LeadCrunch Blog

Playing the Long Game: How Engagement Strategies Can Drive B2B Sales Leads

Posted by AJ Agrawal on May 8, 2017 8:00:00 AM

 

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Social media has become integrated into almost every component of daily life. It’s how we communicate with others, learn about current events, explore, and even, purchase products. Because our dependency on these networks has grown, so has our time spent on them.

According to a recent Mediakix study, the average person spends 40 minutes each day on YouTube, 35 minutes on Facebook, 25 minutes on Snapchat, 15 minutes on Instagram and 1 minute on Twitter for a grand total of 116 minutes, or almost a full two hours. And social media users aren’t just designating specific times of day to browse their social feeds; they’re constantly checking, and in tune, with their social networks.

Additionally, two-thirds of employees admit to checking social media while working. This means that brand marketers are constantly switching back and forth between emails, projects, and social media. With this much time spent each day logged into social networks, marketing and sales teams on missions to increase B2B sales leads would be remiss not to use social media to their advantage.

There is an opportunity for B2B companies to get on the radar of brand decision-makers by constantly engaging them in new discussions across platform.

As social platforms’ ad suites have grown increasingly sophisticated, companies have begun to rely on ads to spearhead B2B sales leads programs. An ad-first approach makes sense, as these units have the potential to cut through the noise on news feeds and reach new and highly targeted audiences. However, employing an ad-only strategy means overlooking massive organic opportunities on social networks, especially, in terms of driving engagement.

The mentality of sales teams is of course focused on driving conversions and creating efficient opportunities to transform leads into customers. Sparking and managing engagement is typically not high on a sales person’s priority list, but maybe it should be.

Why sales teams should care about engagement

Consumers today have 8 second attention spans; as they scroll through their social media feeds they’re bombarded with distractions. It takes a lot to convince them to settle on a singular piece of content. Gone are the days when seeing an ad touting a B2B service on a Facebook news feed is enough to stop a brand marketer in his tracks. Every tech company across every niche industry is executing cross-platform ad strategies.

To be honest, more often than not these ads look and sound indistinguishable from one another. Social ads are passive tools for generating B2B sales leads. They effectively target the relevant users based on demographics, interests, or behaviors (depending on the platform) and ask the users in return to simply click through. There is very little thought provocation or inherent value-add within a traditional advertisement. Sure, these types of B2B sales leads may promote an interesting industry statistic about the ROI of influencer marketing campaigns, but rarely does a viewer learn anything of substance from an ad.

Even more rarely does an ad challenge a viewer to look at his brand from a new angle. Essentially, ads are highly adept at driving awareness, and maybe even encouraging clicks, but what happens after a B2B advertiser has made itself visible to a potential client on the news feed? Unless engagement strategies are deployed, brands risk losing the attention spans of potential clients as quickly as their ads commanded them.

Social engagement is the act of encouraging audience members to like, share, comment, or re-post a piece of content distributed on a social network. It’s one thing to garner impressions on a social media news feed, but it’s quite another feat to convince users to take the time to comment or share with their own networks.

But social media engagement has also evolved. Two or three years ago brands were satisfied with unique user comments. But today, they’re asking themselves what good one comment really does for them, especially if a product typically commands an elongated sales cycle. One comment or share is a flirtation, but an ongoing conversation - that signifies a long-term relationship.

When social media users do feel compelled to engage - not just click and read - but participate with the actual content - it’s a sign that something has piqued their interest.

How to Spark Engagement

Persistence is the key to sparking actionable engagement. Sharing a piece of content once on each network does little to drive results. But building communities and discussions pertinent to content can give an article or whitepaper an elongated lifespan and help teams increase their authorities within certain communities and industry niches.

Invite Responses

Sharing an interesting case study or whitepaper with your social audience cannot comprise the entirety of your engagement strategy. Rather, organic social posts should be distributed that encourage reader participation in addition to driving downloads.

  • Live Twitter Q&As: Using a dedicated hashtag, announce a time when your company will be facilitating a live discussion on Twitter. Encourage your followers to pose questions, comment, and interact with one another as you moderate the discussion.
  • Facebook Live Videos: Live streaming a discussion hosted by your brand with several industry personalities. Encourage viewers to submit their question in real-time to see the panel address individual comments and questions.
  • Quora Thread: Pose an interesting question in relation to your brand’s latest guide or whitepaper for the Quora community to jump on. As users begin adding their two cents, it’s important for you to acknowledge their comments and answer questions.

Highlight Other Users

Everyone loves publicity; it’s human nature to want to see personal commentary amplified across a social network. Re-posting follower’s tweets, Facebook posts, or owned blog content is a great way to induce community engagement. Highlighting the points of views of others outside of your organizations also presents as forward-thinking as it shows that you are dedicated to continual progress and finding new solutions to problems plaguing your niche.

Engage in Trending Topics

There’s danger in company’s jumping on trending topics that have absolutely nothing to do with their industry. However, if and when a topic breaks that is at all tangible, it’s in your best interest to quickly gather your point of view and distribute your thoughts across social media. People want to engage in conversations that are timely.

Responding quickly to emerging industry topics is one of the best ways to gain authority as the go-to subject matter expert within a niche industry. If your company is seen as an insightful resource at the start of an emerging trend or story, users will continue to come back to your pages and content offerings to glean more of your insights.

 

Platform

Reach (monthly active)

Targeting

Engagement Features

LinkedIn

106 million

Job titles, seniority, skills, groups

LinkedIn Groups Conversation and Pulse Stories

Facebook

1.86 Billion

Demographics, Location, Interests, Behaviors

Live Stream

Twitter

313 million

Language, gender, interests, behavior, location, followers

Live Q&A

Quora

100 million

____

Quora Thread

 

Just establishing engagement opportunities isn’t enough to drive results and B2B sales leads. It’s necessary to benchmark each initiative using the following KPIs:

  • Comments: How many comments did the initiative spark? Were they all from the same core group of users or did the conversation reach new audiences?
  • Shares: Was the conversation shared among users’ own social networks?
  • Time on page: How long did users spend watching or participating in the conversation? If the drop-off rate was consistent, at what point did the conversation lose substance?

Links ongoing sharing: Is the content or conversation thread receiving backlinks on users’ own pages and blogs?

The Last Word—A Massive Opportunity Awaits

Despite the massive opportunity that awaits on these networks, adaptation across sales teams trying to increase B2B sales leads has been sluggish and clunky. Many still find social media lead generation difficult to execute. In many ways this can be attributed to the somewhat murky arena of comprehensively measuring social media ROI.

The path from social media to valuable customer interaction is often indirect. Customers may see a post on Facebook or Instagram, google the brand off-platform, visit the site, and then days later click on a remarketed ad. It’s a convoluted path to conversion, which can be frustrating, especially for teams eager to hit their B2B sales leads goals immediately.

But just because social media may not always offer a direct route to sales, doesn’t mean generating B2B sales leads via social media is not a worthy practice.

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Topics: B2B marketing, B2B lead gen, b2b sales, Facebook

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