Social media at work in the B2B buying cycle
Have you ever been out for dinner and chosen the restaurant with the longest queue, or the busiest bar? Or maybe you’ve gone to see the latest movie because everyone’s been raving about it, but secretly you were never that interested in the first place? (a bit like when I went to see this). Have you ever taken part in a Mexican wave for any reason other than because the guy next to you was flailing his hands in the air like a mad man?
The chances are you have done one or all of these things. Why? Because the people around us and their actions influence our behaviour and our choices. And most of the time this happens without us even realising it.
This is the principle of social validation at work. And what I’m interested in exploring today is how you can make the most of this in your B2B marketing activities online. And the most obvious, and simplest answer is to build your social media presence. If someone is unsure of your product and does a quick search online and you’ve got a few thousand followers and your content is being shared left right and centre, they’ll be more inclined to trust your product or service. As you’ll see from our previous post on marketing through the B2B buying cycle, social media features in all but one stage. So if you’re not making the most of this, then you need to. Here are a few tips on how you can build your following:
Gone are the days of using Facebook only for consumer marketing (and if you still believe it’s just for B2C that you need to get with the times). The right company page, which targets the right people (i.e. those individuals working for the kinds of companies you want to target), will increase engagement, drive traffic to your website or blog, push your site up the search rankings and increase your chances of generating that all important lead. You need to be sharing great content regularly (this is where having a company blog comes in handy) and engaging with your target audience by posting comments on other pages, and responding to any comments on your own. Make use of the advertising function. It’s highly targeted and you can reach the people who are potentially interested in your business. And you can spend as little, or as much as you like.
I came across a study by Twitter the other day stating that 30 per cent of Twitter users searched for B2B tech brands, compared to 12 percent of average internet users. So it’s really important to find and engage with them. Post engaging (and non-promotional) content that your target audience will find useful. Keep your Tweets prompt and regular (but not so frequent that it looks spammy). Engage in conversation by Tweeting influencers directly and use hashtags to access broad keywords and reach people interested in your field of expertise. You’ll soon see your followers and levels of engagement increase.
All B2B companies should have a presence on LinkedIn; it’s a great platform from which to market your company to other businesses. Senior management profiles should always be kept up-to-date as they are most likely to be searched for. You should also be joining lots of relevant groups and posting relevant content on a daily basis. Probably the most valuable thing you can do is to fill your company page with client testimonials. There’s no better way to entice potential customers than to get other people to endorse you and LinkedIn is a great way of publicising this.
Not one to be overlooked, Google+ is now the second largest social network with over 340 million active users worldwide. Using Google+ circles and communities by sharing great content enables you to build relationships with your target market and position your business as a thought leader among potential customers, as well as others in your industry. If your company is not on Google+ you’ll also stand to miss out on some great SEO benefits. Sharing things on Google+ and encouraging others to +1 your content works in a similar way to Facebook “likes”, but the impact is more pronounced because Google Search recognises its credibility. Get yourself and your company on Google+ and start sharing!
This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are lots more social networks your business should be leveraging (Pinterst, Stumbleupon to name a few) to make the most of social validation, but it’s a start. In order to position yourself as a credible business and build and convert leads, step one is to build your online presence and engage with your followers.
If you found this blog useful and you’re interested in learning more then why not register for one of our free seminars on the science of digital marketing?