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.

Should B2B Marketers Embrace Ephemeral Content?

Burning Matches Emphemeral Content Image

One great thing about being a young Gen X’er: There was no social media during my junior high and high school years. 

Young millennials weren’t so lucky. They chronicled their adolescence in excruciating detail on Myspace, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, every half-formed thought and laundry-detergent-eating stunt preserved forever.

So it’s no surprise that the youngest social media users leapt on Snapchat when it launched. Snapchat Stories provided the feeling of togetherness that social media’s good at, without the potential to embarrass your future self.

Other platforms were quick to buy into the idea of ephemeral content — content that expires and is deleted after a set period of time, usually 24 hours. Instagram’s creatively-named offering, Instagram Stories, boasts 500 million daily users. That’s more daily users for a single feature on Instagram than there are for the entirety of Twitter. 

But don’t count Twitter out just yet — they’re testing their own ephemeral content, called, unfortunately, “Fleets.” Even the level-headed folks at LinkedIn* are testing LinkedIn Stories with a handful of users.

For B2B content marketers, ephemeral content seems like the opposite of everything we try to do. DISPOSABLE content? No SEO value, no repurposing potential… what’s the point?

Should B2B marketers go ephemeral? It depends. Here’s what you need to know.

Ephemeral Content for B2B Marketers

Before we get into specifics, you should first consider ephemeral content the same way you would any content. I’d recommend asking the following four questions.

Four Questions B2B Marketers Should Ask about Ephemeral Content

These questions aren’t unique to ephemeral content, of course. They’re questions worth asking for any new marketing channel or tactic. They are:

  • Is my audience on this channel?
  • Is my audience consuming content on this channel?
  • Can we produce high-quality content for this channel?
  • Does this channel offer a logical next step for our audience?

For most B2b marketers, the answers to all these questions is “yes.” If your audience includes millennials or young Gen Xers, they’re likely on Instagram Stories at least. They’re used to the format and will likely be open to ephemeral content on LinkedIn and Twitter as it rolls out.

Can your brand produce high-quality ephemeral content? That’s one of the chief selling points of Stories — they’re easy and cheap to produce. There are robust tools for creating them built into the platforms that host them. And audiences expect a more informal, less-produced content experience.

As far as next steps go, Instagram Stories are actually more marketer-friendly than Instagram posts. Users can swipe up in a story to go directly to another piece of content, a lead gen form, or any other hyperlink. There’s no “Please visit the link in our bio” for Stories — it’s an immediate pass-through.

Now, if your offering skews more to the Boomer demographic, or you’re courting people too hip — or technology-averse — to be on social media, you might hold off. But it’s safe to say the majority of B2B marketers can get some juice out of ephemeral content.

How to Make the Most of Ephemeral Content for B2B

You don’t get the opportunity to build a content library with ephemeral content. By its nature, it should serve a different purpose than blog posts or eBooks. Think about building an audience and engaging them on a regular basis, rather than creating a library people wander in and out of.

Focus on Your People, Not Your Product

There are plenty of outlets for you to serve up product information and sales brochures. Ephemeral content is better suited for highlighting the people who work for your company. Focus on what makes them unique, what makes them relatable, and what makes them excellent at serving your customers. 

Mailchimp is great at this type of story. Their “Day in the Life” series highlights and celebrates individual employees.

“Ephemeral content is better suited for highlighting the people who work for your company. Focus on what makes them unique, what makes them relatable, and what makes them excellent at serving your customers.” @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

Be Passionate about Purpose

For a growing majority of consumers, what a brand sells is less important than what the brand stands for. We’re looking to buy from businesses that share our values, and B2B buyers are no exception. Ephemeral content is a good way to get the message out about your brand’s larger purpose in the world, to highlight your vision for the future and your progress towards those goals. 

Lush is great at blending their purpose with their more product-centered ephemeral content. It only takes a few Instagram Stories to see exactly where they stand and what they value. 

Show Your Personality

If your organization is still looking for permission to loosen up a little, ephemeral content is your permission slip. It’s a format with lower audience expectations, one that’s focused on short-form, entertaining content, and one that won’t linger to haunt you until the end of time. 

So it’s well worth experimenting with your brand’s voice and personality. You may find that B2B buyers are just as starved for entertainment as the rest of us.

Cisco is absolutely killing it with their Stories right now. The playful, energetic tone isn’t what you would expect from a staid titan of industry, but it’s delightful to watch.

“If your organization is still looking for permission to loosen up a little, ephemeral content is your permission slip.” @NiteWrites Click To Tweet

Serialize Your Content

Ephemeral content is all about building an audience that will make your feed appointment viewing. Serialized content can help establish that habit. There are a few easy ways to serialize:

  • Establish regular features, like Mantra Monday, Thoughtful Thursday, or Whiskey Wednesday (okay, maybe not the last one)
  • Chop up a long-form video into segments and air them sequentially
  • Focus on a different department every week to explore your organization

For longer-form serialized content, it’s worth creating an IGTV Series. Series come with tools to help you create and promote new episodes to bring in subscribers. Check out General Electric’s Taking the World to Work series for inspiration.

Let’s Get Ephemeral!

Ephemeral content is one of the primary ways people are using social media — which means it’s relevant for any B2B business with an audience on social platforms. Adding ephemeral content to your content marketing strategy will exercise a different set of muscles than your regular content creation, but it’s a form that rewards continued experimentation.

Need help with ephemeral or evergreen content? Our content marketing team is ready.

* Note: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

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.

Hiding Out: How B2B Marketers Can Adapt to Hidden Like Counts

Colorfully painted hands waving goodbye to like counts.

Doesn’t anyone like me? Where have all my likes gone?

Likes on Instagram are being hidden, as the Facebook-owned firm recently began expanding a test program hiding the number of likes — or more accurately the small heart buttons we click to show support — that posts on the platform receive, showing the total number only to the person or brand who authored the post.

via GIPHY

Instagram head Adam Mosseri recently appeared on CBS This Morning and said, “We don’t want Instagram to be such a competition. We want it to be a place where people spend more of their energy connecting with the people that they love and the things that they care about.”

The change brought to some U.S. users what Instagram has had in the works since 2018, when it began testing hidden likes for certain users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.

The tests have brought praise from some, outrage from others, and caused some to voice concern that hiding like counts could have a negative impact on marketers, especially those involved in influencer marketing.

It’s no wonder that concern has been expressed by some marketers, as by 2022 brands are expected to spend as much as $15 billion on influencer marketing according to recent forecast data from Business Insider.

How will hiding like and other engagement counts affect customer engagement rates, and how will it change B2B influencer marketing?

Let’s look at some of the ways that B2B marketers can adjust to the new hidden Web.

Instagram Tests Hiding Like Counts — What Does it Mean?

What Does It Mean with pens and paper image.

As we mentioned, the ability to click the heart button to like an Instagram post hasn’t gone away during the test, but only a post’s author will be able to see how many likes their item has received. Exactly how this will affect the various engagement metrics brands have in place remains to be seen, however the measurement of likes now faces a sizable challenge.

Although Instagram and parent company Facebook have yet to release any results from the tests, or even any indication that they may become permanent, some firms have started to look at initial results using their own data.

One early study of 154,000 Instagram influencers from influencer marketing platform HypeAuditor looked at how like counts were affected in the non-U.S. test countries, showing that among influencers with between five and 20,000 followers there was an across-the-board decrease in the total number of likes, as shown in the image below.

HypeAuditor chart.

For influencers with between 5,000 and 20,000 Instagram followers, likes dropped between three percent and 15 percent in each of the nations, the study results showed.

Among influencers with between 100,000 and a million Instagram followers, total like counts were also shown as having fallen, with the exception of those in Japan, where like counts surprisingly rose nearly seven percent, as shown in the chart below.

HypeAuditor chart image.

Australia’s Marketing Magazine took a look at the study results specifically in that county, in “Australian Like counts drop 15% following Instagram Like hiding test.”

Top Influencer Qualities Measurable Far Beyond Likes

Hands showing thumbs up on a background of sky image.

Research firm eMarketer recently produced a chart using data from GlobalWebIndex that shows which qualities U.S. and U.K. social media users see as the most important for influencers, as shown below.

eMarketer Global Webindex Influencer Chart

Trustworthiness, the ability to provide informative content, and being entertaining or humorous ranked as the top three social media influencer qualities in the study, while the total number of likes and followers an influencer has appears all the way at the bottom of the list.

“Metrics that measure influencers by trust and the other qualities consumers value most will likely take on greater importance than those merely measuring likes and follower counts.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet

In a recent informal Twitter poll we asked B2B marketers which influencer quality they consider the most important in driving them to partner with an influencer on a campaign.

TopRank Marketing Twitter Poll image.

Will hidden like counts be a major trend in 2020? We asked that question in our latest Twitter poll, where you can chime in with your own vote on top 2020 marketing trends.

We’ve written seven recent articles about the importance of trust in marketing, which you’ll find below, and with like counts increasingly being hidden, now is a good time to re-focus on engagement metrics that incorporate trust.

More Shoppable Links & Demetrification

Woman pushing order online button image.

Instagram has given brands and influencers with more than 10,000 followers the ability to use its “swipe-up” feature to include an off-site link with referral or affiliate codes in Instagram Stories. Some brands and influencers have used these so-called “shoppable links” to drive purchasers directly to e-commerce platforms instead of merely seeking likes or shares.

Wired explored some of the areas centered around the issue recently in “Why My Friend Became a Grocery Store on Instagram,” and earlier this year also looked at the so-called process of “demetrication,” and the affect it could have on social media use.

Instagram isn’t the only major social platform to test changes in how like counts and other engagement metrics are derived.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey has shared his concern about the potential for overemphasizing like and follower counts, and his firm even launched a test that gave less weight to likes and re-tweets on the platform.

These changes from Instagram, Twitter and other social platforms may help marketers usher in a move to new measurement and analytics strategies, particularly those with an increased focus on the importance of comments.

Challenges that like counts have had to face include both pay-for-like schemes and fake likes driven by AI-powered bots, yet even a shift to metrics that focus more on comments won’t be entirely immune to attempts at gaming the system with fake responses.

If Instagram and other social platforms permanently adopt hidden likes, influencer measurement tools and services will undoubtedly continue to look for the most reliable and accurate engagement signals that can be repeatedly measured.

Since I first went online in 1984 with my 300-baud bulletin board system, one of the fundamentals of online communications has thankfully remained — the written comment.

“With the recent drop in emphasis on like counts we’re seeing, the comment remains as one of the purest ways a person can show their support for a brand.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis Click To Tweet

If consumers know their likes will be hidden, will it increase the likelihood that they’ll instead go the extra mile and take the time to write a comment? That remains to be seen, however 2020 is likely to produce an increased focus on comments and other forms of measurable engagement that don’t involve like, follower or share tallies.

A Wealth of Social Engagement Measurement Tools

social media marketing influencers smmw16

There have never been as many companies offering tools and services to measure marketing campaign success and engagement online as there are now, yet serious obstacles to thoroughness and accuracy abound, with an Internet today filled largely with walled communities that only allow certain data to be gathered for analysis.

Even though the Internet is now 50 years old, and has brought about incredible and profound advances in many areas, there is still a long and largely unmarked path ahead before measuring engagement will ever be broadly accurate.

Hope is certainly not lost however — far from it — as many excellent tools exist that work wonders with the data they’re able to pull in.

We’re fans of influencer marketing platform Traackr, which we incorporate into our research when putting out our annual lists of the industry’s top influencers involved with B2B marketing, content marketing, women in marketing, and social media marketing.

More To Hide — Shortened Snippets & The Rise of the “[…]”

via GIPHY

More than likes and share counts are increasingly being hidden from our daily online excursions.

I recall years ago when information online suddenly began to get hidden away in another way — not from businesses cutting off access entirely to data, but from a less-is-more minimalist Web landscape and design ethos that cut off tremendous amounts of information by truncating it and added either an ellipsis, “[…]” or a click-to-expand plus sign.

This trend has continued largely unchecked for decades now, and you might be surprised if you take the time to sit back and count the sheer number of […] occurrences you encounter online daily.

I’m not the only one who’s been frustrated with webpages, services, and apps that truncate a great deal of information in the name of saving screen space, only to force us to click-to-expand sometimes dozens of times, and rarely is the helpful “expand all” option offered these days.

I’ve often wondered — what percentage of the web is now hidden by default, and how many people ever click to see this hidden information?

Thankfully, part of good search engine optimization (SEO) has always been knowing precisely how much text is visible to both consumers and to search-engine indexing robots and crawlers, to best take advantage of everything visible online today.

A Likeless 2020 Brings New B2B Marketing Opportunities

via GIPHY

The jury is still out on whether or not 2020 will see more social platforms hiding or placing less emphasis on like, share, and follower counts, but savvy B2B marketers will be prepared to shift to other facets of measurable campaign engagement.

It’s an increasingly tricky and quickly-changing landscape for marketers, requiring expertise, dedication, and time — leading some to hire a professional B2B marketing agency like TopRank Marketing, which had the honor of being named by Forrester as the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in its “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America, Q1 2019” report.”

Whether you tackle the challenges ahead in 2020 in-house, on your own, or with a top-tier agency, the year ahead is certain to bring unforeseen marketing industry changes, which we’ll cover here on our blog and in our weekly video news round-up with Joshua Nite and Tiffani Allen, set to reach a milestone 200th episode early in 2020.

In closing, here are six articles we’ve published this year that aim to help B2B marketers measure engagement:

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)

Over 50 Top Social Media Marketing Blogs

Social Media Marketing Blogs

The world of Social Media is probably responsible for more innovation in digital marketing over the past 5 to 10 years than nearly any other discipline. From ephemeral story based content to live video to all the things being done with data for more personalized marketing, staying in top of what’s real vs. the hype in marketing is increasingly difficult.

Top help marketers find great sources of marketing advice, we’ve curated the BIGLIST of marketing blogs and more recently a marketing blogs from martech companies. Adding to that curation effort and our own solid social media marketing advice is today’s list of social media marketing blogs.

This list focuses in on blogs covering all aspects of social media marketing including the usual suspects of platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn as well as newer platforms like TikTok. From trends to strategies to tactics to analytics, this group of blogs about social media and marketing is a great mix of big names, publications, platforms and a few names that are hopefully new to you.

1. Adweek Social Pro Daily @adweek
Platform news, industry trends and plenty of brand examples.
Our favorite post: Social Networks Finally Bypassed Print Newspapers as a Primary Source of News

2. Andrea Vahl Blog @AndreaVahl
Everything you wanted to know about Facebook advertising plus a glimpse of “Grandma Mary”.
Our favorite post: Facebook Video Ads – What’s Working Now

3. Awario Blog @AwarioApp
Social media monitoring, selling, research and influencer marketing advice.
Our favorite post: 10 of the best social media marketing tools for 2019

4. Brian Solis @briansolis
One of the true pioneering thought leaders on social media that continues to offer strategic insights – including how to temper social media use for a more creative, productive and happy life ala Lifescale.
Our favorite post: The Past, Present And Future Of Social Media – How We Fell To The Dark Side And Why The Force Is With Us

5. Brand24 Blog @brand24
Social listening, marketing and industry news plus best practices on everything from hashtags to social influencers.
Our favorite post: A Complete Guide to Social Media Analysis

6. CinchShare Blog @CinchShare
Social Media Marketing tips for small business including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and blogging advice.
Our favorite post: Grow your team on Facebook by doing these 3 things

7. Digimind Blog @digimindci
Social insight driven marketing advice, competitive social intelligence tips and soup to nuts social media campaign direction for agencies.
Our favorite post: Optimize Your Content Marketing Strategy in 13 Steps with Social Media Intelligence

8. DreamGrow Blog @dreamgrow
Social Media Marketing advice plus curated lists of resources.
Our favorite post: How To Integrate Social Media With eCommerce in 2019

9. Facebook Business Blog @facebook
Official blog from Facebook on advertising news, best practices and thought leadership.
Our favorite post: Turn Interested Shoppers Into Buyers with a Guided Shopping Experience in Messenger

10. Falcon Insights Hub @falconio
Social Media Marketing strategy, tactics and ROI measurement plus platform specific best practices.
Our favorite post: 5 Social Media Trends to Watch in 2019

11. Gary Vaynerchuk Blog @garyvee
The content machine that is Garyvee covers social media marketing thought leadership, trends, news and practical advice for specific social networks.
Our favorite post: 5 LinkedIn Marketing Strategies for 2019

12. Gleam Blog @gleamapp
A lot of how to social media marketing content, tips on using Gleam apps and advice on social contests, giveaways, coupons and product hunts.
Our favorite post: Stop Buying Likes: 25+ Tips to Drive Real Engagement on Facebook

13. Grow @markwschaefer
Mark Schaefer’s blog on the intersection of marketing, technology and humanity featuring provocative insights on industry trends, featured examples of social media and marketing in action and practical advice.
Our favorite post: What Is Your Social Media Marketing Purpose? (If You Don’t Know, This Will Help)

14. Hopper HQ Blog @hopper_hq
All things Instagram marketing ranging from trends to tips and a bit of advice on working with social influencers too.
Our favorite post: How to Measure B2B Social Media Marketing Success

15. Hot in Social Media @hotinsm
Social platform news and tips covering the gamut of social media marketing topics plus curated advice from industry experts.
Our favorite post: How to Use TikTok Like a PRO: Actionable Tips for Marketers

16. Iconosquare Blog @iconosquare
Focused information on marketing with Facebook and Instagram.
Our favorite post: Instagram Marketing Strategy: Your A-Z Guide

17. Instagram Business Blog @instagram
Official blog from Instagram sharing platform updates, features advertising advice.
Our favorite post: Creative Secrets of Instagram Stories

18. Jeff Bullas Blog @jeffbullas
Social Media Marketing best practices from Jeff and guest contributors.
Our favorite post: 9 Insider Tips For Increasing Your LinkedIn Leads

19. Jon Loomer Blog @jonloomer
This blog is Facebook marketing central – everything you ever wanted to know.
Our favorite post: How to Edit a Facebook Ad and Retain Social Proof

20. Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog @kfreberg
Dr. Karen Freberg’s take on social media marketing, PR and crisis communications.
Our favorite post: Super Bowl 2019: Trends & Takeaways from a Social Media Professor

21. Katie Lance Blog @katielance
Great example of a personal brand showcasing social media marketing advice with a slant towards the real estate audience.
Our favorite post: How to Attract Your Dream Client Through Social Media and Storytelling

22. Keyhole Blog @keyholeco
Recent attention to a variety of social media marketing tools as well as practical advice for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and hashtag marketing.
Our favorite post: Hashtags: A Beginner’s Guide and How to Use them Effectively – Keyhole

23. Later Blog @latermedia
Instagram Marketing strategy, tips, tools, resources and guides.
Our favorite post: Real or Fake: 5 Instagram Algorithm Rumors Explained

24. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog @linkedinmktg
Official blog from Linkedin offering marketing thought leadership, industry trends, news and practical advice on how to make the most of marketing and advertising on LinkedIn. (client)
Our favorite post: 10 Content Ideas for your LinkedIn Page

25. Louise Myers Visual Social Media Blog @Louise_Myers
Practice visual social media marketing tips for Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest plus advice on blogging.
Our favorite post: How to Boost Your Social Media Strategy for 2019

26. Madalyn Sklar Blog @MadalynSklar
Literally everything you would ever want to know about building and engaging a community on Twitter with plenty of attention towards tools.
Our favorite post: How to Grow Your Twitter Community: 7 Essential Tips

27. Meltwater Blog: Social Media @MeltwaterSocial
Social Media thought leadership, practical advice and featured brand social media examples.
Our favorite post: Social Sidekick: Your Monthly Guide to Social Holidays, Themes, and Noteworthy Events

28. NetBase Blog @NetBase
Advice on social media listening, analytics and practical advice plus applications for social intelligence.
Our favorite post: Social Media Monitoring vs Social Listening – Yes, There’s a Difference!

29. Planoly Blog @planoly
Stay on top of Instagram and IG Marketing with practical tips and examples.
Our favorite post: How to Stay Motivated with Your Blog and Instagram

30. Problogger @problogger
Dedicated to the art and science of blogging and no one tells that story better than Darren Rowse.
Our favorite post: How to Start a Blog When You’re Not an Expert: 11 Ways to Make it Work

31. Quintly @quintly
Social Media Marketing research and analysis, best practices, trends and news about the platform.
Our favorite post: Instagram Study: We analyzed 9 million posts and here’s what we’ve learned

32. Snapchat for Business @snapchat
Official blog from Snapchat featuring the latest launches, announcements, and insights.
Our favorite post: CPG on Snapchat: Why Gen Z and millennials make all the difference

33. Socialnomics @equalman
Erik Qualman’s long running thought leadership blog on social media and marketing.
Our favorite post: 22 Social Media Tips From The Pros To Skyrocket Your 2019 ROI

34. Social Insider Blog @socialinsiderio
A cornucopia of how to articles on social media marketing plus a fun series of interviews with industry experts called Socialinsider Insta’rviews.
Our favorite post: The Most Impactful Social Media Trend That Businesses Should Integrate It In 2019

35. Social Media Examiner @SMExaminer
Probably the most popular blog about social media marketing from Mike Stelzner and team that also run the Social Media Marketing World conference.
Our favorite post: 10 Metrics to Track When Analyzing Your Social Media Marketing

36. Social Media Explorer @smxplorer
An original social media marketing blog covering the gamut of social media topics including tips, tools, news, and case studies.
Our favorite post: Up And Coming Social Media Trends Driven By Millennials And Generation Z

37. Social Media Lab @agorapulse
A special project from the folks at Agorapulse highlighting their investment of over $15k per month to help “Crack the Code” of social media and then report those results to readers.
Our favorite post: LinkedIn Post Length: Does Data Support the Idea that Longer is Better?

38. Social Media Today @socialmedia2day
A community blog offering a comprehensive view of social media marketing including updates to social platforms, trends, strategy and tactics.
Our favorite post: Social Media Calls to Action: 19 Words & Phrases to Generate More Engagement

39. Social Media Week News & Insights @socialmediaweek
Regular updates on the famous Social Media Week events in New York and Los Angeles plus coverage of social media technologies and marketing tactics.
Our favorite post: Boost Your Instagram Stories Game for 2019 With These 10 Practices

40. Social Report Blog @thesocialreport
A collection of practical posts about marketing on all of the major social networks plus trends and examples.
Our favorite post: 10 Top Social Media Scheduling Tools to Save Time in 2019

41. Social Sorted @SociallySorted
Donna Mortiz offers awesome monthly list posts of social media marketing ideas and in between shares visual and video marketing advice for social media channels.
Our favorite post: 60+ April Social Media Ideas – Videos, GIFs and more!

42. Spiderworking @Spiderworking
Amanda Webb covers social platform updates, examples and practical advice about small business social and content marketing.
Our favorite post: Relationship Marketing With Jessika Phillips, Pots Of Gold And LinkedIn Networking

43. Sue B Zimmerman @SueBZimmerman
The guru of Instagram marketing.
Our favorite post: How To Grow Instagram Followers in 2019

44. The Social Media Hat @SocialMediaHats
Mike Allton’s blog with practical advice about blogging, social media, SEO and email marketing.
Our favorite post: How to Create 26 Pieces Of Content From A Facebook Live

45. Talkwalker Blog @Talkwalker
Social Media Marketing and analytics blog with an emphasis on social monitoring and data applications.
Our favorite post: Social media trends that will impact 2019

46. Twitter Marketing Blog @Twitter
Official blog from Twitter about product news, marketing and advertising best practices and research.
Our favorite post: 10 ways marketing changed with Twitter

47. Unmetric Blog @unmetric
Social Media Marketing strategy, industry trends, and how to articles focused on brands.
Our favorite post: Brands vie for the throne in the game of social media marketing

One trend I’ve noticed is that many individuals that have really made a name for themselves as trusted voices in the social media space during the formative years of the industry simply are not blogging as much or have diversified into other areas of marketing. At the same time, a steady drumbeat of social media marketing advice can be found amongst a smaller number of highly focused industry blogs and companies serving the social media marketing industry.

Speaking of the social media marketing industry, you may have noticed some well known social media marketing technology brands are not on the above list. That’s because we’ve already included them in the martech list, but they certainly belong in this collection, so here they are:

If you’re more interested in following specific people in the world of social media marketing, then be sure to check out this list of social media marketing influencers for 2019.

Which social media marketing blogs would you add?

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.