Great B2B social is not an accident; it's the result of an intentional, strategic framework that Is both scalable and accountable. But don’t confuse social activity with social achievement -- effective B2B social is about being smarter, not doing more.
Here are four ways -- to be featured tomorrow at SES Chicago -- that elite social brands separate themselves from the pack.
1. Social is not an add-on: Use measurement to drive integration
Lack of measurement is the number one reason that social fails. The numbers show why. Nearly 90 percent of brands measure volume and engagement (likes, followers, etc.), but only 31% measure it against revenue, according to research from Ragan/NASDAQ. As a result, the contribution of social to the sales pipeline -- the heart of any B2B company -- often remains unknown.
Start by putting the right analytics in place. That means conversion tracking throughout your site and proper campaign IDs broken down by channel, initiative and time frame. It also requires crystal-clear communication to all teams -- your analytics guys, your Web site guys, your content guys -- about where conversion points are on each page and how they are being measured.
Move past exposure and engagement (clicks, retweets, shares). Focus your attention on conversion points and ROI, not impressions and reach. Your sales cycle might be months long, but the ultimate payoff will come when a deal closes and you can track that first touch -- or multiple touches -- back to social.
2. 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 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, she doesn't suddenly switch to a "professional-only" mode. No -- her professional persona may take center stage, but her thought process is also influenced by less apparent parts of her personality: the fact that she's a parent, enjoys rock climbing, and is coming off a rough week.
The problem is that most B2B firms only target the corporate part of their customer’s persona. They ignore the fact that disparate parts of personalities come together to affect decision-making, and thus limit the likelihood of meaningful engagement.
3. Develop individual strategies for each platform
Having a robust presence across multiple channels is admirable, 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 in 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. Articulate when, where and how often to…be silent
Being great in social doesn't mean talking a lot. It means talking at the right time. Successful brands understand this and embrace the concept of social silence. It's an intentional strategy that identifies when you might over-post -- for example, posting out of habit or talking excessively about yourself -- 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 authenticity and insights, not mandates or routines.
If nothing else, consider this: According to Ragan/NASDAQ, only five percent of brands say they're highly satisfied with their social media campaigns. That's it.This means that while everyone else is scrambling to be just good enough, there's a window for us to become great. It can be difficult, but the end result -- being a socially fluent marketer in a competitive landscape that doesn't quite get it yet -- is a bankable advantage that is more than worth the investment.