Twitter, LinkedIn and beyond: Here’s what our analysis is telling us about B2B audiences

Twitter, LinkedIn and beyond: Here’s what our analysis is telling us about B2B audiences

What do we tell our clients when it comes to social media? And what does our data tell us about the current situation and the outlook?

2022 was a wild ride, with turmoil at Twitter prompting many big brands to pause spending and all content across all platforms coming under more scrutiny.

And while users around the world reflect on a busy and unpredictable year, B2B businesses are engaging with social media like never before. B2B marketers in the US are increasing digital marketing spending, according to a survey from early 2022, and that’s a trend we expect to see continuing, as B2B firms look to increase brand awareness and connect directly with purchasing managers. 

The social media landscape is constantly evolving and content competition is fierce, with the number of global users forecast to close in on 5 billion next year, and increase to almost six billion in 2027.

Number of social media users worldwide 2018-2027

The only way is up for social media users. Source: Statista

Here are five observations to set you up for the coming year:

  • B2B audiences are diverse

When you hear B2B, your mind might go to a person in a suit. But of course, B2B audiences are a diverse mix of people with wants, needs and pain points – so knowing your audience is just as key in this space.

How do we tap into this diversity? At Formative, we start by focusing on who the brand is, on listening to their wants and needs and on tailoring our approach to sync with that. For some clients, that might mean posts with complicated charts and statistics can outperform pictures and quote cards, because their audience is seeking new information and something to share that will make them look like they’re ahead of the curve.

This example from McKinsey goes against a lot of social best practice, but their audiences enjoy more information-heavy social graphics.

Once you’ve mapped out your target, you can use social listening to hone and refine your approach, better understand what people in your space are talking about, and improve your reach using the right hashtags to tap into different conversations.

  • Think before you link 

Many of us have seen the statistics showing that more than half of links in social media posts aren’t clicked on, and research that specific calls to action may deter engagement.

But what does that mean for your social media strategy? 

Well, it doesn’t mean you have to do away with links and calls to action altogether, but it does suggest audiences want more information up front and can resent having to click to find details.

Our own research across 2022 – and the outcomes we’ve seen with the assets we produce for our clients – tells us that a mixed approach works best. Detail and storytelling are good approaches, generating greater engagement than assets that tease and require the reader to click on.

Here’s a great example from Microsoft On the Issues.

There’s also a role played by the algorithm – something that all social marketers have to consider – with The Algorithm Report 2022, by Richard van der Blom, showing that LinkedIn posts with links are some of the worst performing, particularly when compared to carousel posts and polls, which generally fare better.

  • LinkedIn still dominates, but you should look at other platforms

LinkedIn continues to be the social media platform of choice for B2B content marketers – for both paid and unpaid content, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s latest annual report on B2B content marketing. 

B2B Social Media platform usage

LinkedIn is still king of the social media platforms. Source: Content Marketing Institute report

While it’s clear that every B2B marketer needs to have LinkedIn as part of their mix, other platforms offer great chances to experiment and take risks. 

Instagram and TikTok – well-established grounds for B2C communicators – are emerging spaces for corporates. And if you’re going to go there, you need to define a purpose for those channels and tell your reader why you’re choosing them. Find out what social sites your ideal buyers spend their time on – this may vary by geography – and direct your efforts accordingly.

Twitter remains chaotic and prone to change, with recent reports suggesting its billionaire owner Elon Musk is readying to force personalised advertising on users that don’t pay a subscription service. 

Taking all that into account, it seems that LinkedIn will remain the ‘go to’ place in the B2B sphere – and with good reason: you can get right in front of the right audiences and the technology allows you to be very granular in your approach.

  • Right asset, right platform, right format

We always advise our clients to start with a story. Once you’ve worked out what story you want to tell, then you can spend time thinking about the right format and the right platform to deliver the best reach and engagement.

That’s where experimentation comes in. Polls, tutorials, reviews and carousels are all formats that can be harnessed to get your message across in the right way. And new formats are often emerging – for example, LinkedIn video carousels – providing opportunities to offer more variety to your viewers.

  • Employees can amplify company messaging, too

One trend we saw in 2022 and that we expect to continue is B2B brands putting much more value in using their people – and not just at the top level.

While executives can become their own mini brand on social media – an extension of the core brand itself – there’s also a trend toward empowering people within businesses who aren’t well-connected or prominent. This is about giving them the confidence and the tools they need. 

Using your chief executive and other board-level members to amplify your message works well for many companies – for example, Microsoft and Brad Smith. In the coming year we anticipate this will cascade down and we will see more employees amplifying their company’s message – because we know that human accounts are more popular and therefore the content travels further.

Human stories resonate in every sector and B2B is no different. At the same time, social media is changing rapidly, so ongoing analysis and review is essential to a good strategy.

The keys to success are: understanding your audience – what they want and are likely to share; getting to grips with your different platforms and how they are serving you; and choosing the best way to deliver your messages, using different formats that will stop people scrolling past and prompt them to engage.

Done well, B2B content can generate the same buzz as B2C, giving you a great return on investment and sparking conversations that are sure to benefit your business.



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About the author: Richard Wellings is the Head of Social and Insights at Formative Content. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

We can help you connect with your B2B audiences in a strategic and thoughtful way. Get in touch with

Richard Wellings - Head of Social & Insights
Author:Richard Wellings - Head of Social & Insights