Social media has been a useful channel for B2C companies to promote their business. But you can make the most of this channel, even if you’re running a B2B company. In fact, 53% of B2B buyers in a Demand Gen study research their purchases through social media. This is probably why social media content is the most commonly-used type of content in B2B content marketing, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
But B2B social selling isn’t as simple as sharing all the latest blog posts you’ve published, and expecting customers to see them. There are certain steps you need to take, and tips you need to follow if you want to leverage social media as a powerful selling tool. Here’s what you can do:
Be Where Your Audience Is
The first and most important step is to build your social media presence on the platforms that your target audience is most active. This is crucial because there won’t be any use to your promotion efforts if you’re unable to reach your ideal audience.
According to the Demand Gen report cited earlier, LinkedIn has the biggest impact on B2B buyers’ research process. 40% of respondents consider it very important and 41% consider it as somewhat important. So LinkedIn should definitely be your top priority.
Other than that, you can check out the demographics of various social media sites and compare them against your target audience demographic. Pew Research Center has done thorough research on different social media demographics, which you can use in your comparison. According to their study, Facebook continues to be the most popular social network with 69% of all U.S. adults on the internet using it. So it might be wise to include it in your social selling strategy.
Publish Content that Provides Value
The content you share or publish on social media should have some value to your audience. It could be anything from quick tips and fun facts to entertaining content. This means you shouldn’t just be talking about your business or your products. Instead, try talking about what kind of issues your product or service can solve, for instance.
Your main goal may be to sell through social media but you should avoid being overly promotional. People aren’t on social media just to hear some brand talk about how amazing they are. B2B buyers may be observing your social media content to learn more about you and your products. They may want to see how qualified you are to solve their problems before they decide to talk to one of your sales reps. In fact, B2B sales stats show that 75% of buyers find vendor information through social media.
In fact, 97% of respondents in the Demand Gen study admit to choosing a B2B vendor based on how well they demonstrate their knowledge of the business landscape and the solution area. This shows that the content you share on social media should prove to your audience that you’re perfectly capable of providing them with the desired solution.
According to HubSpot, list posts tend to garner the most social shares, followed by why-posts. Videos are also highly successful and so are how-to articles. So if you want to create valuable and engaging social media content, you could try using these formats. But even if you share blog posts through social media, try to include images that will draw the attention of your audience.
Trello does a great job of this. They share links to valuable resources through their social media. But instead of just sharing the link with a default preview, they create suitable custom graphics to accompany each tweet.
Use Social Media to Answer Customer Queries
Your social media should also be a place where your prospects and your existing customers can get quick resolutions to their queries and issues. The Demand Gen study found that a vendor’s ability to respond to inquiries in a timely manner had the biggest influence on B2B customers’ decision to work with said vendor.
If customers bring up any problems publicly, make sure you respond to them professionally and without any delay. If the issue is a bit sensitive to discuss publicly, let them know that you will be helping them through direct message. This will show your prospects and your other customers that you are not ignoring customers’ issues. They may feel more comfortable about choosing you as a vendor.
Check out the following screenshot from the MailChimp Facebook page, for example.
A user wants to downgrade her account and the MailChimp team promptly tries to help her. If you look at the timeline, they responded within just five minutes. You can also tell that they are genuinely trying to help her and when it’s beyond what they can do, they refer her to the billing department.
In addition to this, make sure you clearly display the hours during which your representatives will be available to talk on messenger. So even if prospects send you a direct message to enquire about some features or policies during your off hours, they won’t be disappointed with a late response.
Share Customer Stories
You already know that user-generated content such as reviews and customer photos can effectively influence the purchase decisions of B2C consumers. But the importance of social proof isn’t just limited to the B2C marketing landscape. B2B companies too can benefit from it as it can help them prove their worth through the stories of actual customers.
B2B buyers generally hold executive or managerial positions. So they tend to carefully research vendors and products before deciding to invest in them. They want proof that you can actually deliver on your promises. That’s why 73% of respondents in the Demand Gen study viewed a case study while researching B2B companies.
You can use social media to share customer stories such as testimonials and links to case studies. This will not only prove to your prospects that you are to be trusted. It will also make the existing customers feel valued and appreciated when you share their stories. And when customers feel valued by a brand, they tend to become more loyal towards said brand.
Oracle does a great job of sharing customer stories and promoting these stories through social media.
These are some of the essential steps you should follow if you want to make more B2B sales through social media. Depending on how well you use the channel, you can discover a cost-effective and engaging method of connecting with your target audience. Have anything to add about B2B social selling? Let me know in the comments below.