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B2B social media; Turning LOLs into lots of leads (and sales)

The latest event from the BMC in the East Midlands attracted a record-breaking audience to discuss B2B success through social media.


With a stellar line up of the region’s top social experts including Closer Marketing’s, Emma Bradshaw, specialist LinkedIn trainer, Charlie Whyman and Status Social’s Head of Social Media Management, Jamie Cernick, it promised to be an insightful evening.


Introduced by BMC co-founder Jason Neale and the evening’s regional BMC organiser Robin Bodicoat, we questioned whether social media was really working in a B2B world. Businesses need to get involved, but are not really sure why, how or what their social strategy is. Is it Lead Generation? Thought leadership? Brand awareness? Do people really have a clue?


The reality is, for real results every post should have a purpose.


Enter our experts. Getting you closer to your B2B audience.


Emma Bradshaw, a freelance marketer at Closer Marketing, graduate of the Digital Mums Academy, marketing lecturer at NTU and previously EON’s resident expert in digital optimisation and customer experience talked trends, top tips and setting social strategy.


Which channel is which?


Referencing the recent #DollyPartonChallenge, Emma highlighted the importance of a channel’s personality and how customers expect to be engaged with in the appropriate way. The Street Party, The Art Gallery, The Networking Event, The Water Cooler – where do you want your business to be and for what?


Key trends for 2020 - Trust and transparency.


“It’s time to take Tik Tok seriously” advocates Emma, after watching first-hand how digital natives interact online in her role as university lecturer. The short-form mobile video networking platform (formerly known as musical.ly) is taking people by storm with everything from lip syncs to life hacks with its raw and unedited format. Video is winning. The filtered Instagram look is old hat.


Credibly moving conversation into the private space is essential. Tools such as chatbots seamlessly move people into a private conversation around specific topics, building direct engagement with your customer.


“Getting behind the curtain is going to be the most important thing for the next decade. Broadcast ‘spray and pray’ tactics are over, there is a move toward intimacy. You can’t ignore the private conversation. For B2B audiences it is important to focus on how you get invited to the House Party. That takes time and investment” commented Emma.


Embedding engagement.


Emma added: “Get good at stories – advertising in stories is on the rise, look at the way you are creating content and if it is fit for purpose. Rather than broadcasting, make sure your content strategy has engagement embedded within it, making use of polls, encouraging user generated content, Twitter chats, competitions and useful longer form content – such as webinars, videos, subscription models for specific subject themes.”


What can social do for B2B marketing?


With an estimated 20-500 digital touchpoints encountered before a buying decision is made, this presents a huge opportunity, as well as challenges for B2B marketers.

Opportunities exist in social listening, competitor analysis, influencing buying decisions and reinforcing your ‘Why?’ through brand awareness, not to mention benefits of enhancing SEO and attracting and retaining talent to your business.


The challenge is creating a genuine and authentic connection with your audience, where Emma walked through her CLOSER model which helps businesses do just that.


CORE, LISTEN, OBSERVE, SELECT, ENGAGE, REVIEW.


Emma left us with a final thought from Seth Godin: “Our job is to connect to people, to interact with people in a way that leaves them better than we found them.” Simples!


Starting conversations which lead to sales.


Charlie Whyman, LinkedIn strategist, influencer and former international sales and marketing manager for global businesses was up next. Agreeing about creating engagement, saying: “It is not about leads, it’s about starting a conversation with your market. Your potential customers need to know, like and trust you. And, you need to stand out from the crowd in a meaningful way – that is difficult.”


B2B or B2C is still H2H.


“The goal of marketing is to start conversations which lead to sales. Now is the time to talk with the people in your market, not just talk at them – invite them into the conversation. Negotiating and getting a response through LinkedIn gives a more human response,” says Charlie.


Citing a case study of a global laser measurement company, RIEGL, Charlie walked though their success on LinkedIn, talking about how social proof is the biggest motivator as their clients love their products and data, so will share, like, discuss them on line, ultimately giving them “free marketing”.


