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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.