adding these free value ads to your social media advertising enhances the reach of these tools, and automatically generates new lead information which can be used to bolster your list and fuel your sales funnel.
An ever-growing, more engaging way to offer something free is through webinars.
Promoting an online webinar for a free training or insider secrets to interests and goals of your target decision maker, or their champion is a great way to deepen trust, especially with more expensive products and services. Within the webinar, you not only offer the value you advertise, but you have the full attention of the attendees to be able to cover how your product can bring the results they want faster and easier. You also have the unique ability to bring up common concerns and address them on the spot, alleviating any doubts or fears the buyer may have.
We created this article in hopes to inspire more B2B companies to get creative and seize the opportunities available through social media advertising, which is no longer just for their B2C counterparts.
Woobox is a proven, easy to use software that can help any B2B marketer run any of the campaign ideas mentioned above. Signing up for and creating campaigns with Woobox account is free. With your free Woobox account, you can make as many contests, giveaways, quizzes, deals, or any type of promotion as you like! A subscription is only required to publish and run a campaign.