Yesterday I met with a prospect who asked me a familiar question: Should we be using social media for B2B lead generation? They thought they probably should because there is so much talk around the subject, but would it be worth all the effort?
Well the short answer is: Yes. Social media accounts provide a cost-effective way to achieve important marketing objectives, particularly for B2B companies.
Why social media is best for B2B lead generation
1. It gives you a clear understanding of the latest opinions and trends in your market. More and more customers are taking to online forums, LinkedIn groups, Quora, Reddit and Twitter to ask questions, vent frustrations and express opinions. Take a look, and find out what’s on your customer's mind.
2. Social media platforms give B2B companies the opportunity to demonstrate the thought leadership that is such an important weapon in the B2B marketing arsenal.
3. It helps tight marketing budgets to work harder - in fact, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. (State of Inbound Marketing).
4. Relationships matter more in B2B sales, and the relationship that a customer has with a salesperson is often the most important way in which he or she experiences a supplier’s brand. In long, complex and high value sales environments trust and credibility are hugely important, and social media is an excellent way of building and strengthening relationships.
By 2020, it's thought that customers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human (Komarketing Associates). In 2017, with the advances of Artificial Intelligence, this seems more and more plausible.
5. Your customer is almost certainly using social media. Take a look at the profiles of existing customers on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, and make a note of any subjects being discussed that could be relevant to how you help your customers. If you are supplying ERP solutions, wherever you find conversations about ERP, you’ll also find prospects. If you have the time and resources, it is always worth carrying out some research into your market.
6. Social media engagement leads to business. If your site is also set up for visitor lead conversion as part of an inbound marketing strategy, it has the potential to produce more qualified leads.
Measuring the results of B2B social media
So, if your customers are on Google+,Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as using Pinterest and Facebook, how should you measure a social media strategy?
The most obvious is the growth of your following. However, a far more important statistic in a B2B context is the percentage of followers converting to leads. Once a web visitor takes some kind of action, such as downloading a guide, signing up to a newsletter or subscribing to a blog, you can gather some contact information through a landing page form.
You can then use a tool like HubSpot to qualify the lead further by understanding what content they are interested in and consequently the nature of their pains and challenges. With this information you can begin to understand which platforms and what types of content appeal to potential customers, giving you the power to constantly improve your strategy
How many of those leads convert to customers?
This will help you understand the effectiveness of your social media campaigns.To calculate the ROI you must account for the cost of producing the content that is required for a social media campaign, as well as the opportunity cost of what your staff or budget may have been doing otherwise.
This blog was originally published in January 2015 and has been updated where possible for accuracy and comprehensiveness in June 2017.