It is difficult to prove social media’s worth in numbers or its value to other areas in a company. Because of this, many marketers may be missing key points that can both save time and help in getting the coveted budget increase.
A recent MarketingSherpa webinar, sponsored by Marketo, "How to Overcome the 5 Most Common Social Media Mistakes in B2B Marketing," lays out ideas from two experts on practicing social media in a way that will deliver worth that will make both a CFO and marketers happy.
Defining value in social media in a way that satisfies the harsh bottom line is difficult. It is even contested within the B2B marketing community whether or not the traditional sense of ROI applies to social media at all.
An illustration of this contention is that only 46% of CMOs view achieving or increasing measurable ROI from social media marketing programs as a top strategic priority, according to the MarketingSherpa 2011 Social Marketing Benchmark Report.
In a recent MarketingSherpa webinar, which can be viewed in full below, Nichole Kelly, President, SME Digital, and Eddie Smith, Chief Revenue Officer, Topsy Labs, along with Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, point out the errors that are impeding the ability to find new and tangible value in B2B social media … along with tips to overcome those errors.
This webinar was broadcast free thanks to sponsorship by Marketo.
Error #1. Thinking your CFO is your nemesis
"The first question is, ‘Why do we think of CFOs as our nemesis?’" said Kelly.
Marketers put themselves into a tough position with CFOs, according to Kelly, because they "really want to understand how what you’re doing relates to the bottom line, because their job as chief financial officer is to make sure that bottom line is protected."
"We all know that CFOs like to count things," Smith agreed. "From a CFO’s perspective, what is really important is baseline measurements."
A disconnect between marketer and CFO, according to Kelly, can happen because the metrics presented with social media can be considered "fluffy."
Social media requires a "different way of thinking about measurements and analytics," according to Smith, to go beyond fluffy and understand its real-world function.
Traditional Web metrics are more constrained by what is on your domain, Smith said.
"That’s where your tags are -- they’re collecting impressions, clickthrough and conversion rate metrics. With social media, you don’t have tags in tweets, or whatever the communication vehicle is. But, what you’re able to parse out of those conversations are reference points, not just to your own brands and products, but to your competitors’ brands and products."
How to close the divide
A great asset of social media, according to Smith, is that "you can measure not just how well you’re doing, but also how well your competitor is doing, and then use these measures as justification on a go-forward basis with your CFO to increase your spend within social media."
Data like the number of followers, how many fans, volume of conversation are "important to us as community managers," Kelly said. "But if you start talking to that CFO and asking for more money … it’s important to correlate that conversation into how it impacts the bottom line."
How to do that, she adds, is by connecting social media to metrics that are important to business objectives, such as sales volume, revenue and cost.
"So we have this great spike in conversation, but what did that do in terms of revenue for the organization? When you can start answering questions like that, and start to align yourself with the CFO to start to understand what they really want, then you start to see improvement not only in your own credibility but in the budget allocations you see for your own initiatives," Kelly said.
Error #2. Single-use content
Compelling, worthy content takes time, and marketers don’t have a lot of that. Producing content that never gets used again is a wasted opportunity for your readers, and will overwhelm your staff.
"We don’t have a lot of time, so we don’t want to do these one-off posts all of the time. You need to find a way to leverage it over multiple channels," Kelly said.
Repurposing and reformatting existing content is the absolute top tactic for developing B2B marketing content, according to the 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, and for good reason according to Kelly.
"Content has multiple layers, and if you have a really good topic, then you need to look at how you can repurpose that topic," she said. "Can it be an email, a blog post? Can you turn it into an e-book or some sort of downloadable content?"
Error #3. Creating content that is not authentic
"I think as a company it’s really about understanding what your company represents, and what the personality of the brand is, and making sure that comes through on social media content," Kelly said.
"I’ve seen everything from companies trying to have a humorous approach when they really aren’t funny people, to trying to be really corporate when the company’s personality is something totally different," she added.
A social media audience will appreciate the transparency, and understanding the true tone of your company will produce a voice that really resonates.
"It is also important that your authentic voice for the company aligns with the authentic voice of the audience," Kelly added.
According to Smith, social media reflects real life. "We have relationships with different people that we perceive as the experts in certain areas or topics that we’re working with. So on Twitter or Facebook, we look to different people as the experts for different topics."
To become that expert, it is important not to constantly pitch your own products and services, but to "think about your own customer’s problems, and create content that provides answers and solutions to that problem," Smith said.
Kelly says she follows an 80/20 rule, where she references "hyper-relevant, really good third-party sources" 80% of the time. "That earns us the right to talk about ourselves 20% of the time," she said.
"If the only thing you do is talk about yourself on your social media channels, it is not authentic content. It’s self-serving and promotional, and not actually adding value to the audience," said Kelly. "That’s a whole other way of being inauthentic in social that hurts the core relationship with your customer and prospect base."
Reach your audience on the social media channel they naturally use
"I think there is a big misconception that everybody’s audience is on Twitter and everybody’s audience is on Facebook," said Kelly.
It is essential to find where your audience is, she continued, instead of trying to lure them to sites they wouldn’t naturally use.
Kelly has found that "anywhere from 40-70%" of the conversations in industries happen on blogs and forums.
"So while it may not be sexy to have a blog and forum outreach strategy, and have to participate in those conversations, if that’s where your audience is – that is absolutely where you should be," concluded Kelly.
Smith advises using your on-site Web analytics, "specifically where your referring traffic is coming from, and let those measurements lead your nose in terms of what other social networks blogs, or forums people are actually coming in from."
Error # 4. Treating social media like it’s "special"
"This comes down to putting the right framework in place," said Kelly about integrating social media into your marketing department.
Most marketers agree on the importance of inbound marketing integration, but don’t always practice it. 76% agree it is important, but only 47% say they practice it, according to MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Inbound Marketing Handbook.
Kelly suggests asking the following questions to understand your framework:
How do we handle complaints? What is the appropriate response?
When we’re publishing content, what are the parameters we need to stay within so that all departments are happy?
How can we develop policies of what the company’s objectives are?
"Social media actually does play really well with others when you start to integrate it," Kelly added. "If we treat social media like it’s so special, then what starts happening is people start to really dislike social media, and it gets looked at differently in the industry."
Too often, marketers miss areas where social media is performing well, such as conversion rates or cost for leads, because they are not comparing them to other areas.
"As marketers are out there and they’re starting to look at social media, I think the hardest thing to do is to try to do this special social media thing. If you start with, ‘How do we integrate social into what we’re already doing?’ it becomes a much more manageable task," Kelly said.
Error #5. Not soliciting outside content
"If we’re not looking toward outside content, we’re going to run our marketing teams into the ground because they just can’t write enough blog posts, enough e-books, enough webinars," said Kelly.
Outside content, she said, is a great way to round out all of your needs, and get the engagement you’re looking for, without compromising your team or content.
Kelly recommends reaching out to organizations to "get their expertise, have one of their editors on a panel. … I think there’s a lot we can do not just in content creation but in content partnerships."
"Every company creates content every day, they just don’t share it," Burstein added. The biggest challenge he sees is that marketers "just don’t know where that content will come from."
Burstein recommends getting included on as many email threads as possible. "I know it’s not fun," he admits, "but it can lead to some great content, like someone from customer service answering a question -- that’s a blog post right there."
Watch the Replay
For more information, watch the full replay of "How to Overcome 5 of the Most Common Social Media Mistakes" below:
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