Brand trust is everything in B2B. Social media marketing isn’t just a way of sharing updates and promotions: it’s a way to connect and build trust with prospects and customers. Sometimes we’re so focused on our own brands that we forget the channels we use for promotion are brands of their own. When a prospect or customer reads a tweet from your company, they’re not only interacting with your brand, but with Twitter’s brand as well.
Each year at Sagefrog, we collect more than a thousand votes and compile our Trusted Brands Report1 to see which B2B brands customers trust and which fall flat. We then assign a trust factor to each company, which we calculate by comparing the percentage of those surveyed who trusted a brand to the percentage that trusted each specific brand. For this blog, we’re counting down how each social network scored with the B2B customers we surveyed. We’re still strong proponents of an omnichannel marketing approach that includes using a variety of social media channels, but knowing how customers perceive each one informs how you use each platform and how much you invest in sharing on that platform.
#4 Facebook (Trust Factor = 51.46)
Facebook’s brand doesn’t get a high trust score from the customers we surveyed. Only 7.77% of our sample reported trusting Facebook, leading to its trust factor of 51.46, placing it near the bottom of our list of over 100 total B2B brands.
What It’s Good for: Building Social Media Presence
To build a social media presence, your company needs to build profiles on sites that work for sharing information, news and promotions for your company in your industry. You’ll also need to create and regularly put out shareable content, which could include developing incentives for platform users to share your content with other users.
Facebook is a good starting point for brands to build a social media presence because it’s used by almost everyone. 85% of the world’s internet surfers use Facebook, making it the most widely used social platform.2 With a user base that large, it’s almost guaranteed that members of your target audience are using and scrolling through Facebook, and the platform’s marketing capabilities will make it easy to reach them.
To build your social media presence through Facebook, use the platform to share informative, interesting content. Post visually stimulating posts with links to your blogs, eBooks and other awareness-stage content. Use this network to make your presence known. Many Facebook users read and share articles through the site, and your content has a chance of reaching many more prospects simply by being delightful and relevant.
#3 Twitter (Trust Factor = 52.43)
Recently, we’ve seen an uptick in brands—usually B2C companies—using Twitter for lighthearted or playful interactions with one another as well as to handle customer service issues that prospects and customers tweet at them. In fact, Twitter has developed a reputation as a surefire way to get through to an unresponsive company when you’re having a customer service issue.
What It’s Good for: Quick Interactions
Twitter’s role in B2B is a bit different than B2C. B2B brands probably won’t be having the silly Twitter battles that B2C brands like restaurant chains entertain the internet with any time soon. That’s okay. Twitter is a good means to build social media presence, just like Facebook, with the added bonus of serving as a fast and easy way to reach out and interact with individual prospects or customers. Since B2B customers trust Twitter a bit more than Facebook, it’s a better place to try to get a little more personal in your outreach.
Twitter gives your company the ability to search and follow posts with certain keywords and hashtags that are central to your industry. A brief, friendly reply to a relevant tweet from a prospect or customer can start a conversation that introduces a brand new prospect to your brand. This opportunity to reach out and personally interact is unique to social media and is one of its key benefits for business.
The Benefits of Social Media for Business
Even as customers’ trust in social media platforms waxes and wanes, there are still plenty of important and unique benefits to using social media that make it a worthwhile part of your company’s marketing plan. These advantages of using social media include:
- Communicating easily and quickly
- Organically building your brand’s presence
- Building a strong network and finding partnership opportunities
- Driving traffic to your company’s website
- Showcasing your company’s excellence
- Building and fortifying your brand and brand image
- Keeping up with and being aware of your competition
#2 YouTube (Trust Factor = 54.37)
YouTube is a popular platform for paid advertising, but it has some organic advantages too. Video marketing continues to grow and YouTube is a great central hub to post videos to share to other socials like Twitter and Facebook. There’s another video marketing rival (more on that later), but YouTube is still a great resource to share informative material and catch the eyes of prospects and customers who might not have time to read a blog or download an eBook.
What It’s Good for: Strengthening Relationships
What we’ve found is that, when it comes to social media and relationships, YouTube is a great place for building and sustaining relationships with existing customers. Since referrals are still the most powerful source of qualified B2B leads, you need to make sure you have strong, decision-phase content like how-to videos that engage customers in a way that will encourage them to be evangelists for your brand. This is important because even if YouTube wasn’t the first-place winner for brand trust, customers tend to trust one another.
One other use of YouTube that’s important to note is as a place to showcase what makes your company special. We’re not referring to your production process, or really anything to do with the product or services your company provides. We’re referring to the volunteer work, community outreach or employee engagement that makes your company shine. FedEx, our most trusted brand of 2019, uses YouTube to post a competition they host for young entrepreneurs. These videos entertain customers and articulate FedEx’s value of supporting business and business owners.
#1 LinkedIn (Trust Factor = 81.55)
This year’s Trusted Brands Report was full of surprises, and perhaps the biggest was that LinkedIn so far surpassed other social networks in terms of brand trust. It seems logical that a business-based social network would be highly trusted by B2B professionals, but the fact that LinkedIn surpassed so many other B2B brands to claim a spot in the top 10 trusted brands shows that users have a strong relationship with the platform that will have benefits for all B2B companies that harness it’s brand trust correctly.
What It’s Good For: Personal Connections & Professional Content
Strong brand trust means that customers feel safe and confident when they associate with a brand. Those positive associations will be passed along to you when you’re marketing on LinkedIn. The brand trust boost from LinkedIn will lend authority to your content. If you’re looking for a place to share detailed content that impresses and informs your audience, LinkedIn is it.
LinkedIn now has more features that lend themselves to B2B marketing than any social network, including:
- SlideShare, a way to share professional content like infographics, slide presentations, PDFs and more.
- Targeted InMail through which: your company can make direct, personal connections that lead to sales
- A HubSpot+LinkedIn integration that helps track engagement and seamlessly share content from your CRM (Customer Relationship Management platform) and CMS (Content Management System)
These features, combined with its video-sharing capabilities, give LinkedIn an immediate advantage for B2B marketing and building brand trust. Your B2B presence on LinkedIn will grow your company’s network and establish you as a thought leader in your industry.
The means through which we share content online are brands of their own. Each social network has its own reputation, and we as marketers have to acknowledge and account for that reputation as we use the network for promotion and building relationships with prospects and customers. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube had similar trust factors, which suggests that B2B customers tend to see most social networks in the same light, and that, perhaps, their trust in each network is an indication of their trust in an industry rather than in any particular brand.
LinkedIn’s ability to transcend the biases B2B customers may have toward its industry can’t be ignored, but each platform has a role and specific benefits it can offer to a company. By using each platform in the right way, your company will grow its brand trust and build long-lasting customer relationships.
- The 2019 Trusted Brands Report, Sagefrog
- The Most Popular Social Media Platforms of 2019, Irfan Ahmad