Last month, Technorati reported that according to a recent survey by Eloqua, which analyzed B2B social media marketers’ use of social media, less than a third (32%) ofrespondents in the UK claimed to use social media for lead generation. At Vendere Partners, we expect the percentage of those who use social media to generate leads in the UK and around the world to rise in 2013—and they should. The question is, how much will they rise?
It is troubling that so few B2B companies, including technology-focused B2B companies, aren’t finding more ways to make the most out of social media.If more of the B2B companies currently in operation don’t step up to the social media plate, they could soon find themselves outdone by their newer, hungrier, and cost-conscious competitors that are thinking outside of the box when it comes to social media marketing and lead generation.
The middle class is Web-savvy and ready to recover from the recession. You can bet that up-and-coming B2B business owners are looking to social media for practical answers to their lead generation and sales and marketing needs. Are they going to uncover the answers before you do?
In October 2012, Kipp Bodnar of Social Media B2B, an organization that explores the impact of social media on B2B companies, listed 10 reasons that B2B companies fail at social media. They are:
1. Massively under investments in content
2. Haven’t used paid social [media] to bolster organic efforts
3. Aren’t focused on lead generation
4. Management support doesn’t exist
5. Aren’t looking at the right data
6. Customer personas aren’t clear enough
7. Failure to make the boring exciting
8. A terrible website
9. The belief that it can replace everything
10. Still making too many excuses
Here are a few tips to making social media work for your B2B business as they relate to content, content management, and lead generation.
Reach people on a personal level.
One way to build a following on social networks is to make social media users feel like they are being made privy to insider knowledge by posting messages about daily deals, changes in the market that could impact their businesses, or by asking for opinions and reviews on specific products or services. If your messages reach users on a personal level, they will be shared and you will generate more opportunities to gain a significantonline following that translates into an increase in leads.
Cater to your audience.
If your business is targeting prospectsin certain geographical regions or already has a presence in a certain segment of your industry, adjust your content to cater to key demographics. Keep in mind that not every social media post should be about your company or industry. If you’re targeting businesses in Philadelphia, posting the Philadelphia Eagles logo and the message, “Go Eagles!” before a big game can probably help you attract and keep more fans than a post about the most recent tweak you made to your company’s proprietary software. Mix things up. One of the reasons social media marketersdon’t generate a lot of content on a regular basis is that they simply don’t know what to post. It becomes much easier to come up with relevant content when you remember to cater to your target markets and put your customers first.
Respond; be proactive.
Make sure to keep up with online questions and comments. You should always respond when someone posts on your page, even if it’s just by clicking a “Like” button. If someone asks something like, “Hey, do you guys work with small companies?” and you don’t happen to work with small companies, you still have an opportunity to make a connection, suggest options, and tell the worlda little bit more about your company.In addition, you should be proactive by posting comments on other social media users’ pages.
Create a content calendar.
Social media content calendars are underutilized, probably because a lot of executives and managers aren’t convinced that investing inthem will be worthwhile. Don’t assume that a content calendar is unnecessary. Content calendars can save you time and money by allowing you to schedule your posts, automate post distribution, and alert you via e-mail when you gain new followers or receive comments. Many of the content calendars currently available also offer analytics and real-time data that can be accessed via the Web from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, and require no IT involvement to be implemented. Some calendars allow social media marketers to compare their social media marketing efforts with those of their competitors.
Regardless of whether or not you are skeptical that social media marketing will make a positive impact on your company’s bottom line, the reality is that by changing your thinking and looking at social media’s potential as limitless rather than looking at its limits, at the very least, you have an opportunity make your company a leader in social media B2B marketing rather than an observer of it.