You know what I mean: That nagging feeling, from the CMO down, that we could – and should – be doing better, especially in B2B.
That’s because while social has reached a level of maturity – the channel is well established, its value well known – not all brands have. The gap between good social brands and great ones is massive. And it’s growing.
The good news, though, is that greatness in B2B is readily attainable. Because great social isn’t an accident; it’s the result of an intentional, strategic framework that’s both scalable and accountable.
Read on for four ways elite social brands separate themselves from the pack:
1. Good Brands: Make social a key part of the marketing mix.
Great Brands: Use measurement to drive integration.
Lack of measurement is the number one reason social fails.
The numbers show why. Nearly 90 percent of brands measure volume and initial engagement (likes, followers, etc.), but only 31% ever measure it against revenue (Ragan/NASDAQ).
Similarly, 95% of brands think their marketing innovations – including those rooted in social – work. But, only 27% ever actually review them (Forrester Research).
As a result, social’s contribution to revenue generated – the heart of any B2B company – often goes unknown. Instead, we trumpet our ability to churn out social-friendly content or attention-grabbing campaigns. But social busyness isn’t an indicator of success. Long-term, what really matters is the ability to articulate social’s contribution to sales pipeline.
So don’t get lazy. Start by putting the right analytics infrastructure in place. That means conversion tracking throughout your site and proper campaign IDs broken down by channel, initiative and timeframe. It also requires crystal-clear communication to all team members – your analytics guys, your website guys, your content guys – about where the conversion points are on each page and how they’re being measured.
Also, move past exposure and influence and look at engagement (clicks, retweets, shares). Focus your attention on conversion points and eventual ROI, not impressions and reach. Your sales cycle might be months long, but the ultimate payoff will come when a deal closes down the line and you can track that first touch – or multiple touches – back to social.
2. Good Brands: Make their content socially accessible.
Great Brands: Create experiences that appeal to their audience’s non-B2B side.
There’s a phenomenon in linguistics known as “code-switching.” It refers to when a person alternates back and forth between multiple languages – and personas – in a single conversation. Nowhere is this phenomenon more prevalent in the digital world than in social.
For example, when a user comes across your Twitter handle or Facebook feed, she doesn’t suddenly transform into a “professional-only” mode that consumes, filters, and reacts to content based 100 percent on her company and career. No, her professional persona may take center stage, but her entire thought process is also influenced by the less apparent parts of her personality: the fact that she’s a parent, enjoys rock climbing, is coming off a rough week, or lives in a city.
The problem is that most B2B firms only target the corporate part of their customer’s persona, and spend the majority of their time making sure content is available and shareable across platforms. A worthy effort, but real people are more complicated than that. Disparate parts of personalities come together to affect decision-making, preferences and actions, and it’s crucial that we embrace this fundamental nature of user behavior.
In other words, people act, engage and respond not solely as professionals, but as nuanced human beings. Therefore, users are not simply – and absolutely cannot be solely treated as – potential sales.
3. Good brands: Publish across all social platforms.
Great brands: Develop individual strategies for each platform.
Don’t confuse social activity for social achievement. Having a robust presence across a myriad of social channels is no small feat, but being great means diving deeper into the nuances of each one.
The reason: social platforms are not created equally. They serve very different purposes. They have different audiences. And they deliver value to brands in very different ways.
Elite social brands account for these variances and build comprehensive strategies unique to each channel. The kicker is that these individual plans also roll up into one cohesive social media plan, ensuring consistency and alignment.
4. Good Brands: Articulate when, where and how often to post.
Great Brands: Articulate when, where and how often to be silent.
Talk to any social media manager, the ones in charge of actually creating and sharing content, and you’ll realize the sheer pace and size of the social sphere makes it incredibly conducive to overactivity and a general sense that you need to be “doing something.”
But being great in social doesn’t mean talking a lot. It means talking at the right time.
The best brands understand this and embrace the concept of social silence. It’s an intentional strategy that identifies when a brand might overpost – for example, talking excessively about themselves or posting purely out of habit – and establishes a framework and purpose for staying quiet.
Most importantly, social silence is based in a fundamental truth: that no brand, no matter how awesome, is that interesting all the time. Instead, social silence asserts that a brand’s cadence and content are most effective when driven by genuine authenticity and insights, not mandates or routines.
Today, only five percent of brands say they’re highly satisfied with their social media campaigns (Ragan/NASDAQ). Five percent. That’s it.
It’s a jarring stat for sure, but it also reflects an amazing opportunity. It means while other brands are scrambling to be just good enough, there’s a window for us to become great.
The best part is that the roadmap for improvement – understanding the intricacies of user behavior, accounting for the nuances of each channel, knowing when to stay silent, investing more in measurement – is actually well defined. It can be a difficult journey, but the end result – being a socially fluent marketer in a competitive landscape that doesn’t quite get it yet – is a bankable advantage more than worth the investment.