Come on B2B marketers, just face it: you don’t know what you’re doing with social media.
Sure your company has a Facebook and LinkedIn page, and someone on your team tweets every day (maybe you). But, to quote Dr. Phil, “How’s that working out for you?” Or to quote every Sales VP I’ve ever met, “Where are the leads?”
Differences between B2B and B2C Social Marketing
But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many B2B marketers are struggling to see measurable results from their social media marketing efforts. So what’s the secret to making it work? First of all, stop acting as if B2B social marketing is the same as B2C. It isn’t.
Here are 6 reasons why:
1. You’re a B2B company not Starbucks.
You don’t need a hundred thousand Facebook fans or Twitter followers. Instead, you probably need only a few hundred or couple thousand customers, prospects and influencers to build relationships with using social media.So find and engage your target audience instead of trying to attract the consumer masses.
2. Forget coupons, it’s all about helpful content.
Offering coupons to get consumers to like your company’s Facebook page? Didn’t think so. But you do care about getting prospects to download your whitepaper, sign up for a free trial and register for your webinar. That means you need to create helpful, engaging content that prospects will gladly give up personal info for (and maybe share with others, too!).
3. Let Zappos focus on customer support, you want to acquire customers.
Of course you care about responding to customer support needs. That’s why you have an account management team. But your company isn’t Zappo’s responding to a customer tweet about a wrong shoe order. Focus your social media on developing relationships with current customers and “warming-up” prospects for your sales team.
4. Knowing brand sentiment is nice … but what are prospects talking about?
What “pain” are they discussing that your solution was built to solve? What questions are they asking that your new whitepaper can answer? Which topics are they interested in that your upcoming webinar will cover? Who’s in their social network that can do an introduction for your sales team? Now we’re listening!
5. The marketing funnel trumps brand awareness.
Don’t get me wrong. Brand awareness is important. It can get your company into the consideration set and maybe shorten the sales cycle. But it isn’t everything. You need to use social media to connect with and engage prospects to register for your latest webinar, subscribe to your newsletter and watch your new product video. All are conversion actions that can result in another qualified lead in your marketing automation or CRM system.
6. Be patient, as you can’t just buy friends.
Almost anyone will be your friend on Facebook for a gift card or iPad giveaway. That’s the siren call for B2C social marketing. But that strategy won’t work with B2B prospects. Not when we’re talking about big-ticket platforms and long sales cycles. So you have to be patient in using social media to listen to what your target audience is talking about; offer valuable content that truly helps (not sells); and then engage them when they’re ready to buy.
Instead, the B2B approach you should be taking is to use your social media efforts to find, engage and convert prospects into qualified leads:
1. Find your target audience on the social web.
Go through your company’s fans and followers, ask your sales team for their “hot list,” and use your B2B personas to find prospects using Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. These socially active prospects and influencers will become the target audience you want to “listen to,” connect with and engage using social media. You’ll also discover what social platforms they use most, the content they read and share, and the “pain” they’re talking about on social media. All good to know.
2. Engage with compelling content.
Quality content is the lifeblood of social media. And that means it’s “tuned” to the needs, wants and interests of your target audience. How do you do that? First by listening to what your customers and prospects are reading, sharing, and talking about on social media, and then using these insights to inform the content you create. Just remember, compelling content must be offered frequently and consistently. Welcome to the world of content marketing!
3. Convert prospects into leads over time.
Now that you’re finding and engaging prospects on social, it’s time to start converting them into leads. You do this by getting the most relevant and helpful content in front of your target audience again and again (Twitter is great for this). Just make sure that each tweet, status update and blog post offers content that’s tracked and links back to a landing page optimized to drive the conversions you want. Tools such as Google Analytics, bity.ly and awe.sm are great for this. Who says you can’t measure social media ROI!
Just keep in mind, the process of using social media to find, engage and convert prospects into leads won’t happen overnight -- far from it. But over time, you’ll create a targeted, engaged and responsive social audience that will consistently generate quality leads for your sales team. Now we’re talking B2B social marketing!
Image modified from original by Fotoline (Shutterstock)
Editor's Note: This is the first in what will be a regular column for Carter. To read another point of view on B2B marketing, try the @juliebhunt article The Customer Journey: Content Marketing for B2B Software Buyers.