When it comes to B2B sales, the conventional wisdom is that social media doesn’t work. Most people assume that social media – think Facebook or Twitter – is something for consumer brands to use, but not something that can help B2B sales teams move multi-million-dollar products.
The reality, however, is that mobile has fundamentally changed the game. When the Internet was primarily a desktop phenomenon, yes, social media was a B2C phenomenon. But something very interesting happened in 2014 – that was a tipping point for the Internet, when the number of mobile users surpassed the number of desktop users.
And that has very profound implications for the way B2B sales teams need to think about the Internet. People spend way more time with their heads down, staring at their tiny screens than you might think. They take their tiny screens with them everywhere – and even better, they give permission to apps to track them wherever they go or deliver updates, pings and reminders.
According to one recent study, the best three lead sources for B2B companies are SEO (14%), email marketing, (13%), and social media (12%). That’s really surprising, right? Social media is right behind email and search as a B2B lead generation tool.
As a result, social is a potential goldmine for B2B marketers – especially if you’re not in the group of the 88% of people who dismiss it as something only for B2C.
Here’s a simple observation: take a commuter train into New York on a week day and observe all the people in suits, heads down, examining their phones for news, information and analysis. Sure, some of them may be catching up on sports scores or on the events of last night – but many of them are getting information in their news feeds, and that’s a great chance to reach them before they head into their offices — as long as you’re doing social media marketing in a way that’s not intrusive. As opposed to a cold call, which is definitely intrusive, getting a sponsored update in a Facebook newsfeed is not.
Or, for fans of face-to-face meetings, imagine getting updates every time a potential prospect is nearby and is planning to attend an event in your area. That’s possible with Facebook, which offers constant updates on people attending industry events in your area. That’s a great chance to get together for a quick coffee, catch up and understand more about the person’s business.
Or think about Twitter. If you’re following people in your industry, you’re getting advance notice of changing trends and learning more about the pain points of your potential customers. Better yet, it’s so easy to meet and expand your circle of contacts in just a few seconds.
And, best of all, there’s an emerging class of apps for mobile that will further shift the playing field for B2B marketers. Messaging is big, and that could open up new opportunities for B2B marketers. The world of business is inherently “social” – and that’s why ignoring the promise and opportunity of social media in the mobile era comes at your own peril.
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