Marketers and advertisers alike want better understanding of their buyers and their behaviors. Knowing the purchase behavior of prospects can help a business create a strategy that's focused on moving that customer from one phase of the purchase process to the next. Despite social media being considered a channel for more B2C companies than those in B2B, recent studies indicate that social media can work for businesses looking to influence their buyers, if only they put their efforts into the right places. To influence your buyers via social media, you need to understand how they're using the various networks. Here are three steps you can take towards a stronger social influence.
Focus on Forums
Believe it or not, your buyers are using communities and forums quite heavily. A recent Forrester report found that 80% of B2B buyers use vendor support forums or discussion forums on vendor or brand websites (for that specific vendor or brand), with 23% doing so primarily for business reasons (Tweet this stat!). Having a forum for your current customers can attract new customers. It showcases your ability to foster a community of customers and encourages those that are on the fence to ask any questions regarding their hesitations. Niche networks and business-oriented communities, such as Quora and Google+ communities, are great places to start looking for potential customers. If you have your own community or forum for your organization, make sure you address prospects with questions and respond to current customers to show you value those who chose to do business with your organization.
Liven Up LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great tool for social selling and connecting with prospective customers. According the Forrester report, 88% of B2B customers have connected with peers or colleagues in the past month on LinkedIn (Tweet this stat!). 40% have participated in LinkedIn groups affiliated with a brand or vendor. If you've received a lead, but they aren't ready to make a purchase, consider reaching out to them and connecting on LinkedIn. This will allow you to collect more information about their industry and role within a company so you can deliver more targeted and relevant content via your follow-up emails and phone calls. In today's marketing landscape, the more relevant you can be, the greater success you'll see from your efforts.
Spoil the Spectators
Spectators, or those who read blogs, watch videos, etc., make up a large majority of B2B decision-makers. 98% of B2B decision-makers are spectators and use the major social media platforms for both consumption and interaction (Tweet this stat!). Spoil your spectators. Provide these people with the types of content they want to share, read, watch and further interact with. The networks where your buyers are located are where you should be distributing your content and engaging with others. You can't simply push your content out and expect the decision-makers you're trying to reach to respond. Discussions, tutorials, case studies and how-to articles are just a few of the ways you can get conversations going with spectators.
The B2B buyers you are trying to reach can be found on social networks, if you know where to look. To influence them, take a look at how these decision-makers are using social media and follow their lead. Buyers are becoming more informed and aware of vendors before they ever get in contact with a sales person. If you want to influence their decisions, you need to focus on forums, liven up your LinkedIn presences and spoil the spectators with the content they're most interested in.
(Image: Barry Levine via CMSWire.com)