By definition, B2B brands sell to businesses. B2B buying decisions are made by a committee that represents multiple departments. Those committees, of course, are comprised of people.

On social media, B2B brands don’t engage with businesses, they engage with people. If I’m Cisco and my potential customer is Caterpillar, I’m not looking to engage with Caterpillar’s brand handle — I want to engage with the people at Caterpillar who influence the purchasing decision.

A brand’s success is defined by its target audience

As Twitter users, we’re all potential customers for someone’s product or service. When it comes to assessing which B2B brands are excelling at Twitter, I look less to social media experts and more to end users.

Note: some of the end users might also be experts!

For this post, I reached out to 10 Twitter users, asking them two questions:

How are B2B brands having success on Twitter?
What are B2B brands NOT doing on Twitter, but should be?

What follows are the answers.

Note: Some users gave examples of B2C brands — and that’s good, as it gives B2B brands something to learn from their B2C counterparts.

Rich Schwerin: pragmatic content + fewer tweets

Rich Schwerin

Rich Schwerin (@Greencognito) is Senior Content Strategist at Autodesk.

Example of success

I like the wide variety of pragmatic #SEO content that @Moz tweets – quizzes, podcasts, blog posts, videos, glossaries, getting started guides, research, events, and more.

My favorite are the Whiteboard Friday posts, which include a short video, whiteboard illustration, and transcript all focused on a critical SEO topic.

Do more of this

Fewer tweets. Focus on quality, not quantity. How many? Completely subjective and based on engagement data for your handle. Just note that when you flood feeds you get muted, un-followed or blocked. Not calling anyone out here, just something to keep an eye on.

Example from Moz:

Chris Gillespie: information-dense tweets

Chris Gillespie

Chris Gillespie (@cgillespie317) is CEO, Find A Way Media.

Example of success

My favorites, which is to say, the ones that have my loving attention, take one of two approaches.

They either post dense, thought-provoking information that often doesn’t require a clickthrough, like CB Insights (@CBInsights) and its charts, or they go full chatty cab driver and break the fourth wall like it owes them money, like Lighthouse Creative Group (@lhchq).

Do more of this

Playing tennis. Nothing generates interest or grows a following like several glib execs or employees volleying tweets back and forth. Lighthouse Creative Group does this well.

James Tennant: Twitter chats + engaging with experts

James Tennant

James Tennant (@JamesConverge) is Founder at Converge.

Example of success

The Content Marketing Institute (@CMIContent) has done a great job setting up a weekly Q&A hour to engage with influencers and experts within the content marketing world.

Every week at 5pm (UK time) you can join in the conversation and answer questions using the hashtag #CMWorld. This is a great way for both the participants and the CMI to build authority and an audience on Twitter, while providing valuable information.

Note: Here’s a list of past and upcoming #CMWorld chats.

Do more of this

B2B marketers are not engaging enough with experts, influencers, and companies they love within their sector or industry.

Positive association and an augmented reach to a more targeted audience are just two of the best benefits that can come from that engagement.

From a recent #CMWorld Twitter chat:

Sierra Summers: Social selling

Sierra Summers

Sierra Summers (@sierrasummers) is CEO, Main Shark.

Example of success

B2B brands find success on Twitter when they engage with target personas at target accounts.

Do more of this

Regular, consistent engagement with buyers, as well as genuine engagement. Be active in the conversation.

Pam Didner: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

Pam Didner

Pam Didner (@pamdidner) is a marketing consultant and author.

Example of success

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions (@LinkedInMKTG). I enjoy their original content and research reports.

Example from LinkedIn Marketing Solutions:

Michelle Garrett: feature users, have a consistent presence

Michelle Garrett

Michelle Garrett (@PRisUs) is Public Relations Consultant at Garrett Public Relations.

Example of success

Adobe comes to mind. They do a great job of featuring their users on Twitter. Of course, their visuals are A+ (which you’d expect from Adobe).

Another brand I follow and love is CMI – the Content Marketing Institute. Not only do they share articles from their blog, they also host a weekly Twitter chat (#CMWorld). Both brands have followers that are very engaged.

