Social media can seem inherently unfair, especially when some companies get to market fun, sexy, carefree things like exotic holidays and designer shoes while you’re stuck trying to get IT managers to sign up for another year of management software.
So combine social and video, two of the most trending, trendy trends of the past few years, and as a B2B marketer you might feel it’s pointless to even get involved.
Let me tell you something about video: it’s a great leveler. You might not have a gorgeous product to take endless filtered photos of. You might not have millions of followers on social to help make everything you do a viral success. But I bet you can whip out your iPhone, hit record and tell an interesting story about what you do and why it’s important.
“But I’m not sure my product/service/brand/team/customers are what Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/Instagram wants to see,” you cry. Don’t worry. On social anything can succeed if you frame it in the right way. That’s why over 17 million people have watched this video of people and machinery performing repetitive tasks and why a woman wearing a mask was the most shared Facebook video of last year.
While brand reach plummets on Facebook, video is being prioritised and shared more than ever across the entirety of social land. It remains the best way to get seen by your audience on social. And as your competitors start to jump on the bandwagon, it’s going to be more and more important for you to use social video to reinforce every part of your marketing strategy.
Though we may kind of hate B2C marketers, they’ve had longer to get to grips with video on social — what works and what doesn’t. So if you’re dipping your toes in, it only makes sense to learn from the best.
Here are six examples from B2B brands that are destroying the competition with social video, and the vital lessons they’ve learned from their B2C forerunners.
1. Embrace strong emotion: IBM
Powerful, complex emotions have been proven to make social users engage and share more.
We know that high-arousal and high-dominance feelings are more likely to create a successful social video. Basically, we react well to intense emotions that we feel in control of, like awe, delight or inspiration — we don’t react well to weak or confused emotions that we feel less in control of, like distress or disgust.
The most shared content on social, if it isn’t extremely positive or surprising, is emotionally complex. As feeling beings we love experiencing a spectrum of emotions. Almost all of the most successful social videos of recent years have put us through a rollercoaster of feeling: just think of the John Lewis Christmas ads, Nike’s incredible video content, or the Dove real beauty campaign.
So here comes IBM with a video about puppies being trained as guide dogs. You know it’s going to pull on all sorts of heartstrings.
It does — and that’s why it’s so powerful. In just over two minutes you feel joy, pride, sadness and a whole range of bittersweet emotions. This kind of emotional content cuts through the noise on social media and speaks to people on a deep, honest level.
What to copy: Don’t just focus on educating your followers about your brand and the products or services you provide. Try tapping into emotional stories from your team, your clients, or your work itself. If you get the balance of emotions right this can be extremely effective way of raising brand awareness and sharing your values with potential customers.
2. Use influencers: SAP
Influencer marketing is still an underused tactic for many B2B marketers, though we’ve seen B2C brands ramp up their efforts in recent years. But if you want to reach new audiences and boost your following on social media, there are few ways more effective.
Yes, these relationships take time and effort to nurture. But not only can they help you target new sections of your audience that were previously unavailable to you — they can also help you create effective social video in the first place.
That’s because the best influencers generally want some sort of hand in creating the content they’re agreeing to promote. By working together with influencers on your social video you may find you create something far more interesting than you could have alone.
SAP, a business management and customer relations company, teamed up with influencer Brian Fanzo to create a series of live Facebook videos at its annual conference. The result was beneficial for both parties, as they were able to reach each other’s audiences for the first time.
What to copy: There are relationships everywhere that you can cultivate to create outstanding content. This could be another business in a related but non-competing market or a well-known industry expert. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to collaborate and grow together.
3. Teach your audience: Hootsuite
We all want answers to our questions. On socal you can find videos showing you how to do everything from maximising your eyelashes to making macarons. Your audience are desperate for knowledge right now that will make their lives easier and help them do their jobs better. So why not give it to them?
Hootsuite has capitalised on this fact by creating simple, short, but most importantly actionable advice in the form of social videos. This kind of bite-size content provides useful tips in quick bursts, allowing your audience to learn while they scroll through their news feed. Plus, the more you educate the more you’ll be seen as a trusted authority that leads will turn to for assistance in the future.
Note how the lesson is expressed through on-screen text rather than a voiceover: it’s a smart decision, because the majority of social media users view videos without sound (up to 85% of video content on Facebook is watched silently). Here the message is communicated through visuals and text that’s easy to understand no matter which platform you’re on.
What to copy: There’s a fountain of useful knowledge locked away in every business. Instead of hoarding it to yourself, share it with your audience. Make it consistent and quick to consume and you’ll stay top of mind with those who find what you have to say valuable.
4. Tell your customers’ stories: Squarespace
We’re all doing case studies wrong: we’re making them about us, when really they should be about our clients.
Your audience wants to hear how a customer that sounds just like them solved their problems, not how awesome your product is. Let case studies do what they’re supposed to — tell the story of your client. Forget shouting about yourself. This is especially true of video success stories, where the potential for social proof is the highest and you can literally let your customers do the talking.
Though case studies are less common in the B2C world, we’ve still seen brands like British Airways and American outdoor clothing company REI using the stories of their customers to get across their values in a less salesy, more authentic way.
Squarespace get many things right with this case study video. First of all, it’s gorgeous, which is an essential for a visual platform like Instagram. Although it’s short, it manages to pack in a lot of information about the client, their passions, and what Squarespace helped them to achieve. By giving the customer space to express themselves, the brand adds credibility and trust to all its social marketing.
What to copy: The best person to resonate with your potential customers is someone just like them. So draw on the honest stories of your existing clients, and allow them to get in-depth about their values, concerns and successes. Remember: this isn’t about you, it’s about them.
5. Act like a publisher: GE
You’ve probably heard before that “marketers need to act like publishers”, but nowhere is that more true than on social. For great B2C examples check out this documentary from Patagonia and a tribute to Michael Phelps from Under Armour.
On social your audience is looking for things to disrupt their daily routine: news that shocks them, stories that inspire them, facts that energise them. To grab your audience’s attention in the first place you need an eye for a story and a drive to create consistently good stuff. In other words, you need to act like a publisher.
GE is wonderful at taking the work and research it does every day and turning it into compelling social video. This charmingly authentic Snapchat story follows a scientist into a Nicaraguan volcano — it doesn’t have incredible production values but it doesn’t need them. The story itself is interesting enough to warrant a watch, and it’s indicative of a business that is committed to capturing engaging content wherever it might appear.
What to copy: You may not be exploring volcanoes like GE, but you can still create powerful recordings or mini-documentaries of the events happening in and around your business — from the inspiration behind a rebrand to the things your clients do with your products and services.
6. Be fun: Mailchimp
It’s the simplest advice, but sometimes the hardest to follow. (It’s also the difference between an 8/10 brand on social and a 10/10.)
Every so often it’s important to be yourselves and have a little fun. It’s a key part of connecting with your audience and showing them that yes, there really are humans behind the brand. Lots of B2C brands are excellent at this.
Don’t get so caught up in providing value and becoming a trusted expert that you forget to show some personality. Mailchimp achieves a good balance with a blend of educational and fun content on its social channels.
Videos like this might seem to serve no quantifiable purpose. But don’t be so quick to discount them — a sprinkling of individuality in a sea of corporate B2B content can do wonders to help you stand out from every other dull competitor.
What to copy: If you’ve got someone willing on your team, let them loose to create social video that’s fun and different while staying true to your brand. Or rotate the job among everyone, so you all get a chance to contribute. This can be as simple as filming your next away day or as complex as creating a custom animation.
Don’t let B2C have all the fun
If you’re a B2B marketer looking to inject video into your social strategy, don’t despair. There are plenty of ways to make your content stand out on social — and plenty of inspiration! Once you start looking you might be surprised at the amount of exceptional videos out there.
So keep fighting the good fight for exciting B2B content, you trooper.
For more on B2B, check out these Econsultancy resources: