Insights from Germany: secrets for b2b social media success in DACH

By in Blog
On July 28, 2020


Led by our Berlin lorries, the Insights from Germany blog series uncovers regional nuances and differences in DACH to help you navigate the region’s unique landscape. 

In a time where even our grandparents are active on Facebook, there really is no excuse for companies not to have an active social media presence. But in the b2b world, gaining a significant following and good engagement on social media is not an easy task. This is as true in the DACH region as it is anywhere else. But just because it is hard, it doesn’t mean companies should be avoiding it.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how social media marketing for b2b companies in the DACH region works, and what brands need to consider if they want to succeed.

An overview of b2b social media in DACH

93.3% of all b2b companies in the DACH region use social media. This is mainly to target new and existing clients but recruiting via social channels is also becoming more important. Interestingly, a 2019 b2b social media report from Brandwatch showed a 2.6% decrease in social media activity for b2b brands. Also, engagement – something already harder to generate for b2b brands compared to b2c brands – decreased by 13% on Facebook and 10% on Twitter.

Since social networks are continually changing their algorithms (usually not in favour of niche topics or smaller accounts), organic reach and engagement are becoming more difficult to achieve. But not every company wants, or has the budget, to constantly run pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.

Engaging with audiences in the right way organically, especially on Twitter and LinkedIn, can be very beneficial for b2b companies. Not only will it increase your engagement, but it can also help you generate valuable business leads if your audiences see you as a thought leader with important insights into your market.

So, what do b2b companies need to bear in mind when executing a successful social media marketing strategy in DACH?

  1. Lieber Deutsch als Englisch 

One reason for low engagement on your company’s channels could be the language you communicate in. Most people in the DACH region speak English and have no problem using the language for business purposes. That being said, just like with classic media relations, if you want to do social media in the DACH region effectively, it’s best to do it in German.

Having a German social media presence in the DACH market shows your audience you care about the German-speaking market. This is especially true for international companies that are trying to gain traction in Germany. If you want to do it right, one option would be to start separate accounts in German that are managed by a native speaker. Don’t rely on Google Translate to translate your tweets. German and English are very different languages, and locals will be able to tell if something has been translated by a robot.

But German isn’t necessarily the best language when looking across the entire DACH region. For example, Switzerland has three official languages: German, French and Italian. Let’s say your company has offices in the French part of Switzerland; then it makes more sense to communicate in French or English rather than German.

  1. Social media isn’t only the intern’s job 

I have worked in a few (b2b) companies where social media was the intern’s job. To be honest, most of the time, I was that intern. And even though interns are often a lot more adept at social media than, let’s say, some of their more…experienced colleagues (older, I mean older), this shows that social media is still an afterthought for many b2b companies in the DACH region.

The responsibility of shaping your social media presence shouldn’t solely lie with your junior staff. It’s just as much the director’s responsibility as it is the intern’s. Therefore, your social media channels need to be factored into the wider marketing conversation with everyone, regardless of seniority, participating in the decisions which affect them. After all, social media strategy is just as important as your news strategy. In fact, they should complement each other. So, don’t let it become an afterthought and an intern’s side project and instead, make it everyone’s duty by using it as a tool to boost brand awareness hand-in-hand with other marketing activity you have going on.

  1. No social media profile is better than a neglected one 

Social media should now be an essential part of every b2b company’s marketing mix. But the numbers show that social media is still not a top priority for most companies, with resources going into other channels and activities that are perceived to drive more value. This often results in neglected or very inactive profiles.

What companies tend to forget is that your social media profiles are like an online business card. They are often one of the first hits when potential prospects or employees search for your company’s name. Having a profile that hasn’t been properly maintained can reflect poorly on the company and may even turn customers away. Sometimes it’s better not to have a social media profile, than having a twitter account that was last active in 2016.

  1. Focus on a few networks and do them right

It feels like a new social network pops up every few months, gets very popular and then disappears again (usually because Instagram simply copies its USP…). But just because a platform is new and popular, that doesn’t mean it is right for your company.

B2b social media in DACH is dominated by the big 5: LinkedIn, Xing, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. TikTok is currently on the rise with 5.5 million users in Germany. But the number of successful corporate TikTok channels is small, and in the b2b world almost non-existent. The same goes for platforms like Snapchat or Vimeo. Even Instagram, probably the most important platform in the b2c world, plays a minor role in the DACH b2b environment.

So, instead of spreading your (usually tight) social media budget even thinner, you should focus on a few key networks and do them right. For most b2b companies in the DACH region, this usually means Xing and/or LinkedIn, Twitter and maybe Facebook.

  1. Know the difference – LinkedIn vs Xing 

LinkedIn might be the biggest professional social network worldwide, but it doesn’t dominate in the DACH region like it does in most others. LinkedIn currently has 14 million users in Germany. While that’s certainly an impressive number considering Germany only has 83 million people, it’s not the biggest professional network. First place goes to Hamburg-based social network XING.

Xing is basically the German version of LinkedIn, with more than 17 million members in the DACH region; 1 million of which are premium members. So, if your target audience is primarily German-speaking, it might be wise to opt for Xing over LinkedIn.

To sum everything up: you can’t just copy the strategy you use for other regions in the DACH region and expect success. The DACH region has specific needs like language and networks that are unique to the region.

B2b social media in DACH isn’t particularly experimental. People and brands tend to stick to the tried and tested platforms. But as long as it’s done well, social media can have a tangible impact for b2b brands. Whether the goal is to increase brand awareness or drive sales leads, social media has a major role to play.

Are you looking to kickstart social media communication in the DACH region? Or do you need help with your existing social channels? Our social media experts are here to help with everything from strategy development and content creation to social media training. Email to find out more.

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