Taking social media seriously (and taking it to the bank)
By Randy Mitchell
First, a painful confession.
Seven years ago I was a hater. For a number of reasons, I simply could not take social media seriously, especially when it came to B2B marketing.
That cautious thinking seemed to make sound business sense at the time. Our agency accounts were global companies. We worked with top-level decision makers that had ironclad objectives. They needed to grow market share, not followers.
In short, ROMI was the mantra and every campaign demanded tangible results.
If I had actually dared to suggest using social media to that C-Suite group, their first reaction would have been laughter. That would have been followed by this bottom line challenge: “If you’re really serious about incorporating social into the mix, prove that it’s worth the spend.”
I am very pleased to say that we were all wrong about social. And I am reminded of that every single workday.
Creating successful B2B social media programs is a prime capability for our agency, and it’s in very high demand. We develop turnkey social programs, from planning through posting. That includes the strategy, design, writing, programming and tracking—and I have grown to relish every part of it.
Simply this: I have seen the positive outcomes B2B social media can deliver for our clients, so now I take it very, very seriously.
The new roles of social
The scope of social media in B2B marketing campaigns has become extensive. Here are some of the diverse roles social plays today.
Our clients employ omnichannel campaigns to reach highly elusive prospects and customers. Social posts used to be a “nice to have” component in those campaigns. Now, it’s one of the lead dogs. On several recent campaigns social posts drove more traffic than emails or digital ads combined. One client’s social program drove over 4,000 visitors to a new product’s website. That type of response is in line with the evolving marketplace reality: The audience for social now includes those elusive decision makers. Some of them are hard-wired to ignore traditional marketing, but a compelling social post that grabs their interest can work small miracles.
When it came to lead generation, social media was not taken seriously because its format was too brief to move the needle. Admittedly, it’s hard to sell a 2 million dollar piece of industrial equipment in a tweet. So we simply changed the rules to make social work harder. We added engaging videos to posts, linked to landing pages that would fill in any information gaps, and leveraged social as the dynamic doorway to the content our prospects wanted. And the results rocked. When social pay per click (PPC) ads were added to our campaigns, they pushed our clients’ response numbers to new levels. One client is seeing 200+ decision makers per month engage with their PPC ads—and that ridiculous response level has been consistent for more than a year.
One of the biggest complaints I had about social was that it cast too wide a net. Not anymore. You can now create a much more targeted outreach for your PPC efforts, including the industry, job title and even the prospect’s primary responsibilities. It’s not foolproof, but it’s getting more granular all the time. The key is to know your target and the social networks they prefer. Then, speak directly to them and their pain points and you’ll make your PPC budget optimize every dollar.
Remember those C-Suite executives who would have laughed off social media? They changed their perspectives big time. In fact, 84% of C-Suite-level and VP-level buyers are directly influenced by social media when purchasing, according to a LinkedIn study. Suddenly, social has become a serious editorial resource for information. And it’s a must for reaching the C-Suite.
Now, for the biggest question of all: Did social media change or did we?
Actually, everything evolved.
Social media changed significantly in its ability to target an audience, track results and deliver content in almost every format. Combine that with the immediacy and cost-effective reach that social provides and you can understand the appeal.
B2B marketers also changed in our understanding of social’s potential and the way we can integrate it into our campaigns. It used to be a channel for reaching a younger demographic. Now it’s a direct conduit to every demographic.
Seven years ago, I was a social hater. Today, I’m a true believer. And I’m happy to say I learned my lesson.
One last thought: If you want to see the staggering social response numbers our clients do, I know an agency that can help. Contact Boomm B2B Marketing and let’s talk about creating a turnkey social media program for you.