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How to Sell Social Media to B2B Companies

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Today I’m delighted to have this guest post from my blogging friend, the witty and engaging …

Alina Popescu

Alina Popescu

Alina Popescu, PR consultant & Founder of Mirror Communications, has been blogging fervently for almost 5 years. If you’re looking for a fresh voice, balancing unique views on business life with original PR and marketing tips, head over to her blog at WordsOfABrokenMirror.com.

Thank you, Alina!

Fear, lack of convincing proposals, lack of professionals, taking the “safe route”, there are hordes of reasons based on which companies, especially those in the B2B sector, choose not to take a second glance at social media. Brad has better explained the reasoning and the most common obstacles behind such decisions.

But Social Media does generate valid opportunities for companies to better reach current customers, potential ones and those who are now getting ready for corporate life and will later be eligible for the position of customers. Once the opportunity is identified, how can an employee, and external consultant or an agency convince a certain business owner, CEO, Director of Marketing or who ever makes the final decision that the promise of the social media needs to be pursued? It’s not a simple task, but it’s not rocket science either! No need to be afraid, just do your homework and try some of these ideas. But before…

Make sure it’s really worth it!

Social media is not for all companies. And for some, only small parts of what social media is could work. Do your research, analyze the opportunities, asses the resources and see if the company has them. Create a plan, not in great details, but make it feasible, double-check it and triple-check it if necessary. Only when you have all the facts straightened out, proceed with presenting your plan. And here’s how:

1. Make sure you know the tools you’re showcasing

Just hearing about Twitter or LinkedIn from friends won’t cut it. You should know the interfaces, who’s a member of the specific community, how it works and what you can do with it. You should be able to show the decision makers around just as a tour guide does to a group of tourists. You have to know everything by heart. No glitches, no stumbling!

2. Translate it into plain English (or whatever language you’re presenting in)

When you explain what social media is about, make sure it does not turn out as some geeky gibberish that no one can understand! To test it, take someone who knows what Internet and email are, but who isn’t an expert. If they get it and see your point, you’ll do just fine.

3. Numbers are your diamonds

Social media is not an undefined entity that no one can measure. There are relevant numbers and statistics about users, both those doing the marketing and selling and those targeted by these campaigns, about costs, engagement and revenue delivered. You should make sure you get the right numbers! Dell is indeed a great success story, but if you’re in a different line of business, their revenue won’t impress anyone. Which leads us to the next point on our lists…

4. Case studies and success stories do help!

Especially if you have your partners and competitors already running Social Media campaigns! When presenting case studies, make sure you keep an eye on what can go wrong, on unexplored opportunities and emphasize them. If your competitors do a great job in the social world, you will not only need to prove it’s worth it for you as well, you will also need to point out how you can do it better.

5. The content-control issue

One of the greatest fears of companies is the lack of control over the information that gets online. Plus the quick option for customers to turn all negative on you. The problem is the information is already online. It can be taken from your website. And customers, testers, the industry analysts…they can always publish bad reviews of your products or services. But there might be no one there to listen, respond and improve if needed! A company not having a Twitter account won’t stop customers from posting negative tweets about them. Being on Twitter won’t prevent it either, but they’ll see the problem faster and will have a chance to do something about it.

6. All great, but who’s going to do the work?

You have to have a clear idea about who can take on the new responsibilities. Even if we’re talking agencies or freelancers, a social media strategy needs support from within the company. Someone to get approvals fast, to provide the relevant information. You need a scenario that covers these aspects as well, even if they’re just a few suggestions they can later pick from.

7. Be realistic about the results

Social media campaigns take some time. To plan, to implement, to take effect. Make sure you don’t lead them to think that they get a Facebook account today and have legions of fans the very next day!

8. Tracking & Measurement

Explain in full detail how Social Media actions taken by the company can be tracked and measured. Make sure you point out how the ultimate goal is to have results. Say it with me: sales! That’s what counts. Getting new leads and closing deals, because in the end a social media strategy is part of the overall marketing efforts and those need to lead to more sales to more people as often as possible. Fame is great, but without a price tag to it, it’s worthless.

Designing and implementing a Social Media strategy is in the end a service. Sell it as you would sell a service to a potential customer. Emphasize benefits; make sure you explain all factors and angles of the issue. Get ready to answer questions. And a personal trick: find arguments to support your plan until you really believe in it. If you’re convinced and trust it to be a successful endeavor, it will be easier to convince others.

