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Where Do Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn Stand With B2B Video?

Social Media Video Trends for B2B

Social Media Video Trends for B2B Modern B2B marketers understand that the key to an effective digital content strategy is meeting customers where they’re at, and giving them what they want. With this in mind, the appeal of social media videos only makes sense. We know that billions of people are on social networks, and we know (or at least research leads us to believe) they want video. Then again, certain developments may cause us to question what we think we know. How meaningful is it, really, if X% of users are watching X% of a video while scrolling through their feeds? And how can we be confident this data is even accurate, after the whole inflated metrics fiasco? If this matter is pressing on your mind, you’re not alone. Social media is an eternally tough nut for B2B marketers to crack. In Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) 2019 benchmarking report, fellow practitioners called out changes in social media algorithms as the second-biggest issue of importance this year, behind search algorithms. We believe that best answer content is the most reliable way to remain visible amidst Google’s unpredictable shifts. Is video the best answer for enduring social media relevance? To explore that question, let’s dive into the latest news surrounding the three most prominent social platforms for B2B marketers: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn*.

Facebook: Pivoting Once Again?

Not so long ago, Facebook was one of the leading forces behind the “video takeover” movement. In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg was predicting that within five years, he “wouldn’t be surprised if … most of the content that people see on Facebook and are sharing on a day-to-day basis is video.” It was a natural direction. The engagement metrics for video were stellar, and brands couldn’t help noticing the way this content type was gaining higher placement in the platform’s feed algorithm. But later that same year, the company disclosed a “miscalculation” that led to inflation of video view numbers. This later became the subject of a lawsuit from advertisers, alleging that Facebook knowingly obscured and downplayed this information. And now? Facebook doesn’t seem to be quite as all-in on video as they once were. Earlier this month Zuckerberg laid out his privacy-focused vision for social networking, and talked about private messaging as a central emphasis going forward. The only time video was mentioned in his overview was a reference to “video chat.” Casey Newton of The Verge surmises this “pivot to privacy” will result in diminishing prominence of the News Feed, which would lower the impact of all public-facing content including video. It bears noting that Facebook video isn’t disappearing anytime soon. A recent study found that video posts drive more interaction on the platform than other types, and a product called Facebook Premiere launched late last year, enabling interactive video polls, pre-recorded live broadcasts, and more. Facebook Interactions Stats

(Source)

At this moment, there’s no reason to abandon video on Facebook. However, the company’s evolving priorities are worth tracking. So too are the movements of their top competitors in the social space…

Twitter: Powering Up Video Analytics and Engagement

As Facebook appears to be taking its foot off the gas pedal with video, Twitter is pressing right down. We wrote last year about the platform’s renewed push for live video, and it seems that was only the beginning. A post on the company’s blog earlier this month asserted that “video is reshaping digital advertising,” and called out the format’s significant inroads. “There are around 1.2 billion video views on Twitter each day, which is 2x growth in 12 months according to Twitter internal data,” wrote Liz Alton. “Tweets with video attracted 10x more engagements than Tweets without video. And Promoted Tweets with videos save more than 50% on cost-per-engagement.” Within the past few weeks, Twitter has rolled out new tools for maximizing video engagement by helping publishers understand which times of day people are most likely to watch, based on historical data. This is helpful info, since the ephemeral nature of Twitter’s feed can make it tough to nail down timing. The insights are extremely high-level so we can’t necessarily draw specific conclusions about when audience segments (say, the B2B crowd) might be more likely to engage. But it’s a start, and I suspect we’ll only see the platform steepen its commitment to growing out video capabilities for brands.  

LinkedIn: Let’s Do It Live!

