B2bCompanies have many more options than in the past to build and give distinction to a brand digitally, although the behavioral patterns of potential customers constantly change with new technologies introduced. Who is interested today in a product or service, is usually doing research online in advance, rather than turning directly to the sales, and this familiar, private behavior is also reflected in the business world.

Companies should be prepared to have to convince their customers of their product, even before there has been a first sales contact, trying to make sure that there are recommendations from like-minded people in their favor on social media. Generally, salespeople have to engage in new ways and know exactly through which channels they can find their target audience and how to start a dialogue.

Winning a contract doesn’t depend nowadays solely on the persuasiveness of the salesperson, but the comprehensive corporate presentation: Those who want to maintain the loyalty of existing partners, can do so via LinkedIn; companies with very complex products benefit from YouTube; Facebook on the other hand is more likely suitable for the dialogue with potential customers and fans of the brand, the behavior pattern of Google+ is slightly different than on Facebook as there are more experts there, so it’s possible to go technically deeper into details; and it is important that companies actively engage a lot sooner in the buying process, then via the traditional distribution channels.

Companies that still feel new to social media marketing, however, should take it slow. It makes more sense to set up and maintain one channel first, before starting immediately with many that sooner or later go to waste. Because a dead account, for example in Facebook, usually makes a worse impression than having no profile at all. My second tip is to link content marketing and social media marketing, as it is ultimately all about presenting potential customers content that creates demand, whether through YouTube videos or interesting, product-specific blog articles.

Talking to the right people, about the topics they are interested in

equinetSocial media marketing is a great way to increase the reach for target-oriented contributions. According to the latest ranking factors of Searchmetrics, so-called social signals, which are interactions on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter, are still important factors to increase the ranking of a website on Google as well as reach. Against this background, a strategically planned fan page or blog posting is still a worthwhile investment.

Almost one third of the social media users already purchased services and products because they have been recommended in the Web 2.0, and more than one in four made those buying decisions based on advertising in social media. Marketing departments neither can neglect these facts nor jump now retrospectively on the bandwagon, without having big advertising budgets – at least in the case of Facebook.

That’s why young companies rely on new trends, such as Instagram or Snapchat, and position themselves early in the market, before all others do it. Only those who break new ground and link a great story with their performance will have long-term success with social media.

As Keith Errington from Equinet Media highlighted in his blog, “professional services marketing is not immune to the broader changes transforming the marketing techniques of the current generation of marketers. In every sector, marketing has changed. Older techniques, such as advertising, direct mail, flyers and trade shows, are not producing the same results they did in the past and are proving expensive and uneconomical. And while some traditional techniques, such as business networking, are still delivering new clients, they are time-consuming and require a physical presence that limits their scope and range. So the newer channels of digital marketing – social media, opt-in newsletters, blogging and the like – are becoming the most effective way for any business to reach new and existing clients.”

Understand your target market, or buyer personas, and talking to them about things they are interested in – otherwise they will not give your message the time of day. ”Remember it’s not about the messages you want to broadcast, it’s about the messages they want to hear. Get this right and you will not only attract prospective clients, but those people will be pre-qualified so you are not wasting your time nurturing fruitless relationships”, Keith explained. And don’t forget to add the human touch. “As much activity takes place online and not face-to-face, the ability to empathize with the other party and feel like a real human being is a key skill”, he concluded.

If you are still indecisive, let me tell you that you have actually no other choice. A lack of content and being inactive on social media will decimate your referral rate and leave your performance behind.

By Daniela La Marca