Social Media has quickly switched from a way for individuals to keep in touch, to a key strategy of business success. For many companies, social media marketing is one of the key ways to attract, retain and interact with consumers. This trend is also true in the B2B market. Strategy for messaging and interactions may be different, but the process of forming online, participatory relationships with clients is equally important.
The value of social media as part of the B2B marketing mix includes branding, messaging, lead generation, and customer interaction. Social media posts also increasingly show up in search results. Company websites are by definition, largely static. Customers visit your site infrequently and may be unaware of recent product releases or key events. Social media can quickly disseminate new information such as thought leader pieces, product news, and event announcements.
Marketo’s recent acquisition of Crowd Factory is a good example of how the sophistication of automated B2B marketing campaigns will continue to increase the impact of social media. The combination of Crowd Factory’s social campaign management platform with Marketo’s online applications for marketing automation, lead scoring, and multi-channel campaign management will be a powerful tool for businesses to target and reach their customers.
Five B2B Social Media Best Practices To Put Into Place After Integration
Crowd Factory specializes in running social marketing campaigns such as contests, referrals, polls and social sharing features. This will be a powerful addition to Marketo’s marketing software as it will help optimize sales. Here are 5 best practices to follow now that your B2B social media and marketing automation can be integrated into one solution:
1. Create high quality, engaging content
The substance, variety, frequency, and length of your content matters in social media marketing. Concise and intriguing posts consistently garner higher engagement rates. The B2B consumer is sophisticated and has limited time, so social media posts aimed at this audience need to be compelling.
B2B companies with a strong social media presence vary the content of their updates, posts and tweets between blog posts, external articles, employee spotlights, open-ended questions, and the occasional promotions. Content should be on topics of interest to your audience that lead to discussion and drive engagement. Engage your customers and prospects by answering questions and comments or by simply listening to and acknowledging feedback.
2. Collect metrics to measure the success of social media campaigns
Integration of social media management with marketing automation metrics will lead to more successful and targeted campaigns. Marketo plans to introduce a new unified product family that will integrate social campaign management. This product family will measure the impact of each campaign and program which will allow users to see which campaigns are successful then tweak them accordingly.
Social media campaigns traditionally measure clickthroughs, engagement, new fans/followers, conversion and any available revenue data. Most savvy marketers also look at it as a way of measuring more qualitative metrics, such as brand awareness, satisfaction and ability to attract employees being influenced by social media.
3. Align Marketing Campaign with Sales Goals
Sales and marketing alignment is just as crucial for social media as it is for email marketing. Integration can help take away the shroud of mystery that still lingers around social media for many B2B marketers. The same reports and dashboards that you use to track marketing automation, can be used to demonstrate key performance indicators to sales and marketing for your social media. A recent survey found that nearly 30 percent of B2B marketers were not tracking the impact of social media programs on sales, yet the goal of B2B marketers in their alignment with sales is to provide the sales team with qualified leads! Measuring the impact your social media programs have on sales, allows you to guide marketing dollars towards campaigns that have a biggest impact on the bottom line.
Using your CMS, or reports and dashboards from a marketing automation platform, set up a system to cross reference social media program results with account data from your sales team such as:
- Lead generation
- Conversion rate
- Revenue over time
4. Form a social media policy
Now that social media is integrated with your marketing automation, it shouldn’t be an afterthought, but a component you consider with every marketing campaign. Only 11 percent of marketers report that their companies have a formal social media policy. Do not delay in laying ground rules for its use going forward. Some questions to ask yourself when creating this policy: How often do I deploy posts? What kind of customer and prospect posts will I always respond to? What kind of posts might I remove or respond to privately? What kind of tests will I conduct to see which posts garner the most response? As the metrics reveal what is most successful for you, document this information in a helpful matrix and update your formal policy as your winning strategy reveals itself.
Remember that social media by definition involves real time interaction and response. The best campaigns also allow room for creative risk taking and quick changes based on response.
5. Integrate Social Media Campaigns into Overall Marketing Campaigns
The most successful B2B social media efforts are those that are integrated into an overall marketing program. Social media can help establish community, create brand identity and generate leads. There should be a clear strategy, with sales buy-in, about how to follow-up and convert social media leads. Most successful B2B companies have a good email marketing lead nurturing program. To a B2B marketer, following these 5 tips will provide the ability to do measurable social media campaigns that can enhance your other marketing initiatives at every phase of the customer lifecycle.
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