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Solutions Marketing: 5 ways to use Social Media

It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz, and the hype, around social media. I’ve been working with many B2B companies to help them figure out when and how to use social media in their business.  The answer is always a bit different depending on the product or service. One area that few people have written about is how to use social media for solution marketing. Let me demystify the topic a bit by sharing five ways I’ve seen it really work.

1)    Is there a market for your solution? - With one-twelfth of the world connected through social media there is bound to be a conversation underway about your specific solution. Wouldn’t it be nice to know upfront what that conversation is about and the needs the participants are expressing? Few marketers do the social-focused research ahead of time to determine the market. But there are great opportunities, such as the ways social media data is being used in the stage-gate funding process for solution development.

2)    Leverage your brand advocates – If you already have fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter, why not energize their word of mouth about your solution? You could enlist them to use the solution for free if they agree to write a review of it. Of course you can’t dictate that they write something positive. But whatever they say, they’re helping shape your solution with the power of their voice!

3)    Leverage your community - Whether you build your own or rent one from a provider like LinkedIn Groups, a community is a great place to promote a new solution to your existing customers. B2B marketers often host advisory board and user group meetings, and these forums are hungry to stay connected via a tool like an online community. When you do that the results reported in a recent Jive report of over 2000 customers are outstanding. Lower costs and increased revenue – a perfect combination!

4)    Find intent to purchase - You’re probably interested in how these great social media conversations can help you find leads. There are various ways to mine the data using search terms. Both competitive and noncompetitive search terms can reveal buyers such as “replace solution X” or “upgrade competitor Y.” Just search competitive terms paired with “replace” or “upgrade,” and voila, a list of solution prospects!

5)    PR blitz in conversations not publications – The US is becoming a newspaper-less society. Meanwhile, new companies start up every day that want to be featured in the shrinking number of publications. Your PR needs to move from publications to conversations. Begin by tracking conversations where you brand’s solution fits best. Then start commenting at least daily on the stories that are most relevant to your solution. This will lead to 250 articles with mentions of your solution, as well as links back to your site (think of the SEO value there!). Over the course of a year, this is comparable to having hundreds of relevant, contextual ads out there for your brand, at a fraction of the cost of traditional PR!

So there you have it. Five ways you can use social media in your solutions marketing, all with the potential for solid return on investment. Good luck, and let me know if I can help you.

Website:  http://pauldunay.com
Email:  paul@pauldunay.com

Comments (13)

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Joshua

You are absolutely right about the US becoming a newspaper-less society. I'm just excited to see where social media is headed. I recently wrote an article onSocial Media Marketing Trends for 2012, and I believe a lot of what we wrote lines up! Good job!

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Nathalie Boulay

Thank you for this blog. I am not a big user of social media myself, but I do understand it's importance of it in today's world. This blog was really insightful to me in helping me understand more how the social media can help and its impact. I especially appreciated the last point, where it is mentioned to move from publications to conversations and the outcome of doing so.

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Vivek S

The whole idea behind leveraging social media for solutions marketing is to shift focus from traditional push marketing to pull or inbound marketing. More and more companies have started combining inbound and outbound marketing to create wider impact. This blog provides clear insight of using social media in a B2B environment. I also believe that tools like HubSpot has integrated most of the social media tools together in a single platform. HubSpot provides companies with better focus on their inbound marketing activities by reducing cost and improving marketing effectiveness.

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Hui-Wen Tsai

Nowadays social media play an indispensable role, especially in B2C world. In my opinion, leveraging social media successfully is not just chat or advertise on facebook or other media platform, companies should develop a good social media strategy to achieve the following goals: (1) Innovate new topics and the "hot trend" in order to catch prospects' attention all the time. (2) Integrate rich information/resources and become a benchmark community for related products/services. (3) Have effective advertisement and incentive campaign to encourage customers to interact in the social media.

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Daniel Nino

When I think of social media I usually think about B2C companies, but the author is right; More than 1 twelfth of the world is connected through social media and B2B companies must take action on it. The author comments that companies must try to be mentioned in as many conversations as possible happening on the web. One of the ways to achieve this is through thought leadership. When you are a though leader in an online community, good comments are most likely to start happening. So I encourage solutions companies to become thought leaders and spread the word through social media. The final result will absolutely be a positive one.

