by Melody Caraballo

December 10, 2019

It’s the year that President Donald Trump tweeted more than 11,000 times, Mark Zuckerberg experienced more grilling than many American restaurant chains and political advertising policy turned into a techbro showdown. Today, social media is a part of so many complex issues, it’s almost easier at this point to keep up with algorithm and feature changes. Almost.

In case you haven’t had a chance to examine the many updates to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram this past year, we’ve highlighted the most important ones for B2B marketers.

Goodbye, Google+, hello Google Maps

Google shuttered the virtual doors of its social network in April 2019 and swung open the gates to Google My Businessand Google Maps. Google My Business has always been important for local SEO, but now you can add company products, more closely tying GMB to sales. Meanwhile, Google Maps began improving its analytics and providing social functionality.

Google Maps for B2B? Yes.

Just because you don’t generate foot traffic doesn’t mean you can’t earn web traffic.

Business owners and prospective employees could be looking online for products and businesses like yours. Not so surprisingly, their search behaviors and purchasing habits don’t become wildly different when wearing their professional decision-making hats.

So when one of these interested parties searches your company name on Google, a veritable one-stop shop of information shows up, called a knowledge display. Some of the knowledge display features that benefit B2Bs are:

  • Direct contact – Users can get directions, call, go to social profiles or visit your website.
  • Reviews – Think of them as mini customer testimonials.
  • About – Position your business and provide useful information such as revenue (for investors) and number of employees (for candidates).
  • Insights – Quickly see how people are finding you and what actions they take.

LinkedIn laces up

LinkedIn enhanced its feature set and newsfeed algorithm considerably in 2019.

While not yet rolled out to all users, this social media B2B powerhouse has added employee engagement capabilities that should prove key in optimizing your 2020 social media strategy.

  • Employee notifications – Alert employees to important posts so that they might share with their own networks.
  • Kudos and team moments – Welcome new employees, spotlight the achievements of your loyal employees and shout out the incredible work of teams across your organization.

Other recent features may sound shockingly behind the times—cough cough, emoji reactions and events—but present new opportunities for B2B.

  • Newsfeed algorithm – Rather than the newsfeed favoring users with the biggest following or posts with the most virality, LinkedIn tailors content based on connections, who you’ve interacted with directly, who you’ve worked with and those whose profile contains shared interests and experience. LinkedIn Pages are still considered in this equation rather than devalued as in Facebook’s algo.
  • Community hashtags – Pages can increase visibility by associating with three relevant hashtags. Perhaps more importantly, this allows Page admins to participate in trending conversations rather than relying on employees.
  • Interest targeting – Paid ads are where LinkedIn really made some advances in 2019. Interest targeting allows advertisers to serve relevant ads and content matched to a user’s professional interests. You can also target specific accounts to take advantage of an account-based marketing approach or, for a hiring campaign, reach people who are interested in pursuing a certificate program. Not easy enough? Don’t sweat it, LinkedIn also has Audience Templates – more than 20 predefined audience sets.
  • Lookalike audiences – Another paid ad enhancement, allows you to reach audiences that “look like” your existing customers, page followers, website visitors and target accounts. This means you’ll reach an audience more likely to convert into customers or employees.

Facebook surprises advertisers

Facebook had a smattering of new features that could enhance B2B social media marketing, including topics for Facebook Groups, appointment booking and Live rehearsals, but the updates below will likely have more effect on your ROI conversations with the C-Suite.

  • Reach calculation – Notice a slight decline in your reach starting late October? It’s likely your reach didn’t actually Facebook simply changed the cut-off time frame so that two impressions from the same user end up counting as only one unique reach. This change affected both organic and paid reach.
  • Lead qualification in Messenger – Anytime we can get more full-funnel with social, the better for B2B. Users can send you a message directly from your ad, where you can set up a conversation flow to qualify your leads. Live chat and CRM integrations are also available to continue the conversation.
  • Special ad categories – This change caused quite a stir as many advertisers didn’t understand why they were suddenly getting ads rejected left and right. Facebook established “special ad categories” for ads that offer credit, housing or employment opportunities—or ads that have content consistent with those categories. The latter is where B2Bs will really be caught off guard. Suppose you are a real estate SaaS that helps mortgage brokers secure incredible interest rates for their clients. If you use certain words, a review will be triggered. In this example, “interest rates” could be a trigger, even if that phrase doesn’t appear until you get to the ad’s landing page. Facebook reviews an ad’s images, text, targeting, positioning and its landing page content. Carefully consider all these elements before developing campaigns.

All in all, 2019 has been a fruitful year for B2B on social media. Now let’s start talking 2020 social media strategy.