Social media is a driving force in many facets of our daily lives and for B2B marketers social media platforms are now the number one content marketing tactic – ahead of blogs, articles, e-newsletters, videos, podcasts, white papers and case studies. In other words, if you’re not on it, you’re not in it. Yet some businesses are overwhelmed by all the social networks and think they need to have a presence on all of them. This would be a mistake, as it is difficult enough to have a meaningful presence on one platform, let alone all of them. You would be stretching your marketing resources too thin; instead, for lead generation, focus on the platforms where most of your potential customers are, and build your social media presence from there.
Start by looking at your audience and researching which social media networks they most commonly use, how they use them, and which platforms best fit your products or services. For B2B lead generation, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are the best bets. People turn to these sites to interact with their peers and friends, hear the latest news, track the markets and keep up with developments in their fields. For many users, social media is a form of professional development where they come to learn about new products and services that can help them in their own business. This makes it an ideal place to position your brand as a valued contributor of information to elevate your visibility among potential customer and clients. It’s a sell-free environment, meaning you can communicate and cultivate sales leads without the pressure of having to close. It’s a long game but one that you absolutely must be in, so here are some tips to make the most of your time and effort on the social networks.
The three goals of a B2B social media strategy are to build brand awareness, showcase your expertise, and make B2B sales contacts. Here’s how to do it on the top three B2B social media networks.
LinkedIn is perhaps the best platform for B2B lead generation, mainly because it’s filled with decision makers looking for ways to improve their business, find their own leads and strike up meaningful conversations. LinkedIn folks are receptive to a blog post that addresses something in their business that needs attention or a big fix. It’s also a place to stimulate thinking on aspects of their business they might not have thought about recently. One big bonus of this site is its notification system: whenever you visit a user’s LinkedIn profile that user is immediately alerted, and in most cases, they’ll check the profiles of anyone who’s viewed theirs. This acts as an introduction service, which is key for building awareness of your company before you actually initiate first contact. You can see which groups your target audience is a member of and can see what they’ve posted recently or commented on. This is invaluable in getting to know your prospects. Comment on their shared content, post your own relevant content and act as a friendly authority on the subject matter.
A favourite of journalists, decision makers and a certain U.S. president, Twitter is where thousands of conversations are happening all at once. You will want to stay on top of your timeline so you can make contributions on a regular basis, whether that’s commenting on shared content, retweeting tweets and hashtagging keywords relevant to your industry, or following key people. One way to organize Twitter accounts you follow is by creating lists. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others. Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the accounts on that list so you don’t have to scroll through hundreds of general, and likely unrelated, tweets. For instance, if you’re in the automotive parts business, you could create a list of Manufacturers, another one called Automotive journalists, a third called Competitors. If you want to see what your competitors are tweeting, a list can make it easier to catch up on conversations. It takes a bit of organizing, but it is incredibly helpful if you want to use Twitter strategically instead of getting lost reading Twitter tirades and all the replies. Smartly crafted feeds can also be a great tool for social listening, especially if you’ve curated lists of your competitors. In addition to monitoring tweets, lists offer another way to keep tabs on the competition. From each competitor’s profile page, you can see what lists they’re subscribed to, and what lists they’re included on. This can give you valuable information about who your competitors are keeping an eye on and interacting with, so you can do the same.
If you think the world’s most popular social media network isn’t the place for B2B marketing, think again. Beyond brand and reputation management, with its massive audience and engagement, Facebook also provides invaluable advertising intelligence about your audience. Imagine using Facebook retargeting to show ads only to people who have visited your website. There are reams of data available once you establish a presence. Be aware of shameless self-promotion, or just posting offers or coupons. The idea is to sell your company’s story, provide useful information, and never try to fool your audience. Be honest, human and transparent and your audience will appreciate your candor and trust your insights.
By now you now that B2B social media works better as a tool that you can use to influence your sales targets, rather than a channel to direct conversions. Because social networking sites so thoroughly blend personal and professional interactions, it’s vital to never come across as a spambot fishing for leads. Instead, you should make a genuine effort to join conversations, add value to them, and in doing so present your brand in the best possible light. The ultimate goal is to ensure that each of your potential clients has laid eyes on your brand before you initiate first contact with them.
Find out how 360 Leads can help you harness the power of social media to generate B2B sales leads. Contact us today!