B2B Marketing

How to Turn Social Media into a Demand Generation Tool

B2B Marketing by Julie Bevacqua

As you can tell, I am such a big fan of social media. It’s fun, affordable, creative, and intelligent. Yet as companies begin to jump onto the social media bandwagon, the question that arises is, how do you use social media effectively to convert your audience into paying, repeat customers? A high number of followers do not necessarily indicate a high conversion rate (sorry to disappoint any twitter collectors). And if figuring out what a ‘like’ translates into is difficult, imagine the various measuring options you need to employ if you have multiple channels you promote on!

Yet social media is undoubtedly the fastest growing lead source for B2B companies today and a single social media strategy, if used correctly, can convert into opportunities and sales. But many have not figured out how to use social media correctly and as companies continue to gather larger followers and sign up to more social networking channels, the entire prospect can become rather overwhelming.

If you don’t know where to begin, streamlining it into smaller, more manageable steps poses less of a challenge. To achieve maximum results, you need to adopt a holistic approach that can create single campaign streams, which can be used as engagement tools. You also need to align your sales and marketing teams in order to create a unified approach. But more importantly, you need to understand how social media can work as a demand generation tool.

Firstly, in visit those spots where your clients play. Look at some watering holes they gather at –LinkedIn, Twitter, and Quora are all great hubs for the business customer to hang out at and the first place you need to look when engaging your audience.

Next, assess the landscape and find out what the most important trends are at any given moment. The landscape will change even though the watering holes may remain the same, so be prepared to roll with the flow. Learn exit strategies, map out communities, and engage in forums and discussion groups.

Social media is used and consumed in different ways, depending on the audience, where they gather, and what their decision making processes look like. In a study conducted by The Buyersphere Report, here’s what they found: When a buyer seeks a recommendation, the most influential channels, across all stages, were Twitter, Facebook, blogs and word of mouth. These channels provide a personal recommendation, which is clearly valued by business buyers, whether those recommendations are delivered face-to-face or enabled by social media.

Social media drives changes in the buyer/seller relationship. It also churns out data, which if the seller is not prepared for, can be overwhelming. However, if you can use this to your advantage, social media can be leveraged to generate new leads and convert existing leads into actual customers.

By combining social intelligence with a social media setting, you can create a whole new lead generation tool. Here’s how you can work with your existing channels:

Monitor and track opportunities by following relevant conversations online. There are a number of tracking tools which will allow you to research and select appropriate segments. By following and engaging in the conversation, you are letting two things happen – you are positioning yourself as an expert and you are encouraging others to connect with you.

Wow the audience by creating and distributing unique, relevant, and targeted content. There are two types of followers you may acquire – those who want to increase their own following and try and do so by pursuing others, and those who want genuine access to original, intelligent content. There’s no question which type of follower you would prefer to have. To attract the right audience, discover who the influencers are within a community and try and get them onto your side.

Nurture potential leads into ready customers. Select the right kind of social media tools, like blogging and video, to challenge and excite potential leads and convert them into buying customers. Tools like twitter and facebook can also be leveraged to create evangelists out of your existing customers. Early adopters of social media can see their lead generation numbers increase significantly as they get others to spread the word for them.

Sell creatively. Social media does not work for hard-sales, but it can be extremely effective when it comes to soft-sales and upsells. Use plenty of fresh content, interspersed with creative sales tags to promote offers and upsell to current customers.

photo credit: Constantine Belias via photopin cc

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