B2C selling has dominated social media for the last 10+ years. Customers do their research, ask questions, and even address customer service issues on social channels. But that doesn’t mean B2B has to miss out on all the fun: B2B social selling is an important and viable channel for B2B marketers and sales professionals.
91% of B2B buyers are now active and involved in social media, while 75% of B2B buyers are significantly influenced by social media. This means B2B professionals are using social media in the same way that B2C consumers are using it: they’re doing research, educating themselves, and establishing relationships with vendors who can help them.
To put it in perspective, here are a few important statistics to know about B2B social selling:
- 82% of prospects are active on social media.
- 90% of top salespeople use social selling tools, compared with 71% of sales professionals overall
- 68.9% use social selling tools for lead development. 64.9% use them for account research, followed by call preparation by 60.3%
What is B2B Social Selling?
B2B social selling is the process where salespeople use social media to connect with prospects. You can use social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Instagram to find your best prospects, form relationships with them, and build trust. After all, people buy from people they like and trust, and you can either do this with a month of lunch meetings and phone calls, or you can do it a few minutes at a time with social media.
The most effective way to use B2B social selling is to create thought leading content like blog articles (like this one), videos, and podcasts, and then share them to your social networks. This will establish you as an industry expert and tell your prospects that you’re the one who likely has the solution to their problems.
(Note: We don’t necessarily recommend using Facebook for a B2B social selling tool. Chances are your employer and your prospects’ employers frown upon using Facebook during work hours. Additionally, your prospects no doubt use Facebook for personal enjoyment; they don’t want you infringing on their personal time. And if you happen to have opposing political and social viewpoints, you could kill the relationship. Hey, people have killed friendships over this, so don’t think your business relationship will be the one that survives it.)
What B2B Social Selling is NOT
It is not advertising. It’s not blasting people with your special offers and links to your website. It’s not you following hundreds of thousands of people in the hopes that someone will see your message and call you.
Look, nobody likes advertising, and people look for ways to avoid it. That means bombarding people with commercial message after commercial message is annoying, and people will ignore and even block you. So don’t treat this like an advertising channel. Have conversations, share important information, and treat people like actual people, not sales targets.
How Can You Use B2B Social Selling?
If you’re already well-versed in social media, chatting with friends, sharing photos, posting status updates, and so on, then you know how to do social selling. You just may not know it yet. So here are a couple tips to help you boost your social selling game and start reaching prospects.
Set up a listening post. Since people love using #hashtags in their social updates, you can “listen” for those. For example, set up a column on Twitter’s Tweetdeck application.
Create columns for terms related to your specific industry — ours would be #marketingautomation and #socialselling, for example. Whenever someone posts something that you could help with, whether it’s a question or an article they wrote, help them out. Answer their questions and share their articles with your own networks. This creates a relationship with that person and you become a trusted resource.
You can also follow hashtags on Instagram, as well as search for hashtags on LinkedIn. Pay attention to those as well, and have the same kinds of conversations with people.
Create your own content. You presumably have some knowledge and expertise about your industry, so share it! Don’t just wait for selling opportunities. Write blog articles that help people solve a particular problem. Post photos of your solution in action. Hold webinars that teach people about a particular issue. If you have a podcast, bring potential customers on as guests and ask them to share their own expertise. If you create enough content, you’ll eventually establish your credibility and build up your reputation, which can help you on your sales calls.
B2B social selling helps you establish your expertise so you don’t need to demonstrate it whenever you meet new prospects. If they called you because of your social content, then the proof portion of the sales process is done. They know what you can do, and they have self-qualified to enter your sales funnel.
Social selling is an easy way for marketers and salespeople to reach a targeted audience more effectively and for a lower price than any advertising you can do. You can measure your results and continue to create great content that people will want to hear about. The more you do, the better your results.
And if you don’t believe it can work, well, you’re reading this article, aren’t you?
To learn more about expanding your social networks and reaching the right people at the right time, schedule some time to talk with one of our team members to learn more about how our FIRE methodology can help you find and connect with buyers who are looking for your product or service right now.