What is the B2B social marketing equivalent of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge? Or the fuzzy cat campaigns that seem to rule the internet? While the size of their splash may not be at the same scale, B2B social marketing success is not limited to certain industries or the domain of big budgeted departments. B2B marketers can establish and improve results of their social marketing programs by digging into these four disciplined approaches:
Listen and Learn
An effective B2B social program may not even rely on building followers or garnering clicks. Social listening and analytics can amplify other investments, according to Julie Hopkins, managing vice president at Gartner for Marketing Leaders. T-Mobile’s Deutsche Telekom Hosted Business Services used a social marketing management platform to track conversations on social networks and understand how consumers articulated their needs to improve post-launch collateral and messaging. In this way, social listening and analytics can help you spot unforeseen market opportunities. You can use social signals to improve products or messaging, track competitors, identify new targets or offer opportunities, or help navigate and manage risk-laden situations.
Measure the Impact on Business Metrics
Sometimes, though, social success does rely on established connections, and the actions taken by those communities. In these situations, rather than simply chasing and counting fans, work hard to define metrics that align with business goals such as risk reduction, lower costs or revenue growth. For example, Schneider Electric tracks share-of-voice metrics to help establish the value of social marketing investments.
Many of the metrics available native in social platforms such as fan growth, likes, shares, etc. fail to indicate how social marketing programs benefit the organization. Other business-impacting metrics include registrations, interactions with online tools or calculators, share of voice, progressive profile building and event registrations driven from social. These can be correlated to revenue gains, competitive share, product consideration or cost efficiencies.
Determine How Your Content Contributes to Performance
Since B2B purchase decisions are increasingly driven by the buyer, with more of the decision-making happening before a sales rep is ever involved, content development is critical. Hubspot shifted the focus from finding customers to situating the brand where it would get found when customers were in the mood to buy. The company leveraged shareable content through inbound marketing techniques to drive engagement and improve conversion rates.
Your content speaks as powerfully for the brand as your sales force. So develop a strategic plan for what content is needed, how it will be sourced, how it will be managed and what metrics will help refine your content processes going forward. Cisco consolidated its marketing videos into a single YouTube channel and made it easy for prospects to find the right content leading to more traffic and brand consistency.
Support Existing Business Processes
Think of social interactions as a way of doing what you already do but using different mechanisms. GE tapped social communities to crowdsource ideation and launched open challenges for any data science team to make air travel more efficient and to improve the patient experience in hospitals. Schneider Electric supports partners and resellers while building the brand by sending them content they can then share with end consumers.
When approaching a product launch, build your social plan in line with other launch activities. Sharing the same thought leadership you would offer via an industry group through your blog and social channels can become a force multiplier for all of marketing, not just a checkbox in the marketing plan.
Be proactive in sharpening your focus on content, communication, measurement and process so the benefits of social marketing can multiply across the organization.