How to Pivot Your Social Media Strategy to Support Account-Based Marketing

So your team is ready to implement account-based marketing (ABM) and your sales counterparts are on board. What’s next?

Part of transitioning to an account-based marketing approach includes reviewing your marketing strategy across channels—including social media. If you’re involved in your company’s social media marketing, you might be wondering what a shift to ABM will look like for you.

Social media marketing allows you to get to know your company’s target accounts and the prospects within them in a unique way and get relevant, personalized content in front of them at just the right time. A combination of organic and paid efforts and a strategic blend of listening and promoting strategies can make social media the perfect complement to a cross-channel ABM campaign.

While your current social media marketing strategy may be performing well, transitioning to ABM requires you to refocus your efforts to more effectively attract and engage your target accounts.

Use Social Media to Better Understand Your Buyers

When a business is considering a purchase, the buying decision is rarely left to a single individual. In fact, the average B2B buying decision involves about five decision-makers, according to a CEB survey. Each stakeholder has veto power, and each likely has different pain points she hopes to solve with the purchase. However, getting meetings with five or more stakeholders, some of whom likely hold high-level positions, can be almost impossible.

Social media channels offer marketers a place to get to know stakeholders in the absence of face-to-face communication. If target stakeholders are active on social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, follow them. Knowing what these individuals like and share on social media platforms offers a wealth of valuable information, which you can uncover by asking questions like these:

  • What types of third-party content do they share? What conferences or events are they attending? This could give you insight into where to spend your advertising budget.
  • What content formats do they like and share? Do they prefer videos, whitepapers, blog posts, or infographics? This information will allow you to publish your content in the format that’s most likely to attract the attention of your target accounts.
  • What are they complaining about? Their pain points are your selling points. The things they complain about are the problems they are Googling, so use this knowledge to fuel your content marketing.
  • What are their customers complaining about? How can your company help your target accounts improve customer service and satisfaction?

Twitter simplifies social listening by allowing you to create lists of the target accounts you follow. Simply create a list in your Twitter account settings, add the usernames for your target accounts and the prospects within them, and be sure to mark the list as private. This will help ensure you don’t miss any tweets from important stakeholders. Platforms like Hootsuite and TweetDeck also offer this capability by allowing you to create specific views of activity from your target accounts.

Initially, a simple spreadsheet may work to keep track of this information. However, as you scale your ABM efforts, you may want to consider building a more sophisticated social listening dashboard or investing in a third-party monitoring and automation platform.

A social relationship platform (SRP) such as Hootsuite, Synthesio, or Sprinklr allows you to aggregate relevant conversations your prospects are having across multiple social media platforms, so you can easily access important information for your ABM plan. And by integrating an SRP with a sophisticated marketing automation platform, like Marketo’s, you can track leads throughout the sales process and measure the ROI of your social campaigns.

Publish Targeted Content to Your Social Media Profiles

After listening to your target accounts on social media, you should have a good understanding of their needs and pain points. Respond by posting content to your social media sites that speaks directly to those needs and explains how your products or services can help.

Within two years of starting account-based marketing, SAP North America was able to create $27 million in new revenue from existing clients. Part of that success was attributed to altering their content marketing plan: SAP NA began dedicating half of their content generation to support ABM. While it can be hard to dedicate the same amount of resources within your organization, especially if you’re just starting out with ABM, there are some easy-wins you can score with targeted content:

  • Write a case study that includes companies from their industry, and tag the stakeholders in the post when you publish it. (Not on a regular basis, of course. You don’t want to be considered a spammer. Try it once and if you don’t get a response, let it go.)
  • Engage in your stakeholders’ conversations by replying to their posts with thoughtful and helpful comments. You can include links to your relevant content, but make sure to do so in a way that comes across as more helpful than sales-driven.
  • Don’t be afraid to write and post content that is catered exclusively to your customers; the extra attention you give to your customers will let your prospects know that you’re a good partner who will value their business, even after the deal closes.

Reach Key Accounts on Social Media

A good way to get targeted content in front of your key accounts is by running micro-targeted ads on either Facebook or LinkedIn and directing those offers to landing pages that are personalized for those target accounts.

Both Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to display ads only to people who work at specific companies. LinkedIn’s Account Targeting system takes the feature one step further by allowing you to micro-target ABM campaigns to people in specific roles at specific companies. This can be particularly effective if you are unsure of who your stakeholders are because it allows you to get your content in front of multiple sets of eyes at your targeted company. Even if your stakeholders don’t see the ad, someone who works with them might and may be more likely to bring your company up in relevant conversations.

The best part about micro-targeted ads is that they’re typically very cost-effective.

  • One micro-targeted Webtrends Facebook campaign, for example, resulted in 3,000 impressions, 9 clicks, and four new likes from the target account. The total cost for this campaign was only $5.67.
  • NewsCred experimented with Sponsored Updates on LinkedIn, and found that for every $1 they spent on the program, they could expect $17.60 in new revenue.

In order for your ABM Twitter strategy to be effective, you’ll need to build relationships with stakeholders from your target accounts. Getting them to follow you is a good starting point, but a follow alone doesn’t guarantee engagement. Here are some tips for creating dialogue and engagement:

  • Comment on their posts/tweets and mention them when you post about them or their content.
  • Share or retweet their posts/tweets to let them know you’re engaged.
  • On Twitter, join in on tweet chats they participate in.
  • Also on Twitter, use hashtags found in their tweets, as well as any they like or share.

Start Your Social Media ABM Strategy

Using social media for account-based marketing can be highly effective: it allows you to better understand the needs and pain points of your target accounts and it gives you an opportunity to begin a dialogue about how your products and services can help. Start with listening. By understanding what your target accounts need, you’ll be in a great position to pivot your social media strategy to support your ABM goals.

Have you had success with other approaches to using social media for account-based marketing? Share your tips in the comments below.