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How Top Performing B2B Marketers Target Buyers Using Social Media

Yes, social media can be a source of lead generation for B2B marketers. In fact, 85% of Top Performers indicated social media is a top five channel for lead generation in a recent 2013 survey from Gleanster Research. That’s a little shocking considering widespread reluctance to incorporate social media in B2B marketing execution over the last 5-7 years; mainly because it’s very difficult to measure a return on investment in social media.  In truth, not a lot has changed over the last few years, so why has social media become a top five channel for lead generation?   Social media is still far more nebulous to measure than traditional B2B marketing channels like tradeshows, webinars, telemarketing, etc.

But it seems B2B marketers are starting to warm up to the idea that a handful of deals sourced by social can make the time and effort involved in pulling social media into the mix well worth the effort.  That’s because hyper-personalized content marketing strategies are forming more intimate relationships with buyers and helping B2B brands influence purchase decisions early in the buying cycle.  That’s exactly how Top Performers are getting a leg up over the competition and it has very little to do with how good your sales people are because the competitive advantage is formed long before a buyer talks to sales.  B2B marketers are literally educating and nurturing opportunities via social.  Actually Top Performers revealed quite a bit about what makes their social media marketing lead generation efforts unique, different, and lucrative.

B2B Marketers Target Top Tier Social Media Sites

B2B marketing on social media is a bit like finding a needle in a haystack. You are looking for that golden conversation that turns into a real opportunity in the pipeline. But for B2B marketers, the typical deal size makes a single-source opportunity extremely compelling. With many social media sites to cover, your time is best spent targeting the sites with the largest community of users and using keywords and highly relevant messaging to get in front of these individuals. Let’s face it, capturing mindshare on social media is a bit like drinking from a fire hose. But some social sites will allow you to target users more effectively than others. When it comes to Top Performers, B2B marketers ranked the top four most effective social media sites as LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and SlideShare.


LinkedIn: Engaging buyers on LinkedIn is primarily about sharing relevant content and participating in Discussions and Groups. B2B marketers should target industry- and role-specific LinkedIn Groups and make it a regular practice to share thought leadership and blog posts with these individuals. B2B sales reps should try to inject themselves into discussions or questions by adding value, not selling. Also, it’s bad form to use Discussion forums for promotion and, for that reason, LinkedIn added a Promotion tab to Group environments, which is widely considered a waste of time for B2B promotion.

Twitter: For B2B marketers Twitter is largely a volume play. Hashtags should always be used to target specific buyers with relevant messages about products and services. Generally, short and compelling insights or Tweets are most likely to get clicks. Twitter is essentially a fire hose of unstructured information, so mindshare is largely a function of volume. Top Performers indicated that on average they tweet 12-15 times a day using the company twitter handle. Tweets could include recent product news, events, or relevant industry best practices. It’s generally a best practice not to blatantly promote services on Twitter. Use Twitter to keep the brand active and share thought leadership in the form of blog posts, videos, website links, or links to other social properties.

YouTube: Rich media has become a very popular source of promotion for B2B marketers. Create a company channel on YouTube where you can centralize and align all brand-related videos to one location. Unfortunately, YouTube constantly drives traffic away from your main web properties where forms can capture contact information. Even when videos are hosted by YouTube and posted to a website, it’s easy for users to navigate their way directly to YouTube. YouTube allows you to add links to the descriptions of videos as long as http:// is added to the beginning of the link; it will become clickable when the video posts. Links back to relevant website landing pages should be presented on the first line of a YouTube description when posting a video. At the same time, it’s critical to include keywords when posting videos to maximize organic search benefits and brand exposure.

SlideShare: As with YouTube, it’s good practice for B2B marketers to create a branded channel on SlideShare and load as many presentations as possible to the site. Take the time to fill out all of the keywords and description copy because this will help drive organic traffic to your presentations. Links can also be added to the description copy on presentations, but readers must manually copy the text and paste it into a browser. Use a URL shortening tool on links that are inserted into SlideShare so you can capture analytics around which links are driving traffic to the website from SlideShare. SlideShare also has a forms and lead capture option. Top Performing organization that use SlideShare were 15x more likely to use the premium form capture features on uploaded content.

To download the full report PDF and to find out how long it takes the average organization to see a return from inbound marketing efforts check out:

 Author: Ian Michiels, Principal & Managing Director

Join The Conversation

  • BrittyWagner's picture
    Jun 30 Posted 3 years ago BrittyWagner

    Everyone loves b2b research, surveys, etc. But so many seem to go against one another. Recent surveys from MarketingSherpa states that Twitter has received 9 times more than all the other social networks.

    You can read more about MarketingSherpa's benchmark report & b2b conversion rates, the various tactics used and it's outcome.

    It is very intriguing. :)

  • Jeff Skal's picture
    Jun 28 Posted 3 years ago Jeff Skal

    I think it's very important for B2B brands to keep selling messages to a minimum on social media, especially with personal networks like Facebook and Twitter.

    That being said; if you can attract prospects to follow your accounts, and are continuously providing industry insight, business tips, best practices, etc. via social media, you've got yourself a great lead-nuturing program. Prospects will begin to see you as experts in your field, and when it comes time to make a purchase decision, they're a lot more likely to consider your company.

    Even your prospects are CMOs of companies who's business you'd love to have, when they log into Facebook or Twitter, they're often looking to do what the name implies – be social. As the article states, pushy sales messages are an invitation to be ignored. Nice write up, Ian!

  • Jun 28 Posted 3 years ago JamesSchiller

    Great post! It's not hard to see why LinkedIn is the top B2B social media platform. LinkedIn's ability to help forge and grow a strong sphere of influence makes it attractive for business practitioners and profesionals to plunge in and establish credibility and respect by joining groups and answering questions in one's areas of expertise.

    As a Mount Pleasant SC realtor, I have joined numerous groups on LinkedIn discussing real estate and real estate investing topics and gained positive results out of it as real estate-related professionals endorse me to their clients.

  • Saket Kumar Singh's picture
    Jun 28 Posted 3 years ago Saket Kumar Singh

    Thanks Jeff for the post!!

    We did a successful lead generation campaign for one of our client on LinkedIn. Over a short span of 3 monthsn we were able to generate more than 40 business leads out of which thirteen got converted and 4 are under process.

    Our experience says that blend of content and employee engagement can do wonders on LinkedIn. Also for that you don't need to be a large firm or need to have many employees. You just need to create some value for everyone across the chain.

    Another point is, LinkedIn' vision is to create economic opportunity for 3 billion people in next couple of years. If your marketing strategy is in sync with LinkedIn's vision then the campaign will automatically go viral and you can smartly encash the viral effect.

    I would like to know hear more practical experiences here.

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