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Why B2B Marketers Need to Be More Social

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by: Bryan Brown (@getvision)
25 August 2011

Imagine for a minute that you’re a buyer who falls into the rapidly growing “social searcher” category—in other words, you like to learn and research your purchase decisions socially. So, you’re on a social site looking for information, and someone talks about an ebook related to your search. You click on the link, but instead of an easily accessible resource, you’re greeted with a corporate Web page filled with PR speak and an old-school form asking for a mere 12 fields of data in exchange for the ebook. Ouch.

Not only does that not seem very social, it feels like a vendor trying to pitch you—an exchange you’re not ready for at this early stage in the buying cycle. And that’s when you decide to “X” out of that tab on your browser and search for some other thought capital that won’t require you to share your life history with a company you have little or no prior relationship with.

If you’re like many B2B marketers, this hypothetical scenario may hit a little closer to home than you’d like to admit. Perhaps you’ve been neglecting social because you already have a website with great content, which you’ve made search-friendly to attract new relationships, and you’re sending email to people in your database to drive them back to your site to engage further.

That may have worked perfectly fine in the past, but I believe that with the shifting buying process, today’s marketplace requires more than that. Although your website will still play an important role, it will no longer be the center of a marketer’s universe.

That’s because social communities, blogs and video have become more widespread, and many of these types of content are showing up in search engines. And with studies such as Enquiro’s “Integrated Persuasion: Online and Offline” showing that the majority of buyers start the decision-making process via online research and talking to other users, marketers must adjust for this changing dynamic. That means that since many prospects are coming at you via search and social, you’ve got to make sure your content creates a consistent conversation path between you and your audience.

One way to build a bridge between social networks and your marketing initiatives is to offer social sign-in, which gives site visitors the opportunity to leverage their social identities during the sign-in process, making the first interaction more simple and pleasant than if you required them to fill out a lengthy, convoluted form:

Statistics show that social sign-in boosts conversions, and giving visitors this option also increases the perception that you’re allowing people to engage with you socially and you’re easy to do business with. In turn, that improves the chances that prospects will return and engage with you again.

Of course, there are many ways that marketers can be more social, from teasing your email program via Twitter, to including Facebook “Like” buttons in emails, to inserting share call to actions into your white paper pdfs, event reminder emails and landing page offers. Marketers need to be taking all of these steps and more, because in today’s marketplace, integrating social media into a multichannel marketing strategy is becoming an increasingly essential element of nurturing leads and driving conversions.

To that end, this post will kick off a series of blog entries in which I’ll be covering social topics. If you have questions about social marketing or ideas for future areas you’d like to see addressed, please share them in the comments area.

Read about Silverpop Social Sign-In in this press release, and for a more hands-on look at how it works, test drive it yourself—and get six tips for building a powerful database while you’re at it.

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