Marketing in social networks has captured interest and conversations in the meetings of professionals in the area. For their part, B2B entrepreneurs are asking themselves how to make these social networks work in their favor.
Currently, activities in social networks are becoming an obligatory activity for all companies looking for ways to increase their positioning, the strength of their brand and of course the acquisition of new customers and prospects using this modern tool. According to the recent study by the Collective agency, 90 percent of marketers are looking for new online tools and 62% anticipate an increase in investment in social networks during the next six months. However, only 12% believe that social networks are truly valuable tools that generate ROI for brands and companies. What is the reason for this contradiction?
Social networks are here to stay, but not all entrepreneurs have finished understanding how to obtain tangible and measurable results in return on investment; and while marketers promoting consumer products are at the forefront, B2B companies are less active, however, they should not ignore them, but instead learn to take advantage of them.
A digital marketing strategy for B2B involves the integration of tools such as a dynamic website, a blog, landing pages, digital RP, and a meticulous selection of the most convenient social networks. All of them are homogeneous and integrated, projecting the key messages of the company towards its customers and business partners.
Currently, social networks play an important role in the new decision-making processes and the strong positioning of brands. As a B2B entrepreneur, you must know that it is essential to learn to promote the advantages of social networks in your favor in order to create online interactive communities by identifying potential customers and influencing buyers in their decision making.
So let’s be social!
Social networks are a means for the creation of communities and the exchange of information in a simple way. They are a means to carry our message, attracting and captivating a target audience, but unlike other tools such as advertising or traditional RP; social networks allow us to enter into direct communication with our audience, interact, creating a community that allows us to know the specific needs of each member. A key activity in social networks can then be defined as “interaction”.
Before Google, the obtaining of prospects was in the hands of the sales executives, and the marketing area supported with the organization of focused events, the participation in key events of the industry and sometimes, direct mail, traditional RP activities and advertising in vertical media. With the arrival of Google in 1998, the era of digital marketing began. The executives saw their trays invaded by advertising mails, some marketers focused on the optimization of internet search engines (SEO) and PPC (pay-per-click) advertising; B2B companies focused on the creation and delivery of quality digital content (reference case studies) and on-line training (webinars) to convert traffic into prospects. But nevertheless, the most experienced marketers were aware that the communication was still one-way and the information of the prospects delivered to sales was not deep enough to know their status regarding the intension of commitment to their products and services. To streamline the sales process, there was still a lack of interaction, a direct one-to-one qualification was required, extracting the necessary information to qualify them as a “hot prospect” or one in development.
Today, many of these marketing activities remain in force, although there is an evolution of both tools and marketing mix, adding social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, SlideShare, etc., and the blogs that facilitate the publication of contents and the interaction with the prospects in a direct way, facilitating the qualification and approach for the sales area.
Experienced B2B marketers and entrepreneurs know well that prospects have stopped attending as many events as before, now they browse seeking comments and references from third parties that recommend products and solutions that have captured their interest, interact with third parties in blogs and social networks; and only when they feel satisfied with these references do they approach the chosen supplier ready to receive the sales executive. According to Forrester Research, 77% of decision makers for the acquisition of B2B technology are active members of social networks. The challenge then, is to make available this reference material by third parties for which the activities of digital PR, interactive online advertising and social networks become valuable tools by executing an efficient marketing strategy.
This evolution in marketing tools and activities is already yielding positive results in terms of the impact on the generation of qualified prospects and the positioning of companies; However, the measurement of results and ROI remains an interesting challenge. There is currently an infinite range of applications and solutions for this purpose, once again it is a matter of giving oneself the task of looking for those that are adapted to the strategy and specific needs. It is possible to choose between integral tools such as HootSuite; CRMs, Alerts on Yahoo or Google, RSS feeds, monitoring and measurement tools such as Radian6, Social Mention, Steprep, or Social Rank among many others; analysis and social intelligence solutions such as Wisdom, Emma or Alert from MicroStrategy, Google Analytics, etc.
However, once again, it is essential to start at the beginning, that is to have a well-defined digital marketing strategy that contains the exact description of the target markets and prospects, which includes the precise messages for the development of informative and referential content. very high quality digital images according to the profile of the target audience in the form of text, images, audio and video; to then place all this in a marketing mix of advertising and digital RP integrated with the company’s website, landing pages, social networks, and blogs including an interaction plan that leads the company to obtain that “Social Validation”, which is the psychological phenomenon that occurs when members of a community seek independent opinions, clues and references to ‘validate’
The next step is the choice of media, social networks and administration and measurement tools more in line with the particular objectives of your company; taking into account that the ideal mix will include those that allow the publication, monitoring and measurement of content in the form of text, images, audio and video. Also the interaction with the prospects and facilitate the ‘Social Validation’.
Once you have all the elements, you must always keep in mind that social networks play an important and influential role in this ‘Social Validation’, and that the interaction you achieve with your community will play a leading role in the decision of the B2B buyers. The digital PR will take its information to media where its prospects can ask, rank, vote and comment, all of this fundamental in such validation, so both activities must work in orchestra to make available to their prospects the appropriate content and the tools to validate it. .
Social networks are a powerful tool for B2B companies in the face of the evolution of purchasing processes and that prospects use them both to validate information and to resolve support and service issues.
Analyze your company and ignore what others do, design your own strategy and select the tools and suppliers that suit your particular needs. Always think about your readers and prospects, pay special attention to the quality of your content. Social networks contain thousands of alternatives, take what works for you and be a social B2B company!