Sunday, May 26, 2024

What B2C can teach B2B about social

When it comes to social media, the B2B and B2C segments are similar and yet very different.

Similar because companies in both segments often jump on the social media bandwagon with non-existent strategies and high expectations.

They are also different due to their audiences. In the B2B space, customers want the expertise, resources, and tools to influence their companies’ bottom lines. And as they are used to dealing with sales and marketing teams, the customer acquisition process happens over time.

A B2C consumer, on the other hand, is mostly driven by emotions. They like to be entertained. Deals and sales matter. Further, they have more basic and immediate needs. So, their advocacy and interest tend to be more fleeting.

And yet, B2B companies continue to lag behind their B2C counterparts in social media adoption and engagement. There are several reasons for this sluggish start, one being the disappointment of not seeing immediate ROI. There is the concern over wasted budgets. Many firms don’t have time to create consistently beyond blogging.

The state of things is even worse in Canada, where B2B companies typically wait until their U.S. counterparts have a proven record of success to finally take the plunge.

This does not mean that Canadian brands have not made a big splash in social media. They are often found in the B2C world. But the lessons you can learn from them are universal.

Frank & Oak

Launched in 2012, Frank & Oak is a luxury menswear retailer with stores in Montréal, Toronto, Halifax, Vancouver, Calgary, and Ottawa. The company has been successful for several reasons:

  • a member-only strategy
  • a new collection every month
  • good customer care
  • a carefully targeted social media strategy

Frank & Oak is not just present on major social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. It has also fully embraced the mobile experience and e-commerce with an app that gives customers access to exclusive offers and allows them to shop on the go.

That’s not all, though. The brand also publishes a free quarterly magazine and contributes regular content to its blog. You will find style tips and recommendations, how-to fashion demos, and interviews with bloggers.

Finally, there is the Hunt Club. Members of the free service can choose five items from the current collection, try them, and ship them back free of charge. And they don’t even need to buy anything.

Frank & Oak does not just sell clothes. It also promotes a lifestyle, one that digitally connected young male men aspire to. So, it means a shopping experience that is both personalized and affordable.

According to Digiday, the company has 1.1 million members and ships more than 35,000 orders every month. Eveidently, the strategy is clearly working!


Frank & Oak on Pinterest –

What B2B firms can learn from Frank & Oak:

  1. Do not aim to please everyone. Instead, focus on marketing personas to understand how you can build products that your customers really want.
  2. Ask for and listen to consumer feedback to improve the experience.
  3. Embrace personalization.
  4. Make sure your website and blog are fully optimized for mobile customers.
  5. Create and curate relevant, actionable, and entertaining content around your company’s journey and messages to build loyalty and advocacy.
  6. Be where your customers are but always bring them back to your digital hub.

Hudson’s Bay Company

The Hudson’s Bay Company is not just the oldest commercial brand in North America. It is also a brand that understands its purpose within the Canadian landscape.

As such, it does a very good job on social media. On Twitter, for example, you will find a blend of different posts: Canadian landscapes, historical “behind-the-scene” looks at the company, and products.

The Bay also has a branded hashtag. #stripespotting, which refers to the classic Hudson’s Bay strips, allows fans to share their love for the company via photos. The company has featured some of them on Pinterest and Instagram.

With more than 260,000 followers on Facebook, the Bay understands the importance of the platform for its customers. That is the reason why it has turned its page into a digital hotspot for the community. You can access all its other social media accounts from there.

The company is also taking advantage of the latest change in organic reach by posting its videos on the page. While they do not have hundreds of thousands of views, they still get a lot more views than on YouTube. The engagement is higher as a result.

What B2B firms can learn from Hudson’s Bay Company:

  • Create simple and relevant visual content to spread your messages – 65 percent of customers are visual learners
  • Use a branded hashtag to make customer interactions easier
  • Understand what social platform(s) matter the most to your community and build a seamless experience there

Mountain Equipment Co-op

When you hear the name Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), you probably think of nature and outdoor activities, right?

MEC is that and a lot more. With 14 stores in Canada, 1,500 employees, and millions of members, the company follows the co-operative business model with a focus on environmental sustainability.

MEC does not just use social media to promote its products. It is also committed to quality customer care on Facebook and Twitter. The social media team interacts frequently with members and customers.

The brand has a platform-specific approach, which means that you do not always get to see the same content everywhere. For example, Instagram features staff pictures and photos from members. YouTube has exclusive videos. And Facebook offers a mashup of photos, curated articles, and links to posts from the MEC blog.

Flickr is also central to MEC’s photo strategy. MEC has created a group where members can submit their photos, videos, and screenshots for potential inclusion on the company’s website, as well as in stores, ads, and emails. If your content is selected, you get paid!

What B2B firms can learn from MEC

  • Add Facebook and Twitter to your customer care strategy. Respond to comments in a timely fashion.
  • Engage with your customers as often as possible. @-mention people to increase the impact of the conversation.
  • Master the specifics of each social network you use to deliver tailored content.
  • Feature and/or reward your most supportive customers in unique ways.

What are some additional lessons B2C brands could teach their B2B counterparts? Share with us in the comment section below.

Main photo via Frank & Oak Instagram account


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Cendrine Marrouat
Cendrine Marrouat
Cendrine Marrouat is a content creator & curator, social media trainer, author, and photographer. She is also the founder of Social Media Slant, a blog helping small business owners and solo-entrepreneurs to figure out the basics of social media. "The Little Big eBook on Social Media Audiences: Build Yours, Keep It, and Win", her latest social media ebook, was awarded a 2015 Small Business Book Award in the Social Media Category. Website:


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