Most companies use social media to drive brand awareness. After all, there isn’t much you can do in 140 characters other than say, “Look at me!”
This becomes a problem when you’re in a room — a stadium, more accurately — packed with countless other companies shouting the same thing. The resulting cacophony is probably why nearly half of B2B marketers aren’t sure whether social media brings in any revenue for their businesses.
That’s not to downplay the importance of a strong presence across various social channels. But as soon as you take the social out of social media, it becomes media — and does little more than elicit a passing glance.
Fortunately, perceptions are changing. Marketing professionals are seeing social media for what it truly is: an opportunity to build awareness as well as engage with consumers, generate demand, and nurture leads.
Striking a Social Chord
If your strategy is to use social media to generate leads, outreach is essential for consumer connection. Compared with the 10 least socially connected brands, the 10 most connected ones experienced 31 percent greater revenue growth over a three-year period.
Once you make a connection, consumers — at least those in the B2B realm — are 60 percent more likely to consider, purchase, and even pay a premium compared to competitors who have “low brand connection.”
What makes outreach a winning social strategy? A recent survey of B2B buyers found 55 percent of respondents rely on peer recommendations to arrive at their purchase decisions. Efforts to build rapport and improve the customer experience can help turn an average consumer into a brand advocate.
Reach Out Socially
The value of social outreach is clear. But how do you go about executing an outreach-based social strategy? The following can help:
1. Review your marketing mix. Look for areas in which you might be able to weave in social media to generate greater demand. Start with lead generation and nurturing. Consider whether you can use social media to identify or target prospects in real time who are actively doing research in your space.
Use conversational and biographical keywords — hashtags, mentions, or job titles — as well as location to identify prospects, and set up automated messages triggered by specific mentions or behaviors. This ensures your content is timely and reaches the right prospects.
Clients we’ve worked with report an average click-through rate of 20 percent after providing relevant content to leads via social media. Considering that more than a third of web users research products using social channels, simply being present on those channels helps you influence those decisions.
2. Track your social impact. To understand social’s lead-nurturing potential, look beyond likes and shares. Evaluate social touches along the buyer journey by connecting social media activities with your customer relationship management system and marketing automation platform.
Let’s say you noticed an uptick in subscriptions after a recent post. You can tie those leads to that content. Developing similar content might help you attract the same attention from similar leads. You now know what resonates with that segment.
Connecting social activities to CRM and MAP can also provide a glimpse into how consumers feel about your brand. In fact, 96 percent of businesses never hear a peep from dissatisfied customers. With an outreach-driven approach, you can identify where and when sentiments might change during the sales cycle — and respond accordingly.
3. Tie social to KPIs. Social media has a funnel similar to sales. You take prospects from awareness to discovery, building relationships before positioning your product as the solution to their woes.
Set KPIs along that funnel. Whether you’re focused on conversions or leads per quarter, define metrics that correspond to your social strategy. And don’t forget about funnel velocity. Carefully monitor how long it takes for a social lead to move through the sales cycle compared to a lead from another channel.
4. Invest in tech. If you want social to be scalable, you need the technology to support it. Even early-funnel targeting requires technology to define a large audience with any precision. Otherwise, someone will have to run searches manually.
Fortunately, software exists that allow you to monitor touchpoints and nurture relationships. The software automatically compiles lists of prospects that fit the marketer’s target criteria, follows prospects and sends direct messages.
And what would A/B testing be without technology? You need tools to capture the data as well as compare results. Tech makes it possible to determine which message will resonate with your target audience.
5. Calculate ROI. With so much scrutiny placed on marketing, each tactic, program, and channel must be measurable. To determine where to invest more dollars, you must understand each channel’s ROI.
Do you have the systems in place to generate the necessary reports? Do these reports tie back to your KPIs? Marketing automation systems such as Marketo allow you to pull reports on how each channel performs in generating KPIs such as marketing qualified leads. Alternately, you can use visual analytics solutions like Tableau to combine data from different sources to gain insights into the ROI of social.
The next time you venture into the social landscape, think twice about what you’re about to post. Are you shouting in a crowded stadium, or are you reaching consumers in a meaningful way? Social outreach can help you cut through the noise and speak directly to your target audience.