Two Major Building Blocks for Social Media Success in B2B Demand Generation

There’s no doubt that social media is an important part of any B2B marketer’s job. However, we need to be more cognizant about the prerequisites of a great social strategy. Social strategy is NOT defined by the social channels you choose for engaging  your audience. More importantly, it’s about ensuring your content strategy is stellar and aligned with buyer needs.

To build a successful B2B social media strategy, there are two major building blocks that all organizations must adopt:

1.      Think like a publisher

2.      Be a thought leader

In a recent Forrester survey, senior analyst Kim Celestre points to some misalignment between where marketers are spending the most time and money, and where tech buyers are spending the most time.

The chart below provides a great proof point. Many marketers are focusing their attention on high visibility social channels like Facebook and Twitter. Buyers are using other social networks, such as user forums and communities. In an interview with B2B magazine, Celestre shares:

Marketers need to understand customer social behaviors. We found that 86% of business technology buyers use social media during work. Business technology buyers are very social in how they interact with peers and go to online sources to get information. So knowing that and diving deeper to get an understanding of customer preferences will help the technology marketer start getting really strategic.

Chris Koch, Associate Vice President of Research and Thought Leadership for ITSMA (IT Services Marketing Association) summarizes the requirements for successful organizations:

For social media to get anywhere in B2B, companies must undergo a culture change in which they become as good at creating ideas as they are at creating products and services and at servicing customers.

In his latest blog post, Seven Prerequisites for Social Media Success—That Have Nothing to Do with Social Media Koch provides some compelling qualitative and quantitative data that supports the role of these two building blocks. Of his seven prerequisites, three in particular resonated with me:

1.      Social media participants contribute very little to conversations. Research from the Online Community Research Network shows that fewer than 10% of people in online communities ever say anything. And fewer than 2% take a leadership role in starting conversations. Therefore, if you want compelling and relevant content – it’s critical to have a content leader or practice who can think like a publisher and develop a strong editorial calendar.

 2.      ITSMA research shows that 66% of buyers seek information themselves rather than waiting to hear from providers. They seek that information through search. 79% of C-level executives do at least three searches per day. They are more likely to encounter your content through search than through the social media channels themselves. Again, this points back to the importance of content being well-targeted and relevant—and therefore easily found when doing a search.

3.      The business case doesn’t exist for social media, but it does for thought leadership. When [ITSMA] asked buyers last year how important good ideas are to the buying decision, 58% of executive-level buyers (people buying more than $500,000 worth of IT services) said that they are important or critical for making it onto the short list of providers. Buyers were then asked: If a provider brings you a good idea, would you be more likely to buy from them? 30% said yes. And, of that 30%, 54% said they’d consider sole sourcing the project. Social media are great for developing those ideas and for making them available to many more people. But first you have to have an engine for creating the ideas.

The bottom line: Organizations (and B2B marketers) need to focus on content, thought leadership and engaging B2B tech buyers in channels where they go to consume information. Marketing can help by understanding the buyers and the  thought leadership topics relevant to those buyers. Additionally, they can drive the editorial calendar and help orchestrate content development to delivery upon content requirements.

Market well!

Related links:

Roadmap to Buyer-Centric Marketing in B2B

Seven Prerequisites for Social Media Success—That Have Nothing to Do with Social Media

2011 Social Technographics® For Business Technology Buyers

3 Responses to Two Major Building Blocks for Social Media Success in B2B Demand Generation

  1. Great post, Lauren. I think sometimes we get so caught up in “joining the conversation” that we overlook the importance of having something useful to say.

  2. Thanks for the comment Carmen. As you know, we often have clients look for our guidance on “social strategy” – expecting us to focus on the channel first (e.g. twitter, facebook, blog, etc). Rather, social strategy really begins with a view of the buyers – and an understanding of what topics/issues are of most interest to them professionally. Being relevant (in your content development practice) is #1. To borrow some of the tips from Forrester Analyst Jeff Ernst, great thought leadership requires you to be: relevant, provocative, forward looking, distinct, inspiring, actionable, results-driven, conversational, credible and independent. Figuring out which channels to use is important – but secondary.
    Cheers, Lauren

  3. […] Officer (CMO) •    How to Use Social Media Tools for B2B Demand Generation •    Two Major Building Blocks for Social Media Success in B2B Demand Generation •    Develop a Winning Combination for Social Media Integration: 9 tips from a recent […]

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