Not all B2B companies have embraced social media with open arms — wondering if it can really be used as a successful sales tool.
To help you sort through it all, we’ve reached out to a panel of marketing and small business experts and asked them all a single question: “What is the best strategy for using social media as a b2b sales tool? ”
Below is a collection of their thoughts and perspectives:
Solve the pain points of your customers with amazing information, the best in your niche. This can be done most easily through a blog for starters, then leveraging other tools. As always, start with your content strategy…then focus on what tools to use. Be the expert in your niche.
Joe Pulizzi is a leading author, speaker and strategist for content marketing. Joe is first and foremost a content marketing evangelist, and founded the Content Marketing Institute, Junta42, Content Marketing World and Chief Content Officer magazine. Joe is also CEO of SocialTract, and co-author of the book Get Content Get Customers and Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand.
To me, business is all P2P: people to people. Social media is about consistently sharing valuable, timely, relevant content with the right audience, engaging with your networks, and fostering relationships. By blending a solid content calendar with a strategic promotional calendar and having an excellent community manager(s), SMBs should be better able to capitalize on social media marketing.
I rarely see social media as a sales tool. I see it as an amplification tool to help spread stories that were likely going to spread anyhow, but few sales will come directly from it. There is the occasional news story about some business that did well with it, but that is often just an exception that proves the rule. Social media is more about awareness than sales. Of course awareness is a step in the sales process, but it is just one step of many.
Frequently running discounts & promotional sales on social media sites is often cannibalistic toward brand premiums, because people can come to expect them & pattern consumption around them.
One of the best ways to do social media is to offer some “research” about that social media channel…people love to talk about themselves. ;) That might not drive sales…but it will at least gain some awareness.
Aaron Wall is an SEO expert and the founder of SEOBook, a site offers marketing tips, search analysis, online business tips, and general commentary on the evolution of the web from an algorithmic, publishing & business model perspective.
Pick your spots and start by doing one thing well. For many B2B companies, blogs are the killer app because of their long-tail search performance. Or perhaps a vigorous LinkedIn campaign is the ticket to create awareness of your expertise in specific markets. Whatever you do, don’t try to boil the ocean. Master one tool before moving on to others. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
Paul Gillin is the author of three books about social media marketing, including the recently published Social Marketing to the Business Customer.
It’s impossible to generally state that there’s one best strategy for using social media as a B2B sales tool. It all clearly depends on your audience and how they prefer to communicate with you. YouTube might be great for some businesses who need to demonstrate their product in use and for others a LinkedIn presence might be more logical to establish credibility. I caution businesses in taking a one-size-fits-all strategy since identifying your customers’ needs, interests and how they access value from you must be the cornerstone of developing your entire marketing strategy – whether that’s social media or more traditional outreach and communication methods.
Beth Goldstein is an author, educator at Boston University and founder of Marketing Edge Consulting Group. Beth has empowered hundreds of entrepreneurs to successfully grow their companies. Her new book is “Lucky By Design“.
To have a strategy! I caution your community not to jump into any social media initiative until they understand:
1. Why they are using the tool (goals).
2. Who they want to engage with (audience)
3. What they’ll talk about (content direction) and
4. The identifying the extent of resources they can dedicate (time, people, technology, dollars).
Toby Bloomberg consults, speaks and trains on how to combine social media with branding, marketing and other customer touch points to build relationships. Her blog Diva Marketing is a Forbes Pick of Best Women Blogs on Marketing & Social Media. She is the author of Social Media Marketing GPS. Connect with her on @tobydiva.
I’m not sure I can offer a “strategy,” but it’s always important to go where your audience is and get to know the people behind those businesses. This is about making personal connections with each business.
Tamar Weinberg is a social media enthusiast with a passion for all things tech and productivity. She provides consulting in internet marketing and manages Community Support & Advertising at Mashable. Tamar is also the author of The New Community Rules
Be on on the social networks that your customers are on. Don’t expect them to come to you. You must go to them.
Paul Colligan helps busy people leverage new media to get their message out to more people, with less effort, and for greater profit. He is CEO of Colligan.com, Education Czar for Traffic Geyser Inc., and Executive Producer for eMarketingVids.com.