8 Steps to a Winning Social Media Mix for B2B Demand Generation

Kitchen Aid

How to get buy-in for social media and get better at it.

This week at at the Marketing Forum Michael Brenner presented plenty of great tips and best practices for “Integrating Social Media Into Your Marketing Mix.”

These recommendations align perfectly to how we (marketers) should be approaching ANY marketing endeavor—meaning, WE ALL have the skills to do this well!

8 Steps to Become a Real Social Media Player

  1. Define goals/metrics
  2. Find your buyers
  3. Define influences/influencers
  4. Map the org. model
  5. Set up your channels
  6. Content/context strategy
  7. Engagement model
  8. Enablement plan

My View on the 8 Steps

  • I agree that #1 should be top priority, but make sure the second half of that recommendation doesn’t slide: define key metrics and milestones that will help you gauge the success of your goals.
  • In my experience, step #6 is truly critical (though it can be daunting)—not just in social media, but across all marketing activities. Content and context are the king and queen of marketing today, so this is a step that cannot be missed!
  • Regarding #7 and #8: See my recommendations for mapping a content strategy by personas and stages in the buying cycle.
  • If you’re just getting started with social media, my recommendation is to focus on one goal (like demand generation, awareness or customer retention) and do it really well. Many marketers try to use social media to tackle all things at once, and this strategy is sure to fail.

Maturing in Social Media

Given the focus of this high-profile presentation, it seems social media in B2B demand generation is growing UP!

Isn’t it refreshing to see that social media is proving to be such an effective channel for connecting with buyers that the question is shifting from “How to…?” to “How to best…?”

And yet, I’m still surprised by how many B2B organizations have not made engagement in social media a priority. Typically, lack of executive buy-in is the root cause.

If you find that’s the case in your own organization, check out Michael Brenner’s 5 Steps to Executive Buy-In in his presentation (link below), and remind them of the new rule of word-of-mouth:

“Conventional marketing wisdom long held that a dissatisfied customer tells ten people. But…in the new age of social media, he or she has the tools to tell ten million.”

—Paul Gillin, author of The New Influencers, quoted in Michael Brenner’s presentation

Related links:

Integrating Social Media Into Your Marketing Mix (Michael Brenner’s presentation)

The Marketing Forum

The Buyer’s Journey Diagram for B2B Demand Generation (and More)

Overcoming the #1 Challenge in B2B Demand Generation Content Marketing

How Busy B2B Demand Generation Marketers Can (Still) Use Personas

4 Responses to 8 Steps to a Winning Social Media Mix for B2B Demand Generation

  1. Lee Hopkins says:

    Without doubt, the best B2B marketing book you will read this year!

    HERE’S SOMETHING I bet you didn’t know: spending on B2B social marketing is expected to grow 21 per cent annually through to 2013. And here you thought platforms like Facebook are purely for B2C plays…

    But selling to businesses is different to selling to consumers, and Paul Gillin and Eric Schwartzman (my podcasting colleague from the early days of FIR) outline in a extremely cogent way why selling to business is different.

    Take these few examples they give:

    B2B marketing is much more likely to focus on value than `experience’;
    B2B buying decisions are usually made by groups;
    Business buying cycles are longer than consumer buying cycles;
    Business buying decisions are more likely to be a commitment than consumer buying decisions;
    Relationships play a more important role in B2B than in B2C decisions;
    Service and Support are essential decision factors;
    Channel relationships are complicating factors in the marketing equation.

    Social media, as Gillin and Schwartzman point out, is highly suited to addressing many of these issues. As they point out,

    “[Social media are] particularly effective at connecting customers with the people behind the products they buy. This barely matters in consumer markets, but in high-dollar transactions that may affect the fate of the buying company, the ability to communicate directly with designers, engineers and support personnel can make all the difference.”

    Gillin and Schwartzman argue that B2B companies have must to gain from using social tools, more so than their consumer counterparts. For example, and again to quote the authors,

    “Group decision making is enhanced when everyone involved in the decision has access to the resources that the vendor is bringing to the table. This benefits small B2B suppliers in particular, because they can more easily expose their expertise and experience to prospective customers.

    “Business buying cycles are shortened when buyers don’t have to navigate through intermediaries to answer questions. Social media makes it easy to reach the source directly.

    “Similarly, it’s easier for buyers to make a commitment to a vendor when they know the people behind the brand. This awareness even provides an additional layer of comfort for service and support. If a vendor were to go bankrupt, for example, buyers would still have a way to find the people who built the products.

    “Relationships can now be forged at every level. Although this may present a threat to the sales organisation, it improves the chance that the buyer and seller will find touch points elsewhere in the organisation. For example, product developers may be more effective than marketers at establishing trusted relationships with influencers in customer organizations.

    “Complicated sales are made less complex when all parties have open channels of communication. This reduces finger pointing and improves customer satisfaction. For the selling company, it also creates ways to identify new business and upsell opportunities.

    “Channel relationships are smoother when all parties are clued into what each other is doing and can take advantage of opportunities for joint promotion and co-op marketing.”

    In other words, social media can positively affect B2B relationships at nearly every level.

    But not every company has the culture or intestinal fortitude to take advantage of such opportunities. There are still a lot of very scared middle and senior managers out there on both sides of the equation who would prefer to see things stay as they are.

    That’s why Social Marketing to the Business Customer: Listen to Your B2B Market, Generate Major Account Leads, and Build Client Relationships is so valuable.

    It’s a road map to understanding the changing dynamics that introducing social media brings to an organisation and what YOU can do about it.

    Look at their chapter titles for an example of how they walk you through this step-by-step:

    One: The changing rules of B2B marketing
    Two: Seven ways you can use social media
    Three: Winning buy-in and resources
    Four: Creating a social organisation
    Five: Creating and enforcing social media policies
    Six: Learning by listening
    Seven: Understanding Search
    Eight: Choosing platforms
    Nine: A non-techie’s guide to choosing platforms
    Ten: Social platforms in use
    Eleven: Pick your spots: Planning social marketing campaigns
    Twelve: Lead generation
    Thirteen: Profiting from communities
    Fourteen: Return on Investment [yes, the dreaded `ROI’ question – with answer]
    Fifteen: What’s next for B2B social media

    They even include the elements of a social media policy so that you can cook one specific to your own organisation.

    With examples a-plenty, and written in a no-nonsense style, this book is a must-read for anyone involved anywhere in the communication chain: PR, internal communications, sales, marketing, buyer, seller, C-suite.

    Eric runs a superb podcast series at ontherecordpodcast.com to support the discussions and ideas that the book generates.

    Without doubt, Social Marketing to the Business Customer is the best B2B marketing book you will read this year!

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