It began about two years ago, right around the time when we started rolling up our sleeves to help B2B marketers with social media… that nagging feeling these marketers were doing social media wrong. They were making it all about the number of fans and followers, instead of leads and sales. Simply put, B2B marketers were managing and measuring their social media efforts as if they were B2C marketers. What the heck?

B2B social marketing tools to consider

Of course, there are may reasons why, but one of the biggest was that there were very few social media solutions designed specifically for B2B marketers. Well, guess what? That’s finally starting to change.

We recently chatted with the founders of Oktopost and B2B Content Engine to get their take on B2B social marketing and to check out their solutions. Here’s a summary of what we learned from our conversations and brief demos.

Oktopost: Social Media for Business

Daniel Kushner (and his other founders) built Oktopost to make it easy to launch and manage social marketing campaigns, with the goal of driving website traffic and generating leads. From the demo he gave us, it sure looks like he’s achieved his objective!

In addition to providing intuitive social media publishing capabilities, Oktopost takes on three major pain points that have stymied B2B marketers trying to execute social campaigns:

1.  Bulk Message Upload

One of the major benefits of social campaigns is the ability to quickly test out lots of audience and message combinations to determine what works. The major drawback has been the hours of copy and paste required to get your carefully crafted, reviewed, and approved campaign messages into your social publishing tool. Oktopost supports bulk uploading your messages, including the landing page link, then makes the messages available to be published to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Saved messages are also available to other team members on Oktopost, making this a superb way to scale social engagement while keeping your team on message.

2.  Automatic Campaign Link Creation

Another persistent hurdle for B2B social marketers has been tracking social posts as part of a campaign. Sure, you can easily create a single URL for your landing page and know how many clicks came through it. But if you’re using the same link in 20 posts, across Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, how can you tell which post drove the clicks? Was it Tuesday’s Twitter post?  Or Thursday’s LinkedIn update? Oktopost solves this problem by creating a unique shortened link for each post each time it’s published, automatically. That means you can clearly see which messages drove prospects to your landing page, and understand the combinations that work best to reach and engage your audience.

3.  Simple Conversion Tracking

Finally! Oktopost draws a straight line between social posts and signups and sales, without having to muck around with URL tagging or crunching numbers in separate spreadsheets. Just drop Oktopost’s conversion tracking code snippet on your thank you page (just like you would with AdWords) and use their dashboard to gain visibility into exactly which social posts drove conversions, and the data you need to calculate ROI by social campaign. Bonus: Oktopost integrates with Salesforce and Marketo to push your new leads directly into your marketing automation programs.

B2B Content Engine: Content Curation Software for Marketers

Greg Bardwell, the founder of B2B Content Engine believes the number one problem for content marketers is… well, content. From the basic labor of finding and sharing high quality content, to the more ambitious goals of creating thought leadership and search engine optimized content to attract your target audience. If you’re struggling to get your arms around content marketing, Greg’s team may have just the tools you’re looking for.

1.  Easy Content Curation

Even if you’re still getting your sea legs when it comes to creating your own original content, most marketers have gotten comfortable with the notion of curating other people’s content. B2B Content Engine lets you plug in your favorite sources (blogs, news sites, etc.) and see them in a single view. Rather than visiting 10 different sites looking for good stuff to share, you can quickly skim through a list of recent posts, read them right on the spot, and decide which ones to share. Sources are shared across all authorized users, so no need for each person to maintain their own list of links or bookmarks to round up good content.

2.  Efficient Content Sharing

Speaking of sharing – it turns out that doing content curation the “traditional” way (visiting lots of sites, finding relevant content, copying and pasting URLs into social publishing tools, etc.) can get incredibly time consuming. B2B Content Engine lets you share content with a single click as you read it within their interface, or easily drop it on the calendar for publishing at a later date/time. It’s easy to see marketers queuing up a week’s worth of curated posts in just a few minutes using these tools – a time savings that definitely adds up if you’re on the agency side and curating content for multiple clients.

3.  Effective Content Publishing

Here’s where things get really interesting! Unlike other social media tools that focus exclusively on pushing your content out to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, B2B Content Engine also helps you quickly create email newsletters (through a MailChimp integration), publish curated content to niche microsites, and even update your own WordPress blog – all from within the B2B Content Engine interface.

Time for a test drive

Of course, the only way to really find out how good these B2B social marketing solutions perform under real world conditions is to take them for a test drive. And fortunately, we’re B2B marketers with lots of social media initiatives to work on with our clients. So, stay tuned, as we’ll be putting these tools through their paces over the next month and will report back on our experiences!

Want to learn more about why B2B social marketing is different? Check out our guide: 7 Reasons Your B2B Social Marketing Sucks.