Best Of Social Media Marketing: Fuel Your 2021 With Our Top 10 SMM Posts

Business professionals around table from above image.

In 2020 B2B marketers continued to find new and creative uses of social media marketing during a pandemic year unlike any other, and we’ve been fortunate to feature many excellent articles on our blog over the year that explore how marketers are pushing social media marketing to fuel new levels of success.

We’re lucky to have a wealth of talented B2B marketing professionals contributing to the TopRank Marketing blog — which will celebrate its 18th year in 2021 — including our CEO Lee Odden, Joshua Nite, Elizabeth Williams, Anne Leuman, Nick Nelson, Debbie Friez, Birdie Zepeda, the author of this post, and Alexis Hall, among others.

The insight and expertise our team has acquired helping some of the top brands in the world including 3M, Adobe, SAP, LinkedIn, and Oracle plan, implement and measure a variety of marketing programs has often made it here to our blog. To help our blog community grow their social media marketing knowledge, we’re delighted to offer our annual list of the most popular social media marketing posts of 2020.

The social media marketing posts that proved to be our most popular of 2020 based on web analytics and social media data are listed below. We hope that they will help you ask the right questions and provide best-answer solutions to some of the most important challenges we’ll all be facing anew in 2021.

We give many thanks to all of our blog authors for their work in advocating social media marketing best practices, and especially to our dedicated readers for continuing to make the TopRank Marketing blog a go-to B2B marketing resource.

Our Most Popular Social Media Marketing Posts in 2020:

1. Social Media Polls For Marketers: 6 B2B Brands Winning With LinkedIn Polls Lane R. Ellis

Smiling business-woman at computer image.

Data from social media polls shows what customers are thinking about when it comes to a variety of important subjects, and in the most popular social media marketing post of 2020 on our blog, I took a look at how B2B brands Microsoft, Olive Communications UK, Redis Labs, LinkedIn News, Dell, and RateLinx are winning with LinkedIn polls.

Polls offer a unique two-for-one value for B2B marketers, providing quality feedback on what customers want while also offering brands a powerful interactive social media marketing element.

This post examines the year’s changes in online polls, and gives examines of how B2B marketers and brands are using social media polls in innovative ways, including six B2B brands winning with LinkedIn polls.

You can check out all of my posts here, and follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“Poll data shows what marketers are thinking about when it comes to a variety of important subjects, ranging from everyday tasks to far-reaching future trends.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet

2. Get Ready For Video In 2021: Watch 5 Creative Examples of B2B Marketing on YouTube — Lane R. Ellis

Smiling man against a creative colorful background image.

In our second most popular social media marketing post of the year, I share the latest from YouTube, and how B2B marketers are using the video platform to power creative and engaging campaigns.

Taking a look at YouTube Shorts and other features adding in 2020, we also share five creative examples of successful B2B marketing on the platform from:

  • HP
  • Adobe*
  • Constant Contact
  • Deloitte
  • Ernst & Young

“YouTube’s orbit casts a wide swath in the B2B marketing universe, and 64 percent of B2B buyers have increased their use of online video during the pandemic.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet

3. 32 Top Social Media Marketing Influencers To Follow — Lane R. Ellis

32 Top Social Media Marketing Influencers To Follow

With a powerful group of 32 top social media marketing professionals to follow and learn from, our third most popular social media marketing article highlights how the SMM industry is bursting with innovative B2B marketing professionals — people who push the boundaries of existing social platforms, embrace new ones, and ditch low-performers.

We’ve put together a list of 32 top social media marketers that includes a number of fantastic folks who may not already be on your Twitter “following” list, in addition to some industry stalwarts who those new to social media marketing would be wise to follow and learn from.

We’ve also added a quote, tip, or short lesson from each of these 32 subject matter experts, to help inspire your own social media marketing efforts.

“With unprecedented targeting via the social media platforms, it is essential brands and media companies not take a one size fits all approach with their social video strategy.” — Caitlin Angeloff @caitlinangeloff Click To Tweet

4. 5 Things to Know About Building Trust in the Age of Social Media — Nick Nelson

Man Looking at Tablet Amid Storm

In the fourth most popular social media marketing post of 2020, our content marketing manager Nick Nelson shares five items to help build trust in the age of social media.

Nick also explores the roles that trust and transparency play in developing an effective B2B social media strategy during this unprecedented time, along with examining how brands can best reach the crucial objective of trust-building using social media today.

You can check out all of Nick’s posts here, and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“The worst stand any brand can take is standing still.” @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing #PurposeDriven #B2B Click To Tweet

5. Active Social Media Listening: Tips for a New Era of COVID-19 — Debbie Friez

Active social media listening

Now is the time to listen beyond your basic brand searches, and in our fifth most popular social media marketing post of the year, our influencer marketing strategist Debbie Friez helps you dive into the many insights B2B marketers can gain from social media listening, along with tips for better social marketing during times of crisis.

Debbie shares insight from Meltwater’s Lance Concannon, Brandwatch’s Joshua Boyd, Sprout Social’s Kristin Johnson, Sprinklr’s Ragy Thomas, and other subject matter experts.

Social media listening requires marketers to move beyond monitoring to analyzing the full situation, which can often be a moving target, and Debbie takes a close look in this insightful piece.

You can check out all of Debbie’s posts here, and follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“Social listening tools move beyond the top level of monitoring and help hone your strategy with deeper insights into the sentiment, regional differences, and understanding of the conversation.” — Debbie Friez @dfriez Click To Tweet

6. 10 Fresh Social Media Marketing Tools To Boost Brand Storytelling — Lane R. Ellis

Man’s hands working with tools.

Have you tried all 10 of these fresh social media marketing tools? In our sixth most popular post of the year, I show how to refine and expand your brand storytelling with 10 of the year’s latest social media tools.

Sifting through tens of thousands of available tools can be a hit and miss proposition, but these 10 fresh marketing tools let you skip most of the research queue and get right into useful tools for helping you tell marketing stories in new ways through social media.

Learn from our collection of 10 fresh tools to boost your social media marketing experiences, including image and video manipulation tools, headline analysis utilities, social media monitoring apps, and more.

“Sifting through thousands of available tools can be a hit and miss proposition, making reviews and vetted lists of truly useful utilities more useful than ever for helping you tell marketing stories in new ways.” @lanerellis Click To Tweet

7. 8 Things B2B Marketers Need To Know About Reddit in 2021 — Lane R. Ellis

Professional business-woman smiling image.

In our seventh most popular social media marketing post of the year, I take a look at whether B2B marketers should be using Reddit, and share eight things B2B marketers need to know, including how businesses are using it, the latest news from the social media platform, and why more firms than ever will be using it in 2021 and beyond.

We also take a look at just how effective Reddit is for advertising and organic marketing communication, and dig in to some of the top tips and advice for B2B marketers new to Reddit or those looking to expand their presence on the social media platform.

While Reddit may no longer be the wild west for B2B marketers, incorporating it into your strategy doesn’t have to be a shootout at high noon if you take to heart the information explored in this article.

“Reddit has also been a popular platform for hosting ask-me-anything (AMA) events, which can be a good way for B2B firms to begin utilizing the service if the interviewee is especially relevant to a particular topic.” @lanerellis Click To Tweet

8. Our 10 Top Social Media Marketing Posts of 2019 — Lane R. Ellis

Top Social Media Marketing Posts of 2019 Image

In our eighth most popular social media marketing article of the year, I examine some of the writing that resonated with B2B marketers over the year, offering a variety of approaches to social media marketing success.

From top-notch B2B marketers to follow lists, under-the-radar LinkedIn* features, social media statistics to the subtleties of Twitter lists and B2B social video, these practical and helpful posts offer a glimpse at many aspects of successful social strategy.

“It’s clear that B2B social media marketing is strong and growing stronger, and it’s also apparent that direction and guidance in where to focus your B2B social efforts is needed now more than ever.” @lanerellis Click To Tweet

9. 5 Ways to Make Brand Social Media Profiles More Compelling — Joshua Nite

Optimize Brand Social Media Profiles

In our ninth most-popular B2B social media marketing post of the year, our senior content marketing manager Joshua Nite shares five ways to make brand social media profiles more compelling.

“Brands have never had such rich opportunities to interact with customers and potential customers. They’ve never been able to so easily display what the brand is about, what it stands for, and how it can bring value to people,” Josh noted in this insightful and popular piece, in which he shows how savvy B2B marketers can:

  • Ditch the Corporate-Speak
  • Eliminate Problematic Language
  • Say Why You’re Here
  • Focus on What You Do for Your Audience
  • Include a Call to Action

You can check out all of Josh’s posts here, and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“There’s still a real possibility to engage with your audience on social, start conversations, and build relationships. And it all starts with making sure your profile invites people in and gives them a next step to take.” @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

10. 5 Case Studies on How to Optimize B2B Influencer Engagement on LinkedIn — Lee Odden

LinkedIn Influencer Engagement

How are B2B brands successfully working with influencers to achieve marketing goals using professional social media platform LinkedIn? In the tenth most popular social media marketing article of the year, our CEO Lee Odden shares five helpful case studies showing how to successfully engage B2B influencers on LinkedIn.

“While there are robust opportunities to connect with potential customers on LinkedIn, the platform is busier than ever, making it hard to stand out,” Lee noted. “There are also challenges in terms of reduced organic visibility and the trend towards distrust of sales outreach and what brands publish directly. With so much information, many buyers are suffering what I call Content Attention Deficit,” Lee explained — a deficit he explores in detail in this insight-filled article.

You can check out all of Lee’s 2,600+ posts here, and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

“Before you get started with B2B influencer engagement on LinkedIn, it’s essential that you have a documented influencer marketing strategy.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden Click To Tweet

Thanks TopRank Marketing Writers & Readers

There you have it — an especially strong array of our 10 most popular social media marketing posts from the particularly unusual year of 2020.

Additionally, we publish several social media influencer lists every year, and we wanted to share them here as a helpful way to find and follow some of the leading digital marketing influencers:

Another helpful resource for B2B marketers to learn about crafting a successful B2B influencer marketing program is our recently-launched Inside Influence series, featuring interviews with top industry experts such as the latest episode with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Sprinklr.

We published dozens of posts this year specifically about social media marketing, a tradition we’ll continue in 2021, so stay tuned.

Please let us know which social media marketing topics and ideas you’d like to see us focus on for 2021 — we’d love to hear your suggestions.

