Use of social networks in B2B marketing (2) The buying cycle!

I mentioned LinkedIn 1 month ago in a blog post. It answered the pressing question of 2020-2021: what do I do with LinkedIn for my business development? I would like to discuss in this post, the importance of social networks in the B2B buying cycle.

When we look at this graph from Hootsuite, we understand “tout suite” what the interest is for the “chou-chou” platform of the business community.

It’s not enough to be there, but it’s often the central element of a B2B social networking strategy. You must think broader and know why a B2B company should be on social networks and how to be effective there.

The graph above is not enough to convince you to be active there? Know that according to an IDC study, 75% of B2B buyers use social networks to find suppliers.

And that 95% of B2B buyers  do some research online before making a purchase decision.  If you are not the exception to the rule, let’s continue….

Social networks in B2B, how to be effective?

Let’s start from the bottom up, the starting point must be “solid” if you do not want to waste your time and publish with total indifference…

Let’s go with…

1- What are the company’s business objectives now and how can our presence on social networks help to achieve them?

2- Who am I addressing as a company?

3- To whom do I address myself as a function in these companies?

With this you will be able to make SMART goals and determine certain key performance indicators or KPIs to make sure you measure the right things and be able to adjust along the way and especially, not waste your time on social networks.

The buying cycle: “ads”

Know your audience, it will be easier to create content that will suit them…

Ideally, you will have a good idea of your personas and the  value proposition addressing it. If you use the right language according to their concerns and, if you emphasize what they value at each stage of the buying cycle, you will have a better idea of the tone to use.

But also, which topics to address by making sure that what you are going to publish will arouse interest.

Remember, social networks are a component of your content strategy, and they are often used to draw interested people to your blog/site. At this location, away from the noise and distraction of these networks, you will be able to encourage them to their buying cycle…

So, you should not offer everything on social networks but offer enough information while sparking curiosity to direct people to your site.

Ads are especially useful when it comes to disrupting the browsing pattern of people who don’t know you. If you know your audience well, you will generally have effective ad campaigns.

Remember that ads will be even more effective when it comes time to re-target your prospects. Provided of course, to respect where they are in their buying cycle. 

The B2B buying cycle is usually quite long. You must be persistent and seek the interest of all the parties/people involved in the decision-making process.

That’s why, if you’re not VERY well known, you often have to use “Ads” to bring back the lost sheep on to your content… To quietly build your notoriety, credibility and therefore, your brand.

The buying cycle: the steps

There are multiple paths that go from discovery to consideration, from consideration to decision-making courses, (analyses, request for demos, sales meeting etc.). However, basically your messages correspond to the steps shown in the image below.

In the “discovery” phase, your prospect is only aware of their problem. To win them over, help them better understand it. Don’t talk about the solution too quickly.

In the “consideration” phase, your audience consumes a lot of information. It is in a feedback loop. Help them sort through all the possible solutions!

Finally, in the decision-making phase, you work on the human aspect, trust!

At each stage, be careful not to confuse them by adding additional content. Instead, help your audience to progress in its purchasing cycle, to clean up a sea of information growing in quantity, quality, and formats.

Share your understanding, your expertise, valuing your detailed understanding of the problem(s). Start by helping them understand their problems before talking about your solution.

Buying cycle: points of contact and moments of truth

I would be remiss if I told you about the purchase cycle as a filter for your social media posts without mentioning the importance of knowing the points of contact and the moments of truth.

By understanding your points of contact (with the people, places, digital assets that represent you) and the moments of truth (the points of contact where things are a ‘go’ or not), you will be better equipped to determine what to say, when say it and where to say it.

The long buying cycle is also a time to build a relationship, or even a behavior towards the brand. A behavior that develops during the points of contact.

Transposed on social networks….

1- Do your posts have a style, an imagery that is easily recognized?

2- Are your tips easy to read, enjoyable to consume?

3- Are the recommendations and the knowledge transmitted useful and applicable? In short, do they inspire confidence?

The “Principal Evaluator” and the power of recommendation

To conclude, remember that more often, the “human” component takes over in B2B. Do not neglect this aspect in building trust in yourself through all interactions on social networks.

You will develop relationships with personas within the same market segment that will lead to 1-1 relationships, online or offline. The  famous H2H,  to which so many specialists refer.

Know that your content and the fruit of your discussions will circulate between them and that they will have the content of competitors. Basically, 5 to 6 people with an average of 10 pieces of content each. Did you help them to make the difference?

The final decision to do business with you is made within a group or committee. You will have to make a good impression on as many individuals as possible, associated with the decision but the most important thing is your “Principal Evaluator” persona.

The one who speaks to all, who has the power of recommendation. You need to identify them, follow them well on social networks and build your best content for him or her, because they are the person with the most ‘say’ in the committee.

In short, make it easier to make decisions with your presence and shares on social media. Help them move forward in their journey, help them narrow the field of possible suppliers.

Have content that is easily shareable and easy to understand. Keep your stuff complex for some of your blog posts, e-books, and white papers.

In conclusion

To conclude, remember that most important B2B transactions are based on a perception of risk. Never underestimate this backstory.

If you’re selling something with significant financial or technological risk, never forget that the people who recommend you may feel like they’re betting their career or reputation on it.

Before your branding has a soothing effect on this phenomenon, much time will have passed.

The watchword is: be patient and reassuring… Always

In addition, everyone likes to look good at work, in front of the boss or colleagues. Can your content allow someone to look good on the decision-making committee?

Can they appropriate it? Again, as the cycle is long, by publishing multiple small pieces of useful content, you can be there frequently without giving the impression of spying on them.

So, become part of their social media presence routine, they expect a little something. Comment on their publications.

Your posts (including your ads) will always be there for when they are ready to advance in their purchase cycle, the content they need to move to the next step and towards the goal you desire.

Next post

Don’t sweat it… I will end my social hat trick by telling you about my friend Mark’s platform  and other networks in a blog post to come, in early autumn actually.

If you want to explore the possibilities of social networks in the purchase cycle or, if you have any questions or comments do not hesitate to contact us.

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