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A guide to using social media for B2B lead generation: Part I - The Tools

Despite wide adoption, with 93% of B2B marketers using social media to generate leads (1), only 10% are able to quantitatively demonstrate the impact of this activity (2), suggesting that B2B marketers are still not confident about incorporating social media into their lead generation strategy. To help you navigate through the different options and get the best from your social media activity, we have created a simple guide to the tools available and their main attributes. In a later post we will look at the key factors in a successful social media strategy.

 

Online tools

LinkedIn


LinkedIn is the most popular B2B platform, with 94% of B2B marketers using this channel. Your company page can be used to showcase your services, post regular updates and display your latest job vacancies. In addition, “showcase pages” allow you to set up sub-category pages to highlight particular business areas or initiatives. You can build your network of followers and raise the profile of your organisation with sponsored ads targeted at particular sectors or job titles. In addition, LinkedIn Sales Navigator provides powerful sales features for your sales team, enabling them to find and target prospects more quickly, improve their ability to qualify leads, gather insight and build trust with your target audience.

However, LinkedIn is most effective when you step outside of your own company space. LinkedIn Pulse, the channel’s publishing platform, is a great opportunity to highlight the thought leadership of your team. Discussion groups offer the chance to interact directly with potential customers – 86% of conversions driven by LinkedIn come from posts in discussion groups. Since these discussion groups centre on specific areas of professional interest, it is a great opportunity to access a highly targeted audience.

Twitter


Twitter is a great space to research relevant people – you can search by industry name, job title or relevant hashtags. This can give you a valuable insight into the key decision makers you want to target. Following someone on Twitter and engaging with their tweets can be a great way to begin building a relationship.

There is a great deal of noise on Twitter, with more than 7,000 tweets sent each second. One way to cut through the noise is to promote your organisation’s tweets to people using the relevant keywords and hashtags. Perhaps the most effective, but most time-consuming, method is to research the hashtags relevant to your industry, and take part in any associated Twitter chats to build relationships and establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry. You can also host your own Twitter chat to build your network and further enhance your reputation.

Facebook


Whilst it has traditionally been seen as a B2C channel, Facebook use by B2B marketers is growing, with 84% of B2B marketers saying that it forms part of their marketing strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Facebook advertising allows you to target messages based on job title and employer, as well as interests and behaviours, allowing you to reach the people who need your services. Professional discussion groups are growing in popularity on Facebook, and knowing where your customers spend their time online can be invaluable in building a relationship.

Data capture


Most social media platforms will enable you to embed and promote data capture forms, or to link to data capture tools hosted on your website, allowing you to widen your net in terms of attracting leads. 

Social media monitoring


Tools such as Hootsuite and Tweet deck allow you to track mentions of certain keywords that indicate a user may have a need for your service. You can even use these tools to automatically respond to each person using the specified keywords or phrases.

Using these platforms, or within channels such as Facebook or Twitter, you can create lists of people who are interested in a particular topic or interacting with your business, or with your competitors.

Influencers


LinkedIn discussions or Twitter Q&As hosted by key opinion leaders or well-respected people within your sector can help to identify people who have a need for your services, and candidates for the lists mentioned above.

Offline tools

One of the biggest issues with lead generation through social media is that the leads are unqualified. You may have acquired a large number of followers or fans but they may not necessarily convert to real, revenue generating opportunities. Whilst digital channels have great potential to guide customers into the top of the marketing funnel, the personal touch is required to guide them through to the point of close. There are key questions to be asked in qualifying a lead and identifying the appropriate next step for that individual, including clarifying who the key decision makers are in the process, establishing their current needs and readiness to buy, and understanding their internal processes and budgets. So, when evaluating all of the tools you’ll be using, don’t neglect the phone!

 

We can help

From qualifying early stage leads and understanding your customers’ pain points and challenges, to developing trust and long-term relationships, human interaction is an essential element within any sales and marketing strategy. As with any strategy, the key is to align your sales and marketing resources including the channels which best serve your required outcomes, so they work synergistically to drive overall results.

If you would like to learn more about how the human touch can work with your social media activity and other channels, to provide a solid foundation for your overall sales and marketing strategy, please get in touch!
 


 

(1) https://www.weidert.com/whole_brain_marketing_blog/statistics-about-b2b-social-media-usage

(2) http://webbiquity.com/social-media-marketing/33-thought-provoking-b2b-social-media-and-marketing-stats/

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