Many thanks to each of you who read our blog regularly, and to all of you who comment on and share our posts on the TopRank Marketing social media channels at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

*Dell, RateLinx, Adobe, and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.

Our 10 Top Social Media Marketing Posts of 2019

Top Social Media Marketing Posts of 2019 Image

Throughout 2019 social media marketing has continued to be a source of opportunity, change, and contention in the marketing world. We’ve done our best to keep on top of many industry changes as they happen, while also offering helpful insight and research-based strategy.

We’re quite fortunate to a great group of social media marketing professionals contributing to the TopRank Marketing blog, including our CEO Lee Odden, Joshua Nite, Caitlin Burgess, Anne Leuman, and Nick Nelson, among others.

To help our blog community grow its social media marketing knowledge, we’re thrilled to offer this list of our 10 most popular social media posts of 2019.

Our Most Popular Social Media Marketing Posts in 2019:

1. Over 50 Top Social Media Marketing Blogs — Lee Odden

Social Media Marketing Blogs
The most popular social media marketing post of 2019 is by our CEO Lee Odden, with the latest version of our all-new BIGLIST, featuring over 50 social media marketing blogs to help marketers find great sources of marketing advice. From trends and strategies to tactics and analytics, the group of blogs curated in Lee’s post explore social media and marketing, including at least a few blogs that are hopefully new to you. Are you following them all? Check out all of Lee’s 2,600+ posts here, and follow him on Twitter.

2. LinkedIn’s List of 24 B2B Marketers You Need to Know — Lane R. Ellis

LinkedIn’s 24 B2B Marketers You Need to Know

LinkedIn* published a list of top B2B marketers, and in our second-most popular social media marketing post of the year I dug in and took a look at this group of leading industry professionals, including Ann Handley, Jay Baer, Jason Miller, and our own CEO Lee, among many more. The TopRank Marketing team was privileged to work with the LinkedIn team to identify, engage, and gather fresh insights from these bright marketing minds. Check out all of my posts here, and follow me on Twitter.

3. Social Media Secrets: 5 Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers — Nick Nelson

Under-the-Radar LinkedIn Features for Marketers
The third most popular social media marketing post of 2019 on our blog comes from Senior Content Strategist Nick Nelson, who shared how to use five under-the-radar LinkedIn marketing features, including:

• Robust & Simplified Audience Targeting
• Revamped Analytics
• Content Suggestions
• Site Re-Targeting
• Lead Gen Forms

Nick’s excellent post highlights some of the most useful yet overlooked features for driving results on LinkedIn. Check out all of Nick’s posts here, and follow him on Twitter.

4. 80+ New Social Media Marketing Statistics for B2B Marketers — Lane R. Ellis

80+ new SMM statistics to trick out your B2B marketing colorful maze image.

Offering up over 80 social media marketing statistics relevant to B2B marketers and featuring insight from Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Pew Research Center, SME, and other, this post by me was our fourth most popular search marketing piece of the year.

“It’s clear that B2B social media marketing is strong and growing stronger, and it’s also apparent that direction and guidance in where to focus your B2B social efforts is needed now more than ever.” @LaneREllis Click To Tweet

5. Why Twitter Lists Are Still a Great Tool for B2B Marketers — Lane R. Ellis

Segments of citrus fruit image.
Our fifth most popular social post of 2019 is a look I took at why Twitter lists are still a great tool for B2B marketers, exploring how they offer many engagement, nurturing, and trust-building benefits that smart B2B marketers can’t afford to pass up.

“When it comes to Twitter lists your own creativity and ingenuity are the only boundaries.” @LaneREllis Click To Tweet

6. Our Top 10 Social Media Marketing Posts of 2018 — Lane R. Ellis

Hot air balloon over field of yellow flowers image.

Our sixth most popular social media marketing post of 2019 was a look at the previous year’s top articles about the subject, each offering helpful insight and research-based strategy.

7. 5 Top B2B Brands Maximizing LinkedIn Engagement — Lane R. Ellis

Group of businesspeople image.

Showing how five top B2B brands are maximizing their LinkedIn engagement by using showcase pages, expanded group communication and more, in our seventh post popular social media post of 2019 I took a close look at how B2B companies are connecting with audiences through LinkedIn.

8. Where Do Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn Stand With B2B Video? — Nick Nelson

Social Media Video Trends for B2B
Nick earned a second entry on our most popular social media marketing list with his look at where Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn stand when it comes to B2B video.

“Modern B2B marketers understand that the key to an effective digital content strategy is meeting customers where they’re at, and giving them what they want.” @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

9. B2B Social Media Shakeup: 4 Developments That Have Caught Our Eye — Caitlin Burgess

B2B Social Media Shakeup

Our Senior Content Marketing Manager Caitlin Burgess earned the number nine spot on our top social media marketing posts of the year list, examining a selection of the biggest changes to arrive on the social scene during the year. Following scandal, criticism, and calls for increased privacy and relevancy, Caitlin looked at how social platforms are working harder to recapture their original allure as safe communities and conversation destinations. Check out all of Caitlin’s posts here, and follow her on Twitter.

10. 5 Top B2B Brands Delivering Exemplary Twitter Engagement — Lane R. Ellis

Four happy businesspeople jumping above cityscape.

The final entry on our list of the top social media marketing posts of the years is one I wrote that details how five top B2B brands are making the most of Twitter to increase engagement. With examples implemented creatively by Adobe*, Deloitte, Dun & Bradstreet, GE, and Intel, this article looks at the wide variety of successful methods leading B2B brands are using for building a solid and sustainable Twitter brand strategy.

We can’t thank Lee, Nick, and Caitlin enough for writing and sharing these top ten social media marketing posts of 2019 — congratulations to you all on making the list!

Thanks TopRank Marketing Writers & Readers

We published dozens of articles this year specifically about social media marketing, and plan to bring you even more in 2020, so keep posted for a fresh new year of the latest helpful research and insight.

Please let us know which social media marketing topics and ideas you’d like to see us focus on for 2020 — we’d love to hear your suggestions. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section below.

Many thanks to each of you who read our blog regularly, and to all of you who comment on and share our posts on the TopRank Marketing social media channels at Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

How B2B Marketers Can Build Their Personal Brands on Social Media

For some marketers, it’s second nature. For others, it’s uncomfortable territory. But no matter your predisposition, there’s no denying that personal brand-building is an essential skill in today’s B2B marketing environment. 

It’s also fun! Cultivating your social media brand offers an opportunity to tie your own interests, passions, and perspectives into your professional identity. 

Let’s explore why this is such an important focus for modern marketing practitioners, how to get it right, and how business leaders can encourage it.

Why Your Personal Brand on Social Media Matters as a Marketer

The list could go on endlessly, but at a high level, the rationale for personal brand-building on social media boils down to three key factors.

#1 – Customers connect with other people more than companies.

As much as we B2B marketers might like to believe otherwise, buyers aren’t drawn to brands. If a rapport is developed, it’s because of the people who represent those companies and build genuine human relationships. 

An engaging and relatable personal brand creates a conduit for inbound interest. You don’t need to be overtly promotional. Simply talking about your industry — sharing your views and opinions — can prompt people to reach out and learn more, or to click through to your company’s pages out of interest. These are subtle triggers that generate awareness in an authentic way. 

An engaging and relatable personal brand creates a conduit for inbound interest for your business. @NickNelson #B2BMarketing #B2BSocialMedia #Branding Click To Tweet

#2 – Personal profiles get more organic reach than brand pages.

This is true of virtually all social networks. The underlying motivation of any social media company is to keep users on their sites, engaging with others. Because of the dynamic we just mentioned — humans are more drawn to other humans than faceless brands — these networks are apt to elevate content from personal accounts over organizational ones. If you’ve ever done any social media marketing, you’ve likely noticed how difficult it is to grow the reach of company content on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn without paying to amplify it. 

Personal profiles offer a workaround. Creating content that aligns with your company’s narrative — or even simply re-sharing posts from the brand page via your own profile — increases the visibility of this content. Not only that, but it puts a real face on the source of the information. Here’s a simple example from our own Lane Ellis.

Example of Sharing Your Company's Post to Your Own Social Profile

#3 – Your career growth and success might depend on it.

Yes, growing your personal brand on social media can help your company. But more than anything, it’s a valuable focus for you. When someone wants to research you online, they are very likely to check out your social accounts first and foremost. The researcher could be a customer, who will be impressed by an active and knowledgeable presence, but also a potential employer, for whom the same will be true.

Not only does an investment in growing your personal brand yield benefits for your marketability, but also for your professional network and even your capabilities. Through this undertaking, you’re bound to learn things you can apply in your job — even if the primary themes of your personal brand don’t exactly align with what your company does (more on that shortly).

How to Effectively Build Your Personal Brand on Social Media

It’s a paradox: many B2B marketers are incredibly gifted at portraying and promoting the brands they represent, but entirely uncomfortable or unfamiliar with doing the same for themselves. If that’s you, here are some tips to strengthen your results.

Find Your Rhythm

Being active on social media doesn’t mean you need to post something every hour, or even every day. It’s about finding a consistent routine that works for you and your followers. To more efficiently post content on multiple networks, or schedule batches of posts at once, take advantage of a tool like Hootsuite, Sprout, or Buffer

You Don’t Have to Talk About the Same Things Your Company Does

This is a misconception that seems to hold people back. Maybe you’re not all that personally interested in what your company does, or you drain yourself by talking about it all day at work. One idea is to find a particular angle of your business or industry that strikes a chord with you, and will resonate with others. For instance, if you work in the finance industry, you could make data privacy your main area of exploration.

Or, you could choose to build your personal brand around something that doesn’t overlap with your company and its services. There’s benefit in growing your own audience and engagement even if it’s not the exact same audience your company serves.

As one example, take my story. I started blogging about baseball long before I was an agency marketer. In 2012 I teamed up with three others to create a website called Twins Daily. My Twitter presence is mostly oriented around baseball and that community. But through this experience I’ve learned many things that make me a better marketer. I’ve broadened my platform and reach. And I’ve grown my personal network, connecting with plenty of other marketers, creatives, and brand folks who also happen to be baseball fans.

Find your distinct passion and connect it to your professional identity. Just make sure the passion comes first.

Create a Balanced Approach

Maintaining a steady pipeline of interesting stories and commentary to share on your personal account is easier said than done. When it comes to refining your social media mix, SAP’s* Head of Global Influencer Marketing Ursula Ringham shared some sage wisdom with our Caitlin Burgess in her Digital Marketing Spotlight interview. Ursula situates her social output around her “five truths”: 

  1. My work
  2. My family
  3. My passion
  4. Sports
  5. Third-party voices

This is a good framework. Define a similar mix that aligns with your passion/professional sweet spot, and use these truths as pillars for your content strategy.

