Getting Inside the Minds of B2B Buyers and Giving Them What They Want on Social Media
Guess what? In this post you are going to learn how to become a mind reader. It’s actually quite easy – you start with a pocket watch and swing it back and forth. You must also say, “You are getting sleepy …”
All kidding aside (sorry if you wanted to actually learn about mind reading), while you can’t always read the minds of your customers, you CAN give them what they want, or at least try, especially when it comes to social media. Social media is not just for teens anymore. It’s not just for consumer-facing brands. Executives, buyers and influential decision makers in all industries are using social media, which is just one reason why it can’t be ignored.
As social media takes on a larger role for B2B buyers, it’s no longer enough just to be on social media. You must be there with an intentional presence to ensure you’re where your audience is, when they’re looking for you and supplying the information that they need. How can you do this? You must be in the minds of your buyers, and understand the answers to these three questions:
Question #1: Which channels should I be spending time on?
Answer: Everywhere, especially LinkedIn and blogs and YouTube.
According to a survey of B2B buyers, when making purchasing decisions, 61% are influenced by LinkedIn, 58% by blogs, 54% by YouTube and 50% by Facebook. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be investing heavily in every single channel at all times.
Consider a hub approach, and select one channel as the primary focus for your activity and content, using other social sites as supporting and amplifying channels. For example, if you use a corporate blog to share information on an ongoing basis, consider posting most of your content there, using LinkedIn (via posts, Pulse, etc.) and Facebook (via posts, longer-form content, etc.) to drive interest in and traffic to your blog. For each blog post you write, ask yourself if there’s a video equivalent or way you can repurpose the content on YouTube. Look into creative ways to extend your content and share it on the social channels you know your buyer audience is reading.
Question #2: What exactly should I be doing on each channel?
Answer: Be strategic, incorporating reactive and proactive strategies. Share information that supports all stages of the buying process, starting at the research phase. This may include creating content such as social media posts, blog content, e-books, etc. as well as working with industry influencers to speak on behalf of your organization.
When asked what role social media played in their research process, B2B buyers shared the following:
This means you need to be where the discussions are happening. How can you do this? Set up RSS feeds and monitor relevant industry blogs, discussions and online publications. Search Twitter and other social media for similar keywords. Search LinkedIn for relevant conversations, and join in. Create Google Alerts with your business name, products and key competitors, and read, read, read. Check-in at least once a day and monitor the conversations happening just outside your own social channels so you can be reactive and provide your company’s POV when appropriate.
Second, be proactive. Develop a content strategy (see this post for more) and create your own content and share it on social media. Buyers are looking to connect with you – as potential vendors – so make sure you’re creating content that they want to consume. A survey of B2B technology decision makers revealed that they are most likely to consume the following pieces of content disseminated through social media before making a purchase:
- Case studies
- Detailed technology guides
- White papers
- Podcasts/audio files
Consider investing in a social media audience audit so you can know exactly which channels your audience is using and what type of content they’re consuming.
Each time you invest in a piece of content, look at ways to further share it with your audience. Take for example a white paper – could it be broken down to a case study? Shared as a blog post? Extended as a webinar? Make sure the content you’re creating can speak to not only the B2B buyer who is researching information, but also high-level decision makers who may come in later during the buying process, as 84% of C-level/vice president executives use social media to support purchase decisions.
Consider connecting with industry influencers. Who are the leaders in your industry that aren’t associated with your company or competition? Would they be willing to work with you on a formal program or short-term basis? For example, would they speak on your behalf at industry events, provide contributed blog posts or other content? (See this post for some creative ideas to work with them) B2B buyers are already seeking their input – why not connect with them and make sure you’re top of mind?
Question 3: When should I get started?
Answer: Now! While it’s not brain surgery (or mind reading), putting a plan and strategy into place can be time consuming. Start small with a pilot, and measure its effectiveness. The sooner you start, the sooner you’re able to be in touch with your buyers and start the conversations.
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