I am just back from seeing my daughter off as she sets out on her next pursuit. After 14 years of dedication to a sport she truly loves, Claudine is off to Dubai with her husband, Alex to join an impressive and incredibly talented team of golf professionals at the Butch Harmon School of Golf in Dubai. Before she flies out, we spent some family time this past weekend in the city that never sleeps, big, bad, bold and beautiful NYC.
We stayed at The Chatwal, New York and it was a wonderful experience. It was not decadent but the simply stated elegance and comfort would make me go back again for sure. I took to Facebook to sing their praises; that’s not something I would do very often—I just don’t have the time. Most days I barely have time for lunch and like other busy CEOs, am inundated with emails, going from one meeting to another with clients and co-workers, etc. And yet, because of my extraordinary experience at The Chatwal, I felt compelled to speak out as a raving fan.
This isn’t about B2B vs. B2C strategies and tactics. I’m a CEO in a B2B industry. I’m also a patron who enjoys fine hotels. Both need to speak to me. How does your B2B messaging come across to me? Do you have what it takes to make someone like me a raving fan?
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Here are 5 steps you must follow in order to build a sustainable social strategy and accelerate your B2B lead generation:
1. THINK LIKE A PUBLISHER. Imagine your B2B company to be a media publishing company that can only survive on high readership and loyal readers, a.k.a. engagement. Knee jerk reactions to negative social media conversations, over-the-top celebrations on social networks, spike and fall patterns on your social properties; none of these will deliver long term results. You need consistent, good quality content that your target audience finds valuable. And you don’t always have to create it yourself. See my series on Content Curation.
2. EXTEND THOUGHT LEADERSHIP TO THIRD-PARTY PLATFORMS. It’s easy to position your company or your top executives as thought leaders on your own website, blog and other social profiles. That will only get you as far as the visibility of your digital properties extends. Your audience, however, is socializing on many other platforms relevant to your industry. Build a following on those platforms to penetrate deeper into your customers’ and prospects’ mind.
3. INTEGRATE SOCIAL WITH TRADITIONAL MARKETING. Amidst all the frenzied excitement over social media, a common mistake companies make is to shift all or almost all of their traditional marketing efforts and resources to social. Remember, we are still challenged by the conversion and monetization capabilities of social. What has been proven though, is social media magnification* and the power of social to build trust, enhance credibility and reinforce your brand positioning.
*The best way to understand social media magnification is to imagine a hub-and-spoke model of digital marketing to explain how leads are funneled from satellite channels, such as the blog or social media platforms, to your website. Once you draw traffic to your company site, you can then design a conversion process aimed at delivering on your final conversion goal. Social media is one of the critical “spokes” in this hub-and-spoke architecture. – Hubspot’s 2013 Inbound Marketing Report.
4. ENSURE CONVERSION OPPORTUNITIES. Don’t be confused by the above point—I am not saying that social should not aim at conversion. Quite the opposite in fact. Social media marketing must be focused on building a community that is drawn to the thought leadership you demonstrate, it should help your organization improve customer relations, customer service and public relations overall; it can also help with scouting good talent and recruiting. In addition, your social content must have compelling calls to action (CTA) that will drive conversion. There is no reason to shy away from this. We have seen it work for email marketing, when you have quality content being distributed through email, so why should we doubt the potential when it comes to social? Do it the right way though—not the too loud, too often, too much in your face type of CTA. And if you are interested in accelerating your demand generation, feel free to download a free copy of The ALEA Demand Generation Playbook.
5. MONITOR, MEASURE AND REFINE. The craving for demand generation often sends us chasing after ‘leads’; but what we really want is ‘customers’ that stay with us and bring others too. When B2B organizations talk about measuring and monitoring social media effectiveness, it is frequently limited to counting likes, fans, views, pins, tweets, etc. What needs to happen is a 360° comprehensive view of customer behaviour with analytics and a sensible set of metrics that shows acquisition or enlistment, engagement, reciprocity and viral spinning. As B2B marketers, we need to stop thinking about getting simply from one transaction to the next and start thinking about a customer journey that is engaging and worth raving about all the way. That’s real social ROI.
Following these 5 steps can create the right foundation for your social media marketing strategy. Based on your own organization’s experience with social media and B2B lead generation, please comment and add to the list above.