The bottom line here is: Be authentic. Be yourself (or your brand). But be strategic. — @ursularingham Click To Tweet

Stand Out and Be Fascinating

“Don’t underrate your ability to fascinate,” urged NYT best-selling author Sally Hogshead in her interview with Lee Odden on personal branding for marketers back in 2015. “In a sense, most of us were schooled to avoid being too fascinating. As kindergartners we’re taught to stand in line for class. Color within the lines. Raise a hand. Wait your turn. Standing out is labeled as misbehaving.”

You will not win by being invisible. Today, you win by being seen and remembered. Stand out, or don’t bother. — @SallyHogshead Click To Tweet

Sally’s insights are just as relevant today. Just as companies need to differentiate themselves and rise above the saturated market, you’ll want to do the same with your personal brand in a social media world populated by billions of other people. Use your marketing brain to understand what will get noticed and drive engagement — catchy headlines, provocative angles, trendy topics, bold imagery, etc. 

How B2B Companies Can Support Personal Brand-Building from Employees

If you’re a CMO or another business leader who sees the value in personal brand-building for employees, but you’re struggling to promote the practice within your ranks, here are a few ideas to get things moving. 

  • Implement an Employee Advocacy Program: Whether using a dedicated platform (LinkedIn Elevate* is among the most popular) or a more informal system run by people within your company, an employee advocacy program generates a pipeline of brand-approved content or articles that people in your company can easily access and share through their own networks. This is helpful because it removes the common reluctance among employees about getting in trouble for sharing or saying the wrong things. It can also make it easier for non-marketers to get on board.
  • Lead by Example: When executives use their personal networks to dispense thought leadership and speak on behalf of the brand, it’s powerful. And when employees see this behavior, it can provide them with encouragement and a model to follow. 
  • Make It Inviting and Natural: The problem with many corporate-driven advocacy initiatives? “It’s so nakedly promotional, it’s like a commercial,” Jay Baer opines in a B2B Spotlight interview on the convergence of customer experience and employee advocacy. “Nobody’s gonna put that on their personal social media. They’re trying to turn employees into shills and nobody’s down with that.” For guidance on steering clear of this pitfall, I highly recommend watching the portion of Jay and Lee’s conversation that starts around the 9-minute mark in this video:

To learn more about personal brand-building and how it can align with a company’s marketing goals, check out Caitlin’s post on How Employee Engagement Helps Drive the Success of Your Marketing Efforts.

*Disclosure: LinkedIn and SAP are TopRank Marketing clients.

80+ New Social Media Marketing Statistics for B2B Marketers

80+ new SMM statistics to trick out your B2B marketing colorful maze image.

Social media marketing’s near-universal popularity and the break-neck speed at which it changes sometimes makes it difficult to keep up with — for B2B and B2C marketers alike. However, if we use the latest statistical data, it’s possible to gain many helpful new insights.

Here are 83 of the latest relevant social media marketing statistics to trick out and inform your marketing efforts, with a particular focus on certain fascinating new B2B-specific data.

We’ll look at statistics taken from five recent reports and several additional sources, starting with general social media marketing overview figures. Then we’ll look individually at Facebook, LinkedIn*, Twitter, Instagram, and a group of other social platforms.

Social Media Marketing Statistics From 5 New Reports

Sprout Social’s recent Sprout Social Index: Edition XV: Empower & Elevate (2019) 1 surveyed over 1,000 social media marketers to learn where they are finding success and where they plan to place their focus during the push to 2020.

As we featured in our most recent TopRank Marketing Friday News, the report shows that:

  1. 70% of social media marketers see increasing brand awareness as their top goal for social 1
  2. 72% define engagement success in social through likes and comments, as the following chart outlines 1

2019 May 17 Sprout Social Chart

With social advertising spending in the U.S. alone expected to hit $18.4 billion in 2019, it’s no wonder that:

  1. 90% of social media marketers say social has a direct impact on their business revenue. 1

The study shows that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook Messenger, and LinkedIn are the most-used social media platforms among social marketers, as the following chart — which also compares this information with where consumers most often folllow brands — illustrates. 1

Sprout Social Chart

Additional data from the Sprout Social report shows that:

  1. 53% of corporate-level marketers and 33% of vice presidents see proving the value of social media marketing to those outside marketing as a challenge. 1

Hootsuite and We Are Social’s recent Digital 2019 Q2 Global Digital Statshot 2 report, utilizing numerous sources, also offers plenty of insight into where social media marketing currently stands and where it’s most likely to head moving forward.

According to the report, social media marketers find their audience primarily using either mobile or desktop devices, with a small portion using tablets, as the following image shows. 2

Hootsuite Chart

The report shows that Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger top the list of social platforms with the most active users, as shown in the following chart. 2

Hootsuite Chart

Similarly, in the recent Pew Research Center January 2019 Core Trends Survey (2019) 3, the top social platforms among U.S. adults are YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Twitter, as the chart below outlines.

Pew Study

In Social Media Examiner’s recent eleventh-annual social media marketing industry report for 2019 8, company founder Michael Stelzner shares 46 pages of statistical data gathered from surveying over 4,800 marketers, and offers interpretation on how various aspects of social media are working for marketers today.

65% of the survey’s respondents had at least three years of social media marketing experience, with 36% having more than five years industry experience, and 36% of all respondents primarily target B2B businesses.

There’s little doubt that social media marketing has become more important than ever, and Social Media Examiner’s report shows no fewer than eight areas that have grown since 2018, as shown in the following chart.

SME Chart

Each of these benefits grew by at least 4%, in the case of providing marketplace insight, to as much as 19% for improved sales, according to the report.8

“When we’re data informed, we isolate variables, test, and learn. We insert our own sense of taste and our intuition into the process.” @jayacunzo Click To Tweet

Of particular interest to B2B marketers is the relatively low percentage of marketers using social media marketing to grow business partnerships, which represents an underutilized opportunity for savvy SMM practitioners. 8

  1. B2B marketers use Facebook and LinkedIn more than any other platform, followed by Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Snapchat, as the following chart shows. 8

SME Chart

The list of most-popular social media platforms among marketers in general continues to be dominated by Facebook-owned properties, with Facebook and Instagram used most frequently, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, and Snapchat, according to the report, as shown below. 8

SME Chart

  1. Over the past year the biggest increase was seen by Instagram, growing by 7% from 2018’s figure of 66% to 73%, while the largest drop was seen for Twitter, which fell 3% from 2018’s 62% to 59%. 8
  2. When B2B social media usage among marketers is compared to that of B2C, LinkedIn shows its acumen, garnering 30% of B2B social usage, 26% more than the 4% usage rate it holds among B2C marketers, as the following comparison chart highlights. 8

SME Chart

  1. LinkedIn’s use among combined B2B and B2C marketers grew from 12% in 2018 to 14% in 2019, according to the report’s survey data, while for the first time since 2014 Facebook’s combined figure fell, from 67% to 61%. Instagram’s combined figure climbed 4%, from 2018’s 10% to 2019’s 14%. 8
  2. Just 44% of marketers say they are able to measure their organic social media marketing activities. 8

“Only 30% of B2B marketers use data to inform decision-making. That’s because harnessing data is hard. Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day.” — Alexis Hall @Alexis5484 Click To Tweet

Now let’s move on to taking a closer look at each of the top social media platforms B2B marketers most frequently use, and some of the most relevant statistics for each, pulled from the five recent studies and other sources.

Facebook — Challenging Times For A Social Media Empire

The reports offer a broad section of data containing insight into social media marketing specific to social giant Facebook, which in many areas continues to be a top channel for marketers, despite the well-known data privacy and other challenges it has faced over the past several years.

  1. 61% of marketers view Facebook as the most important social media platform, down from 67% in 2018 8
  2. 51% of marketers plan to increase their organic Facebook activities, down from 62% in 2018 8
  3. 59% of marketers plan to use Facebook ads more frequently over the next 12 months 8
  4. 11% fewer marketers plan to spend more on future organic Facebook marketing in 2019, at 51%, than was the case in 2018, when 62% expected to, while 10% plan to lower their organic Facebook spending, as shown below. 8

SME Chart

  1. 45% of B2B marketers use Facebook native video. 8
  2. 68% of B2B marketers want to learn more about Facebook video marketing. 8
  3. 65% of B2B marketers regularly use Facebook for advertising. 8
  4. 59% of marketers plan to increase their use of Facebook advertising in the near future, with 33% planning to increase their use of Facebook Messenger-specific ads. 8
  5. 68% of B2B marketers want to learn more about Facebook advertising. 8
  6. 86% of marketers want to learn more about Facebook Analytics. 8
  7. 62% of B2B marketers want to learn more about Facebook. 8
  8. 89% of marketers use Facebook as part of their brand’s social media strategy. 1
  9. 77% of GenXers use Facebook as their primary platform for liking or following brands. 1
  10. 42% of social media marketers already have a strategy in place for Facebook Live. 1
  11. Facebook is the world’s third most visited website, behind only Google and YouTube. 2 (SimiarWeb)
  12. Facebook has a potential social media advertising audience reach of more than 1.88 billion users. 2
  13. Facebook users click on an average of 11 advertisements on the platform each month. 2
  14. 26.3% of Facebook Pages are using paid media, up 1.2% from the fourth quarter of 2018. 2
  15. Facebook pages using video posts get the most engagement, at 6.1%, as illustrated in the following image. 2

Hootsuite Chart

  1. Finally, 69% of U.S. adults use Facebook, and 74% of them visit the site daily, and 51% several times each day. 3

Facebook marketing is a staple for many B2B marketers, and we’ve offered several helpful recent articles to guide your strategy on various aspects of the platform:

LinkedIn — Reinvigorated and Seeing Promising Returns

The five reports reveal a great deal of data about growing utilization of LinkedIn, especially among B2B marketers.

  1. A hefty 70% of B2B marketers plan on increasing their organic marketing activities on LinkedIn over the next year, according to the Social Media Examiner 2019 report. 8
  2. More than half of combined B2B and B2C marketers also expect to boost organic marketing use on LinkedIn in the coming 12 months, as the following chart illustrates. 8

SME Chart

  1. 71% of B2B marketers want to learn more about LinkedIn. 8
  2. 57% of combined B2B and B2C marketers want to learn more about LinkedIn. 8
  3. 21% of B2B marketers use native LinkedIn video. 8
  4. 45% of marketers plan to increase their use of LinkedIn video in their marketing efforts in the near future. 8
  5. 66% of B2B marketers want to learn more about LinkedIn video marketing. 8
  6. 24% of B2B marketers regularly use LinkedIn advertising. 8
  7. 35% of marketers plan to increase their use of LinkedIn advertising in the near future. 8
  8. 64% of B2B marketers want to learn more about LinkedIn advertising. 8
  9. LinkedIn has a potential social media advertising audience reach of nearly 615 million users, trailing only Facebook and Instagram. 2
  10. LinkedIn saw a 1.7% increase in advertising audience reach over the fourth quarter of 2018, as shown in the following image. 2

Hootsuite Chart

  1. LinkedIn saw revenue grow by 33% with record levels of engagement including session growth of 34%, according to parent firm Microsoft’s 2019 first quarter earnings release data. 4
  2. LinkedIn topped the 630 million user mark recently, and overall engagement was up 24% year over year. 5
  3. About 50% of college graduates who live in high-income households use LinkedIn. 3

LinkedIn recently published a helpful infographic detailing “How to Spark Meaningful Conversations and Measure Success” on the platform, and we’ve also written several recent articles detailing how to best use the platform:

Twitter — The More Tweets Change the More They Stay the Same

Twitter also features heavily in the five recent reports, with statistics showing the venerable platform continues to play a sizable role in the social media campaign strategy of many marketers.

  1. 9% fewer marketers plan to increase their Twitter organic marketing over the next 12 months than did in 2018, a decrease from 44% to this year’s 35%, the report data shows, while 7% plan to decrease organic Twitter activities during the next year. 8
  2. 21% of marketers plan to increase their use of Twitter advertising in the near future, while 64% have no plans to use Twitter ads. 8
  3. Twitter is the world’s seventh most visited website, and has an average visit time of over nine minutes. 2 (SimilarWeb)
  4. Twitter has a potential social media advertising audience reach of 262 million users. 2
  5. 25% of U.S. adult Twitter users visit the site several times each day. 3
  6. The most prolific 10% of adult U.S. Twitter users post a sizeable 80% of all tweets, averaging 138 tweets and favoriting 70 more each month. 6
  7. Among the top 10% U.S. adult Twitter users, 81% tweet once or more each day, and follow an average of 456 Twitter accounts. 6

Leadtail recently examined how some B2B brands are succeeding with Twitter, in Dennis Shiao’s “10 Twitter Users Reveal What B2B Brands Are Doing Well on Twitter,” featuring examples including the Twitter accounts of the Content Marketing Institute, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, and others.

We’ve published articles looking at how to best use Twitter for B2B marketing, including the following selection:

Instagram — Facebook-Owned Platform on the Rise

Instagram has been the brightest star among the platforms featured in the data from the five recent reports, showing the most rapid growth and some of the greatest interest from marketers.

  1. 73% of marketers now use Instagram, up from 2018’s figure of 66% 8
  2. 69% of marketers expect to increase their organic Instagram activities during the next year, while 18% plan to keep spending level, and 2% are preparing to decrease their spending. 8
  3. Instagram has passed Facebook as the top platform marketers want to learn more about 8
  4. 72% of marketers want to learn more about Instagram, for the first time surpassing Facebook as the platform marketers most want to increase their familiarity with. 8
  5. 65% of B2B marketers want to learn more about Instagram. 8
  6. 32% of B2B marketers use Instagram Stories for video marketing. 8
  7. 64% of B2B marketers want to learn more about Instagram video. 8
  8. 30% of B2B marketers regularly use Instagram for advertising. 8
  9. 55% of marketers plan to increase their use of Instagram advertising in the near future. 8
  10. 57% of B2B marketers want to learn more about Instagram advertising. 8
  11. 69% of GenZers use Instagram as their primary platform for liking or following brands. 1
  12. 48% of social media marketers see Instagram Stories as becoming increasingly important. 1
  13. 31% of social media marketers plan to build a strategy for Instagram Live. 1
  14. Instagram is the world’s ninth most visited website, and generates and average of just over six and a half minutes of time per visit. 2 (SimilarWeb)
  15. Instagram has a potential social media advertising audience reach of 802 million users, trailing only Facebook. 2
  16. Instagram was the only major social media platform that has seen an uptick in use among U.S. adults since 2016 according to Pew Research Center data. 3
  17. 67% of U.S 18-29 year-olds use Instagram. 3
  18. 42% of U.S. adult Instagram users visit the site several times each day. 3

Social Media Today recently looked at how B2B marketers are using Instagram, in Emma Wiltshire’s “B2B Marketers Share Their Best Tips for Instagram,” and the publisher also recently conducted a Twitter poll asking what B2B marketers struggle with the most on Instagram.

Additionally, we recently published “What You Need to Know About Instagram Stories for B2B Marketing,” offering helpful insight into this growing area.

Pinterest — Piquing Marketers’ Interest

Although not featured as heavily in the data from the new reports, there are some statistics about the use of Pinterest among B2B marketers and marketers in general. A few include:

  1. 24% of B2B marketers plan to increase their organic marketing activities on Pinterest during the next 12 months. 8
  2. 31% of B2B marketers want to learn more about Pinterest. 8
  3. 17% of marketers plan to increase their use of Pinterest advertising in the near future, compared to just 8% on Snapchat. 8

YouTube — Google-Owned Video Staple & Stalwart

YouTube continues to be the primary platform for video content for many marketers, and the data contained in the reports show both how it’s changing over time and remaining steady in some core areas.

  1. 71% of marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube video, and 62% plan to increase their organic marketing activities on YouTube. 8
  2. 57% of marketers regularly use YouTube for video marketing efforts, followed by 50% using native Facebook video, 38% Instagram Stories, 26% Instagram native video, 22% Twitter, 13% LinkedIn native video, 9% IGTV video, and 5% LinkedIn Stories, as the following graph depicts 8

SME Chart

  1. 49% of marketers want to learn more about YouTube advertising. 8
  2. YouTube is the world’s second most visited website, ahead of Facebook and trailing only Google, and tops the list of the 20 most-visited sites when it comes to time per visit, with an average of over 21 minutes. 2 (Similarweb)
  3. 73% of U.S. adults use YouTube, and among those 32% visit the Google-owned platform several times each day. 3
  4. The ads marketers run on YouTube are getting longer, with the number of 30-second ads rising from 19% in January 2018 to 24% in January 2019, a trend shown in the following MediaRadar chart showing combined YouTube and other video ad statistics. 7

MediaRadar Chart

We’ve explored how B2B marketers can develop a strong video strategy using YouTube and other social media platforms, and some of our most recent helpful articles are these:

We have our own TopRank Marketing YouTube channel as well, and hope that if you aren’t already a subscriber you’ll take a moment and follow us.

Snapchat, Reddit, & Others — Possibilities For the Adventuresome

Some of the lesser-used social platforms also feature in the statistical data from the reports, in some cases showing potential new opportunities for certain B2B marketing campaigns.

  1. 76% of marketers don’t plan to use Snapchat over the next 12 months, while 9% plan to increase their organic activities on the platform.8
  2. Snapchat has a potential social media advertising audience reach of 311 million users. 2
  3. 62% of U.S 18-29 year-olds use Snapchat. 3
  4. 42% of U.S Hispanic adults use WhatsApp. 3
  5. 46% of U.S. adult Snapchat users visit the site several times each day. 3

What Do All These Social Media Statistics Tell Us About B2B Marketing?

When we look at all these statistics as a whole, it’s clear that B2B social media marketing is strong and growing stronger, and it’s also apparent that direction and guidance in where to focus your B2B social efforts is needed now more than ever.

Whether it’s from doing business with a professional B2B-focused marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing, or through following industry experts such as those on our “Top 50 Social Media Marketing Influencers in 2019” list, we want your marketing to be the best it can be, and hope that the large collection of statistics and insights we’ve gathered and outlined here proves helpful.

Finally, here’s a bonus list of six additional resources we’ve written to help you make sense of the numbers and incorporate statistics-based insight into your marketing:

*LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

Sources:

1Sprout Social Index: Edition XV: Empower & Elevate (2019)

2Hootsuite / We Are Social: Digital 2019 Q2 Global Digital Statshot. Essential insights into how people around the world use the Internet, mobile devices, social media, and e-commerce. (2019)

3Pew Research Center: January 2019 Core Trends Survey (2019)

4Microsoft Fiscal Year 2019 First Quarter earnings Release (2019)

5How LinkedIn’s Products Are Evolving to Support the New World of Work (2019)

6Pew Research Center: Sizing Up Twitter Users (2019)

7MediaRadar: Research Insight: Video Ads Are Getting Longer (2019)

8Social Media Examiner: 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses (2019)

Our Top 10 Social Media Marketing Posts of 2018

Hot air balloon over field of yellow flowers image.

Throughout 2018 social media marketing has continued to be a source of both opportunity and contention in the marketing world. We’ve done our best to keep on top of changes as they happen, while offering helpful insight and research-based strategy.

We’re very fortunate to a great group of social media marketing professionals contributing to the TopRank Marketing blog, including our CEO Lee Odden, Joshua Nite, Caitlin Burgess, Anne Leuman, and Nick Nelson, among others.

To help our blog community grow its social media marketing knowledge, we’re delighted to offer this list of our 10 most popular social media posts of 2018.

Our Most Popular Social Media Marketing Posts in 2018:

1. Social Media Marketing Benchmarks: What Works & Where to Focus — Joshua Nite

Social Media Marketing Benchmarks Report 2018
The most popular social media marketing post of 2018 is by Senior Content Marketing Manager, Joshua Nite. Through the lens of the RivalIQ 2018 social media benchmarking report, Josh delivers big with actionable insights including why influencers have the highest engagement rates on Facebook, and tells marketers how to stay on task. Check out all of Josh’s posts here.

2. 7 Examples of Brands Mastering Twitter for Social Customer Care — Caitlin Burgess

Twitter Customer Care
Our Senior Manager of Content Marketing, Caitlin Burgess, wrote the second most popular social media marketing post of the year, as she took a close look at how top brands have used Twitter to strengthen customer care programs.

With helpful examples and relevant insights, Caitlin dives into some of the best customer care programs in social, and shows how they represent a customer service opportunity that deserves every marketer’s attention and action. Check out all of Caitlin’s posts here.

3. Best Practices for Choosing Effective and Captivating Social Media Visuals — Anne Leuman

Best Practices for Selecting Social Media Visuals
Content Strategist, Anne Leuman, wrote the third most popular social media marketing post of 2018 on our blog. In this piece, Anne dives into how to select the right type of visual content to share on the right platform. Anne offers up the latest social image dimensions, and looks at carousels and driving conversions with social stories. Check out all of Anne’s posts here.

4. The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game — Nick Nelson

How Facebook Stories Will Change Social Media Marketing
Our Senior Content Strategist, Nick Nelson, earned the No. 4 spot on our list of the most popular social media marketing posts of the year. Here, Nick takes an in-depth look at using Facebook for powerful brand visual storytelling. He includes helpful tips to overcome what can sometimes be elusive reach on the world’s largest social media channel. Check out all of Nick’s posts here.

5. The Power of Social Media Polls: The Drill-Down on 3 Platforms + 5 General Best Practices — Nick Nelson

The Power of Social Media Polls for Marketing
Nick also wrote our fifth most popular social post of 2018, tackling the benefits and pitfalls of social media polls, with his piece higlighting three platforms and five proven tactics. Nick also shares what kind of value polls can provide and how to get the most out of them.

6. From Messenger Bots to the Growth of ‘Gram, Social Media Examiner’s Annual Report Reveals Trends to Watch — Nick Nelson

2018 Social Media Marketing Trends from Social Media Examiner Report
Nick’s social media marketing wisdom earns him another entry on our top 10 list for 2018, with an in-depth look at Social Media Examiner’s annual report. Nick shares the most relevant and helpful insight from the report, including how Facebook is in flux, the growing power of Instagram, and how to best use measurement moving forward.

7. The Question on Many Marketers’ Minds: Should My Brand Start a Facebook Group? — Nick Nelson

Should My Brand Start a Facebook Group
With his fourth consecutive spot on our top social media marketing posts of the year list, Nick examines how brands can best utilize Facebook Groups. Nick shows why Facebook groups present a good opportunity to regain diminished reach by embracing the platform’s heightened focus on user-generated content.

8. The Latest Evolution of Facebook: The Marketing Low-Down on 5 Recent Changes — Anne Leuman

Latest Facebook Updates 2018
Anne earned a second entry on our most popular social media marketing list with her helpful piece exploring the latest round of major Facebook changes. Anne gives the low-down on five Facebook changes, tells what they mean for social media marketers, and offers up the next steps to take.

9. How to Survive the Social Media Midlife Crisis — Joshua Nite


In addition to writing our most popular social media marketing piece of 2018, Josh earned another entry on the list with this fine look at how to take our social media accounts off of autopilot and apply a mindful approach. Josh also looks at how working with influencers helps put a personal, social touch back into social media marketing.

10. Social Media Marketing Spotlight: U.S. Bank Rallies Local Allies for a Friendly, Engaging #MNNice #NiceOff — Caitlin Burgess

US Bank NiceOff
Caitlin has written another of our year’s most popular social media marketing posts, with an excellent spotlight look at Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank and its social efforts. Caitlin explores examples of how campaigns can achieve success through the use of thoughtful and engaging social strategy that is subtly brand-centric and influencer-activated.

We can’t thank Josh, Caitlin, Anne, and Nick enough for writing and sharing these top ten social media marketing posts of 2018 — congratulations to you all on making the list!

Thanks TopRank Marketing Writers & Readers

Thanks to each of you who read our blog, and to all of you who comment on and share our posts on the TopRank Marketing social media channels. We hope you find continuing benefit from these excellent social media marketing posts from 2018.

We published dozens of posts this year specifically about social media marketing, and plan to bring you even more in 2019, so keep posted for a new year of the latest helpful research and insight.

Please let us know which social media marketing topics and ideas you’d like to see us focus on for 2019 — we’d love to hear your suggestions. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments section below.

TopRank Marketing’s Top 6 B2B Social Media Marketing Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2019

Social Media Marketing Trends & Predictions for 2019

That magical time of year has come once again, B2B marketers. As the end of the year draws near, we’re reflecting on what has come to pass and looking ahead to what is yet to come. We’re setting goals. We’re shaking up strategies. And we’re hoping the next year will bring more focus, insight, and success.

Undoubtedly, social media marketing is top-of-mind as we reflect and plan. From the emergence of cool new platform features to scandal and algorithm shifts, 2018 brought both opportunity and obstacles—excitement and dismay. And we expect 2019 to be no different.

So, what do B2B marketers need to keep an eye on in 2019? How will you need to adapt your social media strategies? How can you turn challenges into opportunities? Here are our top social media marketing trends and predictions for the coming year.

#1 – The Element of Trust

Seeds of mistrust in the profiles, postings, news, and information shared across social channels were planted a couple years ago. But in 2018, we’ve seen those seeds blossom.

Following its Russian ad debacle in late 2017, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal broke in March 2018, revealing that private profile information was exploited for political gain. As for Twitter, negativity, trolling, and news of fake accounts and follower counts have been growing in scope since the 2016 election, enraging many users and prompting the platform to take a hard look at how to improve civil discourse in 2018.

And to top it all off? We’re living in a world of general distrust, as the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed. In addition, a special Edelman report issued in June showed that global trust in social media is at just 41%.

The good news is that brands can and should rebuild that trust in 2019 and beyond. In fact, the special Edelman report shows that consumers—who are also your B2B buyers—are counting on brands to fix the issues.

“Four in 10 consumers say they are unlikely to become emotionally attached to a brand unless they are interacting via social media,” the Edelman report said. “But they want a better deal for their data. Brands must act to address data privacy concerns, create trusted content, and join forces with regulators, platforms and consumers to restore trust in the social media ecosystem.”

Ultimately, this will require you to align your overall digital marketing strategy around creating trust and value. More specifically for social, this means more authenticity, transparency, and active discourse with your buying audience to showcase your credibility, earn their trust, and encourage engagement.

via GIPHY

And as Debbie Friez, Influencer Strategist at TopRank Marketing points out: “This also means there’s an opportunity to for careful selection and collaboration with credible, relevant thought leaders and experts to create insightful, trustworthy content.”

We’ll get to the influencer piece in a bit. But first, all of this means being prepared for more platform changes and algorithm tweaks. Facebook announced major platform and ad changes following its mishaps, with iterations expected well into 2019 and beyond. Twitter has committed itself to purging fake accounts, fostering better conversations, and serving up better content to users.

Brands must act to address #dataprivacy concerns, create trusted #content, and join forces with regulators, platforms and consumers to restore trust in the #socialmedia ecosystem. – @EdelmanPR Click To Tweet

#2 – The New Age of “Stories-telling”

When Snapchat launched its “My Story” feature back in 2014, it was an apparent wake-up call to the world’s larger, more established social networks. Instagram Stories launched in 2016, followed by Facebook beginning its rollout Facebook Stories in 2017. Now, it’s LinkedIn’s turn.

*LinkedIn recently launched “Student Voices” for university students in the United States. But the platform confirmed plans to build Stories out for more users. Will that include brand pages? Time will tell.

Credit: Mashable via LinkedIn

The point? The off-the-cuff, in-the-moment video and photo stories are resonating with, exciting, and engaging social media users. Why? They can be visually intriguing—and they’re short and sweet, which is good for our short attention spans. And this means the Stories format may be the future of in-app reach and engagement across channels—which no B2B marketer can afford to ignore, especially as their target buyers get younger.

Our own Nick Nelson dedicated some time to discussing marketing opportunities for Facebook Stories specifically, but his assessment has broad resonance and timeliness here.

“Since brands generally aren’t tapping into this functionality as of yet, early adopters can jump ahead of the curve and beat their competition to the punch,” he stated. “If there’s one primary takeaway from Facebook’s story (as reflected in The Social Network), it’s the tremendous business value in being first.”

While LinkedIn’s developing feature may be the most intriguing for B2B marketers like yourself, in the new year you should take stock of your current platform mix and associated strategies to determine if Stories holds potential for your audience and goals. In addition, you should keep a watchful eye on the evolution of these features, so you can make informed decisions more quickly.

Early (Stories) adopters can jump ahead of the curve and beat their competition to the punch. @NickNelsonMN #SocialMediaMarketing #trends Click To Tweet

#3 – The “Experiential Differential” for Social Video

Video content, both pre-produced and live content, started gaining real traction a couple years back. But today, video is officially dominating social media news feeds.

Why? No. 1: Video is engaging, and humans are visual creatures by nature. No. 2: Social media platforms have recognized video as an engagement medium that not only delights users, but also keeps them on the platform. And they’ve made tweaks to serve up more of it.

For B2B marketers, video has presented an opportunity to bring their brands, solutions, and services to life, and reach their prospects and customers in a more compelling way. But in 2019 and beyond, social video—especially live video—has the opportunity to create more than engagement—but also memorable, real-time experiences. After all, as famed customer service and experience expert, Shep Hyken, recently told us: “Customer experience is the new marketing; it’s the new brand.”

For example, Twitter recently announced that it would be taking steps to make video and broadcasts easier to find and watch live on mobile devices.

In addition, Facebook launched Facebook Watch, featuring videos from all pages and “Facebook originals.” From my perspective, this shows that the platforms are committed to driving better experiences with (great) content.

Also, consider the Twitch phenomenon. While Twitch may not consider itself a social media platform, it’s building a community where people can watch, talk, and interact. So, when it comes to creating compelling video experiences on social media, marketers should be asking themselves how they can elevate intrigue and foster engagement with their video content.

Like any marketing effort, start with data and draw insights. Earlier this year, Amanda Todorovich, Senior Director of Content and Creative Services at the Cleveland Clinic, shared her content marketing insights with us—with this tidbit directly applicable to social video, in my opinion.

“Always bring data to the table, especially data from search and analysis and social media engagement. These insights tell you what your customers want and need,” she said. “When your content helps fill those gaps and provides your target audiences with answers, you will build stronger relationships with them on your different platforms.”

What does your audience want and need? And how can you use video to fulfil what they’re asking for so you can build relationships and create a great experience? Commit to answering these questions in the new year.

Read: Allen Gannet Shares His Secrets to Racking Up Millions of LinkedIn Video Views #CMWorld

#4 – The Evolution of What Social Influence Looks Like

After years of incremental algorithm tweaks (and emerging scandals prompting even more), in early 2018 we marketers had to accept that brand organic reach on social media had essentially disappeared.

TopRank Marketing saw opportunity here—opportunity for B2B brands to dip their toes into the influencer marketing waters and partner with industry leaders and experts to create amazing content. However, as the year has gone on, a “crisis of influence” has emerged in a couple different forms.

First, platforms—most notably Twitter and Instagram—have had to contend with fake “bot” profiles and inflated follower counts (as the result of fake profiles). Quite obviously, this has meant that reach and resonance within target audiences aren’t reaching their full potential. Second, there’s been a lack of transparency on which posts and pitches are sponsored. And third, bad behavior on the part of recognized influencers has had a ricochet effect on brands. The latter two have had particularly dire impacts on B2C brands, but that doesn’t mean B2B brands shouldn’t be concerned.

The bottom line? It’s becoming clearer to brands, buyers, and consumers alike that influence isn’t defined by follower count and estimated reach, something we’ve been evangelizing for years.

via GIPHY

While “big players” certainly play an important role in your influencer mix, variety is absolutely the spice of life now and into the future—and niche and micro-influencers are growing in numbers and importance.

In 2019, B2B marketers need to double-down on vetting and recruiting influencers who are authentically interested in their products or services, and who are genuinely active in the communities of interest. When this is done right, it’s a win for all parties.

In addition, a commitment to ongoing nurturing is a must to drive success.

“We’ve found that B2B influencers will be more invested in the brand when the brand invests more in an ongoing relationship with the influencer,” Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing’s CEO, recently wrote. “One of the most effective ways to engage B2B influencers on an ongoing basis is through content collaboration.”

He added: “That content doesn’t always need to be a blockbuster campaign, either. Twitter chats, short quotes, quick videos and social engagement are all easy and impactful ways for brands to engage with influencers on an ongoing basis.”

Twitter chats, short quotes, quick videos and #socialmedia engagement are all easy and impactful ways for brands to engage with influencers on an ongoing basis. – @leeodden #InfluencerMarketing Click To Tweet

#5 – The Rebirth of Groups

On LinkedIn and Facebook, Groups have been around for a while. But when the community-centric spaces started to lose steam, both eventually took steps to pull them into separate apps. However, those moves fell flat of expectations.

In 2017, Facebook announced it would pull the app and integrate the feature closer to the user experience, according to TechCrunch. Then Facebook rolled out “Facebook Groups for Pages,” allowing brands to rally engagement and conversation around interests and topics. And just a few months ago, LinkedIn relaunched Groups in the main app, after “quietly” shutting the app down earlier in the year. And according to both platforms, more updates and features for Groups are to come in the new year.

But why are these social media giants focusing on Groups? The widely publicized scandals, and user’s growing privacy concerns and calls for more real connections, are all likely culprits.

Why should Groups be on your radar in 2019? Because groups are captive audiences, made up of people who are actively looking to engage, seeking authenticity, and wanting to be part of a community.

If you’re thinking of adding Groups to your B2B social media marketing mix in 2019, it will require a different approach. While these spaces present marketing opportunities, they’re not places for product-centric messaging.

When it comes to a B2B marketer’s preferred platform, LinkedIn, the new features within Groups stress exclusivity, privacy, security, and less distractions for meaningful conversations. But it’s an opportunity for B2B marketers to establish thought leadership since they’ll be showcasing their knowledge—which can lead prospects back to company pages and marketing materials.

Why should #LinkedIn and #Facebook Groups be on your radar in 2019? Groups are captive audiences, made up of people who are actively looking to engage, seeking authenticity, and wanting to be part of a community. – @CaitlinMBurgess Click To Tweet

#6 – The Visualization & Personalization of Pay-to-Play Options

For years, social media platforms have been making algorithm and layout tweaks aimed at improving user experience, as well as revenue numbers. As a result, organic reach has effectively disappeared and the use of paid tactics has been rising.

But in light of the aforementioned scandals, user privacy concerns, and new data privacy laws, as well as the increasing need to tailor experiences to make meaningful connections, most major social media platforms are retooling their ad options to be more visual (eh hem, video) and personalized. And if they haven’t already, they will in 2019 and beyond.

For example, stricter ad targeting, customer satisfaction ratings, and ad transparency have been some of the bigger changes Facebook made this year. But the platform plans to invest in creating more advertising opportunities within its Facebook Watch platform, stating: “Next year we will continue to provide advertisers with more options to tailor their video ad campaigns and connect with their target audience.”

Facebook Watch

As another example, LinkedIn recently launched Dynamic Video Ads, which definitely need to be on the radar of B2B marketers.

“Dynamic Ads help you build deeper relationships with your audience by automatically customizing your ad creative with the publicly available information from LinkedIn member profiles,” LinkedIn said. “With this added visibility and scale, you can create more memorable experiences with the people that matter most to your business.”

And let’s talk about Pinterest for a second. While not as widely used in B2B, it has Instagram and Facebook appeal and potential for the right brands. The platform began testing wide-format video ads earlier this year, and just last month they debuted carousel ad formats, which boast enhanced targeting options.

Pinterest Carousel Ads

Finally, Snapchat, which is seeing an uptick in interest and use in the B2B space, launched Story Ads and just announced last week that it was rolling out retargeting, location-based options for its advertisers.

Snapchat Business

So, as we head into 2019, all social media platforms are doubling down on more visual, personalized ad options, and marketers should take advantage.

Ready. Set. Action.

As you prepare for 2019, remember what 2018 taught us—your prospects and customers are consumers, and consumers are skeptical and searching for truth, authenticity, meaningful engagement, and transparency.

As social networks continue to make platform tweaks in the interest of user experience and building back trust, so to must B2B marketers if they want to build stronger, trusting relationships with their audiences.

There will be challenges, but smart strategies and the willingness to adapt can help you overcome them and realize opportunities.

Content is the foundation of social media marketing. What’s on tap for 2019 in the content marketing realm? Check out our picks top content marketing trends and predictions to watch in 2019.

Tapping Key Takeaways from Recent Research on Fortune 500 Social Media Usage

The State of Social Media Marketing for Fortune 500 Companies

Blogs are booming. Instagram interest is on the rise. Facebook is forever fashionable. And LinkedIn continues to lead the pack.

These all reflect trends found among Fortune 500 companies on social media, according to recent research from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research.

We scoured UMass Dartmouth’s research in search of key takeaways and surprising tidbits that would intrigue and inspire B2B and B2C brands large and small. Here’s what you need to know about how the world’s largest corporations are tackling social media, plus some helpful resources to help give your social media marketing efforts a boost.

More Than Half of F500 Companies Now Have a Blog

It’s kind of amusing to see blogging grouped into this study as a social media tactic. But hey, the research comes from an academic institution, not a marketing entity, and they started conducting it 10 years ago when the lines were more blurred. In any case, there’s still plenty of integration and overlap between blogging and social media (i.e., long-form posts on LinkedIn) so the medium is definitely fair game here.

From 2017 to 2018, Dartmouth’s data finds one of the biggest year-to-year spikes in blog usage since they started tracking in 2008. The percentage of corporate blogs on company websites among Fortune 500 companies is up to 53%, rising 11 points from a year ago.

Blog Adoption by Fortune 500 Companies

If that number still seems low to you (it does to me), keep in mind the folks compiling this report aimed to include only blogs that: a) are public-facing, and b) include content that goes beyond “newsroom” type posts such as product announcements, press releases, and philanthropic involvement.

The chart above offers a compelling visualization of the firm traction that content marketing is now seeing in the high-level business world, after failing to truly take off for several years. There’s little reason to think we won’t see this proliferation power ahead at a frantic pace.

Of particular interest, to me, is the rapid decline in number of blogs that allow comments:

Fortune 500 Companies That Allow Blog Comments

This is emblematic of a real conundrum: the internet can be a nasty place. On large and well-trafficked blogs, moderating comments can prove to a be prohibitively time-consuming task. But dialogue is crucial, and preventing readers from being able to respond on corporate blogs really deters the openness and transparency brands should be striving to project.

There’s no easy solution to this dilemma, but one way to inject the voice of your audience in a controlled yet still authentic way is via strategic user-generated content. UGC not only helps you spotlight your customers and their stories, but can also help build rapport and a sense of community, all at a relatively low cost.

In general, we believe blogging is an essential digital marketing tactic for almost any business, large or small. For more insights on driving more targeted traffic to your own corporate blog, check out these recent posts:

Twitter and Facebook are Table Stakes for Top Dogs

Dartmouth reports that 455 of the 2018 F500 companies have active Twitter accounts (91%) and 445 (89%) have Facebook pages. On each, the top 10 companies are all accounted for. Commercial banks and specialty retailers are the only industry verticals with 100% representation across both channels.

It’s inexpensive to create a brand page on Facebook or Twitter, and keeping them updated requires only modest time investment, so it’s hardly surprising to see these high levels of penetration among heavy-hitters.

The great challenge, now and going forward, will be finding ways to stand out and break through on these platforms. On our blog, we make a point of keeping readers up-to-date on changing social algorithms and how marketers can gain visibility on feeds. The posts below can offer some guidance on this front:

Enterprise Instagram Adoption is Exploding

In 2013, 9% of Fortune 500 companies had an Instagram account. In 2018, that figure is up to 63%. As you can see below, the visually oriented platform has seen enormous year-to-year growth in the past half-decade:

Fortune 500 Instagram Usage

It isn’t hard to see why the corporate world is being drawn to Instagram like millennials to a group selfie – everyone’s there. Back in early 2013 the app had 100 million users; here in 2018 it just surpassed 1 billion.

With that astonishing number in mind, it feels like malpractice for any brand not to have some Instagram presence. But how can you really connect with audiences there? What are B2B brands and big companies doing successfully on this leisure-driven platform? Here are some posts that can help you see the big picture, with examples and actionable tips:

Fortune 500 Companies Are All-In on LinkedIn

While Facebook and Twitter are creeping upward, and Instagram is experiencing rapid growth, LinkedIn remains the leader in terms of F500 penetration. The Dartmouth report shows 489 of the companies (98%) with a presence on the platform, same as last year and up slightly from 97% in 2016.

Given its business-oriented context, and its audience of more than 500 million professionals, LinkedIn is clearly a no-brainer for any major company. I’m actually shocked that 100% of Fortune 500 brands aren’t linked up.  

