This post was originally published on December 8th on Social Media Explorer
A recent study by Demand Gen Report shows 73 percent of B2B buyers have less time to devote to research than they did a year ago. Considering the breakneck pace of the business world, it’s not exactly a surprise.
Many of these same buyers tend to favor companies that demonstrate “a stronger knowledge of our company and its needs,” Demand Gen Report noted in another study. Buyers would love to research and find the vendor that perfectly understands their companies needs and specific industries — they just don’t have the time to do it.
Basically, marketers must do everything they can to reach prospects early in the purchase cycle. They also need to personalize that outreach to stand out from competitors. Luckily, social media provides a fantastic tool to cut through the chaos and connect with potential customers long before they’ve made decisions.
Become a Social Star
While B2B companies use social media for brand awareness and lead generation, many feel their marketing efforts aren’t effective. A recent Demand Metric survey of 500 B2B social media marketers found that 40 percent did not know the ROI of their efforts, with another 31 percent reporting their ROI was less than expected.
Social media is a powerful tool, but only if we use it correctly. Here are five ways to adopt a more proactive, personalized approach:
1. Monitor Social Chatter
Your prospects might not even know you exist when they start their research, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t aware of topics relevant to your space. Be on the lookout for tweets about a conference they attended or shares of articles by influencers in your industry as clear buying signals.
You should react to those signals by providing contextualized and relevant marketing messages to those buyers. First, connect your social media activities to a marketing automation system. Then, set up triggers in your marketing automation system to proactively send relevant content to buyers.
Social listening tools, such as Brand24, and social demand generation tools provide a straightforward way to set up smart searches and discover valuable conversations. Incorporate lead acceleration solutions that match existing leads in your database to their social media profiles, giving you access to past and real-time social activity.
2. Join the Conversation
Identify the social media forums, such as LinkedIn or Quora, that your prospects use to research solutions to problems. Prove your worth by answering their most pressing questions. Promoting your product on these forums won’t get you nearly the amount of qualified traffic as providing solid advice and linking to resources on your website.
For example, SalesWings is a lead scoring add-on for Salesforce CRM. Its target audience is sales managers, and SalesWings staff members routinely answer questions from prospects on Quora. When someone asked for insight on the best predictive lead-scoring product, the company CEO didn’t simply respond, “SalesWings is the best!” He instead provided a framework to evaluate several different tools — including SalesWings, of course.
3. Prospect Using Social Media
Your company’s sales and sales development rep teams are designed to build a pipeline, but they need the proper tools first. Equip your teams to use social media for prospecting.
For example, Dux-Soup is a Google Chrome plug-in that keeps track of every LinkedIn profile you visit. Users can make notes directly on the profile page and export that information, as well as data such as location and email, as a CSV file.
Socedo is a platform that helps you discover leads on Twitter based on the social media activities and keywords you care about. Once you’ve set up your criteria, you can have the system automatically reach out to people who fit your criteria on Twitter and adds new leads with email addresses into your marketing database.
You can sign up for a 7-day free trial to test this for yourself.
4. Share Engaging Content
When you consistently share useful content, you showcase your expertise and build trust in your industry. Creating high-quality content takes time, so supplement your own efforts with curated information.
You can get daily article recommendations through a news aggregation app, such as Feedly, Flipboard, or DrumUp. These tools will help you quickly identify and share relevant articles in your space, increasing the likelihood that your potential buyers will notice your social media presence.
5. Build Sales Expertise
In addition to your own social media efforts, encourage your company’s sales team members to establish themselves as product experts by posting useful content on social channels.
Marketing teams can consistently and automatically share content with their corresponding sales teams by using tools such as DrumUp Employee Advocacy or Everyone Social. Those salespeople can then easily use that content to establish their expertise on the social front.
You have two options when it comes to buyers: You can wait around to see whether they choose you, or you can use social media as a tool to reach them early in the buying process. Whether you reach them directly by answering their questions or indirectly by posting content you know they will find valuable, these personal interactions are certain to help you resonate with potential customers eager to maximize their limited research time.