Working as an independent marketing writer and journalist, I often have to switch hats and adjust my writing for different audiences. Not only do I have to understand the audience that each piece of content serves, I also have to address them accordingly.

The same goes for your brand’s content marketing strategy. Correctly identifying your audience can mean the difference between engaging your audience and creating customers, or leaving them confused and looking elsewhere.

B2C Or B2B 101

What is the main goal of your content? If you want to appeal to consumers who may hire your services or purchase your product, this is known as business to consumer content, or B2C. Examples include healthcare, retail, and the food and beverage industry.

Alternatively, if you’re a business selling to industry colleagues or vendors, your content marketing strategy will fall within the business to business arena, or B2B. A good example of this is a trade publication where articles offer best practices, tools and tips for a particular industry.

Where Differences Matter

Both B2C and B2B brands are embracing content marketing, and the types of content available keep growing, from articles to white papers, blog posts, eBooks, video, social media posts, and more.

Each medium represents a way to reach a unique audience, and for some audiences, multiple touch points allow a brand to gain greater influence. For example, a consumer may see a B2C brand’s TV commercial for a soft drink. They may see a billboard for that same drink when driving to work, and then at work as the sponsor of a stunt filmed and uploaded on YouTube. These are all content marketing exposure points that can help build brand awareness for the consumer, as well as their eventual buy-in to the product.

But depending on whether your brand’s focus is B2B or B2C, your content marketing strategy should vary. First, study and analyze where your audience hangs out, and then strategically focus your efforts there. In B2B, marketing messages are based on trust, service and value. With B2C marketing, the focus is on price and the emotional satisfaction a customer receives when purchasing a product or service.

When it comes to social media, the differences become even clearer. Not surprisingly, LinkedIn ranks high as a B2B social media promotion platform, since it is intended for building connections among a business audience. Google+ has also been more heavily adopted in the B2B realm because, like LinkedIn, it offers the capability to create business pages.

On the flipside, for B2C social media marketing, Facebook is king. This is where the bulk of consumers hang out, take breaks during the day to read their news feed or catch up with friends and family. Here you can find women “liking” the page of their favorite retail store, or a young adult following their favorite restaurant chain in the hopes of finding happy hour deals. Instagram is also favored as a consumer-marketing tool, with many individuals using the platform to share personal photos of family and friends.

When it comes to other content platforms such as Twitter and email newsletters, B2B and B2C content marketing strategies often use both mediums equally as much, although they keep their specific audience in mind when curating content.

As far as long-form content, studies indicate that content marketing materials such as white papers and case studies often serve the B2B market best. A consumer, however, may be more inclined to read an online article or blog.

Last but not least, content marketing analytics may vary depending on the mediums being used. Google Analytics can easily track website hits, user types and interests for both B2B and B2C-focused websites. But tracking Facebook “likes” for a B2B product won’t be nearly as effective as tracking follows and conversation on LinkedIn, where the bulk of the business audience really hangs out.

A Note On B2B/B2C Business

Although it’s less common, some businesses have both B2B and B2C components. The automotive industry is a good example: Manufacturers must appeal to the consumers who purchase their vehicles, but also to their distributors and suppliers. In these cases, consider multiple content marketing strategies.

For example, you may want to consider separate channels on the same social network or content platform. Multinational tech giant Dell has a slew of Twitter handles in order to serve their multiple audiences, including customer support, professional support services, and international handles. Each handle can then provide a direct line to that specific B2B or B2C audience.