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B2B Social Media: Building a Cohesive Strategy

jessica-lee
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Social media strategy for B2Bs doesn't start or stop with just having a Facebook or Twitter account. Real business strategy executed through social can pay dividends beyond just the engagement factor, to business, brand, and human impact. This was the topic of the B2B social media strategy session at SES San Francisco 2013.

B2B Versus B2C Versus Humans

Relationships are between people and not businesses, said session speaker Rebecca Tann (@rebeccatann) of Regus. So humanize your brand, go where your customers are and tell the story through customer experiences.

Speaker John Lee (@lee_john) of Webtrends agreed. Knowing the psychology of users, he said, makes marketers better at what they do. Know what drives them, and understanding that users aren't approaching corporate content on social as corporate people is key.

Your users consume your content as themselves while they're at home or taking a break from their workday. And within that same social feed, you are competing with content from the user's friends, family, and beyond.

So keep in mind that a connection happens when two parties find a common ground, Lee said. If your content only comes from a strictly professional standpoint, you're cutting your brand short on social.

Lee reinforced the idea that you shouldn't think company versus customer or brand versus potential sale. Think one-on-one human interaction. If your brand doesn't have a personality, Lee asked, what can your users connect with?

To that point, Lee said define what B2B social means to your brand. It starts really with knowing that social is a touch point, not an end point. And if social is a touch point, then the conversion is delivering a positive brand experience.

Forget Social, Think Content and Connections

Focus on delivering what your audience wants in terms of the message, said Tann. What are they interested in? Where can you find them? Offer them the content that is of value to them, and start simply with the content assets you already have within your company or site.

Lee had a slightly different take on content. If you want more shares, he said, pay attention to your user's ego. It isn't always what's being shared that matters, it's that the person was part of the sharing experience.

So quality is important, but incentives and context is, too. One example of this is when you think about the popularity of memes like the Ryan Gosling meme.

Lee then walked the audience through a case study that illustrated this concept in action. At SES New York, Webtrends launched a social campaign where they branded a few pairs of sneakers and let them loose at the conference with a unique hashtag for Twitter called #didyouseethat.

Find the Shoes at SES

Conference goers were asked to simply snap a photo of the sneakers if they saw them in passing, and share it on Twitter with the unique campaign hashtag. They would then be entered to win airline tickets and a pair of branded shoes.

Webtrends built this campaign explicitly with no sales pitch, no lead gen capture and purely for one-on-one engagement. In 36 hours, there were 4,000 social "successes," Lee said. The cost per success was 35 cents, and the cost per lead was $5.86.

But, how did they get leads if it wasn't a lead gen campaign?

Lee said 63 percent of people volunteered their info at the Webtrends booth at SES New York because they liked the campaign so much. More than 20 percent gave their info up to three months after the show.

Tackle the Plan with Structure

Start with your business goals and objectives, Tann said, and make sure you speak the executives' language when discussing how social media impacts those goals. Then, define what success means to your business. Figure out what you want to accomplish in defined periods of times and commit to them.

Lee then laid out a five-step process for tackling a social campaign:

  1. Define the objectives for the campaign. Is it branding? Lead gen?
  2. Define the creative concepts. Start with what you care about as a person. Chances are other people will care about it too. Just make sure it ties in with your business and branding somehow.
  3. Look at the what the user's experience will be with the campaign. Make it easy for them to participate.
  4. Learn how to measure the campaign by walking through the experience as a user. Define each step and then identify every step where you can capture information. Then get granular with things like campaign IDs, so you can look in your analytics to see how people got to you. Channels like paid versus organic; tweets with photos versus tweets with videos and so on.
  5. Create the content. Even though it's "king," said Lee, content is actually the easiest part. If your concept is genuine and there is an incentive for an action, then it's easy. If you get excited about the content, other people will, too.

And when you're building a B2B social campaign, think about how you're going to support it from within, said Tann. Look at in-house versus agency and what options you have for using one or more. Think about the advertising and marketing financial impact. Examine the technical aspect and what tools you'll use to carry it out.

This aspect of social operations also includes things like social media policies, workflow, and monitoring the social activities of the business, Tann said. Set up key staff with training on how to use social media, too, to make it more accessible for everyone.

Measure, Learn, Experiment, Adapt

Measuring B2B social isn't always easy when you're thinking in terms of branding and experience. But it is doable, said Lee. He laid out a simple two-step process for measurement:

  1. Differentiate between value and volume metrics. Volume is engagement like clicks, retweets, etc. Value is acquisition in B2B social. You want to acquire leads and then nurture them.
  2. Define tiers of success with clear cost-per-success goals. How much did it cost to acquire that lead?

And finally, don't be afraid to experiment, said Tann. Have fun with it and take what you've learned from your audience and your tactics, and apply it to what you do moving forward. Everyone can learn from his or her mistakes; it's a healthy part of the process, so embrace them.


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