Because of its popularity and relatively low-cost, social media is frequently used by small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) as a marketing tool.  Organizations with various sizes, including SMBs, can use social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube, to attract new customers, engage with existing customers, build fan communities, advertise new products/services, send out promotional information, and encourage event participation (Wu, 2020).  Nevertheless, business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies may use social media marketing in different ways, because the business goals, target audiences, and the nature of customer relations are not identical.  Thus, it’s imperative for B2B SMBs to customize their social media marketing strategies.

What is B2B?

Social media marketing has been adopted and used by B2C companies for a while.  However, B2B SMBs are still wondering what are the effective strategies for them.  In contrast to B2C companies, B2B SMBs sell products or provide professional services to other business, instead of individual customers.  Examples of B2B SMBs (less than 500 employees) are technology companies, digital marketing firms, public relations agencies, market research consulting firms, logistic and transportation companies, financial institutions which serve business customers, and business supply companies.  The questions I frequently hear from B2B SMBs are: How do B2B and B2C social media marketing differ?  How can my company effectively use social media marketing?  What kinds of content should we post on social media?  What is the step-by-step guide?  Based on my research and consulting experiences, I would like to provide the following suggestions.

Step-by-Step Guide

First, have a social media marketing plan with SMART goals.

SMART refers to specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.  The SMART framework can be applied in different aspects of business goal setting, including setting social media marketing goals.  You need to be clear about what are the goals you would like accomplish from your social media marketing campaigns.  Because B2B companies sell products and services to other businesses/companies, lead generation and increasing brand awareness could be the most important social media marketing goals.  If your social media marketing goal is lead generation, your SMART goal can be: Generate 60 inbound marketing leads per month via company website and social media by March 31, 2023.  You can measure your lead conversion ratio: the percentage of website visitors that convert to leads in a specific period of time.  Setting SMART goals can help you decide which analytical tools and metrics to use track your progress.

Second, choose the appropriate social media platforms.

Definitely use LinkedIn.  My survey research findings suggested that more B2B than B2C and nonprofit organizations are using LinkedIn as a social media marketing tool.  LinkedIn is the most popular professional social networking site worldwide.  Thus, it’s appropriate for you to target your key audiences (e.g., decision makers, business buyers), demonstrate your thought leadership in the industry, highlight your corporate social responsibility (CSR) and post educational content on LinkedIn.  For example, some market research firms, public relations agencies, and independent business/analytics consultants use LinkedIn to share their research findings, advertise their services, and connect with prospects and existing clients on LinkedIn.  If you can demonstrate your thought leadership on LinkedIn, you can build trust with prospects and attract new clients to work with you on projects.  This method is called inbound marketing.  In addition to LinkedIn, you can also use other platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and your own organizational blog, to connect with key audiences and build online communities.  You can choose the best mix for your B2B SMB depending on your social media marketing goals and your target audiences.  Today’s audiences are very visual.  Thus, you may consider posting visual content, such as videos, images, and infographics.  YouTube is perfect for sharing video content, including educational videos.  For example, some small research/analytics consulting firms post “how-to videos” to teach people how to use SPSS, R, and Tableau on YouTube.  Depending on the demographics of your target audiences, you can choose the appropriate social media platforms to use.  For example, my research findings suggest that there are generational differences in social media use.  More Generation Xers and Yers use LinkedIn than other generations.  More Generation Yers use Facebook.  Generation Zers use Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat (Wu, 2022).

Third, post great content in different formats on your social media sites.

As I mentioned earlier, many B2B SMB owners ask one question: What kinds of content should we post?  You can post a variety of content, such as informative articles, whitepapers, infographics, photos, podcasts, and videos on your social media sites.  Relevance is the key. You need to understand your target audiences’ information needs.  Provide your target audiences useful information in your post, give them the answers which they need, and provide solutions to them.  My previous research findings suggested that more B2B than B2C and nonprofit organizations use blogging content for social media marketing.  To demonstrate your thought leadership in your industry, you may post whitepapers and case studies not only in your own organizational blogs, but also in industry blogs and general blog outlets.  If you are not sure about what kinds of topics you may post, you may take a look at your competitors’ social media sites.  By doing so, you can identify industrial trends.  If you would like, you can do SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis for your business and decide what kinds of topics to post in order to improve your social presence.

