Is social media frustrating? If you’re like most B2B marketers, you’re doing the north-south nod about now. Whether you bought Facebook shares or are simply investing budget tweeting and posting every day, the lure of potential rewards and access to new markets in social media hasn’t always produced tangible, let alone measurable gains. Why?
The primary reason: The way we marketers most often use social media (brand awareness, community building) lacks quantifiable metrics. You may believe you’re generating quality leads using social media – through Twitter conversations, posting entertaining photos on Google+ or generating likes on Facebook, but as I tell my kids, believing something doesn’t necessarily make it true. You have to measure it. And re-tweets or likes are not measures of quality leads or sales.
In the same way that we measure traditional email marketing, by conversions, not opens or clicks, the clearest evidence your social media activity is benefiting your business is to share content that results in conversions on your website. Blogs, press releases, webinars and whitepapers that you can share on social media, provide measurable response opportunities that create the data you need to prove your success or demonstrate areas for improvement required to achieve your goals. What you can measure, you can improve.
Concentrate on social networks your buyers use
Start by fishing where the fish are. According to Hubspot’s 2012 research, 65% of B2B companies say they have acquired a customer through LinkedIn. Facebook is the next best performer at 43% followed by Twitter with 40%. But each social network offers unique buyer scenarios and attracts different personas. Unless your market is served by a boutique social network, set up shop with the big four: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Run similar tests on each and measure which of these networks produces the best results. Focus your efforts on that social network using these 4 techniques:
- Create quality content you can share: Content is the gateway to effective social media marketing. You can’t convert on likes and retweets. Regularly publishing blog posts, especially evergreen blog content that can be shared over and over, is fundamental to social media success. Our own research shows that visit-to-lead rates can be 300% to 400% greater than organic traffic visit-to-lead rates on your website so you have a greater opportunity to capture new quality leads if you’re sharing your own content rather than promoting someone eles’s.
- Post links to landing pages: In addition to blog content, consider sharing landing pages for your premium content. Don’t abuse the privilege of sharing links with your followers however. Think of this practice the same way you think about using a mail list. You can safely assume that sharing landing pages once a day on Twitter and a couple times a week on other networks, like LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook, won’t offend your followers but test higher frequencies carefully before deluging your audience with what may appear to be advertisements.
- Share relevant content that you didn’t create: Elevating others above yourself used to be accepted as an approach to building your social following. But as my clients create more of their own quality content, I counsel them to use a two-thirds rule: 2 of every three content offers should be their own. The “filler” content can be news or other regularly updated, relevant media streams. I find that this ratio keeps your audience engaged so that when you are posting your own material, people are paying attention.
- Nurture your leads: Once a social media visitor becomes a prospect, don’t let that prospect just sit in your database. Create engagement. Stay in touch by setting up lead nurturing campaigns before they convert. The sooner you provide your new prospect with additional content, the more likely they will convert and begin moving through your sales funnel.
Pushing brochures, press releases and stories about your company aren’t the type of content that will produce the best results in social media. The content you share should be informative and problem-solving… without pushing your brand. Consider, a visitor is already on your branded social media account or blog. They’ve already been exposed to your brand. If you assail them with company messaging it’s like having a conversation where you constantly remind the other person who you are. Instead, share something valuable so they ask who you are.
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