Altimeter’s most recent State of Social Business report identifies revenue generation as one of the top social media objectives of marketing leaders. The challenge is that buyer behavior, in both B2B and B2C industries, has changed.
Driven by technology, the customer journey is no longer sequential. It’s difficult to reach customers given the number of channels available to them online. The sheer volume of messages aimed at decision makers makes it challenging to stand out among competitors and a long, fragmented buying journey makes it difficult to stay top of mind. Simply put, the buyer is now in full control.
Social media gives brands the ability to impact a customer’s decisions and behavior at every stage of the buying journey, so it’s no surprise that social is becoming a preferred channel for businesses around the world. According to Hootsuite and We Are Social’s recent Digital in 2018 report, global social media usage has increased by 13% in the last 12 months, reaching 3.2 billion users. This means 80% of the world’s internet users are also active social media users. This dynamic has forever altered the customer journey as consumers and B2B professionals increasingly conduct research, make buying decisions, seek support, and recommend brands on social.
According to Forrester, today’s buyers are self-guided; they take time to educate themselves and connect with peers before getting in touch with a company. For the first time in history, peers are ranked as credible as a technical expert and more credible than a CEO or government official, according to Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer. Buyers are turning to social media to hear what their peers think and obtain information across this entire journey. They expect highly personalized experiences with the organizations they choose to engage with.
To adjust to these new expectations, marketers must rethink how they amplify content—from a “spray and pray” approach to one focused on tailored experiences. Marketing teams know their buyers and are constantly creating compelling content that speaks to their needs. Working in lock-step with the sales department, an organization can ensure the right content reaches the right people at the right time through social selling. This will help individual salespeople build relationships and provide value to prospective and existing customers. It will also help your organization’s content amplification strategy mature, from one focused on volume and traffic to one focused on customer needs.
As marketers, you’re in a unique position to lead a customer-centric revolution through social selling. Here’s how: