Five Ways for B2Bs to Tap into Social

Today’s average business-to-business (B2B) buyer is 57% of the way toward their purchase decision before even engaging with a sales person, according to a CEB survey.

1. Build social channels filled with prospects and customers.  My experience is that most B2B marketers aren’t focused enough on building high quality social channels. If you’re one of them, then repeat after me: “It’s about quality NOT quantity”. Given that, how do your social channels stack up? Look through your followers and fans and see how many you (or your sales team) would be excited to talk to. Yes, you have a lot of work to do.

2. Find your target audience on social media.  Don’t think your prospects are using social media? You’re wrong. They’re on LinkedIn, they read industry blogs, and they ask questions on Twitter. So find out where they’re participating and be there too. Start with LinkedIn. Join groups that your best customers and top prospects are already participating in. Next look at industry publications and see who’s commenting on blog posts and following these publications on Twitter. You get the idea!

3. LinkedIn automatically comes to mind when discussing social media for B2Bs, but there’s plenty of untapped potential on other networks as well. For example, Twitter is a better platform for driving conversation, according to Babcock. “People are there to listen, learn and share useful information. On Twitter, people are open to engaging [more so than they are on LinkedIn],” she said.

Facebook can be a powerful tool for B2Bs as well, according to Layla Revis, vice president and global head of social media at Oracle. “Facebook helps us drive registration to events, whereas on LinkedIn, we focus more on thought leadership,” she said.

4. Get content marketing ideas.  So what are your prospects talking about on social media? What questions are they asking? Which posts are getting shared the most? All helpful information if you’re trying to figure out the topic of your next blog post, white paper, or webinar. And knowing which keywords they’re using will help with title creation, too!

5. Though B2B companies may often have more modest social reach than consumer brands, B2Bs can build niche decision-maker communities where questions are answered and industry-specific matters are discussed. The reach may be smaller, but with more room for one-to-one conversation, the impact could be greater.

“We know the B2B buyer journey has significantly changed, and buyers are reaching out to their social networks for consultations. They look to industry leaders and trusted advisors on social media before making decisions,” Babcock said. As a result, taking a more consultative approach to social media could have a big payoff for B2B companies.