Account-based marketing (ABM) is the new shiny object for B2B marketers.

Why? Because many marketers are waking up to the fact that while inbound marketing generates lots of leads, not enough of them are on the sales team’s hot list. This is especially a problem if you’re a marketer that sells to enterprise buyers.

With an account-based approach, you instead focus marketing on reaching decision makers at a targeted list of companies that you’d like to sell to. That way even if the result is fewer leads, the ones you engage will be much more sales qualified.

Of course, shifting from an inbound to account-based approach has implications for how marketing and sales work together, and how you’ll leverage different marketing channels, including social media. How will moving to account-based marketing impact your social media approach?

To get an expert’s perspective, I turned to Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and chief analyst at TOPO, a B2B research advisory firm.

“I think one of the downfalls for B2B social media has been its inability to meet the desire for instant impact in a volume demand generation play,” he said.

“Social media is great for relationship building and nurturing which fits well in the longer-term process often part of account-based marketing. Marketers should use social media to stay engaged with their accounts at scale — share relevant content with them, etc. In account-based marketing, the fact that people don’t click through and download white papers from social media doesn’t matter because the only metric that matters is revenue from their target accounts.”

So here’s how you can pivot your social media approach to better fit account-based marketing.

Follow the Right People

Start by following your target accounts on LinkedIn and Twitter. And look at the LinkedIn profiles of decision makers at these companies to see if any of them publish on LinkedIn Pulse and/or have a Twitter handle as part of their contact info. If so, follow accordingly. This makes it easy to keep an eye on what they talk about and share, and also to flag opportunities for your sales team to engage. Plus, some will follow you back on social media. Bonus tip: set up one or more Twitter lists for target account brand handles and key contacts to stay on top of their daily tweet activity.

Tune Your Social Listening

Update your social listening platform (or Google alerts) to include the brand handles of your target accounts, their executives, and other relevant contacts and keywords. The social data you gather from this will be invaluable in helping you understand what these companies are talking about, and what’s being said about them. These insights in combination with what you learn from following on social media will become the foundation for building a content marketing approach that’s highly customized for buyers.

Refine Your Blog Content

With social insights about your target accounts in hand, you can now update your editorial calendar to craft blog posts that reflect their interests, needs, pains, and aspirations. In addition, look for opportunities to make prospects the star of your content. For example, mention target companies in your posts, reference quotes from their executives, include their blog posts in your industry roundups, ask to republish their posts, and invite company contacts to contribute to your blog. Said another way, make your content all about them and they’ll be sure to notice!

Engage and Build Relationships

Now that you’re tracking social activity and tailoring content, you’re ready to focus on engaging and building relationships with key contacts at your target accounts. There are many ways to do this. For instance, share your prospect’s content, advocate their brand, and answer their questions, all while looking for openings to engage with brand content and helpful comments. The objective is to establish relationships that open the door for future revenue opportunities… so make sure you’ve also got a process in place to bring in the sales team when the right opportunity presents itself.

Target with Social Advertising

You should also consider advertising on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to get your message in front of contacts at your top accounts. Each of these social networks has expanded their ad targeting capabilities over the last couple years. For example, LinkedIn recently released an account-based marketing campaign tool for customers of its Sponsored Updates and InMail ad products. And both Facebook and Twitter allow you to target advertising at “custom audiences” created by uploading email addresses, phone numbers (Facebook), and Twitter handles.

Now It’s Your Turn

Are you tailoring your social media approach for account-based marketing? What else are you doing to reach and engage target accounts on social media? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

[Editor’s Note: This article was first published in CMSWire]