For some, “social media” means posting a few funny pictures of their cats on Facebook, or tweeting out what they had for dinner last night. But social media is a serious business, especially for commercial enterprises — and managing social reputations on social sites is now a multi-billion dollar business, as companies try harder than ever to retain and grow market share in a tough economy.

Israeli social start-up Oktopost is there to help. Unlike most social media management products (like Hootsuite), Oktopost was designed from the ground up for business — specifically, businesses selling to businesses (B2B), which requires a different approach than reputation building for individuals, or even for businesses selling to consumers (B2C). “When devising a marketing strategy for content creation and distribution, it’s vital to keep in mind what differentiates B2B from B2C marketing,” according to Daniel Kushner, Oktopost 
Co-Founder and CEO.

What’s needed for B2B social media success, is information that establishes you as an expert — and lots of it. “The B2B sales cycle is much longer than the B2C one, and during the process, prospects expect to have access to an extensive array of content — including white papers, case studies and blog posts — that provide them with valuable and helpful information,” said Kushner. “As opposed to B2C marketing, where buyers prefer visual-based content that appeals to their emotions, B2B content should be research-oriented, and written with the target audience’s business goals in mind. Oktopost was designed for B2B marketing, and is the most powerful solution for large-scale content distribution, particularly for LinkedIn Groups.”

Distributing that content in an effective manner and in a way that will get the attention of the targeted audience is Oktopost’s game. Like other social media managers, Oktopost lets users schedule posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, uploading photos, links, and content. For B2B purposes, though, LinkedIn is the most effective platform, and Oktopost takes great pride in its LinkedIn-oriented features; for example, you can schedule a post on 50 LinkedIn groups — which targets users with specific interests — in less than 30 seconds, helping you to get a dialog going with potential customers.

The system has similar tools for Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, allowing users to target and engage serious B2B customers, using the same posts or post tailored to the requirement of each network (character limit size, etc.)

As responses come in, you can manage the discussions from a single interface, cutting, pasting, and moving information, reports, and content around to keep the interest up. The system, meanwhile, keeps track of who is reading which of your posts, and presents easy to read reports that let you focus on the content that works. Oktopost also has a rich set of analytics, allowing users to quickly evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns; when a post has prompted a reader to take action, like register on your site, information about the lead is automatically captured and integrated with business applications like Salesforce.com, Marketo, and Hubspot, aiming to see who engages with social media posts and why, similar to the analytics offered by Google for its Adwords program.

As a system aimed at businesses, Oktopost tries to be as complete a tool as possible, but it doesn’t come cheap, with its basic subscription coming in at $90 a month. However, the site offers a free one-month trial (you don’t need to submit a credit card number to try it). And, for start-ups, the site offers a special free option; if a start-up qualifies (having raised less than $500,000 in funding and generating less than $1 million in annual revenues) they get free access to the Oktopost platform.

It may be expensive, but Oktopost isn’t just a social media management platform; it’s more like a school where companies can learn how to “do” social media. Oktopost keeps in touch with clients, sending out mailings every few days with tips and ideas on how to use the system, and webinars showing the features of Oktopost at work. Oktopost, which has been live for about three months, already has several hundred customers, including several large enterprise companies, like Nice, Clarizen, Cloudera, and others.

“Social media has redefined the world of B2B marketing, and Oktopost enables businesses to capitalize on this transition by adopting a holistic approach to social media marketing management,” said Kushner. “The key challenges facing marketers are limited resources, and the need to accurately measure the ROI of social media activities. Our platform offers a cost-effective, powerful solution for large-scale content distribution — particularly to LinkedIn Groups, and provides granular-level social analytics as well as the ability to capture extensive lead data.”