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It used to be a difficult task to find examples of B2B companies achieving success in social, however as the channel has matured more businesses have been able to drive awareness and sales using various social platforms.

A survey published this time last year found that a majority of businesses (64%) were using social media as a marketing tool, so it’s likely that this number has increased today.

That research found that the most popular reasons for using social were for brand awareness (83%), encouraging social sharing (56%) and gaining trust and followers (55%).

I’ve previously highlighted five B2B companies that were achieving success in social marketing, but here are five new case studies to give further insight into social platforms for B2B marketing...

Maersk

Danish shipping company Maersk first began using social back in 2011 as an experiment to see whether its customers would interact with them in the same way as in B2C industries.

According to the company’s head of social the original plan was to raise brand awareness, gain insight into the market, increase employee satisfaction and get closer to its customers.

It achieves this by focusing on the stories that emerge from within the business, such as how it is helping fuel a boom in the sale of Kenyan avocados and where its staff come from. 

Similarly, Maersk managed to drum up 150 unique leads from a Facebook campaign it ran last year telling the story of how its shipping containers navigate the frozen Baltic Sea during winter.

The Facebook page linked to a site that hosted a form where users could fill in their information to download a brochure about the company’s anti-freeze services.

Those who downloaded the form automatically became a ‘hot lead’ in Maersk’s system and local sales people were notified right away.

Maersk now has more than 1.5m Facebook fans (of which around 15% are customers) and 12,000 Twitter followers, as well as active accounts on Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Its presence on each network is tailored to that platform, so for example on LinkedIn it promotes job vacancies and publishes articles about the work culture within the business, while on Instagram it encourages followers to post photos of its ships using the hashtag #Maersk.

According to a recent global study, Maersk is second only to Lego in terms of engagement on Facebook.

SAP

This case study focuses on SAP’s social strategy in Latin America, where there are 176m social media users who spend an average of 7.5 hours on networks per month.

SAP first began using social marketing in the region at the beginning of 2012 and learned from tactics already implemented in other parts of the business to inform its strategy.

The global strategy was aimed at enabling cross-cultural information to be efficiently shared around the company, so this was duly reflected in Latin America.

According to SAP’s VP of demand generation Adriel Sanchez:

It's the community experience of allowing people to share information — great stories and great ideas — to do that internally so they can be smart about how they deal with their customers. That's really the heart of what we’re trying to do with the social strategy.

To achieve this the team in Latin America analysed the social accounts it had running and decided to reduce the number to give a more focused message from within the company.

SAP Latin America now has four Facebook pages, four Twitter feeds and two LinkedIn accounts. These profiles are split out by language (e.g. Portuguese and Spanish) rather than country and aim at achieving a split of 20% promotion material vs. 80% of interesting, engaging content for its community.

The strategy was built over a three-year plan:

  • Year one was about building critical mass of users.
  • Year two was about targeting the messaging.
  • Year three will be about turning that critical mass into measureable business results.

One year after implementing this strategy SAP Latin America had more than 100,000 fans and followers (an increase of 900%) and achieved a 17% interaction rate across  the region, while a campaign featuring a social app targeting specific buying centres drove more than 12,000 visitors and a 15% engagement rate.

The social community has also provided sales teams with an opportunity to uncover new opportunities and is used to measure the impact of events and campaigns by analysing sentiment on social channels.

DocuSign on LinkedIn

Transaction management company DocuSign achieved impressive results following a sponsored email campaign using LinkedIn’s InMail platform.

The overall aim was to generate new leads then build a pipeline through to the final conversion, so DocuSign decided to use LinkedIn as a way of creating a community of people that would turn to the business for content and information.

The sponsored InMails were targeted at users with the job title of VP or director of sales and field operations at US companies with 500 or more employees, which included about 7,000 people.

To give the emails more impact and reduce the emphasis on sales the mails were sent from industry experts who had taken part in the company’s webinars rather than directly from DocuSign.

Each InMail featured a call-to-action to visit a dedicated landing page for ‘sales ops gurus’, and each landing page featured a video of the message sender along with other documents, such as a case study. Recipients could then register for a webinar involving each of the speakers.

As a result of the campaign the DocuSign community increased from around 550 to more than 800 people. 

Also:

  • The first InMail had more than 1,700 opens and more than 140 clickthroughs.
  • The second mail had more than 1,100 opens and more than 100 clickthroughs.
  • More than 350 people registered for the sales guru webinars.
  • It achieved three ‘large’ pipeline opportunities.

AGCO

Global agriculture manufacturer AGCO apparently owes a decent portion of its $10bn in net sales to its social media strategy. The company owns a range of brands including Massey Ferguson, Challenger and Valtra that deal in farm machinery around the world.

Therefore its social strategy is aimed at connecting the businesses with farmers and machinery dealers, mainly through thought leadership.

Before launching its own social profile AGCO analysed the current behaviours of its target audience and found that they were already posting YouTube clips of themselves using the company’s equipment. 

By actively engaging these users with a mix of informational and educational content the company has managed to attract 180,000 Facebook fans, 10,000 Twitter followers and almost 3,000 YouTube subscribers.

The content includes weekly ‘tillage tips’ and photos of the farming equipment in action.

Finally, AGCO also partners with its dealers to offer training and marketing tools to help them promote themselves. An example of this is a widget that allows dealers to host and curate new content, such as blog posts, without having to invest in content creation themselves.

Screwfix

Screwfix bridges the gap between B2B and B2C, and it does so with a relentless focus on humour via its social channels. 

Many brands use irreverent, funny content as a way of raising brand awareness on social, as it gives people a reason for following the brand and ensures it stays top of mind.

Screwfix posts daily updates on Facebook including memes and jokes, but in contrast its Twitter feed is largely used to share deals and new products alongside dealing with the occasional customer service query.

When Screwfix first embarked on its social strategy back in 2010 it ran a series of competitions to initially increase its number of followers, then kept them engaged with daily interactions and conversations. 

It now has 75,000 Facebook fans and 16,000 Twitter followers, and apparently the retailer’s humorous posts achieve 12 times more engagement compared to its overall average. 

David Moth

Published 23 October, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (4)

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Philip

Great article on how to make b2b successful. I like how screwfix uses humor to bring more people to the site.

almost 3 years ago

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Jack

Interested to understand how you define success - if they're making money from it then they're a step ahead of us, but Screwfix's facebook feed is always good for a laugh.

almost 3 years ago

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Peter

It's good to see different styles of social media. It's all about knowing your target market.

almost 3 years ago

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Jos

Thank you for sharing these cases. However, I think that AGCO is triggered by the Social Media success of their rival John Deere.

almost 3 years ago

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