Social Media Lead Generation for B2B; My View

Social Media. It exists. It’s here to stay. It’s constantly evolving. It’s for branding, it’s for customer service, and it’s for lead generation. I won’t repeat what so many articles and blog posts discuss; Go ahead and Google the following: “social media ROI,” “social media B2B,” or “social media tactics”—and have fun reading and learning. One of my goals as a lead management firm is to consider social media as a strategy and its tactics for lead generation. Most of the articles you read that discuss B2B social media focus on B2B companies with complex products or services that need social media to nurture prospects until those prospects engage further and become opportunities, then turn into sales. Below I’ll attempt to separate “B2B Complex” vs. “B2B Catalog.”

  • B2B Complex:  Again, it’s those companies—typically software and technology companies but not exclusive to these sectors—that need to nurture audiences through content and marketing automation, with the goal to persuade a stale lead into becoming a sales-ready lead.  Salespeople need to nurture leads; research proves that companies that have proper nurturing processes increase revenue and decrease cost-per-lead.
  • B2B Catalog:  These are B2B companies that typically have an online catalog of products.  Many of these companies have shopping carts and perform ecommerce. Prospects don’t have a “process solution” need, but a need for a specific product or service that solves an immediate problem. B2B Catalog companies are typically in the manufacturing fields. From a prospect’s perspective: “I need something; I Google it; I find it; I compare it; I buy it.”

One of my pet peeves with the myriad of B2B research about social media and even lead management processes is that it focuses on the B2B Complex companies. B2B Catalog companies can also use social media, but in a different context.

There are a number of steps to take when developing a social media strategy. Details will be covered in a future post, but for now, let’s all answer these questions:

  • Does your target audience look for your products on social media channels? Do they research your solutions by engaging on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn? Have you done this research properly?
  • Why would a prospect engage with you on social media channels? What value can you offer? Does your content solve problems?

Now, let’s look at specific social media channels and how strategies may differ from the two types of B2B categories. Blogs, Twitter, and LinkedIn are covered for now.

Blogs

Complex: Build expertise, showcase solutions, cover specific aspects of problem solving, and utilize content in a lead nurturing process. Leads come when you offer relevant content, when people subscribe to blog, and when you offer a call-to-action at the end of a blog (i.e. for more on this topic, contact…).

Catalog: Blogs are a little harder to sell to Catalog companies. The focus here is SEO, internet advertising, and pay-per-click advertising. For blogs, focus on being an expert. Let’s use Cleanroom Products as an example of a Catalog category. Blog topics could cover topics such as “How to pick a supplier,” or “How to choose gloves,” “New products and how they affect you,” and “Cleanroom products you didn’t know existed.”  Blogs can be promoted through social media, email, and as handouts during sales calls. Content implies expertise. We’re still lead generating.

Twitter

Complex: Enough has been written on Twitter usage for B2B Complex companies. There is no need to repeat this information in detail.  For lead generation, utilize keyword and hashtag searches for your prospect’s industry and needs. Reach out; follow; engage with retweets and DMs (as long as the prospect follows you back). Use phrases such as  “Interesting topic,” or “That’s a solution I’ve written about (Insert Bit.ly).  Eventually use DM after building a relationship: “Would love to connect with the one responsible for BLANK”. It’s OK to “sell” with Twitter, just follow the 90/10 rule—90% informative, 10% persuasive. Also, if you tweet your own content, people can click to your site and engage further. Put a web form and phone number on your landing page or blog sidebar, offer more content, and capture that email address.

Catalog: Again a harder sell, depending on the business category or SIC code, but follow the same directives as above. Try searching for “electronic components” or” industrial automation” and see for yourself the kinds of companies you can begin engagement with. It’s like cold calls, except your requesting the “follow.”

LinkedIn

Complex:  Again, I’m not repeating the countless articles and blogs on the best practices, but let’s touch base on lead generation again. First, if you’re referencing your blog, link to it in your discussion and include lead capture tactics as described above (call-to-action, web form).  LinkedIn has a Promotional section now; go crazy with your “sell” messages like webinars, offers, and downloadable content. Promotions do not show up on group emails, so you may wish to answer a discussion question properly, and include a mention that you have content that explains the answer further, and include reference that the content is listed under the Promotion tab. Just be careful; it depends on the group manager on the group’s rules. Take advantage of LinkedIn ads if necessary.

Catalog:  Depending on your target audience, the first thing is to research by keyword the Group Directory. Below are three examples of B2B Catalog or Manufacturing Groups. I searched for “components,” “construction,” and “plants.” You’d be surprised about the groups that exist. Groups are great opportunities to show off your knowledge and build connections. When you build connections, you can message them and engage with them. If you can contribute to problem solving within these specialized groups, you and your company are sure to be considered when a LinkedIn group member has a product need that you can provide.  Promotions and advertising work the same as above. With LinkedIn ads, you can target groups, industries, and titles.

Analytics

Without going into too much detail, all lead generation tactics, including social media channels, need to be tracked through two analytics platforms on your website.

  • Google Analytics:
  1. Create conversion goals, ideally a “thank you page” after an email is submitted or a purchase occurs.
  2. Tag URLs from social media sites, blog posts, or any content or ad that links to your website. This will allow specific tracking of social media sites AND strategies, and how that traffic engages with your site and leads to a defined action or conversion.

More on Google Analytics can be found here:

https://www.nusparkmarketing.com//2010/06/tracking-with-analytics/

https://www.nusparkmarketing.com//2010/06/tracking-social-media-email-advertising-analytics-part-2/

  • Marketing Automation Tools:

When a lead engages with your site, those leads can be synced to a CRM such as Salesforce.com. Marketing Automation allows you to see a specific lead’s activity. Below is an example of this integration, showing a lead’s keyword search and email activity. Social Media can be integrated as well, so a salesperson can easily engage with that lead through LinkedIn or Twitter.

More on Marketing Automation here:

https://www.nusparkmarketing.com//services/marketing-automation/

Summary

Yes, of course social media is about listening, engaging, and monitoring your brand. It’s also about investing the time, resources, and funds to properly manage your social media campaign. Social media does generate leads; it just does it differently from other channels of communication. Think about the questions I proposed earlier, and be honest. Social media marketing isn’t for every company; neither is television advertising, and neither is trade shows.  It’s a channel—an important and growing one, and a lead generating (and lead nurturing one).  NuSpark Marketing includes social media as just one element of a fully developed lead generation and lead management strategy with clients. Contact us to learn more:

About Paul Mosenson

NuSpark Marketing Founder, Chief Lead Generation Strategist and Online Media Director An experienced B2B and B2C marketer, Paul has been helping clients generate leads and grow their businesses for over 25 years. Paul helps plan and optimize marketing and lead generation programs.

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