This article is about creating sales opportunities between two businesses. These B2B techniques are different from marketing to consumers in B2C mode. Let’s take a moment out to identify what makes them different from each other. Then we can get back to the meaty issue of generating B2B leads on social media.
WHY B2B AND B2C REQUIRE DIFFERENT SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGIES
Consumers tend to regard social media as virtual street corners where they stop to chat with friends. They are beginning to take note of advertising, although this has a way to go. They are probably more likely to go to commercial pages to check out what they regard as genuine reviews in comments.
Commerce, on the other hand regards social media as a giant consumer database where it can learn more about us than we care to remember. But, there are more differences besides. One of the major ones is the decision process. You see, consumers may only drill down sufficiently deeply to confirm the goods or services provide the benefits they need. While business customers need convincing to the Nth Degree and their decision chain is longer.
Customer loyalty is fickle, and many businesses sell only once to a particular customer. Business is about long term, dependable supply chain relationship. Thus, inter-business marketing is different from commercial advertising. The exercise may take months, and even years to complete. In this article, we discuss aspects, or flavors of the game.
Inbound Sales and Lead Identification
The first fundamental step is confirming the type of company to which we want to sell. Clearly, there must be a product match, but there are other aspects to do with brand reputation. We might, for example not want our company associated with a particular entity. Once we have our ideal client persona nailed down, we can start to look for likely target leads on social media. We are looking for the key decision makers in the businesses we are targeting. Companies give away loads of useful information, sometimes accidentally on their posts and comments. Remember, they are reaching out to their employees at the same time vicariously. Eventually, we are bound to find references to their purchasing organization if we persist.
Study the Socially Active Members
Once we have the names of the target origination’s procurement team sorted, our next step is to identify out those that are socially active. By this we mean with personal pages on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. If they are active bloggers, then so much the better. We can search for them by company name, competition, a hashtag aligned with our value proposition, our industry, or our generic product. As we follow links they post to friends, and interesting things they forward, we start to know their interests as if we were best friends. At this stage though, they are none the wiser, because we are still in sleuth mode.
Our main goal is to promote ourselves as a trusted knowledge base, and a company our market can depend on. We do this by starting conversations likely to attract our lead’s interest. So for example, we could share tweets from members our research tells us they follow. That way, we start to creep in under their ‘umbrella of trust.’
Another thing we can do is visit the blogs we know our prospects read (or indeed their own blogs), make insightful comments, and share relevant posts on social pages we expect they visit. Our primary purpose is to enrich the persona profile we are building, so it becomes a valuable asset in the marketing drive that will follow.
Customer Relationship Management
Effective marketing depends on timing. Our aim is to enter the actual conversation perfectly aligned to the lead’s own position in the decision-making funnel. If they are gathering data, then we will feed it to them. If they are ready for a site visit, we will lay it on.
We seldom hard sell directly in B2B marketing. Instead, we simply make ourselves the obvious choice. We continue to enrich our data as we track and measure our target lead’s progress through the decision funnel. People tend to buy from trusted friends. Our goal is to become one of them. When they are ready, the lead will come to us for a proposal.
The Persona Behind a Successful B2B Social Marketing Strategy
Much information on the internet has questionable value, or adopts bias to suit a broader agenda. The amount of fake news on the social media is also worrisome for those who use it genuinely. We engage with people who are original, interesting, and entertaining in society. To be trusted on social media we need to take a page out of that book.
Dare the difference!
B2B Marketing needs not be dry or dull. Finding a way to make our presence fun is a great place to start, and a sure-fire way to keep the reader engaged. There is a non-boring angle to every service, and an amusing way to promote any product.
Relevant content, written well, is another essential component of social marketing. It builds our reputation, and helps the world satisfy its curiosity about our industry. As our brand awareness grows, it pays to get a social media expert on board to help refine it. The good ones can support your effort with engaging content and social media copy that sells.
How to Find Your Way through the Crowd of Social Media Networks
There are at least a dozen major social media networks on the internet. Over 90% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn, but this drops to 14% for Foursquare, Tumblr, and Vine. While this may not match your personal social media patterns, we recommend you stick to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. These are the most likely places your leads may be looking for you right now. Each has its own particular part to play in the game.
- LinkedIn is the place to create contacts and extend those relationships. It is also the best place to publish idea-leading content. It has a great profile format that’s purpose-built for business. LinkedIn is the place where serious businesspeople meet.
- By contrast, Twitter is the best place to be part of breaking news, although we do have to be careful how we use those 140 characters. It’s a fabulous place to learn what other people think about us and who’s active in the industry. However, it can be too fast and furious for serious selling.
- Google+ is larger than either Twitter or Facebook, although we believe only 55% of B2B marketers use it. It is thus a less-cluttered space to move in. Moreover, unlike LinkedIn and Twitter, Google+ is trying harder to eliminate false information. As an added spin-off, the parent Google may rank your posts higher in its search results.