In my blog post: B2B und Social Media… I did talk about the topic of Social Media for business already. Since then lots of things changed hence I thought it might be time to give some fresh ideas about Social Media B2B and potential lead generation opportunities. Find some B2B lead generation tips especially for Sildeshare here.
First recent B2B Social Media Statistics
- B2B companies who write a blog generate 67% more leads than companies without a blog. source: Hubspot, State of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Report, 2010
- 69% of B2B marketers shift the budgets towards Social Media. source: MarketingSherpa, October 2010
- 41% B2B companies acquire new customers through Facebook. source: Hubspot, State of Inbound Marketing Report, 2011
- 86% of B2B companies utilise Social Media, compared to 82% B2C companies. source: White Horse, March 2010
A social media study by B2B Magazine shows that B2B marketers prefer to use the big 3 social media platforms, where LinkedIn is the most used one (72%). Facebook (71%) and Twitter (67%) follow. These channels form the core of the B2B activities. Other platforms being used are YouTube (48%), Blogs (44%), and online communities (22%).
B2B Social Media Lead Generation Strategy
B2B purchase decisions are predominantly made by a group of people with different priorities and a big hunger for details in regards to the product. We believe Social Media Marketing is a very effective channel to satisfy the information needs of the potential buyers and to shorten the sales cycle. The approach to a social media strategy B2B can be differentiated into two approaches: Outbound Social Media Lead Generation Inbound Social Media Lead Generation. Both overlap and mutually dependent on each other. However, they differ by the inbound approach (inbound marketing) being the more passive one (=getting found) as opposed to the active engagement in the social media platforms of the outbound approach.
Outbound Social Lead Generierung
Outbound stands for the active engagement with potential buyers who post and talk about product-relevant topics on social platforms.
Nevertheless the question arises if its possible at all to drive leads without promoting yourself (and violating social media rule #1: no promotions) or ruining one’s online / social reputation. The answer is: YES – it is absolutely possible.
The line of attack should start by finding potential leads, the platforms where the conversation takes place, the topics, and the most important influencers. this in of information can be found with social media monitoring tools – for B2B it certainly would make sense to utilise emerging social CRM or social media management tools as well. They would allow better segmenting and lead nurturing. More about this in another post though.
There are lots of positive examples of how outbound social media marketing can generate new leads in a B2B world. The best-known one is probably IBM’s Listen for Leads program. Here the IBM salespeople use tools to monitor the conversation which might indicate that the participants are at the beginning of a B2B sales cycle; for instance “I’m looking to replace my old server…). More pro-active salespeople could use also LinkedIn groups (at the time of writing there were 310,759 professional groups in many different languages). To find the right group can be a bit overwhelming, a good start though would be the LinkedIn directory and starts filtering then. If you join groups you will get recommendations for similar groups over time. A good idea is also to join the same groups as your competitors.
Twitter is also very well suited for lead generation. Use here the Advanced Search or the lists to find the right in-market users. Of course the are also numerous B2B blogs run by companies where comments can be left or any kind of engagement can be achieved.
Inbound Social Lead Generation
Inbound marketing means, instead of sending out the message through various channels hoping to get a big targeted audience, getting found for offering and disseminating useful and interesting content. Instead of finding the customers, they find you on social media platforms or on search engine results pages. Find our related blog post here. Inbound marketing is more effective than its outbound evil brother and comprises the following steps:
- Generating of relevant content for the audience: mainly done by monitoring the social platforms or also analysis of the Google Analytics traffic sources and corresponding keywords. The focus of the generated content needs to be often discussed topics.
- SEO-optimisation of the content – also called Social SEO or Social Media Optimisation. Basically, this means to amend or optimize content with relevant keywords and meta tags which can be picked up and ranked by Google and the social platforms. This counts also for e.g. status updates in Facebook or new tweets in Twitter. The content has to be also easily shareable (e.g. Facebook like button) or social link baiting tends to give good results as well.
- Dissemination of the content throughout the social networks and sharing of the content through users: the social platforms are basically built for sharing interesting or entertaining content and generating word of mouth on top of it. The uses are generally very hungry to share (since by sharing B2B content they always get a piece of that thought leadership for them). However, an ongoing tendency to note is that the usage of social media platforms is constantly changing – see this interesting post for more.
- As a result of the above Google will rank your site for the topics and this will cause more targeted search and social traffic back to the site: social media activities and resulting social traffic to the site have a rather brand-building impact as opposed to search traffic which normally powers traffic with higher conversion rates. Reason being is the user are more actively looking for a solution and in market for the particular terms.
B2B Social Community
This of course is a very exciting topic that can be tackled from many angles. A good start would be to build up a community via LinkedIn Xing groups and feed them with good content or moderation.
Social Media B2B Leads – Results
We did a number of B2B social media campaigns and were pleasantly surprised about the results each time. As mentioned above the users are really hungry for good content and are more than happy to share it amongst their peers. Google’s latest Panda update also utilises more than ever social signals (e.g. how often is a blog post shared or re-tweeted) to rank a website in the search results.