How To Use Social Media for B2B Customer Insight & Prospecting

Posted by Taylor Haney on Fri, Jan 16, 2015

As we are getting the ball rolling on 2015 we have some great social media guest blogs to share with you. Christian Habermann, Founder of Auctus Marketing provides insight into how various social media tools can be used for research. Interested in guest blogging, e-mail taylor[at]mitx[dot]org.

Christian HabermannChristian Habermann is the founder of Auctus Marketing and is a leader and innovator in the online marketing world. He is very involved in the local start up scene here in Boston. He co-founded ConsumerUnited.com, now Goji.com, which is one of the fastest growing online insurance companies and has made the Inc. 500 List the past 3 years.  He loves to help companies of all sizes, from start ups to Fortune 500s, embrace the online marketing world to grow their business. He is the author of "SEO for 2014” and holds and MBA in marketing from Vanderbilt.

Want to know how the top pros get ahead using social media as a tool for sales & marketing prospecting? As we all know, using social media to distribute your brand’s message and grow your audience is a great tactic, but using it to gain deeper insight into your community or customers is where the top B2B marketers really shine and rise from the pack. Social media has not been around for that long, it’s quite dynamic and fortunately, does not take that long to become a proficient user. Hence, sales & marketing professionals can spend a relatively small amount of time on it, gain some quality insight on their customers as well as prospects and use this data to move the needle forward.

Remember the early days of social media, when most global brands concern was the number of likes on their Facebook page? I will never forget the winter when I was out west skiing about six years ago and I was having dinner with some friendly people that were staying at the same inn. One of them was a young advertising executive at one of the large conglomerate agencies in NYC and he was commenting how one of his foreign beer accounts leadership team was enamored with the number of their likes. He said that their top executives were just thrilled watching it go higher and higher. Hence, this brand which I won’t name, but if you are fond of Dutch lagers, you just might have seen it in your local bar perhaps.

Now paying to have a large quantity of Facebook likes is really quite easy, but not exactly the wisest strategy. At some level though, it does serve to alter viewers’ perception of your brand giving it an appearance of popularity. Hence, it does provide some value, but at a price of course. As we know though, the real value in social media is how engaged your audience is and discovering what draws your audience to interact. Today of course brands realize that they can attain so much more than just likes on Facebook, followers on Twitter and connections on LinkedIn. Today, it’s all about communicating with your audience in a genuine way, listening to them and measuring the results. For this to happen, you need to earn your customers time & attention by showing them that you respect them.

How do we marketers earn our customers time & attention? It’s easy actually. We have to give them our time & attention. This means daily activity or interaction that builds value. 92% of US households have at least one mobile device and 75% of internet connected homes use social media, so the thirst for interaction is not only capable but consumers seek it. Here are some top B2B tactics from some top social media resources for gaining insight on your customers. REMINDER- B2B buyers are looking for quick access to trusted experts and relevant content that helps them with their business issues. Build a community that gives them both and they’ll keep coming back.

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LinkedIn-

LinkedIn has become the #1 social media choice for B2B marketers and it’s no surprise due to its quality professional network. There are some clever ways you can utilize it to gain quality insight on your leads and prospects to attain your next sales meeting which include:

  1. Bio Research- Be sure to do a thorough scan of your prospect’s bio & what LinkedIn groups he/she is in. Then join some of these groups and start commenting and interacting in them to gain some credibility and influence. Then after a little virtual relationship is consummated over time, you can request to connect with your prospect. Connecting in this warm manner is much better than the traditional cold call approach. Be sure to gauge your level of influence in the group with LinkedIn’s measurement tool. Once you have progressed by the ‘just starting out’ stage in the group with some group interaction via comments, then you are safe to connect with others in the group. Just try to avoid cold intros at all costs. Warmer is always better.

  2. Affiliations- Check for where they went to school. Maybe you went to the same college or grad school? Or maybe the person next to you went to school with your prospect. Are there any local professional organizations that your prospect is a part of? If so, see if your company is part of it too or join it and get involved.

  3. Start a Local Industry Group- you can start your own local professional group on LinkedIn that focuses on your particular industry segment. Be sure to keep it very focused & match it up with a local Meet Up as well to help build the audience, meet people in person and to market it. Hence, you will need to coordinate both of these, but the opportunities if done effectively are limitless. I have witnessed a lot of local health food groups rise and prosper here in Boston and they have done it fairly quickly and inexpensively. Hint- there is usually a law office with a spare conference room that you could use.

  4. Introductions & Referrals- Make sure you scan to see how if you are somehow connected to one of your prospects. I am always surprised at how one of my friends is connected to a prospect that I am hoping to meet with. Do your research! Also, be sure to ask some of your clients if they have any prospects that they think your business could help.

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Remember the Golden Rule- It is not about you and the more you share, the more you will receive.  If you do decide to start a group, make sure that is all about sharing insight with one another so that everyone has something to gain.  This type of atmosphere is best as it offers people in your industry to share and contribute their knowledge with others.  If the group is very focused on just sales networking, then there simply won’t be much substance to the group.  It will also turn off c-level executives from attending because let’s face it, who wants to be part of a group where they are being pitched all the time.  So keep it fresh by having each meeting focus on some relevant issues in your industry and invite a thought leader or two in your industry to share.  There is a local SEO Meet Up group here in Boston that does an excellent job at this! 

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Facebook-

  1. Look for any personal interests that might be listed in the About section.  You can bring these up in a meeting or include in your email.  After all it is all about connecting on a personal level.  You might just find out that your prospect is a big fan of the same small local band that you love too.  A while ago I was in the head office at CVS with one of their top IT people and I noticed he had a few pictures of his Harley Davidson motorcycle.  I am not a biker but I was able to parlay this info into a nice conversation which helped me to get to know him much better.  I just thought he was an interesting guy and I think he genuinely appreciated it which helped to start our relationship on a positive note.  Hey, crazier things have happened!

Twitter-

  1. Make sure that you do a scan of your prospect’s profile to see if you can glean any pertinent info and then start to read through some of your prospect’s recent tweets. This will give you an idea of what they are interested in at the moment. 

  2. Followers- be sure to take a look through some of your prospect’s followers list to see if you notice any thought leaders in your industry. You can also use Followerwonk.com which is an awesome tool to speed this process up. If you haven’t tried it, do it today. It’s very easy to use.

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Inbound.org-

If you are not familiar with this resource, it is the invention of Hubspot’s CEO Dharmesh Shah and MOZ’s Rand Fishkin. Basically it’s an open forum somewhat similar to Reddit to assist marketers by allowing members to share best practices aka hacks and top marketing stories. It’s great, has only been around a few years, and has really taken off.

  1. Use this as a resource to see if perhaps your prospect is a member and then scroll through to discover what discussions they are a part of.  This is just another place where you can learn more about your prospect’s interests.

So I hope these tips help you in your pursuits and I wish you luck! If you have any questions about any of this please feel free to contact me directly.

Happy Marketing!
Christian
Christian@auctusmarketing.com