How effective is social selling for B2B businesses in 2019?

Which brands come to your mind when you think of highly successful social media campaigns?

Most of the names will probably be B2C companies, right?

Entities like Pepsi, Apple and Burger King spring to mind.

Rarely do you hear about some IT enterprise firm killing it on Facebook or a Transportation & logistics company dominating the feeds on Instagram.

Such companies do exist on these social platforms. The only problem is they can’t figure out how to sell effectively on social media as a B2B business.

They don’t seem to connect with their audience, or put out interesting enough content for them to be noticed and talked about.

For one reason or the other, a lot of B2B businesses straight up struggle to deliver an integrated engaging experience to its audience – while some simply decide to not give any weight to social media at all.

The general perception among B2B businesses often is that social media is more suited to B2C, where the content and conversations are casual, light-hearted and often quite non-serious.

These companies, or the people that run the show in these companies, often argue that social media – the place of eternal memes and selfies – is just not serious enough to be any use for them.

Such thinking couldn’t be further from the truth.

Due to these, and many more similar perceived notions, B2B businesses still quite heavily rely on the ‘old ways’ traditional strategies and marketing tactics like cold calling and attending business networking events (where half of the attendees are more interested in the buffet lunch instead of discussing potential business opportunities).

We acknowledge that such traditional tactics still do work. But they shouldn’t be the primary mode of promoting your business. Not in the year 2019.

Cold Calling is out – Social media lead generation is in

If you’ve been reluctant to try out social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook – just because you thinkthey do not generate any results for companies that serve other businesses – you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

It wasn’t long ago, when the only way to scour and grab potential leads for your business, was by grabbing a phone directory, find a number of local businesses and then cold call them to pitch your business.

For a lot of sales people, this is was their standard process all day long – for many years.With cold calling, success rate of actually getting through and being able to connect with a lead is pretty low.

And what happens when you manage to get through and connect?

Your lead is not interested in your pitch!

Given the situation, it’s safe to say sales people have their work cut out.

Thankfully, the days of blindly calling your leads (and hoping it would work), are behind us.

Thanks to the Internet, everything has changed – especially how sales reps look for and engage with leads.

For lead acquisition and follow up, sales teams are not just limited to phone calls anymore. These sales reps can now stand out through ‘social selling’ (i.e. the use of social media to find and engage with new prospects).

Social selling is the new sales model.

Studies on social selling suggest that ‘on average, for every $1 a business puts into a sale person for social selling training, he/she will make the business $5 within 180 days!’.

That’s quite an ROI.

Sales people sell way more when they use their own personal profiles on social media to identify, reach out and pitch.

And that’s not all. With a fully integrated digital marketing strategy, your business can be set up to find prospects via advertising on social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, re-route traffic to your website, convert them to leads using automated email services and drop the leads into highly customised sales funnels to nurture them along to a possible conversion down the road.

For some businesses (B2B and B2C), a lead can be generated and converted from within a single social media platform – without ever having to go through any of the other processes!

Social selling is fast becoming the go-to channel for businesses of all types. And a B2B business is no exception.

Getting started on social media – for a B2B company

If you’re still with us at this point, it means you’ve bought in to the idea that social media can definitely work for B2B businesses.

The next natural step is figure out how do you actually get started? Or if you’re already present, how do you get your B2B company out there for everyone to notice and interact with?

We get it. You’ll want to just jump right in and start posting on your Instagram and Facebook account.

But before that, let’s quickly take a step back and better understand where we are and where we want to be.

Set goals for your business

Before you decide what you want to do with your social strategy, make sure you set overall goals for your business, what success would mean for your brand on social media and what are you looking to get out of it?

Is your target to increase brand awareness? Get more people engaged and talking about your product? Generate traffic from social media towards your website or blog? Or to get people to sign up for your product/service?

Or is it all of the above?

You’ll need to set goals for your business before venturing out into the world of social media.

The answer to above questions will help you make up your mind on which success factors to measure. Do note that all social platforms are not created alike – each have their own set of characteristics which ultimately define your success factors.

Similarly, success factors, also known as KPI’s (key performance indicators) can differ for different social platforms.

For example, if your goal is increase brand awareness and get maximum eyeballs, you might want to track:

  • Impressions
  • Followers
  • Organic/Paid reach
  • Engagement

But suppose if your goal is to generate leads for your business, then you’d want to track:

  • Clicks throughs from social media
  • Blog traffic
  • Newsletter signups
  • Conversions

Here it’s worth mentioning the importance of clearly laying out your social media goals in a written form. Having it documented allows you to paint a clear picture of how you’re to going to attain your business goals.

