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Social B2B engagement: 7 ways to win business by influencing buyers

During the technology purchasing process, the buyer is usually more than halfway through making up their mind before they even want to hear from or contact a technology vendor.

Clearly, a B2B tech brand that can get involved and make a useful contribution in those early stages, stands a better chance of inclusion during evaluation and comparison… possibly even helping to set the agenda in the process.

But how? Appropriate and helpful engagement in online communities offers great potential to influence early-stage discussions… but, if done badly, can be disastrous to a brand’s reputation.

In defining the best approach, here are seven aspects to consider in your planning…

 

1. What are your prospects doing now?

 Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Look for existing communities, where buyers are discussing their challenges. What content is already working well for them? What can you usefully add?

 

2. When’s the right time to speak up?

Listen before you talk. You’re looking to engage in a helpful, appropriate way, not to shout about your product or service at the first opportunity.

 

3. What will we bring to the conversation?

Add value to the conversation with your content. Better still, produce content that stimulates new and interesting conversations among your audience. Take a position.

 

4. Where are your brand advocates?

Your existing, happy customers are your biggest engagement asset. Trust them. Look for ways to empower them, and get them involved in the conversation.

 

5. How good is your frontline?

Think about what your frontline team will need to engage actively and appropriately in conversation – answering questions quickly, offering useful insights and building trust. Do they need more training? Content? Support? Are they embedded in any online communities already?

 

6. What systems will help us do this well?

If you’re going to engage in a new way, what processes will help you create a great impression? Are you ready to respond in real-time like Oreo or KLM? An instant response needs a lot of preparation…

 

7. How do sales get involved?

How will you turn online conversations into real-world revenue… without being inappropriate and opportunistic? Transforming general engagement into firm buyer relationships requires a plan. Would live engagement help you to shift perceptions?

There’s no one right answer, of course. So this blog post is intended as a short-sweet guide to aid your thinking – rather than a one-size-fits-all manual.