Finally, we come to the No. 1 social network for B2B lead gen. LinkedIn has made video a major focus since launching the feature for brands last summer. The big fresh development here is the platform’s brand-new live streaming video service, which debuted in February. “LinkedIn Live” is still in beta form, so it’s not available to everyone, but we can safely assume it will be soon. In the past, we’ve shared pros, cons, and examples of real-time video for content marketing. The engagement, authenticity, and accessibility are attractive perks, and now marketers will have an opportunity to tap them with more B2B-centric audiences (and deeper professional insights around viewers). TechCrunch says of LinkedIn’s vision for live video: “the plan is to cover conferences, product announcements, Q&As and other events led by influencers and mentors, office hours from a big tech company, earnings calls, graduation and awards ceremonies and more.” It’s easy to see how B2B audiences would find value in this kind of content, and you might already be seeding ideas for relevant broadcasts in your brain.

The State of Social Media Video for B2B Brands

There’s an old saying that change is the only constant, and it certainly applies for social media. Keeping up with all the pivots and posturing can feel exhausting. Given the relative cost of investing in video content, this is a weighty issue for marketers. We’re here to help you keep a finger on the pulse of this key tactical area. And while this is all — of course — subject to change, these appear to be the top present takeaways for B2B marketers where social media video is concerned:

  • Video still drives engagement on Facebook, but the platform’s heightening focus on privacy and direct messaging casts some doubt on the long-term impact. However, now is not the time to call it quits.
  • Twitter is only increasing its commitment, building out the advertiser’s toolkit after elevating live video last year.
  • Speaking of live video, it’s coming soon for all brands on LinkedIn, and offers an intriguing assortment of possibilities there for high-value B2B content.

Want more insight on where social media marketing stands today and where it’s heading? Check out some of our recent updates:

*Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing Client. TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden is on the road again. His next stop? inOrbit 2019 Conference in Portorož, Slovenia on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Learn more here.

The post Where Do Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn Stand With B2B Video? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information

Building Online Communities in B2B

Building Online Communities in B2B

What does effective marketing engagement look like?

In the common model we see today, it’s something like this: Brands push out relevant messaging, hoping to compel a response or interaction that leads to a conversation (and maybe ultimately a conversion). This can be anything from a comment on a social media post to a chat window initiation.

Nothing wrong with that. These back-and-forths between brands and individuals are important ingredients toward building trust and loyalty. The problem is that, as a sole method for driving engagement, the cast-and-wait approach is too dependent on explicit triggers to spark these interactions.  

Devising and creating content that drives targeted engagement is hard work. It’s worthwhile, but hard, and sometimes even well conceived plans miss the mark. What if you were able to develop a self-driven engagement engine, which fostered strategic conversations built awareness among your most valuable customers and prospects?

Enter: Communities.

Why Communities Matter to Digital Marketers

In his seminal book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin writes about turning scattered groups of followers into a unified “tribe,” which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”

Human beings have long gravitated toward these communal experiences, elevating the collective power of their interests, beliefs, or passions. According to Godin, a group needs two things to become a tribe:

  1. A shared idea
  2. A way to communicate

The internet has taken care of No. 2, making it easy for strangers around the globe to come together via message boards, social media, subreddits, etc. So really it’s about identifying that mutual idea, or focal point, and taking the lead in rallying people around it.

Coordinating Communities for B2B Marketing

It’s not uncommon for tribes to form around a B2C product or service. For example, my fiancée follows several social media groups dedicated to Oreo cookies. People in these communities share updates about new flavors, and where they can be found. Other examples of strong brand communities include Sephora, LEGO, and Starbucks.

In the B2B space, this is more challenging. People aren’t generally drawn to, say, cybersecurity software in the same way they are to their favorite coffee or cosmetics brand. But that’s not to say there isn’t a deep level of passion for cybersecurity — it’s a prevalent issue throughout our society, and one that many professionals spend their entire days thinking about. The key lies in hitting the right resonant note and facilitating connections.

In the case of cybersecurity specialists, we have to ask: What questions burn in their minds? Which elements of the subject excite or agitate them? Where do discussions among hardcore followers tend to center? This type of empathetic mindset should be at the core of our DNA as modern marketers.

Building B2B communities doesn’t always mean trying to create a “brand community” where your company and its offerings are the primary focus; this can be tough to accomplish, and even when you do, you’re unlikely to pull in many members outside of your existing customer base. The more effective approach, from my view, is building communities around interests and commonalities that align directly with what you do.

