Judith Middleton, CEO of DUO Marketing + Communications, discusses why LinkedIn is key to effective B2B digital marketing. She unpacks why LinkedIn is different to other platforms and mentions that it continues to grow in South Africa and will likely surpass Twitter. 

According to We Are Social’s Digital in 2019 report, the number of active social users grew by five million to a total of 23 million between January 2018 and January 2019. These new users are increasingly mobile, with their device being their primary means of access to the internet.

South African companies are now using a wide variety of digital marketing platforms to reach out to existing and prospective customers, but with advertising increasingly becoming a costly affair, they are having to prioritise rather than spread their budget around if they are to secure the best result. This has been accompanied by an increase in consumption of visual media such as video, with the average length of videos watched increasing steadily.

However, this boom for South Africa comes at a time when social media platforms have long been decreasing the organic reach of content from companies. Apart from looking to this as a lucrative revenue stream, there has been a growing call from some sections of users to make their feeds more personal again. In response, platforms are now giving preference to content from friends over those from organisations.

B2B digital marketing

This has created pressure on the cost of advertising, and companies with smaller budgets often cannot afford to promote their content across multiple platforms with the aim of finding the right target audience. They now have to prioritise their spending, and this depends on who exactly they are looking to reach.

Of course, dealing with B2C and B2B is very different, both in terms of traditional and digital marketing. Whereas the regular consumer is often looking for the best price, the business customer is looking for education, credibility and reliability before committing to investing in a new product or solution for their organisation. Here it is about building trust, showcasing industry expertise and directing them to content that can do this.

In addition, B2C is about reaching out to the person who has disposable income and is able to commit to a purchase at that moment. In B2B, it is not enough to just reach out to someone who has an interest in your product or solution, but they further have to be in a position of influence, or be the purchasing decision-makers themselves.

The social business platform

This is where LinkedIn is different. It focuses not only on the demographics or interests of the users, but their education and workplace. And with high numbers of people making use of the platform as their online CV, it ends up being quite accurate too. Despite being aimed at professional users, the platform continues to grow in South Africa, with a total of just under 7 million users, with male users in the slight majority. It is the fifth most popular social media platform behind YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and continues to register user growth, which will likely see it surpass Twitter.

The targeting features offered means that companies can aim specific, personalised campaigns at users based on location, industry sector, company name and size, job title and seniority, and more. This helps reach the influencers as well as the key decision-makers within your target market, in a far better manner than relying on demographics and adding keywords and interests.

However, this does not mean that there is no place for other social media platforms when it comes to reaching out to a B2B audience, but this requires that the proper digital fundamentals be put in place first. Platforms such as Facebook offer highly competitive and cost-effective advertising, and companies can turn to these more ‘personal’ platforms for remarketing, which ensures that your brand remains top of mind.