An illustration depicting paid marketing campaigns

Paid social media campaigns have traditionally been considered a B2C marketing channel, but at Publitek we think it’s time for B2B tech brands to reap the benefits too.

The shifting media landscape demands a change in marketing strategy

The rapid growth in digital media and social platforms like LinkedIn, WeChat, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter have changed the way we communicate forever. The digital age is transforming the media landscape and B2B brands need to keep pace in order to engage and retain customers.

Parallel to the growth in social media, our working habits have changed. The global pandemic made home working compulsory for a time, but many have embraced the concept permanently or moved to hybrid working. The proliferation of mobile devices is also a contributing factor, giving instant access to online resources whether we are at work, at home or in transit. All this has an effect on how and when we access information and the lines between ‘office hours’ and personal downtime are becoming blurred. Consequently, people are just as likely to access work-related content on social media at the weekend as they are during the working day.

While trade shows, direct mail, trade magazines and technical sales teams have their place, social media platforms offer a different and complementary range of opportunities for B2B businesses to connect with decision-makers. Paid social – the practice of displaying sponsored advertising content on third-party social networking platforms to target specific customers – is the perfect tool for connecting with target audiences in the digital world. Yet many B2B tech and industrial companies are unwilling to embrace paid social media as part of their marketing mix: largely due to misunderstandings about their audience demographic and how paid social works.

The anti-social engineer

The response we most commonly hear from B2B tech clients when we suggest a paid social campaign is that their engineering audience is not on social media, or that they do not consume this kind of content. This is simply not true.

The Mind of the Engineer Survey 2022 by Aspencore interviewed electronics engineers across the globe. The responses reveal that this audience uses a whole host of online resources to gather information and gain insights, including social media platforms, manufacturer websites, webinars, blogs, e-newsletters, videos and whitepapers. Indeed, it concludes that content found on social media and online communities & blogs is fervently followed and frequently accessed by engineers.

The survey contains further insights that make a strong case for paid social as an essential B2B marketing tool. For example, it finds that more experienced engineers have established tried and trusted methods for learning what they need, while early career engineers have yet to settle on their preferred options. In addition, the survey finds that channels provided by manufacturers or third parties affiliated with particular application niches or technologies are the go-to options for information gathering and peer collaboration. This offers B2B tech companies the opportunity to engage the next generation of engineers directly and gain their trust by guiding them to relevant content. This is where paid social comes in.

An illustration of a megaphone and other icons depicting a paid social media marketing campaign

How paid social media advertising works

Paid social media advertising is a powerful tool for building brand awareness and establishing credibility in the B2B tech space. By consistently sharing valuable content – for example thought leadership articles, case studies and video testimonials – you can position your brand as a specialist in your industry. Once this content is available on your social media channel, website or landing page, paid social advertising can amplify your message, promoting content to potential customers in a highly targeted and impactful way.

Social media platforms use algorithms to deliver advertising messages to a defined audience. Compelling calls-to-action and optimized landing pages encourage click-throughs and guide your targets to take specific actions, such as signing up for a webinar, requesting a demo or downloading an e-book. For example, it is possible to showcase a preview of your e-book on a social media post and generate a lead generation form without leaving the social media channel. Paid social media campaigns are therefore highly effective in generating leads and driving conversions.

As prospects move down the funnel, paid social activity facilitates engagement and consideration through compelling content and interactive ad formats. By delivering targeted messages, businesses can nurture leads, build trust, and establish themselves as industry experts. Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, paid social enables conversion by driving specific actions such as making a purchase, or filling out a form.

Three advantages of paid social media campaigns

1. Highly targeted messaging. Paid social offers the ability to target a specific audience with specific messages. The audience can be selected using a range of criteria, including relevant industries, job titles, seniority or even member skills. This granularity is not limited to LinkedIn. Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter also enable audience targeting using specific job titles or topics of interest like robotics or semiconductors.

2. Budget optimization. Paid social is unique in allowing marketers to adjust their campaign messaging in real time. For example, initial engagement in Month 1 may indicate that one advert is performing twice as well as another. It is easy to adjust the campaign to run the more successful advert across other platforms or substitute a new message for the less engaging one. This agility delivers optimum engagement and maximum return on investment. Properly managed, a paid social campaign can therefore be highly cost effective. We recently ran a campaign on Facebook for an electronics client that generated over 450 leads in one month, 86 per cent of which were new. Cost per lead was €2.39, which is very low in comparison to lead generation suppliers in this industry.

3. Measurable results. The ability to track and measure campaign performance in real time is a major advantage of any paid social campaign. Through detailed analytics and reporting tools, B2B marketers can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of their campaigns, understand audience behaviour, and optimize future online marketing strategies. This data-driven approach allows for continuous improvement, ensuring that resources are allocated to the most impactful strategies and tactics.

The road ahead for B2B tech marketers

Social media use continues to grow and B2B tech marketers should embrace the opportunity to reach and retain their target audience via social media channels. Paid social media enables this by targeting specific demographics, interests and job titles to reach potential customers who may not have been aware of your brand otherwise. By leveraging the power of paid social throughout the marketing funnel, B2B tech businesses can guide potential customers seamlessly from discovery to conversion, maximizing their return on investment and ultimately driving sustainable growth.