Before writing down your goals, make sure you ask the important questions like:

  • Audience: who do you want to target?
  • Platforms: which place to do you want to focus on?
  • Content: what sort of content will you be publishing?
  • Success: how will you measure your success on social media?
  • Competition: who among your competitors are already on social and what is their strategy?

Answers to these questions will help you develop clear and smart business goals for your niche – regardless of your industry.

Let’s summarise. First and foremost, Identify and set goals for your business. Then set up KPI’s to measure these goals and finally write them down in a document form – which anyone can use as reference at any moment in time. After which, you can set up milestones and keep a track of your success factors – along with making minor refinements along the way every now and then.

For more insights, you can read all about how setting clear and practical goals for your business is important – even if you keep making minor adjustments along the way.

Our Top Social Media Tips for B2B Businesses

All too often, we see B2B brands have no more than a bare-minimum presence on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

There’s no quality content, no engagement and their overall strategy is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

How do you make sure your B2B business does not fall under the same category? Read ahead as we reveal our top tips for B2B businesses on how to bring their A-game on social media.

Give your business a personality on social

You are guaranteed to fail with a boring personality on social media.

B2B companies usually follow a conservative approach when dealing with social content. The fear of creating a controversy always looms above – keeping many B2B marketers from trying out fresh and daring content strategies.

We’re not saying you should go all in and risk making a fool out of yourself online with your brand. Not every company can be witty and pull off a sassy tone and get away with it.

But there’s a big difference between going over the top with your social strategy and simply trying to be ‘more human’ in your conversations online.

You can take up a unique social identity and personality without crossing your brand’s limitations. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Be conversational

Don’t be uptight with your conversations online. Don’t just broadcast your content and hope people interact with you. Start conversations with your audience and engage with them.

Twitter can be a great place to start with that. Use hashtags (#) effectively to first look up relevant topics to follow and then dive into the ones you think can lead to a fruitful discussion.

A little humour won’t harm anyone

Social media is for humans. These are platforms where people gather online to have fun, engaging and meaningful conversations, share photos and videos and make new friends.

No one wants to talk to dull faceless corporate entities. People want to know the face behind an online account. You should soften your online social presence. If required, you can follow in the footsteps of a few B2C businesses and adapt to their way of sharing content.

So, it makes total sense, even for a B2B business account, to have some fun with the content they publish. A little humour weaved into your content is always welcome and most often gets the most engagement from audiences.

Just make sure you don’t go over the top.

LinkedIn is great for B2B, but it’s not the only relevant social platform

We all agree that LinkedIn is by far the most effective and most relevant social platform for B2B businesses. After all, the decision-making process for a B2B product or service is far lengthier than what a traditional B2C buying process might take.

The reason for preferring LinkedIn as a stand-alone platform is quite simple. Majority of B2B companies look at LinkedIn strictly as a place to generate leads.

But your B2B social strategy can take on a whole new level if you put brand awareness and promotion first before generating leads.

Traditional notion for many is that social media is all about selling products and services (which is partly true) – but that is not it’s only purpose.

Relationships matter

For B2B, strong relationships with the audience (and partners) matter a lot more than what’s usually required for B2C transactions (which can be more impulse based).

A B2B prospect cannot simply rely on impulse purchase, and instead has to think it through a rational process before arriving at a final decision.

Be it LinkedIn or the likes of Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, a B2B buyer’s decision-making journey is similar – regardless of the social platform he’s using.

B2B purchasing is driven by reputation, relationships and word of mouth before anything else. And having a cohesive and unified content strategy throughout multiple social platforms, is pivotal to establishing your business as a thought leader in your respective industry.

For B2B companies, it’s also more suitable to establish an industry-specific focused approach leading to cultivation of a strong community of online ‘brand ambassadors’ or affiliates.

The B2C landscape stands in sharp contrast by working in a much saturated, highly emotional and impulsive market of products and services.

In fact, your company’s reason for existence on social media shouldn’t be just about conversions and leads – but the focus should be to create stories, engage with people and share content that is appealing and emotional – and that can be achieved on any social network as long as there’s an integrated communication strategy.

Leads and conversions (and hopefully sales) will follow.

There are no longer any doubts whether you, as a B2B business, should be on social media or not. If you’re still on the fence, it’s high time to get your business presence established on social.

Good luck!

Originally appeared on We Strategise

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