B-to-b lead generation takes a social turn

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A Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS) virtual career fair
A Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS) virtual career fair
Unisfair's senior director of marketing Joerg Rathenberg allows that a virtual event doesn't replace the physical trade show. "People still want to meet, shake hands, drink a beer together," he says. But Rathenberg champions his company's solution for lead gen.

"In virtual events you know everything [prospects] do," he says. "If you chat with an exhibitor, it can store the types of questions you asked, and the type of collateral you picked up. This traces back to your demographics... and shows how engaged someone is."

Still, marketers have learned that any foray into a social media effort should be led with the idea that you are participating. "Social is about permission-based marketing," says Rashmi Sinha, CEO and co-founder of SlideShare.

In October 2009, the Bay Area company added LeadShare to its web-based document sharing platform. More than 2,000 companies are using the product to publish presentations, product information, whitepapers and videos. LeadShare is designed to be "sharable" through social networks, blogs, etc. The publisher chooses whether or not the user must fill out a drop-down information form before accessing the full content. Sinha reports that making the fill-in form optional elicits better leads.

In fact, many of those experimenting in social media caution against being a "nuisance" by being too overt in your promotions. Dave adds: "If we try to do overt marketing, the community immediately picks up on that. If we focus on trust, we find we go a lot further in helping to influence their decision in what they do with Dell."

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