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PHOTO: Cambodia4kids.org Beth Kanter

What’s the most valuable social media platform for many B2B marketers? Here’s the answer that won’t shock you: LinkedIn.

The numbers look good on many other fronts, too. LinkedIn jumped from from 467 million users in Q3 2016 to 590 million by the end of 2018. That is a growth of 123 million users in two years, Hootsuite noted in a blog last month. Twitter, Hootsuite pointed out, only gained 9 million users in the same period: 317 to 326 million users between Q3 2016 and Q3 2018, according to Statistica. And no one has to be reminded of Facebook’s growth concerns amid privacy scandals. Further, 80 percent of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, and 94 percent of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content, LinkedIn reported. 

“LinkedIn is known as the social network for professionals, a keystone to any good B2B social media marketing strategy,” said Erica Hakonson, principal and founder of Maven Collective Marketing. “Since its acquisition by Microsoft, LinkedIn has doubled down on that stake expanding the functionality of company pages, hashtagging, post authoring, etc. This credibility and authority building platform within your trusted professional network is an invaluable tool to B2B marketers and B2B sales teams.”

LinkedIn’s not the only platform still functioning, though. Twitter, Instagram, Quora and Facebook are still successful platforms for some B2B marketers as we’ve learned. Here are some ways LinkedIn and the other social media platforms are generating results for B2B marketing campaigns.

Related Article: Why Aren't B2B Marketers Listening in on Social Media?

Live Video Is LinkedIn’s Magic

LinkedIn is the most effective social media channel for B2B, because there is still actually organic, nonpaid advertising on this platform, according to Jason Cormier, co-founder of Room 214, a digital marketing agency.

Live video is working, especially on LinkedIn, he added. Cormier did a recent experiment with live video to determine if Facebook Live, YouTube or LinkedIn were more impactful from a live stream perspective. He learned LinkedIn "far outpaced" the other two in terms of video views and basic engagement. He could parse out data to see which companies were viewing his videos more than others. From a views, likes and comments perspective, Cormier documented the results over six weeks and saw a 127 percent increase in views on LinkedIn.

Related Article: Why Marketers Think LinkedIn Is On the Rise

Promotion/Ad Capabilities Make LinkedIn Work

LinkedIn’s channel promotion and ad capabilities make LinkedIn the number one B2B social media platform for Keri Lindenmuth, marketing manager at KDG. “You have complete control over the content in your promotion, the budget of your promotion, and the audience who sees your promotion,” Lindenmuth said. “While LinkedIn and Google allow you to choose demographics, LinkedIn takes this a step further by allowing you to choose the industry your audience works in." This is especially useful for B2B marketers, she said. If you know your target audience works in higher ed or healthcare or finance, Lindenmuth said, you can narrow in on these groups and ensure that the audience who matters most is seeing the ad.

LinkedIn Pages Make Dramatic Impact

Corrine Turke, senior account executive at Sparkloft Media, said the revamp to LinkedIn Pages (formerly Company Pages) has been the most “dramatic and impactful platform update for B2B marketers.” The updates, she added, were intended to help companies join conversations that matter, know and grow their audiences and engage their connections. 

LinkedIn added a “content suggestions” section, a strong tool for marketers. Admins can now discover and re-share public LinkedIn posts by their employees. Previously they could only post and only individuals could re-share. Turke noted new integrations with Hootsuite and Crunchbase.

“Marketers should spend time reviewing the content suggestions section and segmenting according to their target audience,” Turke said. “This is similar to what Sales Navigator offers and can be helpful to understanding an audience's preferences; to discover content they might want to share to the page.” 

LinkedIn/Medium Combo Helps Tell Stories

Benjamin van Loon, a communications consultant and adjunct professor in public relations at Northeastern Illinois University, said LinkedIn and Medium have been the best outlets for boosting engagement with target business audiences: in some cases, leading to direct business inquires and project wins. “Our content was most successful when it had a story to tell, or something original to say,” van Loon said. “This is especially critical for businesses that emphasize data and analytics in their work. Whenever this intelligence can be unmasked and narrativized, it helps tell a story, and channels such as LinkedIn and Medium come with a built-in audience often eager to engage and learn more.”

LinkedIn/Facebook Generates Quality Relationships

The two channels that have been the most successful for one B2B business are LinkedIn and Facebook “by far,” according to Natalie Athanasiadis, owner and head of growth at Ormi Media. “LinkedIn is a great way to approach and be approached by the exact member of a business that suits your needs,” Athanasiadis said. “From there you can build an authentic relationship that often leads to a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Facebook, meanwhile, has aided in building brand recognition and solidifying authority in the digital marketing and SEO niche. “Facebook groups specifically have been an incredible platform for us, and we generate great relationships, partnerships and customer referrals through our efforts there,” Athanasiadis said.

Different Types of Content Help Boost Facebook Engagement

The most effective social media platform for B2B is Facebook, according to Audrey Strasenburgh, SEO strategist at LogoMix. “Our audience — which is startup business owners — is also using the platform for their own business benefits,” Strasenburgh said. “We've found that varying the topics of our posts is the most effective means of communicating to our audience." These posts, she said, can include promoting blogs, promoting a product or service, sharing industry-related news and throwing in some entertaining infographics and videos. "Facebook Ads has also helped us capture additional monthly leads and has quickly helped boost our referral traffic."

Related Article: 8 Ways to Justify Your Social Media Marketing Program

Twitter Has Multiple B2B Perks

Hakonson said for B2B clients Twitter has been a great place to build brand awareness, build connections with influential industry professionals and drive website traffic generally through softer sells/requests such as educational downloads (gated ebooks, whitepapers, feature sheets, etc.) and event signups. “Once we have captured the contact information of the prospective buyer from these social media interactions through these gated assets/signups we continue to nurture and strengthen the connection with these individuals through nurture email marketing, ad remarketing and sales touches."

Instagram Earns Brand Attention

Mason Ghrannie, vice president of CBD'R US, which sells cannabinoid products, has found Instagram to be the most successful marketing channel from a B2B standpoint. “There are many smoke shops and wholesalers active on Instagram, and many of these businesses are following Instagram influencers within their niche,” Ghrannie said. “We've been able to earn the attention of these businesses by collaborating with these Instagram influencers to market our products. … We've been able to attract more eyes on our products and collect wholesale orders by working with influencers.”

Related Article: Twitter Marketing Isn't Dead, You're Just Doing it Wrong

Quora Provides Platform for Answers

And then there’s Quora. Josh Gallant, digital strategist for Foundation Marketing, said one of the most profitable channels has definitely been Quora. “We've seen a lot of B2B marketers login, spam the same answer to multiple questions, then quit when it doesn't work,” Gallant said. His team uses Quora in two ways: (1) Finding the most popular questions being asked in the industry to use as content ideas; and (2) jumping in with custom tailored answers to each of the questions. "Traffic and engagement are up across the board,” Gallant said.

Kenneth Burke, director of marketing for Text Request, said that for his B2B software company’s goals, Quora has been the most successful social media channel. “Someone asks a question, we give a detailed answer with a link to a relevant blog post of ours where readers can get more information or helpful resources,” Burke said. “It drives some traffic and gives us a valuable backlink. The Quora page is also likely to show up high in search results, which helps us get in front of more people.”