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Ankit Sharma

One-twelfth of the world is just a click away, this is the power of social media. More and more companies are moving away for traditional media towards social media primarily for three reasons: 1) Social media is an easy way to observe and interact with your audience. 2) Inexpensive and more effective. 3) Measurable. This blog indeed provides a clear insight of using social media in a B2B environment.

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Polly S.

Nowadays, we can't be neglected how important Social Media is. It can be used not only in the B2C world, but in B2B as well. Hotspot and Vitrue are great successful examples. Social Media is not only a good channel for marketing communication. If the marketeers know how to use Social Media, such as Twitter and Facebook, they will be able to: 1. Start the new trend for the community 2. Be able to catch on what is 'hot' around the topic areas. 3. Since customer - centric is core for Solutions Marketing. With 'big data' that are flowing around social media, marketeers that are able to analyze those data, they will be able to understand clients' need and pain better and also be able to identify what is next in term of solutions for the clients too.

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Gang Wang

Nowadays, marketers indicate that social media is a very important channel for their business, here especially this solution industry. They maybe feel comfortable to leverage the social media power but what 40% of these solution marketers still want to find out the way or the best way to how to target the exact clients needs and measure the return of investment (ROI). Thought leadership program can help find the best metrics to measure the results after they implement the 5 ways to use social media.

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Marco Dragoni

This post is full of insights and I totally agree with it. Social is a growing area in any marketing approaches and also solution marketing is embracing it. It exposes to a wider audience and allows learning quickly from it decreasing costs and increasing the speed of the feedback process. As definition, solution marketing is related to the B2B world where the decision-makers to target are busy professionals looking for solutions to their business problems. Gartner predicted that mobile phones will make 3x sales compared with PCs by 2016 and in the same year tablets will outsell PCs. Moreover, people are accessing on social networks more on mobile devices rather than on a PC home or work. Said that, we need to consider that today the same busy professionals targeted by solution marketing activities are constantly focused on their smartphones and tablets not only checking email and reading news while travelling but socializing on LinkedIn and Facebook, etc. Hence, the rate of adoption and the usage of mobile devices is something that also solutions marketers should take in consideration and use as an advantage. Thus, I would say that mobile is becoming crucial for our target audience and more social then in the past. Because of that, in the near future social mobile would be an interesting area in solutions marketing to constantly reach, convert, and engage our B2B target audience, anywhere and anytime.

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Alexandre Leclerc

I really liked this article because of the growing importance of social medias are starting to have in both B2C and B2B industries. Solution benefits need to be able to be communicated efficiently and reach the desired clients. I think the idea of using social media has a platform for building a strong network of references and success story, is a significant competitive advantage. This also significantly increase the incentive for followers to share their experience and benefits provided by the solution offered by the company. It is also a great platform to share news since the solution can be shared with very specific customers that have both the interest and the need for it.

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Xavier Beard

Interesting article, especially since social media is coming from all direction and especially from businesses. However, I think that most businesses take on social media for the wrong reasons, simply following a trend where being social is shown as the next logical step to take. Businesses should think more of the reasons why they want to use social medias as well as finding the right people to take on the "whole world". I think, that social media is the perfect way to show you position as a thought leader, or at least what extra value your people can bring to the table. I recently noticed that some companies put together teams of knowledgeable people on their industry and incentivize them to write blogs or partake on the company's Facebook or Twitter platforms in order to show-off the company. I think that this way of handling social media will be extremely beneficial for solutions companies: you don't only share articles or success stories, you show that those articles are written by your people, that those success stories are repeatable and reliant on your generated value.

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Robert Hsia

Great article that can lead on to more discussion. I feel that B2B and B2C businesses are very similar in that, with the use of social media in its marketing, a business can find high return on its marketing dollar. Especially with the benefit of word of mouth that can spread like wild fire on the web. Creating Face Book, Twitter, Linked In, and blog pages for a company, are a long term process that provide rewards for companies that invest in social media with time and money. The process of educating the public, leads to to the improvement of company brand, and the company will show up higher in search engine results.