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23 Responses to How to Sell Social Media to B2B Companies

  1. Alina Popescu

    Brad, I’d like to thank you again for having me here as a guest poster. It’s truly an honor :)

  2. Alina, The pleasure is all mine. I’m so glad you found the time to write this post, because so many b2b firms still need to be “sold” on the concept of social media. Since we social media marketers are knee deep in social media, it is sometimes hard for us to articulate a rationale. I think your post is tremendously helpful in helping us see things from the client’s point of view.

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  4. Hi Alina, Thanks again for being my guest! The post is fabulous (no surprise there!).
    Brad Shorr´s last blog ..How to Sell Social Media to B2B Companies

    This comment was originally posted on Words of a Broken Mirror

  5. Excellent post Alina! I think it’s hard for some companies to adapt to the rapis change in marketing tactics. All some people need is a little insight to help them on their way.

    This comment was originally posted on Words of a Broken Mirror

  6. How to Sell Social Media to B2B Companies. Research, strategize & plan like all things in biz http://ow.ly/Mjnm by @Alina_Popescu @bradshorr

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  7. How to Sell Social Media to B2B Companies http://goo.gl/fb/aUPe

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

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    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  9. How to Sell Social Media to B2B Companies http://bit.ly/7G7nhj

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  10. Hi Brad! Thank you for having me and for your ongoing appreciation of my writing It means a lot to me.

    This comment was originally posted on Words of a Broken Mirror

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  12. Hi Elizabeth, sorry for the late reply, your comment got into the spam folder. Indeed, people fear change, and they need a proper “push” to start adapting.

    This comment was originally posted on Words of a Broken Mirror

  13. Hi Alina – Great advice. It must be difficult to sell the service to companies who know so little about it. I like your idea of using case studies.

    I’m guessing it would also be useful to show you have a good grasp of the law as some companies will be worried about publishing something that could get them sued.

  14. Alina Popescu

    Cath, you are right, knowing the legal aspects that affect your work is a must. This means that both employees and agencies in charge of a social media project need to know all laws, international standards, and company policies, client / partner agreements and other such details that restrict their possibilities of posting certain details online.

  15. Hi Alina! Really excellent points on how to sell these campaigns. It’s funny how many professionals talk about social media and use language that means nothing to their intended audience. Understanding your prospective client’s bottom line and presenting how the campaign can help them with their goals is essential to not only getting the deal but continuing success.

  16. Alina,

    You mentioned over on your blog your desire to put forth ‘a really good piece’ in this discussion. This you have certainly done – you have summarized the steps needed to sell B2B to companies very well.

    Cath’s comment about legal issues brings up an interesting point about just how challenging this new environment of social media is. Whilst I do not question the need for prudence with regard to legal issues, nor the need for those promoting social media solutions to have an idea about the general legal issues involved, I would have thought that possession of a detailed knowledge every possible legal issue would have been well beyond the average individual or team promoting these kinds of solutions.

    I guess medium/larger companies would be well advised to acquire professional legal advice during the process of setting up and implementing their social media strategy.

  17. Alina,

    As I just said over on Brad’s blog – a very good overview of the process involved in the successful promotion of social media to B2B companies.

    Well done.
    Andrew´s last blog ..Niger Delta Crisis – Big Oil’s Big Lesson

    This comment was originally posted on Words of a Broken Mirror

  18. Alina Popescu

    Karen, I agree, it is funny how we get so wrapped up in what we do and love, that forget how to translate it to outsiders :) But success does come from knowing how to explain the ways you can help out and how they eventually make more money for your company/clients.

  19. How to Sell #socialmedia to B2B Companies http://ow.ly/MLWC #marketing

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  20. Alina,

    Thank you for this informative post. One of the most important points is the discussion of who will be doing the work. I believe either the company does it 100% or it is a shared approach between the company and the person who is managing their Social Media Strategy (Agency, Consultant, etc.).

  21. Alina Popescu

    Andrew, you are right, most legal issues are far too complicated to be tackled by someone who hasn’t got a law degree. But most agencies work with clients from different fields and have a basic knowledge of what info not to reveal. The in-depth insight has to come from a legal department. But unless the agency or individual taking on the social media project is aware of this aspect, they will never even think of going to a specialist. Most companies either employ or outsource legal matters, so the experts are close by. The trick is to know you have to consult them.

    The basic knowledge also comes in handy as the legal adviser is not always there, monitoring your every tweet, blog post or Facebook status change :)

    Jeff, who is in charge of the project is indeed important, when sharing it and when doing it in house. Social Media is fast. The agency or employee need to be able to respond fast, so that person needs to either be able to make decisions on their own, or have quick access to those who can decide. This is as important as the skills required by effectively implementing a social media strategy.

  22. Hi Andrew, thanks so much for reading the post and commenting on it! Much appreciated

    This comment was originally posted on Words of a Broken Mirror

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