Pinpointing the ideal focal point for your community requires an acute understanding of the people you serve, derived through copious research. We can apply many of the same tactics for identifying best answer opportunities to arrive at data-driven conclusions about the most avid areas of curiosity for our audiences. If your customers are repeatedly asking the same questions to Google, they probably want to discuss them amongst one another as well.

Where Can You Build Online Communities?

Let’s say you’re interested in starting a community around a certain topic relevant to your brand. Where might go about doing so? Here are some popular options:

  • Facebook Groups: It’s the world’s most popular social media platform and a prevalent hub for connecting around common interests. We wrote recently about the value of Facebook groups for B2B brands. And Facebook’s recently announced redesign will put groups at the center of the experience.
  • LinkedIn Groups: Often a better contextual fit than Facebook for B2B social media groups, as LinkedIn is (of course) structured around professional topics. Last year LinkedIn made its Groups feature more accessible by integrating it into the mobile app.
  • Forum/Message Board: The online message board traces its origins back nearly to the dawn of the internet, when it was called a bulletin board system (BBS). Today, these platforms for organized digital discourse remain prevalent and — when well populated — highly active and engaging. This post from HubSpot offers some step-by-step guidance for launching your community in such a fashion.
  • Microsite: A special section of your website dedicated entirely to allowing your customers and audience members to interact with one another. It might be a message board built within your site, or a more customized setup. Whatever the case, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to navigate and follow conversation threads.

Benefits of B2B Community-Building

“Community is important because it brings people together. Community keeps people loyal, makes them feel like they matter. It also lets the company show how much they appreciate their customers,” according to Mary Green, a community-building specialist who shared her insights with B2B News Network.

Beyond the overarching loyalty imperative, here are a few other practical advantages to creating an online community:

  • Firsthand audience research. Marketers are always endeavoring to understand what matters most to their audiences. In many cases, this requires considerable guesswork. But by monitoring a community, you can watch conversations play out organically, seeing what impassioned followers talk about and how they talk about it. This can serve as a crucial springboard for your content planning. It might even help inspire new product features or service offerings.
  • User-generated content. “Brands and influencers can make great content, but the phenomenal stuff comes from the discussion. User-generated content is gold,” says Green. I’ve written here in the past about the power of UGC for authenticity, and online communities can be an excellent resource for uncovering it.
  • Finding and cultivating influencers. Within these communities, you’ll frequently see particular experts emerging with strong voices or magnetic insights. These might be candidates to incorporate more deeply into your influencer marketing strategy.

B2B Brands Running Strong Communities

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few companies that set the right example with B2B community-building:

Bank of America

They major national bank created a small business online community, which they describe as “a forum for small business ideas, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to help your small business grow.”

As you scroll through the links and discussions within, you’ll find that much of it is unrelated to banking or even financial matters, and that’s just fine. The point is that numerous customers and prospects are coming to BoA’s website to talk shop.

Bank of America Online Community

Intuit

The QuickBooks Community is basically a public knowledge bank where users can help each other solve problems and learn new things. There are product-centric areas for QB troubleshooting, as well as general business discussions. Intuit company reps are also active participants in the community.

QuickBooks Online Community

Jamf

Jamf Nation describes itself as “the largest Apple IT management community in the world.” It’s a perfect example of owning a niche, and mobilizing a community while keeping product promotion on the backburner. Members are welcomed to “Dialog with your fellow IT professionals, gain insight about Apple device deployments, share best practices and bounce ideas off each other.”

Jamf Nation Online Community

Find Your Tribe

As marketing emphasis shifts more and more toward delivering holistic experiences, community-building should be a key consideration for practitioners everywhere, especially in B2B where the opportunity is especially ripe. Herein lies the next frontier of digital engagement.

Want to learn more about B2B brands that are finding more authentic ways to engage? Check out our post: Flipping the B2B Marketing Script: 7 Brands That Talk to Consumers, Not Companies

The post The Community Imperative: Engaging in Conversations Rather Than Disseminating Information appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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