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3 ways to improve your business-to-business social media ROI

Social media will not set appointments, draft quotations or close business deals for us. Business people must get out from behind computer desks to develop real-life personal relationships.

5 min read

Brands & Campaigns

At the top-tier of social B2B media reside some of the most fascinating and intelligent people on earth. These key-opinion leaders are passionate about what they do, seriously mastered in their profession, education or both.

Audiences may flock to follow them for insights, or eventually book them to give a live presentation or speech at their company or institution.

However, there is considerable buzz and quandary regarding the time investment and actual financial ROI of social media efforts today. How can fiscal return be measured?

According to a Forrester Research study “The Social Techno-graphics of Business Buyers,” B2B owners and decision makers are one of the most active groups in social media.

One fact is inescapable; social media will not set appointments, draft quotations or close business deals for us. Business people must get out from behind computer desks to develop real-life personal relationships.

Here are three ways to proactively improve your social B2B media ROI going forward:

1) Proactively present your authentic company profile:

The best key-opinion leaders have a presentable profile that includes authentic images of themselves, their company name and logo and complete office contact information.

Barbara Reuter sets this example well in the commercial real estate space. Reaching her Arizona office via phone, letter or e-mail is clearly enabled via her Twitter profile and URL links. Barbara is also a key opinion-leader in her career field.

By stark contrast, goofy profiles with face-less, logo-less, address-less, non-working web links waste time, add zero value and stifle any social media ROI. No professional contact info = zero social B2B media ROI.

2) Proactively engage top-tier opinion leaders by doing 100% of your own homework.

University professors can immediately draw distinctions between students who have analyzed the material well, and those who have not. Key opinion-leaders and smart B2B social media followers can too.

Social B2B media leaders also contribute solid material from credible sources into their online discussions, working their mental magic themselves and speaking to audiences directly. You wouldn’t send a robot or intern in to take an exam for you, meet with an important client for you, or dine with your family on holiday for you. Or would you?

“We are inundated with information minute by minute from a myriad of sources, most directing information at rather than to. The key differentiator is value. Does your message give rather than ask? Creating engaging content takes both experience and a well-honed sense of savoir-faire –– all of which are best left to qualified professionals,” states Cristina Schleifer of The Capital Corporation, an investment banking and M&A firm based in Greenville, S.C.

Executives who delegate social B2B media homework to robots or interns detract from their own professional brand authenticity and organizational message because it’s not their mind, voice or policies engaging followers. Garbage in = garbage out.

3) Proactively convert quality social B2B media contacts into real-life relationships.

Following a cocktail or dinner party, it is honorable and polite to send a hand-written “thank you” note to your hosts. Such gestures lead to future invitations and reciprocation. Social B2B media ROI is no different.

Since most blogs are devoid of real-space contact information, dig deeper into the RSS feeds and URLs attached to your favorite social B2B media associates and key-opinion leaders to read more, send e-mail, write a hand-addressed letter and ultimately pick up the telephone to speak with them in person. The results will shock you.

Quick Case Study: On occasion, the Wall Street Journal interviews our firm for regional business news and quotable sources. We needed two trusted key opinion leaders in a specific market to complete an editorial query based on specific criteria by 5PM. It was 2:30PM.

We “crowdsourced” a dozen select Twitter followers we knew well via private direct message. Not only were David Jacobs, of Llenrock Group in Philadelphia, and Angela Sweeney of Madison-Marquette in D.C., both available within minutes to be interviewed, their physical contact information and professional bios were easily accessible via WSJ fact-checkers within hours. Both associates were quoted in the WSJ article the very next day.

This real-life evidence makes a strong case that social B2B media ROI does actually exist, if positioned and used wisely. Why? Media coverage impacts SEO+SEM dramatically.

According to Bill Nixon, co-founder of @SmartCabbage, a brilliant SEO+SEM digital marketing firm based in Denver: “Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of social B2B media is how it improves your website traffic, SEO+SEM rankings, and ultimately online ROI.”

SmartCabbage further advises that links to quality articles, peer-reviewed evidence, emerging news video and insightful blog posts are the high-value content glue that makes social B2B media attractive to key opinion-leaders searching for specific online keywords in the first place. What goes around = what comes around.


Baron Christopher Hanson is the principal and lead strategist at RedBaron Advisors in Charleston, S.C., and Palm Beach, Fla. A former rugby player, Harvard graduate, and expert on workplace and small-business turnarounds, Hanson has written for Harvard Business Review and SmartBrief considerably. He can be reached for consulting roles and speaking gigs via e-mail or over Twitter @RBC_ThinkTank.