Check out these articles for tips on tightening up your LinkedIn game:

Social Media is Big Business

Across all channels and platforms, the world’s most powerful corporations are increasingly recognizing social media marketing as a necessity rather than a nice-to-have — a trend we expect will continue into 2019.

UMass Dartmouth’s research finds that an overwhelming majority of 2018 F500 companies are present on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook; meanwhile, visually-driven networks like Instagram and YouTube are picking up steam fast in alignment with evolving user preferences.

If you want to get the full scoop on Fortune 500 social media usage, check out the full report. And if you’re hankering for more analysis of social media marketing trends in 2018, we’ve got you covered:

Twitter Has Renewed its Live Video Push & Here’s What You Need to Know

Once a pioneer in bringing live video to the social media world, Twitter fell behind the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, and others as this format rose to mainstream prominence. However, the platform’s recent move to make live video more easily discoverable shows Twitter is recommitting to video.

But the question is: Can Twitter recapture the magnetic energy of live video?

When I attended Jane Weedon’s keynote speech at Content Marketing World last month, I was deeply struck by this remark from Twitch’s Director of Business Development:

“Authentic and real-time video can be better than immaculately produced when it comes to engaging an audience.”

Her company’s model serves as proof of this assertion. Twitch welcomed more than 15 million daily visitors last year, and continues to see explosive growth, largely because of this dynamic.

There’s nothing too fancy about most of the platform’s broadcasts — it’s just real people on-screen in real-time, creating a uniquely relatable and immersive experience for viewers.

Increasing engagement is on the mind of social media marketers everywhere. As such, Twitter’s efforts to rejoin the live video fray are very much worth tracking, so let’s take a deeper look.

Twitter and Live Video

I’d almost entirely forgotten about this until a coworker reminded me, but Twitter was in on live video long before it was in vogue, having acquired Periscope back in 2015 while the live-streaming app was still in beta.

For whatever reason, that partnership never amounted to much, and real-time video has yet to take off on Twitter feeds. But the company is renewing its push to make this content more prominent and discoverable, announcing in a mid-September tweet:

“We’re making it easier to find and watch live broadcasts. Now, when accounts you follow go live, the stream will appear right at the top of your timeline.”

This falls in line with similar efforts from other social media channels. If you’ve logged into Facebook over the past several months, you’ve probably noticed a high prioritization of live-video broadcasts in your feed, even those from contacts you rarely engage with.

The rationale is clear. Video content is highly engaging, and when a live broadcast hooks a viewer it’s likely to keep them plugged into the site or app.

Twitter, in particular, is well suited for real-time video, because the platform’s experience is so strongly driven by what’s happening in the moment. Sure, Twitter’s content display algorithm has a tendency to (sometimes annoyingly) elevate hours- or even days-old posts in your feed, but when you click refresh you’ll get up-to-the-second tweets at the top.

This is part of what makes Twitter such an addictive destination for users. But it also presents a marketing conundrum — one this new move might help solve.

Marketing Implications of Twitter’s Live Video Focus

The trouble with Twitter’s transitory feed is that the content becomes somewhat ephemeral. If your tweet isn’t noticed immediately, it can quickly become buried under a deluge of newer posts, especially if it fails to garner enough initial engagement for algorithmic traction.

This has made life challenging for social marketers searching for organic results on Twitter. And that’s exactly why this live video push is intriguing.

As Andrew Hutchinson of Social Media Today writes:

“Now, live-streams will occupy more prominent space in the app screen, which could make it a more appealing option for businesses to consider. Having the option to get your streams shown right in front of your followers’ eyes could help raise brand awareness, and get people interacting with your content.”

Precisely. At a time where social media reach keeps growing more elusive for brands in the face of saturation and competition, it’s critical to take advantage of initiatives being stressed by the companies behind these channels.

TrackMaven CEO Allen Gannett was able to rack up millions of organic views with LinkedIn video, in large part because he recognized LinkedIn’s internal emphasis on growing and popularizing its native video feature. He figured out how to ride the wave, and turned his #AllenAsks series into a tsunami force.

Considerations Before Going Live on Twitter

Ready to dive in? Before you and your brand press record, there are a few things to keep in mind.

This tactic is more about growing engagement than reach. The increased visibility of live video on Twitter only applies to your existing followers. So while you will stand a better chance of grabbing their attention, live-streaming won’t necessarily help you attract new eyeballs.

Live video requires preparation and improvisation. There’s something tantalizing about live broadcasts, which helps explain why numerous sitcoms and dramas have experimented with the format as a means to boost ratings. For the viewers, there’s a sense that anything can happen, as you’re actually watching an event play out with no editing, no do-overs. That’s also what makes it unnerving for brands and marketers. Before going live, make sure you prep thoroughly, and feature people with a knack for thinking on their feet.

Live video also requires a purpose. As with any marketing tactic, you shouldn’t just do this for the sake of doing it. Is the live format actually adding something to your content? Is there a reason for using this approach, other than simply angling for exposure? A while back, our Caitlin Burgess offered up nine clever ways to activate live video on social media.

Stepping Up the Twitter Game

Without a doubt, Twitter is one of the toughest nuts to crack for social media marketers. But there are ways to make a real impact on the platform, and this latest development with live video offers one such pathway.

For further guidance, check out some of our past posts full of Twitter marketing tips and insights:

Will Twitter Succeed in Defeating Trolls? The Stakes for Marketers

“I’m addicted to you, don’t you know that you’re toxic?”

I can guarantee this will be the first and last time I ever open a blog post with lyrics from Britney Spears, but the pop star’s 2003 tribute to perilous romance seems to perfectly encapsulate my relationship with Twitter — and I know I’m not alone.

via GIPHY

I love Twitter. It’s easily my favorite social network. I’ve been active on it for almost a decade, and during that time I’ve had countless enlightening conversations (mostly about baseball and marketing), become friends with people I never would’ve encountered otherwise, and wasted more time than I’d like to admit scrolling mindlessly through my feed.

Twitter has some great perks — bite-sized content, real-time updates, tailored experiences — and these serve to strengthen its appeal as a marketing channel. But even as an avid fan, I can’t deny that it has also been fraught with negatives. At times, the platform can feel like a cesspool for abusive behavior, fake accounts, and bots deployed with the sole mission of harassing real users.

Recently, the company announced new measures in its continuing effort to improve the civility of discourse on Twitter while cutting down on fraud and abuse. Let’s take a closer look at these ongoing changes, and what they mean for social media marketers.

I love @Twitter. It’s easily my favorite #socialnetwork. But even as an avid fan, I can’t deny that it has also been frought with negatives. – @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet

Teeming with Trolls

In May, Twitter released a statement acknowledging the existence of “troll-like behaviors that distort and detract from the public conversation on Twitter, particularly in communal areas like conversations and search.”

“Fewer than 1% of accounts make up the majority of accounts reported for abuse,” wrote Del Harvey and David Gasca. “While still a small overall number, these accounts have a disproportionately large – and negative – impact on people’s experience.”

The veil of anonymity that Twitter allows can be a good thing: it enables folks with sensitive public images to maintain a discrete social presence, and also facilitates hilarious fictional accounts like @KimKierkegaard, a mashup of reality star Kim Kardashian and 19th-century philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, and @dog_feelings, which lives up to its name.

But of course, there are obvious downsides to this low barrier of entry. It’s all too easy to create a faceless and essentially untraceable account for whatever purpose one desires. Too often those purposes are nefarious. This rose to a head during the 2016 election and has become an increasingly prevalent sore spot for the platform.

As bots and empty handles became more pervasive, certain individuals began developing methods to game the system and inflate follower counts, creating a “fake influencer” epidemic and shaking marketers’ faith in the authenticity of their audiences.

“We aren’t proud of how people have taken advantage of our service,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey lamented earlier this year, “or our inability to address it fast enough.”

While the company’s response has not been as rapid or forceful as some would like, Twitter is taking action.

Purging and Learning

Most conspicuous among these initiatives has been “The Great Twitter Purge,” a systematic effort to sweep out fake and suspicious accounts. Data obtained by the Washington Post showed that more than 70 million accounts were suspended in May and June alone, at the expense of the company’s stock.

(Incidentally, the aforementioned Britney Spears was among the hardest-hit by the purge in terms of lost followers, and plenty of high-profile marketers saw their numbers drop as well, though the industry has generally approved of these actions.)

More recently, Twitter announced partnerships on academic projects addressing two primary areas of concern:

  • Echo chambers, and the ramifications of algorithms that filter content representing like-minded perspectives. A group led by Leiden University’s Dr. Rebekah Tromble “will analyze the echo chamber effect, and provide options on how to limit such impacts,” per Social Media Today.
  • The effects of exposure to a diverse array of viewpoints and backgrounds. This can be the natural sacrifice in the “echo chamber” dynamic referenced above — how costly is it?  “Evidence from social psychology has shown how communication between people from different backgrounds is one of the best ways to decrease prejudice and discrimination,” says Oxford’s Miles Hewstone, who will be among those spearheading the study.

It’s interesting to see Twitter taking forthright accountability for its broader implications in society. But what about the marketing implications?

What Twitter’s Moves Mean for Marketers

Twitter has always been a somewhat tough nut to crack for marketers, and the network’s diminishing reputation in the face of these controversial issues appears to be causing some businesses to further back off.

The 2018 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner showed Twitter losing ground, with 62% of marketers using it in their strategies compared to 68% in 2017. Meanwhile, the latest Sprout Social Index finds Twitter fourth on the list of most-used channels for ads at just 13%.

While it’s pretty simple to incorporate as a social media marketing tactic — schedule those short-and-sweet messages and fire ‘em out — the visible impact isn’t always there. It’s not uncommon to see brands with tens of thousands of followers getting only a handful of likes and responses to most of their updates, and clicks can be hard to come by.

When you’re pumping out tons of content and garnering minimal engagement, while also converting a relatively tiny fraction of users into buyers, it’s easy to see why many marketers haven’t found the juice to be worth the squeeze.

But these latest maneuvers from Twitter seemingly will only help.

If you saw your company’s following on the platform take a hit over the past few months during the purge, you’re not alone. But ultimately, it’s nice to have a little more confidence that you’re actually broadcasting to real people. As we’ve long been saying around here: quality trumps quantity.

Initial data backs up this hypothesis: Twitter reported an 81% increase in ad engagement during Q2 2018 compared to Q1 as it implemented its cleansing procedure.

