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Differences in Social Media Between Consumer vs. B2B Audiences

As with any other tactic in our PR arsenal, social media can help us make waves for our clients.  A lot of the work I’ve seen profiled in best practices, case studies, award entries, panel discussions and other channels has been consumer-facing – as in work done by companies or agencies to advance the agenda of a B2C company or a consumer product. But there’s plenty of quality work in the B2B realm as well – you just have to look a little harder for it.


There are some fundamental differences in how social tactics are applied in the two arenas, which I think is proper given that they contain different kinds of organizations with differing agendas and audiences. Here are some of the biggest distinctions I’ve seen:


1.     Voice. Consumer-facing voices tend to be louder, energetic, more flashy and sometimes more controversial. B2B voices, on the other hand, are generally plainer and more understated. But don’t confuse any of this with weak; in both arenas, quality social media voices can be found all over the place, and the timid or meek are quickly overwhelmed by the confident and strong.


2.     Calls to Action. In B2C social media, you see a lot of product and brand-oriented calls to action. Enjoy our experience…buy our product…come to our event. In the B2B space, most calls to action try to get audience and community members to visit a website to read a blog post, download a collateral item or sign up for something. It’s about information sharing first, and then indirectly about experiences and purchases – which I think is an interesting microcosm of the differences in buying cycles in the two arenas.


3.     Multimedia. B2C social channels use a ton of video, images and other media types.  Moreover, B2C companies are often the earliest adopters of emerging technologies, and you see them pushing the envelope all the time to try to gain a competitive edge. B2B companies, on the other hand, are later to the game – in many cases, they’re still just starting to understand the value of variety in social channels. I still see a lot of text-only posts, but wiser companies are integrating screen grabs and creating eye-catching creative – if not even more. 


After reading about these variations, you might draw the conclusion that B2C social media – and maybe B2C PR in general – is sexier, more fun and generally more advanced. Depending on who you are and what you value, you might be right. But I’m here to tell you that B2B PR can be plenty fun and interesting too! (There may well be a future post on that.)


What else have you seen in terms of differences in social approaches?

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