I got to thinking about all of this when I read a post by Forrester analyst Sean Corcoran. As Corcoran puts it,
“The recent explosion of social computing has in many ways broken down the walls between agencies as virtually all agencies are trying to own (social media) for their clients….All of this creates somewhat of an agency purgatory - where different agencies try and take on each others' roles but no one type of agency is ready to take over.”
Corcoran is referring to the fact that every type of agency – from advertising to interactive to PR to “human experience” – yes, one agency Starcom Mediavest calls itself that – has taken on the social media mantle.
Meanwhile, this agency Tower of Babel has led to marketplace confusion. According to Corcoran, “most interactive marketers don't trust their traditional agencies with digital work and yet most don't believe their interactive agencies are ready to lead yet either.”
So where does that leave you?
In my book, and I admit as a PR professional I have a bias, PR should play a leading role in social media especially when it comes to B2B PR. Why? Social media is another platform for creating thought leadership. It allows you to directly engage with customers in a non-salesy, informational way just as you would in say an article.
Social media for B2B marketers, especially if you’re selling a complex product or service, is not a sales channel, but a customer engagement route. It allows you to reach out and touch potential clients or customers so they begin to know you and what you can offer. Only then can you begin to move your social media contacts into a sales funnel.
Where a lot of companies in our experience fall short is that they have created no pathway for prospects to take once they engage with them in social media. What good for example does it do to have a zillion followers in Twitter if no one is really listening or interacting.
Here are some steps to take to begin to integrate social media with your sales leads system and untie the logjam where everyone is talking at someone and few are talking to you.
- Create a Twitter landing page where you provide additional information about yourself and your business. It's also important to provide a call to action or offer so that people can begin to interact with you and they can be brought into your sales funnel.
- Vet your followers and engage with those that are most likely to be prospects or influencers. You can do that through retweeting what they say, paying attention to their posts and responding as appropriate.
- Post useful content that is likely to appeal to your prospects and showcases your expertise. Provide a link to your landing page or site with more information about that content to get people to further engage.
- Monitor what’s working using Google Analytics
So what are you doing to interact with your social media followers? Are you turning any into prospects, and ultimately, customers? I’d love to hear from you.