B2B Social Media Outreach to Get Prospects

on-the-phone*

Business owners often ask the following question: how can I promote my boring business on social media? I always say that there is no boring business. What’s interesting for you may be boring for me.

My best example is always SEO. I can spend every day dealing with SEO and it doesn’t get boring at all while someone else won’t even start. I know what the people mean when they ask this question:

how can my perfectly average business get popular or downright viral on social sites like YouTube, Facebook or Pinterest?

My answer to that question is a bit longer. Today I want to explain something else though: for many businesses this question is wrong. Why? It’s not only that your business is not boring for those who deal with it out of passion.

Many businesses are simply not targeting consumers, so not only don’t they need to get the mythical “massive traffic” they also don’t need the large number of links associated with such social media success to rank in Google.

Social Media can be used for direct outreach.

As the word suggest you literally reach out to your potential clients or customers. SEO for example is luckily mostly business to business (B2B) unless you offer search engine submission to 1000 search engines for 19$ like many sites promised until lately, years after it became clear that there are only less than a handful of search engines to care for.

Many people in the SEO industry still overlook the direct benefits of social media

and social networking. The common approach is still the one we used in 2006. It was to get linkbait popular on Digg or Delicious and to collect the massive traffic and ensuing links that would allow us to rank on Google subsequently. Social media and search doesn’t work that way most of the time these days.

In case you listen closely you will hear people asking for your services all the time.

Then you just need to answer the so called “social media phone”. In case you don’t other people will. Or you downright anticipate what your callers might want and give them what they need in advance.

Traffic, Links vs Business

In 2013 you can often cut out the middleman and get your prospects directly where they are. Last time I focused on a niche social news community (Inbound). This time I’d like to take a more general look at low hanging fruit on social media for B2B marketers. First forget about going viral, getting massive traffic and link baiting. The more massive the traffic the less targeted it is.

First wave social sites like Reddit will send you thousands of casual drop-in visitors who are looking for the latest sensation but who are not interested in you or your business.

Modern social networking sites like Facebook are not as bad, you are not conversing with anonymous strangers there but with people you know at least a bit. These people are often interested in the same topics. So they are a great help when it comes to popularizing great content covering these. They won’t buy from you either in most cases.

You are ultimately after a different audience, the people who are interested in your products or services

and who are actively looking for them or at least publicly admitting to being interested in them. Where are they? Conventional wisdom suggests that B2B marketers should hang out on LinkedIn to get other business people to contact them. In my opinion or rather experience LinkedIn is still mostly a large resume base. So you don’t get business there but rather head-hunters will contact you.

Locating the Prospects

Of course it depends on the industry, country, language and a few other things where you will find your potential prospects. For example in case you are a wedding photographer your prospects will be most probably on Pinterest where engagements, weddings and images from both are one of the most popular topics. In case you are a graphic designer your prospects might be on Behance, Coroflot or in case you are really after people who are ready to buy places like Themeforest and Creative Market.

When it comes to SEO, the business we are in, a source of prospects be for example Quora.

I have been looking at our visitor statistics and discovered pretty valuable traffic from Quora. First let’s take a look at our most popular social network traffic sources:

social-networks

Twitter is first because I have a pretty active group of followers on Twitter. Facebook is the largest social network so it’s no surprise it’s on #2. I’m also pretty active on Google+ so it comes third. And then there is already Quora on four. Usually I’d assume Quora would be nowhere to be found. Not in our case. Scott, our CEO has been quite forthcoming there when it comes to offering helpful advice.

That’s also the main difference: while Twitter, Facebook and Google+ users come to visit and read our blog articles Quora users visit the homepage or even our feature overviews. So apparently these people do not just want to get informed or entertained. They are looking for SEO tools or software for actual tasks. Let’s take a look at our actual Quora engagement:

quora-answers

Scott has answered a question here with a list of tools, SERPs.com being just one among them. He was the first one to answer it and he gained the highest number of votes. The second answer is also great, it’s an even bigger list of resources but IMHO already too large to get a quick overview.

It doesn’t mean everybody has to use Quora as well but that even a small network, like Quora can make real prospects appear on your site directly without interference from mighty Google.

Also take a look at #5: it’s Disqus. Again, here is a low hanging fruit technique of getting people to visit your homepage. Commenting on blogs. We also use Disqus on our blog so that people who comment on our blog will visit the hp as well but you get the point.

Don’t assume that the biggest traffic sources are the ones that can yield the qualified visitors you need. Search for them on more relevant sites. Everybody gas to find out which ones are more relevant for their business. Start simply by searching Google for questions related to your expertise.

Advanced Techniques

Once you have identified your most valuable traffic sources on social media, blogs, forums and beyond you can go a step further and make these visitors feel at home.

  • Do not just send them to the homepage, prepare a page that deals exactly with the answer they asked the question for.
  • Make site-specific landing pages, ask via scripting for the referrer and then present a customized welcome message for Pinterest, Twitter or Quora users.
  • Elaborate and offer more options for people asking themselves the questions you have answered on social media. Provide a resource for them that covers the topic in-depth.

Ideally you mix all of these techniques and provide the perfect user experience and sales funnel from question to answer to solution. With those prospects who aren’t willing to buy immediately you try to stay in contact with by

  • using a social CRM tool to remember them
  • allowing them to sign up for free
  • giving the option to subscribe to updates

These are just some ideas, you know for sure what kind of lead generation or sales measures work for you in your industry. Implement them at the end of the social media sales funnel.

Social media is not always just about creating great content and making the people want to read it and come back for more.

Sometimes it works directly for sales. Special offers, coupons or features only for social network users are also possible to encourage engagement beyond these social sites.

* Creative Commons image by linh.ngan