How To Generate Leads with B2B Social Networks

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How do you use B2B social networks to support complex sales?

In all my research, I found very few B2B companies with social media programs anywhere near as sophisticated and effective as the shared marketing program as the SAP Community Network.

In fact, it may the greatest B2B social networking case studies of all time. It’s that good. And they have the strategy and stats to prove it.

If you’re responsible for B2B growth marketing, B2B lead generation, SEO for B2B or prospecting marketing qualified leads for SaaS, CRM or ERP software, you’ve come to the right place.   

B2B Social Media Strategy

I reached out to Mark Yolton, Sr. V.P. of SAP Community Network to discuss b2b opportunities in social networking and this is a summary and audio transcript of our call.

He told me everything you need to know about leveraging a B2B social network to drive demand, generate leads, close new business and circumvent churn.

And he’s a genius. Clear, concise, articulate.

This is a case study about SAP’s private B2B social network, the cornerstone of their B2B social media strategy.

Member posts from the SAP Community Network.

B2B Social Media ROI Stats

The SAP Community Network — a B2B social networking initiative nearly 2,000,000 members strong and growing at a monthly pace of 30,000 new members spanning 200 countries and territories worldwide — has been recognized by the Altimeter Group and SiteIQ as one of the most successful business-to-business social networking sites in the world.  

Yoltan reveals SAP’s winning B2B online social networking formula that has resulted in 6000 posts per day, 1 million unique visitors per month and 200,000 contributions by celebrating imperfection, profiting from surrender, improving product performance through user ratings and building deeper professional relationships through personal interactions.   

B2B Social Media Marketing Topics Discussed 

01:42 — Using a social network to deliver value to different stakeholder groups including customers, partners, the sponsoring company and individuals.  

03:54 — Building brand loyalty through social networks and more compelling business benefits of sponsoring a social network.  

04:20 — Why customer-to-customer communications is a significant benefit of social networks for business-to-business applications and the key to stimulating peer-to-peer activity.  

06:34 — How to determine what type of information is appropriate for sharing within a B2B social network without compromising the sponsoring company’s competitive edge.  

08:42 — Why a corporate social media policy tailored to the sophistication of the employee base is a critical component of effective business-to-business social networking. SAP has published their Forum Rules of Engagement and Blog/Community Guidelines.  

11:21 — Using a wiki to include employees in the development of a corporate social media policy.  

12:24 — The strategic criteria by which SAP decided between establishing a branded B2B social networking community versus a public B2B social networking community.

15:35 — Deepening business relationships through Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and B2B social networks as adjunct to a core, branded, B2B social networking site.  

16:25 — The advantages of branded communities over Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and which companies are not candidates for managing their own branded, B2B social networking community.  

19:04 — The types of roles or job functions within the organization and generations predisposed to participating in a social networking B2B environment.  

21:10 — How to decide which sections of a B2B social networking site should be public, and which areas should be private.  

24:33 — Conducting edge work through mentors, who are nominated by the community and do not work for SAP. The use of exclusive access and private areas to seed information within the community through influential community members.  

28:38 — How active contributors benefit from participating in the SAP B2B social networking site through lead generation and reputation management.  

30:28 — The business benefits of relinquishing control of the conversation to your customers and exactly what it takes to drive active discussion amongst customers, resellers, partners, and other channel sales participants in a social networking B2B environment.  

32:06 — The intangible benefits of online social networking to B2B online social networking community members.  

36:33 — The use of friends or contacts in an online social network to filter important, relevant information through recommendations.  

37:58 — Staffing requirements for managing, weeding and farming B2B social networking sites.  

40:29 — Using star ratings and user reviews inside B2B social networking site to promote sales and improve product performance.  

41:25 — The specific skills that make for on exceptional B2B social networking community manager.  

44:41 — The relationship between a B2B social networking site community manager’s willingness to reveal at least some aspects of their personal lives with their business colleagues, their effectiveness at shepherding conversations within a social networking B2B environment and why imperfections and human flaws are essential to driving conversations.  

45:39 — The use of Facebook, Twitter and object-oriented social networking sites to deepen personal relationships, which are sustained primarily in a branded, B2B social networking environment.  

47:06 — The relationship between user ratings and product sales within a B2B social networking site, why perfect ratings are not usually good for sales and how low ratings can be used to improve product performance.  

50:03 — Integrating proprietary and open source software to power a B2B social network initiative and dealing with potential tension between open-source platforms and licensed proprietary software.  

55:39 — End 

Photo by Proxyclick Visitor Management System on Unsplash

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