Social media is no longer just a fun, helpful supplement to a marketing mix. For many companies, it has become the primary vehicle for customer engagement. In fact, a report by LinkedIn found that 90% top performing sales representatives incorporate social media into their tactics.
Using the right tools and data, you can find compelling ways to distribute content to the most interested people at the most opportune time. In the realm of business-to-business (B2B) marketing, companies are faced with quite an interesting task. They must not only work to appeal to a single person, but to an entire organization.From the moment you open up shop, your ability to generate leads will determine the life or death of your business. And these days, “opening up shop” is synonymous with creating and managing a social media presence online. Let’s talk about how you can use social media as one of your most powerful weapons in bringing in sales leads.
Understand Your Buyer Personas
The biggest difference between B2C and B2B marketing is how messaging is positioned. In B2C, you are typically speaking to an individual. On the other hand, in B2B, there are multitude of people involved in the purchasing process. This includes everyone from the owner of the company, to the actual users of your product or service, all the way to the administrative staff, of whom act as gatekeepers.
Generally speaking, LinkedIn is the go-to social network for B2B marketing. A study by Oktopost found that 80% of B2B sales leads and conversions come from LinkedIn.
So make sure you determine the bulk of your persona attributes from this platform. That said, don’t make the mistake of ignoring other popular social hubs like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Finding the perfect buyer persona is no simple task. The trick is finding common interests across different areas and crafting your messaging accordingly. The question to ask is: What information would this persona find helpful in this area at this particular point of time?
Luckily, there are many tools to help you with this complicated task. Hootsuite is one of the best tools on the market that allows you to monitor what people are talking about in relation to your brand, competitor, or industry in general.
These insights will do wonders to give you a sense of where the major pain points are and how you can create content that appeals to all relevant parties.
For example, let’s say you are promoting web design software. When a potential buyer is considering purchasing it, the employees who’re supposed to use it on a daily basis might place a high value on simplicity and user-friendliness, whereas their manager (or decision maker) may be more concerned about case studies and how the program has been used in the past.
Here is an awesome example – see this Facebook post from Weebly:
Not only does it promote a feature that makes life easier for the general users, it promotes new additions to their portfolio (POWR & Sonetel) for the decision maker to examine.
Appealing to an individual is difficult. Finding ways to appeal to multiple personas is a completely different ballgame. This is perhaps the trickiest aspect of B2B marketing. Doing so requires critical research and a keen eye for common threads.
Become a Thought Leader
Another one of the big differences between B2B and B2C marketing is B2B buyers typically conduct more in-depth research on a brand and product before even interacting. A 2016 survey report by Demand Gen found that over half of B2B buyers conduct thorough research on social media before considering a purchase.
For this reason, it’s beyond imperative that you project yourself as a profound expert in your field, with the single-minded goal of earning your audience’s trust. This is what B2B selling is really about.
In addition to posting meaningful content, winning over high-value clients requires you to be aware of demands that apply to individual organizations and promote messaging that aims to solve their problems.
Take a look at this LinkedIn post from Workzone:
Without even diving into the linked article, it’s clear they have a few useful things to say about more than just the concept of successful project management, but business operations as a whole.
Be warned: becoming a thought leader requires much more than simply keeping up with the news of your industry. In addition to pinpointing the commonalities in buyer mindsets, you need to look through a broad scope and find interesting ways to advance trending conversations going on in your field.
Remember, most people don’t go on social media with the intention of being sold to. They go on in search of thought-provoking content. The most important thing to keep in mind for becoming a thought leader is you aren’t directly promoting your product or service. Instead, you are selling your knowledge. If you can do this successfully and nudge them through your sales cycle with micro-conversions, people will be much more inclined to buy from you.
If there is one thing to note about social media in 2017, it’s that video has taken the throne as the top content form. It’s become common knowledge that consumers want video: a study by Animoto found that one in four people actually lose interest in a company does not feature some form of video in their marketing. There isn’t a single shred of doubt in the professional world that video content is becoming an essential factor in the digital marketing mix. The bottom line is that you must learn to embrace video in not just your social media strategy, but your entire content marketing approach.
This was more or less confirmed back in January with Facebook’s algorithm update. This change put an emphasis on producing quality videos – meaning the better your viewer completion percentage, the higher it will appear in their News Feed. There are a number of other factors that come into play when the viewer enables the sound, views the video in full screen, or turns on the high-definition setting. Furthermore, the algorithm strongly favors live content.
This is clear proof that social networks, search engines, and other digital platforms value relevance and engagement over other gameable signals such as shares. However, marketers tend to miss the fact that these platforms measure user engagement as a factor of relevance. All in all, you should aim for your viewers to hang in there until the end.
Keeping your buyer personas in mind, you can use video to meet a number of needs. For example, you can produce explainer clips or instructional videos to help people understand exactly how your product or service works while adding the signature touch of your brand’s unique voice.
Here is a video testimonial produced by HubSpot:
Not only does it explain how a buyer persona benefits and achieved actual results in the real world from their product (in a customer’s own words), it also talks about how it’s better than the competition for the stated purpose.
Video is an extremely powerful tool in social media marketing. The name of the game is quality over quantity. If you really want to generate B2B sales leads with video, you must use it to demonstrate the value you provide and how you can not only improve business operations, but improve lives overall.
Always Be Measuring
In the age of business on the back of big data, success depends heavily on how well you read your analytics and adjust your strategy accordingly.
But before you can start measuring, you need to know what metrics to measure, why you’re going to measure them, and what you plan to do with the results in various ranges. Here are a few goal-based metrics that you can track for each customer you convert through social media:
B2B social data can also push you in the right direction to figure out what exactly your followers are most interested in or what they think of your messaging. Social media marketing needs to be approached with a mindset that is open to criticism. The truth of the matter is you are more than likely going to produce content that simply doesn’t garner much of a reaction.
This can be due to a variety reasons. Perhaps you are posting at times when prospects aren’t very active. Maybe the topic you’ve written about is old news. Whatever the cause, you need to look at the tangible and intangible aspects of your engagement to determine your next move and how it will affect your ROI.
One of the most crucial bits of information to keep track of in B2B social media marketing is who exactly connects with your posts. For example, if a particular person or organization is frequently liking or sharing your content, you can view them as a sales lead, research their specific needs, and reach out to them directly. You can even step outside of social media for this by using tools like a corporate email address finder. This way you can personalize the message a bit more while engaging your leads on a medium of their preference.
As important as content creation is in B2B marketing, social analytics shed light on the tiny details than can take your lead generation efforts to the next level.
As many will attest, there are very few guarantees in business. However, as it stands right now, the long term relevance of social media in lead generation seems to be one of them.
It’s becoming commonplace for people, ranging from demographics like “millennials” to segments like “C-suite executives” to use social media as their primary source of information. Whether it is for killing some down time or simply having something to look at over morning coffee, social is where people of all backgrounds are spending their time. Therefore, all businesses must put in place a captivating social strategy for lead generation. Failing which, they risk being clueless of the direction in which consumerism is heading.