The Social Sandbox: Converting the haters
By Randy Mitchell
“I hate social because my customers hate social. They’re engineers. They deal in facts, not fluff.”
– Industrial Product Director
“Social media is a popularity contest. We don’t need likes. We need leads.”
– Entertainment Services Company Owner
“Our products are SaaS. That’s a big investment. We sell to the C-Suite and they are not on Twitter.”
– Technology Marketing Manager
“Social is for branding. Social is for buzz. Social is not for B2B.”
– Food Ingredients Regional Sales Director
If you believe social media is a waste for your B2B marketing mix, you’re not alone. Many B2B decision makers are devout social haters because they think it’s not substantial, serious and it doesn’t drive leads.
With all due respect, that thinking is wrong. It’s also dangerous for the future health of the brand.
Social media can be a differentiator for any B2B company. It can target the most demanding audiences and help tell the most complex stories. Social is also one of the strongest lead generation tools around.
How can I be so confident in the power of social? Because I have witnessed the positive outcomes strong programs deliver for our clients.
Creating successful B2B social media programs is a prime capability for our agency, and it’s in very high demand. We develop turnkey social programs, from planning through posting. Each program is distinctly different, but they all embrace the new roles that social media plays in B2B.
The new roles of social
The scope of social media in B2B marketing campaigns has become extensive. Here are some of the diverse roles social plays today.
Our clients employ omnichannel campaigns to reach highly elusive prospects and customers. Social posts used to be a “nice to have” component in those campaigns. Now, it’s one of the lead dogs. On several recent campaigns social posts drove more traffic than emails or digital ads combined. One client’s social program drove over 4,000 visitors to a new product’s website. That type of response is in line with the evolving marketplace reality: The audience for social now includes those elusive decision makers. Some of them are hard-wired to ignore traditional marketing, but a compelling social post that grabs their interest can work small miracles.
When it came to lead generation, social media was not taken seriously because its format was too brief to move the needle. Admittedly, it’s hard to sell a 2 million dollar piece of industrial equipment in a tweet. So we simply changed the rules to make social work harder. We added engaging videos to posts, linked to landing pages that would fill in any information gaps, and leveraged social as the dynamic doorway to the content our prospects wanted. And the results rocked. When social pay per click (PPC) ads were added to our campaigns, they pushed our clients’ response numbers to new levels. One client is seeing 200+ decision makers per month engage with their PPC ads—and that remarkable response level has been consistent for more than a year.
One of the biggest complaints about social for B2B was that it cast too wide a net. Not anymore. You can now create a much more targeted outreach for your PPC efforts, including the industry, job title and even the prospect’s primary responsibilities. It’s not foolproof, but it’s getting more granular all the time. The key is to know your target and the social networks they prefer. Then, speak directly to them and their pain points and you’ll make your PPC budget optimize every dollar.
Remember those C-Suite executives who would never use social media? They changed their perspectives big time. In fact, 84% of C-Suite-level and VP-level buyers are directly influenced by social media when purchasing, according to a LinkedIn study. Suddenly, social has become a serious editorial resource for information. And it’s a must for reaching the C-Suite.
The bottom line is that social media has become a force in B2B because it plays by the rules of B2B.
Social changed significantly in its ability to target an audience, track results and deliver content in almost every format. Combine that with the immediacy and cost-effective reach that social provides and you can understand the appeal.
B2B marketers also changed in our understanding of social’s potential and the way we can integrate it into our campaigns. It used to be a channel for reaching a younger demographic. Now it’s a direct conduit to every demographic.
One last thought: If you want to see the staggering social response numbers our clients do, I know any agency that can help. Contact Boomm and let’s end the social hate once and for all.