If you are a marketer for a B2B company and are considering contracting an agency to execute social media marketing initiatives on your behalf, you should look to agencies with expertise in B2B marketing. Most agencies that specialize in social media have a lot of business-to-consumer (B2C) experience. They identify clients’ target markets and use online social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace to boost brand awareness with the goal of turning people into customers, donors, users, members, etc.
But the B2B sales cycle is different from the B2C cycle. It is more complex, and is much longer. To be successful in B2B sales, companies need to connect with prospective clients and develop relationships with them prior to the beginning of the sales cycle to establish baseline awareness and engagement. A competent social media agency recognizes this, and initiates conversations through Twitter or other social sites to introduce individuals to their clients’ services and provides them with insightful and helpful content. Once this engagement is established, the agency will continue to monitor the activities of your prospective clients, and will be able to recognize when the opportunity arises to position your service as the solution to your prospects’ business needs. Only an agency that understands the complexities of a client’s industry and business model, as well as the typical pain points of the client’s prospects, can be effective at managing these communications and generating new business leads.
A superior agency also recognizes that the sales cycle does not end when you close a deal. Good social media agencies understand that social networks can amplify voices, and that a satisfied customer who raves about your product or service on Twitter can increase word-of-mouth brand awareness, and ultimately, generate more sales for you. But on the other hand, a dissatisfied customer can cripple your sales success, so an effective agency understands the importance of staying in touch with your customers after the close of a sale. If a customer tweets about a problem he or she is having with your service or relationship, your agency representative will reach out and ask how he or she can help. Or at the minimum, the agency will direct the customer to the individual capable of solving his or her problem to avoid any further negative discourse.
Based on our experience, successful B2B Social Media Lead Generation Programs are the result of carefully planned and executed strategies that incorporate the above. These programs typically involve tactics such as:
- Content development (e.g. white papers, webinars, podcasts, etc.)
- Monitoring online networks frequented by prospective clients
- Starting and participating in conversations with prospective clients through these same social channels
- Web site landing page development to capture business leads
- Customer relationship management (the process of recording interactions with current and prospective clients and using the information to improve customer service)
- Drip Marketing (distributing several promotional items over a long period of time to maintain contact with current and prospective clients)
A good B2B social media marketing agency will know how to leverage these tactics and social tools to build brand awareness, listen effectively, start and participate in conversations, maintain good relationships, and most importantly generate quality new business leads.