TopRank Marketing Social Media Strategist Meg McDougall suggests that we’ll likely see a resulting rise in Twitter’s notoriously low CPMs, but advertisers will essentially be paying for the same number of eyeballs because fake accounts and their false impressions are being eliminated.

While it’s not clear what fallout we’ll see as a result of these new exploratory research initiatives, the shift is bound to be positive for marketers. Any reduction in the “echo chamber” algorithm could potentially grow your exposure to wider and more diverse audiences.

While it’s not clear what fallout we’ll see as a result of @Twitter’s new exploratory research initiatives, the shift is bound to be positive for #marketers. – @NickNelson #SocialMediaMarketing Click To Tweet

If the net outcome of these efforts is that Twitter users (even if there are less of them) become more engaged and active on the platform, that’s obviously going to help with content traction, both organic and paid.

“Any change that is made on social media in the interest of end users is ultimately valuable for marketers,” says McDougall.

Any change that is made on #socialmedia in the interest of end users is ultimately valuable for marketers. – @megnificent_ Click To Tweet

For a Twitter fanatic and marketer like myself, these developments are roundly encouraging. What’s your take? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Want to learn more about the present state of Twitter and social media marketing at large? Check out these posts from the TopRank Marketing blog:

Best Practices for Choosing Effective and Captivating Social Media Visuals

Best Practices for Selecting Social Media Visuals

For both B2B and B2C brands, social media marketing has become an age-old tactic by now. And it’s no surprise. Despite working 8 hours a day and sleeping (hopefully) 8 hours, the average person still spends nearly two hours each day on social media, according to a study by Mediakix.

But the social media landscape is changing—alot. Organic reach on Facebook is declining with changes to the Newsfeed, some of which are still rolling out. Twitter is struggling to retain their active users. Instagram is experimenting with long-form video content. LinkedIn is also investing in more video.

Given these changes and regular updates, the best practices for each platform are constantly evolving. But what’s one thing that isn’t poised to change anytime soon? The importance of using eye-catching, compelling visual content to draw people in.

Whether it’s YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn, or another social media platform, we know audiences consume content on those channels for a significant amount of time—they crave it. And if you want to make a positive impression, you have to go beyond ensuring proper image dimensions. You need make sure you’re sharing the right visual content on the right platform.

To help you paint your content in the best light on social media and help create a positive experience for your audience, we asked our own Social Strategist, Meg McDougall, to share some best practices for selecting the right social images and video for some of the major platforms. Here’s what she had to say.

LinkedIn Social Image and Video Best Practices

Think About Your Audience

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 562 million members and growing. But even though LinkedIn has a large audience of professionals, that doesn’t mean they exclusively want to engage in buttoned-up, stiff content.

To make sure your pages, profiles, and articles are interesting and engaging for your audience, you need to know your audience really well. Do they like it when you show a little personality? Do they like more formal language or slang? Take a look at your LinkedIn Company Page analytics to see what types of content and messages your audience is engaging with to come up with a direction for your page.

Take Advantage of Video

Announced in 2017, LinkedIn added the ability for members and brands to create and share video content. This gives content creators, publishers, and brands more opportunities to engage and connect with their audiences. Plus, LinkedIn video has autoplay enabled, making it easy for your audience to watch your content.

Speaking of video, all of your motion graphics should be published as a video .mp4 file, not a .GIF. Many browsers and social media platforms are disabling autoplay for GIFs and are instead converting them into click-to-play videos. Instead of relying on the social platform to convert the GIF for you, take control of how your motion graphic will appear by creating the graphic as a video file from the start.  

Who’s doing it right? GE. Just take a look at one of their most recent posts (below). Their video on GE turbines has received 1,841 likes and 29 comments in less than 24 hours. As of July 10, just four days after posting, that count was up to 3,656 likes and 58 comments. The video also takes advantage of captioning to ensure that even with the audio off, audiences can still engage with and learn from their video.

LinkedIn Video Example From GE

LinkedIn Image Specifications

  • Company Page Direct Uploads: 552 x 368
  • Image Previews From Link Posts: 436 x 228
  • Personal Page Direct Uploads: 1200 x 627
  • Personal Page Cover Photo: 646 x 220
  • Personal Page Image Previews From Link Posts: 520 x 272
  • Article Featured Image: 520 x 272
  • Article Cover Photo: 744 x 400
  • Video: 16:9 or 1:1

Twitter Social Image and Video Best Practices

Keep Site Traffic in Mind

Eighty percent of Twitter’s traffic comes from mobile devices. However, check your audience data in Google Analytics to see if mobile or desktop is your top traffic source for Twitter. Whichever device comes out on top, you should tailor your social imagery accordingly.

Consider the Number of Images

Depending on how many images you upload and attach to a post and which device its viewed on, Twitter will display them in different sizes and orientations. As a result, it’s important to remember how many images you want to share and how they will be seen on mobile versus desktop as they look very different.

Here’s how multiple images look on mobile from Buffer’s guide to social media image sizes:

Twitter Multiple Images on Mobile

Image credit: Buffer

And here’s how multiple images look on desktop:

Twitter Multiple Images on Desktop

Image credit: Buffer

Stand Out With Something Creative

A single day’s worth of Tweets could fill a 10 million page book—there are a lot of tweets out there that are saturating feeds. Make sure your content stands out with a creative image, graphic, video, or motion graphic.

For example, try making a custom image to add additional context to the image and capture more attention. Tools like Canva or Venngage make those custom images easy—just remember to make them the correct size or your design may get cropped off.

Who’s doing it right? Wendy’s. Already killing the game with their witty brand voice on Twitter, they also make sure they stand out in news feeds with custom images, memes, video, and other media. For example, in the tweet below, Wendy’s makes a timely reference to Avengers: Infinity War while also taking a fun shot at their competition (McDonald’s). The end result is a tweet with viral potential and over 230,000 likes.

Wendy's Custom Image Example on Twitter

Twitter Image Specifications

Mobile Images: 1200 x 675 (16:9)

Mobile Multiple Image Upload

  • One Image, 2:1
  • Two Images, 7:8
  • Three Images, 7:8 & 4:7
  • Four Images, 2:1

Desktop Images: 506 x 506 (1:1)

Desktop Multiple Image Upload

  • Two Images, 252 x 252 (1:1)
  • Three Images, 337 x 337 (1:1)
  • Four Images, 379 x 379 (1:1)

Video: 16:9 or 1:1

Facebook Social Image and Video Best Practices

Keep Videos Short and Sweet

More and more brands are creating more Facebook video as an average of 100 million hours of video are watched each day on the platform. Browsing through your own Facebook accounts, you’ll likely notice videos have taken over. Your eyes might be drawn to a video recipe from Tasty or a video from TechCrunch on the latest technology news.

To create Facebook videos that drive the best results, create videos that are between 60 and 90 seconds long. In a study that analyzed 100 million Facebook videos, Buzzsumo found that videos between 60 and 90 seconds had the most engagement on Facebook.

BuzzSumo Graph on Facebook Video Interactions

Image credit: Buzzsumo

When it comes to Facebook video, it’s also worth noting that 85% of Facebook users watch videos without sound. Any narration or audio you include in the clip might not make it to a majority of your audience. To ensure that your message is communicated to your viewers who prefer silence, add captions or copy onto your Facebook videos. This way both types of viewers get the full impact of your content.

Support Multiple Traffic Objectives With Carousels

Oftentimes, social messages contain one link or call to action (CTA). However, Facebook is changing that with their new carousel page posts that can showcase multiple images, links, and headlines. As a collection of links and images, your Facebook followers can browse through your post to click on the link that’s most relevant to them. This makes carousels a great tool if you have a campaign with multiple landing pages or traffic objectives.

Who’s doing it right? Skype. While carousels make a natural fit for promoting several or even one product, Skype went in a different direction. Instead of promoting one of their software products, Skype is using carousels to share and generate awareness for their work with The Young Actors Project.

Facebook Carousel Post Example From Skype

Facebook Image Specifications

  • Image Uploads: 476-wide
  • Vertical Uploads: 476 x 714
  • Video: 1:1 or 2:3
  • Image Previews From Link Post: 476 x 249
  • Carousel Images: 300 x 300
  • Cover Photo: 820 x 312
  • Link-less Image Ratio (Paid): 16:9 or 9:16
  • Linked Image Ratio (Paid): 1200 x 628

Instagram Social Image and Video Best Practices

Don’t Be a Square

Instagram used to only allow images with a square, 1:1 aspect ratio. However, they now allow for both horizontal and vertical image content. This can be done in regular image uploads, but also in Instagram Stories. So, don’t feel like you have to keep your images in those tight, perfect boxes. Use whatever orientation and ratio works best for the image you want to share. Here’s a great example courtesy of Buffer:

Example of Vertical Content on Instagram

Image credit: Buffer

Drive Conversions With Stories

Instagram has been known to marketers for making it a little harder to share links. On Instagram, URLs and links don’t work in the description of traditional image uploads. As a result, many brands use their profile bio to add in a URL and update it for each campaign.

This is a good workaround, however, it requires a lot of additional clicks and steps from both audiences and social media marketers.

Instagram Stories, however, offer a better solution. Through stories, accounts with over 10,000 followers can attach a link to your post that audiences can visit by swiping up. This makes it easy to drive traffic to your target pages and drive more conversions. Plus, your audience doesn’t have to leave the Instagram platform to view the link—they can stay directly within the Instagram interface.

Don’t have 10,000 followers on Instagram? Getting your account verified will also do the trick.

Who’s doing it right? Apple. Using Instagram Stories to tease their brand videos are captivating and engaging pieces of content. Taking advantage of both image and video, Apple knows how to pull people in and get them invested in a good story. To drive traffic to their objective pages, they’re also utilizing Instagram’s swipe up feature.

Apple Instagram Stories Example

Instagram Image Specifications

  • Square Image Upload: 1080 x 1080
  • Vertical Image Upload: 1080 x 1350
  • Horizontal Image Upload: 1080 x 566
  • Video: 1:1 or 2:3
  • Instagram Story: 1080 x 192

Size Up Your Social Campaigns

Social media is an important piece of any content distribution or promotion strategy. With each platform having a unique voice, purpose, and target audience for your brand, it’s important that you customize your social images and videos for each one. Whether that means customizing the image size, picking individual images for each platform, or creating a special video, the more you tailor your social imagery, the better.

Need help finding the perfect image for your content? Read our guide on how to find and choose dynamic images.If you’re ready to dive into the world of video, make sure you’re creating the right videos with our guide to the different types video for B2B marketing and when to use them.