What comes to mind when you think of the word “boring”? A few years ago, if you’d asked marketers, they would’ve laughed and said business-to-business marketing. In 2024, things might have changed for better or worse(?). I’ll let you decide.
One fine Saturday evening, a marketer on LinkedIn called out HubSpot’s social media profiles as idiotic and stirred quite a frenzy.
To some, the post ‘seemed’ like a shade to Gen Z—as seems to be the case among the ‘booming’ generations—so they made sure the poster knew how “out of touch” they were. But as you’ll notice from the engagement numbers and comments, the post had supporters as well.
Now, I don’t indulge in slander on social media, but the comments had me hooked for a good 10 minutes. And then fleeing off to
Here’s a little sneak peek for y'all.
For a second there, I had to do a double take. Were the posts funny? Sure. But this was quite uncharacteristic of the brand I’ve always known HubSpot to be: helpful, friendly, and sympathetic.
These were straight-up “we’re trying to appeal to Gen Z” posts. But do you blame them? By 2025, nearly
HubSpot recently crossed one million followers on LinkedIn, a feat few have managed in the B2B space. Their engagement numbers are also visibly soaring across social media.
They’re trying to do what most B2B brands do when they’re called boring — Switch to humor
If you consider the image above, you can easily make the connection between Gen Z preferences and HubSpot’s social feeds.
- They’re using small cases and slang like the Zoomers
- Indulge in shitposting to share “relatable” moments for marketers and sales pros
- More video content
- Informative and visually appealing carousels
- Product and partnership updates
- Bouncing on the latest pop culture moment
- Then shitposting some more
This is what you’d call being “unhinged”—something you’ll notice only B2C brands execute on social media. And that is why the amount of engagement HubSpot has garnered following the switch in strategy is so interesting.
Most upcoming B2B brands don’t find creative inspiration from past examples. They find the usual by-the-book, monotonous stuff because no one’s innovating anymore. They’re all following the same playbooks as everyone else.
As Jason Patterson, a seasoned content marketer, also highlights in his
“When people talk about the top B2B brands, they’ll point to IBM, GE, HPE, Cisco, and the like. But those companies are old (or have old origins). Few remember how they were built anymore. And they aren’t so much building their brands at this point as maintaining them, or repositioning them.”
Now, I wouldn’t go as far as to call HubSpot’s new social strategy “innovative”— as some supporters have. Tuning into humor is a classic tactic to be less boring. But it’s definitely a glitch-in-the-matrix event coming from a billion-dollar B2B company.
So naturally, it’s going to have a ripple effect. Or maybe, it already has.
In the End—It’s Your Audience That Knows Best
Ever wondered why B2B marketing is so dry? I feel the opinion is mostly held in contrast to the emotionally charged marketing common in B2C.
But another, more reasonable argument is that B2B audiences generally have a disinterest (even scorn) for any “fluff” marketing. They want the information in a direct, concise manner, without the bells and whistles. Unfortunately for marketers, that often spells boring, corporate-speak. Or so they think.
Coming back to HubSpot’s example—amid the naysayers and the supporters, one commenter rightly pointed out the best way to approach the criticism:
In the end, business-to-business is also people-to-people marketing. And while some may appreciate (even love) a humorous, witty approach to marketing—some might not. It’s for you to find out what works and resonates with your audience.
HubSpot sells a collection of horizontal products to a wide range of industries. So they can market to everyone, anyone. That’s the reason their current social media strategy seems like it’s working.
If a company selling niche software were to copy the same formula, it would probably look tone-deaf and waste marketing dollars.
So if I were to leave you with any piece of advice, it’s this: Listen to your audience. Talk to them, because they know best.
P.S. In case you’re wondering—a “canon event” according to the Urban Dictionary comes “from the movie (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse) it is an inevitable event or action good or bad that is supposed to happen that results your future self.”
Please ask a Gen Z for further details!