How to win on LinkedIn.


“RIEGL took advantage of their fan loyalty and created a community of fans and advocates. They also empowered employees to showcase their skills, knowledge and brilliance – playing into their zone of genius. Lastly, they create content people really want to engage with, achieving 40-50.0000 impression per month with no advertising, but getting people to buy into the products and services. This proves the power of LinkedIn as the place to be for business development,“ added Charlie.


Free marketing - Top tips for LinkedIn.


Charlie shared a number of top tips for making LinkedIn work harder for businesses:


  • Ensure content is within “The Zone of Relevance”for your audience, make people understand how it will help them with their job.

  • Don’t assume– learn about your audience, take that knowledge into your audience, your pipeline and your social media content.

  • EVERYONE needs a LinkedIn company page– It gives you the ability to get in front of people you wouldn’t normally. Make it accurate, representative and honest – (Spend about 10% of your time as a small biz, 20-30% if larger business and the rest on your personal profiles).

  • Quality over quantity – It is not about the number of followers; it is about the quality of the content that you post and level of engagement you create.

  • Amplify your personal profile- You are 19 X more likely to attract new leads from your personal profile because you are communicating with people.


In summary, Charlie shared:


“LinkedIn is not a thing that you should fear, it should support you to create a dialogue with your market, social listening, build authority and credibility, create a community of fans and advocates. Magic is in the follow up, nurture, creating a community.”


Winning over your B2B audience.


Head of Social Media Management, at Status Social, Jamie Cernik echoed earlier sentiments and warned against “digital leafleting” and forgetting the “social” part of social media.


Hailing from one of the first social agencies in the UK and having generated in excess of £2million of business through social media, Jamie ran through some practical examples of customer interactions that deliver results.


Jamie said: “If you want to sell, you need to inspire and create an emotional response. If you don’t prove that in social media content, you are not giving a reason to buy.” Citing two extremes “The Hard Sell” or “The Friend Zone” he suggested the sweet spot, the normal social selling space was somewhere in the middle.


Finding common ground.


According to Jamie: “Everyone is hustling on LinkedIn, predominantly trying to achieve core objectives – lead generation or recruitment. The advantage of advanced filters on LinkedIn enables you to use the “The Sherlock Homes” technique. People reveal social signals about themselves which you can capitalise on to avoid being stuck in the ‘friend zone’. You can use these signals to connect on a human level – flatter an alumni, find a human connection of the same school, university or football team of choice.”


Understand your audience, is the key to starting a conversation.


Giving examples of what was essentially social stalking, Jamie presented a no-bullsh*t approach to winning a social security and global hacking consultant as a client. He also shared examples of sharing blog posts via Twitter which led to a Blind Sports Equipment retailer making contact with the core decision makers via Twitter and subsequently getting into 11 premiership football clubs by getting out of the friend zone and being part of the buying discussion.


We have no content!


Many of Jamie’s clients feel that they have no content, but this doesn’t mean that they have nothing to say. Everyone is able to meet people at their level, chat informally on Twitter. By understanding who you are talking to you can match their tone of voice and generate authentic conversations.


Tips to generate content.


Jamie concluded with some content creation pointers, make it:


  • Entertaining– create a response in people, entertain them.

  • Inspirational– emotive, life changing, give people a reason to champion it, can people get behind it?

  • Add value– what can you give away for free? Are there tips, information, advice within your area of expertise you can share?


To summarise the whole session in a nutshell, “Humanise your content and you’ll go far.”


Any thoughts you would like to add on social media success for B2B marketers?


Business Marketing Club (BMC) events offer a great opportunity for both client-side and agency side to come together, share ideas and meet like-minded marketers, while socialising with a drink and bite to eat, in an enjoyable and informative environment.


To join the next East Midlands event visit: http://bit.ly/2Hwoc9s.

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