My predictions for 2022 for organic social media marketing, based on a review of industry experts, are:
- LinkedIn will continue to dominate B2B social media marketing.
- An increase in both short-form and long-form video for presenting content
- An increase in valuable, highly specific and high quality content which is published consistently
- Marketing will require contributions from experts in the organisation with content aimed at specific niches
- Social media managers will focus on building deeper relationships with followers
To meet these trends marketers will need a strong strategy and a detailed content calendar including written content, video, audio, photos and images to hit all the senses and learning styles.
Start with long-form content, then ‘slice and dice’ it into snackable content.
2021 has continued to see an emphasis on digital marketing and social media in particular. According to a study by McKinsey: “More than three quarters of buyers and sellers say they now prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over face-to-face interactions—a sentiment that has steadily intensified even after lockdowns have ended.”
Contribution of B2B social media activity to revenue
Isolating the contribution of B2B social media activity to revenue is almost impossible.
When it comes to allocating budget, CMOs, marketing directors and CROs are looking to allocate resources that produce the best return. However, as the customer journey becomes ever more disjointed, tracking and attribution metrics mask the complete story making it harder to determine which platform or channel to focus on. Simply relying on Google analytics is not enough.
It is only when businesses collect qualitative as well as quantitative data that a true picture of the impact of social media is gained. Chris Walker of the demand generation agency, Refine Labs advocates knowing your existing and potential customers intimately is the only way to build an effective marketing/sales/business development strategy.
With this in mind, the chart below shows that LinkedIn produced double the results when compared with Facebook, three times Instagram with YouTube and Twitter paling into insignificance.
1. LinkedIn will continue to dominate B2B social media marketing.
With nearly 800 million members, LinkedIn continues its growth across all countries and B2B sectors. The LinkedIn algorithm favours both native (directly uploaded) and live video.
In 2021 LinkedIn launched Creator Mode which allows you to publish newsletters, gain immediate access to LinkedIn Live and the addition of five hashtags to your profile which are then highlighted to other users.
It is rumoured that LinkedIn is considered a Clubhouse-style audio platform and short-form video akin to YouTube Shorts. However the recent decline in Clubhouse’s popularity may put paid to audio chat and the disappearance of LinkedIn Stories after a short beta test is disappointing.
I predict that LinkedIn Newsletters for sales and business development teams prepared to put in the work to communicate directly with subscribers will yield significant ROI.
2. An increase in both short-form and long-form video
According to Wordstream 51% of marketing professional consider video to be the most effective form of content. Viewers retain 95% of the content on a video compared with just 10% when reading it.
The challenge for B2B marketers is the cost and time for production. I recommend raw video from experts at the cutting edge of your company. It’s the quality of the content not the quality of the video that matters. I’m not advocating amateurish video but I highly favour authentic, natural video. This can be achieved with a smartphone and a lavalier mic and will be far superior to Zoom which companies are using all the time!
3. An increase in valuable, highly specific and high quality content which is published consistently
When it comes to the LinkedIn news feed, which is largely full of polls and self-congratulatory photos and graphics, there is a need to shift the focus towards advice which demonstrates a business’s expertise in a specific field.
Posts across all platforms need to be consistent – daily for preference – as memories are short and the algorithms reduce the likelihood that your content is seen.
Being memorable means “making a noise” but one which educates, informs and entertains rather than deafens.
4. Clients believe the Experts
Whether the expert sits within your organisation or is an industry influencer, research shows that customers trust in brands is declining. Hero your specialists and encourage them to take centre stage.
According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer report, more people trust a regular employee (54%) than a CEO (47%)
This increases to 68% when it comes to trusting a company’s technical expert. I highly recommend leveraging the social media networks of your employees to share their colleagues' content.
An article from Zen Media reports:
- A Demand Gen report points out that 95% of B2B buyers say they prefer credible content from industry influencers.
- And 77% of B2B marketers believe that buyers rely on advice from industry experts.
5. Build deeper, direct relationships
Social media managers will focus on building deeper relationships with followers on the platforms that are yielding the best results.
My final prediction is that less emphasis will be placed on lead generation (where the quality of potential buyers is unknown) and marketers will focus on direct messaging features of LinkedIn and Instagram to develop closer relationships. For this to be successful marketing and sales or business development needs to be closely aligned. The distinction between MQL and SQL will diminish.
My overall prediction for the year is that content marketing will grow in importance providing social media managers with resources which will yield better results.
The charts from CMI and MarketingProfs from their report called ‘B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends’ shows that 90% of organisations surveyed will maintain or increase their content marketing budgets with 10% increasing them by more that 9%.