The B2B world has embraced the digital reality, and yesterday’s water cooler chats are now taking place on social media. The average person spends more than 2.5 hours each today on social networking sites with more than 4.76 billion social media users worldwide[i].
Wherever people gather, they learn from each other and take in new information. Business leadership teams have always leveraged social networks to provide them with the qualified insider information necessary to make informed decisions. Now that business gatherings have gone virtual, savvy leaders use their networks even more efficiently and effectively than before.
The impact of social media marketing on B2B sales efforts is undeniably significant. 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level executives say they incorporate social media as a critical part of their decision-making process, while 90% of B2B marketers report social media has impacted their business revenue[ii].
Having the most effective products or services won’t make a difference if your potential customers don’t know they exist. Social media increases visibility by offering more opportunities to introduce your brand. It allows you to share your company’s culture and values, and ultimately grow your audience.
It also helps you identify specific audiences interested in your business. In addition, it provides valuable assistance in keeping a close eye on their specific pain points and concerns as they evolve over time. This critical information can be used to create messaging, content and offers that resonate with your audience. It also provides leadership teams with new ideas for possible products or services your company may want to offer in the future.
Directly addressing what your B2B social media prospects are looking for helps align your messaging throughout their customer journey, raising brand awareness, positioning your goods and services for consideration, converting them into paying customers, and earning their loyalty.
Creating this “secret sauce” relationship with your audience can continue to pay off long after purchase. The chances of selling again to an existing customer are 60% to 70%, compared to 5% to 20% for a new customer[iii], and the average B2B company generates up to 30% of its total revenue from existing customers.[iv]
B2B customers are always looking for new products and services to share with their networks, too. In fact, 83% of customers are open to referring a business after conducting a successful purchase, with 78% of the B2B referrals creating viable customer leads for the business.[v]
Like any other type of marketing, generating leads with social media starts with four basic elements:
There’s a reason there are so many social media channels: each offers a unique vibe and attracts a different audience. Even though the same people may frequent multiple outlets, they come to each one with a varied mindset and diverse expectations.
Imagine a prospect who frequents both movie theaters and supermarkets. How likely would they be to buy toothpaste from an eye-catching display in a theater lobby? Not very. But that same display at the supermarket would have a very different result, as the shopper arrived in a different frame of mind. It’s much the same with social media channels.
Here’s a general guide to social media channels for B2B lead generation:
LinkedIn maintains its long-standing reputation as the go-to social media platform for B2B lead generation, with 85% of respondents citing it as their most used social media channel. One quarter of all LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers and half of all US adults with a degree use LinkedIn[vi], while 71% of B2B marketers use Facebook and 61% tweet on Twitter.[vii]
Once you’re narrowed down what social media channel(s) you want to target, you need to research and create relevant content that speaks directly to the pain points of your B2B audience.
The research comes from social listening. Frequent the channels your audience frequents. See what concerns surface most often, what questions they ask and the types of content they engage with. Follow your competitors. See what seems to be working for them and what isn’t. Take note of what their followers respond to or if they seem to be making a lot of well-researched effort in a channel without getting a response.
Once you understand what your audience is looking for and where they’re looking for it, what you can provide becomes clear. Experiment with different forms of content, tweaking only one variable at a time so you can see where you get the best engagement.
Although this is a good time to test different types of content with your audience, there is one thing that should remain perfectly consistent — your branding.
Be sure to keep your colors, logo, look and voice consistent in all of your content to build familiarity and trust with your customers.
Now that you’ve gotten your audience’s attention, the next key to developing leads for B2B social media is formulating the right call to action.
Because social media is a conversation, it’s best not to clutter your messaging. Have one clear objective with your posts that is stated in your call to action. Make it clear and easy to follow.
Developing your B2B lead generation strategy is an ongoing process. View your first efforts as a starting point and make it your objective to continually improve and stay relevant as customer needs evolve. In order to do this, you need to collect and analyze your data.
Take copious notes about your incremental changes and compare them with the results you get from your reports. Look for spikes. Make additional changes based on your results and see if you can start an upward trend with new content based on your findings.
Now that you have the basic idea of what needs to be done, here are some specific B2B lead generation strategies you can run with.
1. Stay active on platforms. It’s not enough to create profiles and make an occasional post. Social media is a two-way street. Engage and interact with your audiences. Respond to their comments and questions and post content on a consistent, regular schedule. Taking an active part and providing valuable content helps establish your authority as a thought leader.
2. Launch compelling lead magnet offers. If you’ve done your research and know what your potential customers are looking for, provide it! Offer them something valuable, such as an ebook or webinar, that is worth exchanging their email address for.
3. Share testimonials. There’s nothing quite like social proof to help potential customers envision what it would be like to work with or purchase from your company. Provide them with examples they will be able to best identify with.
4. Create B2B referral contests. 91% of B2B purchasers said their buying decisions were influenced by word of mouth[viii], and contests are a popular way to gain an endorsement for your goods and services. If you are hosting a contest, be sure to follow all channel rules and create a hashtag the participants can use to enter the contest.
5. Post live videos. 95% of B2B buyers say video plays an important role in deciding to move forward with a purchase, and 93% of B2B buyers say video is important in building trust in a brand.[ix]. Video pairs naturally with social media. It pops into the consumer’s feed and plays automatically, giving your content the opportunity to get noticed.
6. Offer B2B discounts. Who doesn’t love a discount? Budget-conscious executives love a bargain as much as anyone, so discount posts are an attention-getting tactic for B2B. Be sure to limit the time for your exclusive discounts to increase the pressure for them to buy now.
7. Target B2B prospects with specific social media ads. Create ads for specific pain points and pinpoint prospects that would most benefit from your solutions. Make sure you’re using the right offers, visuals, sizes and creative approaches for your selected channel.
8. Retarget previous B2B prospects with sequential ads. This could significantly boost your B2B social media lead generation efforts because retargeted users are more likely to convert than initial targets. Provide the most relevant messaging dependent on your target audience’s past behavior.
9. Promote webinars, videos and other gated content. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a million. Serious B2B prospects are interested in getting the easily-consumable, in-depth information that videos, webinars, and other proprietary content give. And they are often willing to exchange their contact information to get it.
10. Ebooks, whitepapers, giveaways and case studies. Like videos and webinars, ebooks, white papers, and giveaways offer prospects something of value in exchange for their contact information. Case studies allow potential B2B customers to see how others with similar pain points have benefitted from using the offered goods or services. 60% of marketers rank case studies as the most trusted content type by target audiences.
11. Social media sponsorships/influencer marketing. Much like a referral from someone in your target’s network, sponsorships and endorsements from social media influencers put your brand “on stage.” Influencers are often considered trusted sources by potential customers, which allows some of that “star power” to rub off.
12. Virtual events and social media conferences. Drive brand awareness, generate B2B leads, and establish your brand as an authority by organizing events that engage your target market.
13. Launch a referral campaign. As we mentioned above, referrals from trusted sources are more likely to convert than cold leads. Moreover, referral campaigns capitalize on the goodwill of your customers when they are feeling most enthusiastic about your brand.
14. Sponsoring content. If you have put the time and effort into creating great content, sponsored content can leverage that effort exponentially. Depending on your platform, audience targeting parameters can assist you in getting that content in front of the right audience.
As you increase your efforts to generate B2B leads through social media, make sure you’ve cleared any obstacles from the path to conversion. Be sure to optimize your social media profiles with:
And don’t forget to respond quickly to inquiries that come in through social media!
Optimizing your B2B lead generation through social media takes time. Being able to directly communicate with your target audience and address their pain points is well worth the time and investment.