Do more of this

Not enough B2B brands are taking advantage of all that Twitter has to offer. So, the first step would be to have a consistent presence there. Posting once a week doesn’t work on Twitter.

You should be posting multiple times a day. There are tools to make that easier, if you need to invest in one. Beyond that, they should engage with their followers. It’s not enough to just post – you need to interact and respond. Participate in a Twitter chat or even start your own.

Note: Michelle started her own Twitter chat — it’s for freelancers. You can join the chat every Thursday at 12pm ET using the hashtag #FreelanceChat.

Example from Adobe:

Heidi Cohen: Use smart tactics + optimize your profile

Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen (@HeidiCohen) is Chief Content Officer at Actionable Marketing Guide.

Example of success

In my opinion it’s solopreneurs who work to maximize the impact of Twitter.

My favorite example is @MadalynSklar. She uses an image that includes the hashtag for #TwitterSmarter. Her bio also promotes her Twitter Chats and website.

Additionally Sklar uses Lists and Moments. Lastly, Sklar uses a pinned tweet.

Do more of this

Many B2B marketers haven’t taken the time to optimize their social media profile, even if they don’t spend time on the platform. At a minimum, create a branded profile image and related bio that links to your main website.

Then use a pinned tweet to drive visitors to whatever your key marketing focus is. This does NOT require a big budget.

Note: To illustrate Madalyn’s use of Twitter, Heidi provided this annotated image:

Madalyn Sklar Uses Twitter Profile To Highlight Owned Content

Maureen Jann: build connections, build community

Maureen Jann

Maureen Jann (@SuperDeluxeMo) is Founder of SuperDeluxe Marketing.

Example of success

I think community a critical way forward for so many B2B brands. Building connections between trusted professionals reflects positively on the brand.

Although this idea isn’t so much new, it is underutilized so that when brands do it well, it’s remarkable.

You’ll see Content Marketing Institute does a great job, as does Sprout Social, and Hubspot.

Do more of this

I think the majority of B2B marketers are still relying on content feeds to drive engagement. This is the dead fish of social media.

Don’t get me wrong, pushing content out via your brand profile is smart, but if you decide to go that route from the brand perspective, you need to ensure that you have subject matter experts (SMEs) out in the market engaging with real live people and prospects.

They should be grabbing the content you’re pushing on the brand channel out via their accounts and posing questions, building relationships and answering questions to best serve their market.

Note: read Maureen’s wonderful post, Artificial Intelligence for Everyday B2B Marketers.

Tom Basgil: social listening + providing value

Tom Basgil

Tom Basgil (@TomBasgil) is Owner, Tom Basgil, LLC.

Example of success

B2B brands that pay attention to online conversations are seeing great results by interjecting themselves into conversations about their competitors.

Just yesterday, Meltwater tweeted to a colleague and I when we were discussing our favorite social listening platforms. By providing more information without a hard sell, they built up brand trust with everyone on the thread.

And today I signed up for a demo.

Do more of this

Too many B2B marketers are engaging in hard sells on Twitter: “Buy our product or service because…”

Instead, agile marketers should pivot to informational content relevant to their answer – even if doesn’t relate to their brand.

I’m much more willing to pay attention to a company that points me to the best local coffee during an industry event than one that tells me to go to their table to get a demo. B2B audiences are savvy – if they’re looking for a hard sell, they’ll go to your website.

Example from Meltwater:

Tod Cordill: be authentic, ditch the auto-responders

Tod Cordill

Tod Cordill (@todcordill) is Digital Growth Consultant at Moderno Strategies.

Example of success

I’ve seen some people mention their name when responding to a tweet with the brand’s account. “This is Samantha from Acme” goes a long ways to making the brand a little more personable, a little more approachable.

Do more of this

Ditch the autoresponders and the plethora of promotions.

Many influencers curate other people’s content. It’s a nice way to give back and it makes you more trusted since you aren’t always self-promoting.

Sharing relevant information also makes you more valuable to your audience. I don’t see a lot of brands doing this, but they should.

Wrapping up

Which B2B brands do you admire on Twitter? What are they doing well? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Alternatively, feel free to tweet us your answers: @dshiao and @Leadtail.

Thank you!