B2B Social Media Lead Generation Explained

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					B2B Social Media Lead Generation Explained
Guest post by Eric Schwartzman and Paul Gillin

B2B social media marketing is particularly well suited for business-to-business lead generation.
Business purchasing decisions are made by stakeholder committees with diverse priorities and a
voracious appetite for details. Social media is the most efficient channel for committees of engineers,
product developers, purchasing managers and marketers to self-educate, and a way for marketers
to abbreviate sales cycles.

B2B social media makes it possible for marketers to inform communities with greater fidelity and less
friction. And for most B2B marketers, snapping a blog, a Twitter feed and a SlideShare account onto
the marketing department has been the logical first step. But as B2B social marketing matures, it is
becoming clear that this is only one option. In this blog post, we’ll explain the three different
approaches that are currently gaining traction with B2B marketers.

DIY Social Marketing – Up to know, savvy marketers have risen to the occasion by creating content
themselves. They optimize, upload and fill the vacuum with details customers seek to make informed
purchasing decision. Indium Corporation, a company we profiled in Social Marketing to the Business
Customer — the first book devoted exclusively to B2B social media — maintains an arsenal of 17
corporate blogs to turn content into contacts into cash.

Indium’s blog posts feature buyer oriented keywords likely to be searched. Headlines like ―Wave
Solder Flux Deactivation Temperatures Explained‖ and ―Using Integrated Preforms for Solder
Fortification‖ may not be interesting to most people, but if you’re on the market for solder, these are
the details you need to know to specify the right solder. In the six months after Indium started
blogging, lead generation surged 600%. The do it yourself approach is manual. These corporate
blogs are maintained by 17 company employees, many of whom are engineers.

In a market like Indium’s, where there’s a dearth of this type of data available online, the strategy
has been extremely effective. But in more competitive markets where stakeholders have even heftier

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
appetites for details, informing the marketplace on your own is kind of like accepting responsibility for
nation building a war torn country without a the help of an international coalition. Which leads us to
the next approach.

Managed Social Marketing – The SAP Community Network, also profiled in our book, is a branded
B2B social network with nearly 2 million members — less than 10 percent of whom are company
employees. The community generate 6,000 posts per day in 200+ discussion forums. ―If we can
make our customers more successful than our competitor’s customers, than our competitor’s
customers are going to come to us. Or our customers are going to buy more, upgrade faster, extend
their capabilities and so forth,‖ says Mark Yolton, SVP, SAP Community Network, Global Ecosystem
& Partner Group, who oversees the social network.

System integrators share best practices with customers as a way of increasing their own visibility.
Customers ask questions, prospects educate themselves and, as a natural byproduct of all that
sharing, tire kickers are converted into leads. Jeremiah Owyang calls them unpaid, peer-to-peer
armies. Unlike the DIY approach, this one is a more scalable, and more self-sustaining, because
instead of accepting responsibility for sustaining the momentum on your own, you manage a
community with its own inertia.

The SAP Community Network helps engineers share details with other engineers, and the by-
product of all that sharing makes a market for SAPs products much more efficiently than the
company could do exclusively through its own sales and marketing channels. Intangible benefits like
easier networking, industry recognition and professional development drive community engagement.
But the networks must be actively monitored by community managers, who serve as farmers,
weeding out the off-topic conversations and fertilizing healthy ones. So while it may be less resource
intensive than the DIY approach, it still requires ample resources.

Automated Social Marketing – A third approach is also emerging. It’s embryonic at this point, but it
relies not on sharing details or managing others but rather, on data integration itself. It’s the latest
iteration of social marketing, and it’s automated. By allowing visitors to a destination website to login
with their Google, Facebook or Linkedin credentials, marketers can exchange access for the right to
aggregate profile information, get individuals to recommend their products to their online social
network and establish a persistent connection with the prospect, all in a single click.

Between July 2010 and January 2011, B2B sites saw a 20 percent increase in logins using Linkedin
user names and passwords, showing that more websites are integrating social sign-in, and that
more users are choosing to segment their business activities from their personal ones by using
Facebook for logging into non-business websites, and Linkedin for sites they’re comfortable aligning
with their professional profile But regardless of the particular social network a user signs in with, this
approach was the first iteration of automated social marketing.

Last March, Hoover’s, the most popular sales prospecting B2B database, released a mobile app to
help marketers find prospective customers based on the GPS in their smart phones. Now you can
search based not only on industry sector and annual sales, but also location.

In January, Hoover’s announced a deal with LinkedIn to integrate elements of the B2B network’s
functionality in the Hoover’s online business information database. Tomorrow, your Hoover’s iPhone
app will probably also show you which of your Linkedin contacts has a contact at those nearby
businesses. Armed with spatial and social networking intelligence, the world’s largest professional
database becomes an even better lead generation tool.

In contrast to the DIY and managed approaches, the automated approach leverages the actual the
data created from online sharing, rather the act of sharing itself. As APIs become easier to integrate,

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
and social sign-in providers like Janrain and Gigya release low cost solutions, the automated
approach is likely to continue gaining steam, as marketers look to the data to get better insight into
the demographic and psychographic make-up of their prospective and existing customers.

Eric Schwartzman is coauthor of Social Marketing to the Business Customer, the first book devoted
exclusively to B2B social media through social media, producer of the award-wining PR podcast On
the Record…Online.

Paul Gillin of Paul Gillin Communications. Gillin is the author of The New Influencers, Secrets of
Social Media Marketing, the Joy of Geocaching and along with Schwartman, co-wrote Social
Marketing to the Business Customer.

(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis
Brian Solis is globally recognized as one of most prominent thought leaders and
published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has
studied and influenced the effects of emerging media in business, culture and the
convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. He is principal of
FutureWorks, an award-winning business management and New Media consultancy in
San Francisco and has led change management and social programs for Fortune 500
companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups. BrianSolis.com is ranked among
the top of world's leading business and marketing websites.

Solis is the author of Engage! The complete guide for businesses to build, cultivate and
measure success in the new Web.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook
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(cc) Brian Solis, www.briansolis.com - Twitter, @briansolis

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Description: B2B social media makes it possible for marketers to inform communities with greater fidelity and less friction. In this blog post, we’ll explain the three different approaches that are currently gaining traction with B2B marketers.