10 Things About Social Media Every C-Suite Executive MUST Know
It doesn’t matter whether you pulled an all-nighter to celebrate the Patriots’ victory at the Super Bowl or slept in to avoid the messy commute in Toronto’s snowstorm—it’s time to wake up and say, “Yup, I get social and I know what it takes.”
Saying, “I don’t get social” is like saying “I don’t get the Super Bowl”! There’s no such thing. Whether you understand the game, follow the rules, know the teams and players, or not, it doesn’t matter. Super Bowl is a MEGA event and EVERYONE on this continent “gets” it. Right down to John Legend’s opening performance, Idina Menzel’s powerful rendition of the national anthem, Katy Perry (hats off to her for the “Roaring” show!), the fireworks at the end, it’s the full package of entertainment, adrenaline, and bonding opportunity for friends and family.
As members of the C-Suite, we have absolutely no excuse anymore to shy away from, show reluctance, demonstrate ignorance or profess skepticism over how to use social media and what benefits it can bring to our business.
I’m not saying it is simple now; if anything, it has become more complex and intricate. I’m not saying it isn’t so freaking hard either. What I am saying is that it’s no longer the Wild, Wild West. We have made progress in understanding and defining processes to deliver positive outcomes through social media marketing. I have not found a “mantra” yet, but there certainly are proven systems in place to measure social ROI. It is possible to derive operational value from social technologies and socially enabled tasks in the workplace.
So here are 10 things I believe every C-Suite Executive must know about social media in the context of the B2B industry.
Tips, Tricks, And Techniques For Effective B2B Social Media
1. You have to be prepared for a marathon. Social media is not a 100m sprint. Once you kick-off, you have to keep going. Social marketing initiatives have to be implemented, monitored and measured as part of a long-term, integrated strategy. Spikes and troughs will do more damage than good.
2. Numbers matter, but only if they are in the context of “relationships” and “engaged audiences.” Stop breathing down the necks of your marketing team demanding more “Likes” and “Fans” and “Followers.” Those can even be bought today on many of the social channels. What you need is a growing number of relationships nurtured via social channels and cemented through direct, personal interaction. Remember, you can lure the hungry to your hot dog cart, but do you have the “secret sauce” to draw out the “connoisseurs” who come back, frequently, and bring their best friends?
3. Key metrics for social ROI measurement? Increased brand awareness and social conversations about your brand are strong indicators of a social strategy working well. Again, don’t waste time and agonize over meaningless metrics. Focus your team’s efforts on fueling more social conversations that generate positive outcomes for your brand.
4. Collaboration is key. Social is a team effort. And I don’t mean just your internal team. Bring in a suitable agency or content partner to create quality content. Implement the right social monitoring and measurement solution. Get collective buy-in from everyone around the board room table and take that message down to the bunkers. Your sales people in the field are your best bet when it comes to knowing what’s keeping your customers up at night. Pick their brains and use social media to communicate to your prospects that you have the answers they are seeking.
5. Cultivate, don’t automate. Social media is an effective B2B lead generation tool but you can’t expect it to work simply because you have invested in the latest technology and tools. Setting up automated social feeds can only work to a point. If you are not careful, it can actually backfire. Customers will shut you out. You need to cultivate and nurture leads by using social to feed relevant, useful, and meaningful information to your audience. The only way to do that is by ensuring the human element is intact and it’s not just software spewing out social content multiple times a day.
6. Ditch the “flavor of the day” approach. Use social media, yes, but not at the expense of tried and true marketing methodology. Supplement, complement, but do not replace.
7. Don’t confuse “personalized” with “personal.” We have been talking about how the B2B buyer wants to be understood and treated like a person rather than a faceless organization. The merits of B2P (business-to-person) or B2H (business-to-human) have been reiterated often. However, some folks are mistaken about the “personal touch” and what it really means. It does not mean sharing details about “you”! Who cares if you are on a new diet or watched a great flick or had a bad day or even achieved Nirvana? Well, maybe your immediate family and close friends care. Your customers don’t. So stop wasting time with “personal” details and focus on a “personalized” offering for your buyers.
8. Be inspired by your competition. And by that I don’t mean scream, shout and scramble to make more noise than they do. You’ll only get lost in the clutter. Instead, focus on identifying your buyers’ pain points and do better than your competition when it comes to addressing real problems through social media.
9. Enlist your CEO as the Chief Social Media Supporter. For a social media strategy to work and integrate with your overall marketing plan, your CEO needs to be your Chief Social Media Supporter—bought into the strategy, offers direction to help set the right tone, and most importantly understands the implications of the company’s social media activities.
10. Last, but not the least, use common sense. Thinks about this—what lessons have you learned from traditional marketing? When you are face to face with buyers, how do you catch their attention and steer it in the right direction? How do you start a conversation and then let the customer do the talking? Why is it important to network without being overbearing, pushy and loud? Where do your customers go when they are searching for information? Which social channels do they visit frequently? Apply this common sense to social media marketing rather than relying on social media “gurus” (a.k.a. platform specialists) telling you what to do.
BONUS TIP: Understand Dark Social. Be aware that there are many different ways in which your content is observed and shared; you just don’t know about it. There are audiences out there that are consuming your content but not sharing it. Try to determine what this invisible audience is looking for and find ways to encourage them to share our content too.