Fourth, schedule your posts and keep your social media campaigns organized.

Once you know what to post, you need to post your content at the right time.  For example, there are many social media holidays throughout the year.  You may Google and type the keyword, social media holidays 2023.  You can find the dates for these holidays and plan ahead for the next few months.  Choose the holidays which are relevant to your business and the ones that your target audiences care about.  You can post interesting content during that day or that week.  For example, March 15, 2023 is the World Consumer Rights Day.  If it is relevant to your business, you can post an article, and infographic, or a video to increase consumers’ awareness about their rights (e.g., the right to safety, to be informed, the right to choose, and the right to be heard) that day.  In 2023, April 30 to May 6 is the small business week.  If your SMB have special events to celebrate small business week, you can have interesting social media campaigns that week.  There are also best times to post on every social media platform.  To increase post views, post your content at the right time.  In order to keep your social media campaigns organized, you can use social media management tools, such as Hootsuite and HubSpot, to schedule your posts.

Fifth, engage with your online community members.

B2B customer relationships are usually fewer, but stronger.  Thus, you want to maintain existing customer relations and build brand loyalty.  Customer engagement can happen both online and offline.  In addition to attending trade shows, conferences, and other industrial events in person, you can engage with prospects and customers online.   After meeting with new contacts in professional networking events, you can connect with them on LinkedIn.  Now, LinkedIn is like the new form of business card.  Once you are connected, you can invite them to join your online communities (e.g., LinkedIn groups) and invite them to attend your organizational events (e.g., webinars, workshops).  You can encourage customer participation and testimonials, cultivate connections, and maintain long-term customer relations in your online communities.  An important element for B2B relationship is about providing solutions. Posting a question that sparks an interest is a legitimate way of getting someone to engage with your company and know more about your products and services.  Frequently post fresh, insightful, helpful, and relevant content and respond to your community members’ questions and comments promptly can help you increase online engagement.  Question and answer (Q&A) processes in your online community can be multi-directional.  If your community members ask you questions or answer your questions, please respond to them quickly and effectively.  Keep conversations going, show your online community members you understand their business needs, and demonstrate your willingness and abilities to help them can definitely boost long-term customer relations in the B2B environment.

Finally, use appropriate analytics tools to evaluate the effectiveness of your social media campaigns.

You do not have to use very advanced social/digital analytics tools for company. There are a lot of free built-in tools for you to use, such as LinkedIn Analytics, Facebook Audience Insights, Twitter Analytics, and Instagram Insights.  By monitoring the numbers obtained from these built-in tools, you know the demographics of your audience and what are the popular content on your sites.  In addition, there are some free or inexpensive social/digital analytics tools, such as Google Analytics, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social.  You can use Google Analytics to track web traffics, get audience reports, evaluate your site performance, know conversion rates, and evaluate whether you have reached your goals.  You may also use social listing tools to evaluate the overall sentiment of your brand mentions (positive, negative or neutral) and identify the keywords that your audiences frequently said on your social media sites. You will be able to better understand your clients’ needs and expectations and gather client feedbacks by listening.  It’s imperative to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your social media strategies and understand what works and what does not work.  By tracking your site performance and monitor what your audiences said on your site, you can adjust your strategies.

In conclusion, social media can be an effective marketing tool for your B2B SMB. Setting SMART goals, choosing the appropriate platforms, posting great content, scheduling your posts and keep your social media campaigns organized, engaging with your community members, and continuously evaluating and adjusting your social media marketing strategies are the keys to success.

Posted by Ming-Yi Wu, Faculty


Wu, M. Y. (2020).  Organizational acceptance of social media marketing: A cross-cultural perspective.  Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, 49(4), 313-329.

Wu, M. Y. (2022).  Fostering resilience: Understanding generational differences in information and communication technology (ICT) and social media use, Journal of Communication Technology, 5(2), 30-52,