B2B companies, especially those that are not web-based businesses, tend to be late adopters of social media. This has been my personal experience, as Firetide’s social media efforts started less than a year ago (although I had participated in LinkedIn groups for longer than that).
Many companies only have perfunctory efforts – they have twitter accounts, for example, but update infrequently or don’t engage with their followers. Given that we are early adopters (funny to say that given that social media been the rage for years, it seems) we still have to justify the time and effort allocated to social media efforts.
So the Social Media Measurement #B2Bchat was in part exchange of tips and insights, and in part a venting session – which everyone needs every now and then.
Some highlights from the session.
As a B2B marketer, how do you justify time spent on social media? Are there any detractors within your organization?
I was surprised to hear from one participant that “Day of having to justify SM to anyone is over.” This has not been my experience. I suspect that in many B2B companies social media is still flying under the radar, and needs to “come out of the shadows.” So there will still be adjustments as social media gets fully integrated into marketing plans, and stops being a skunk works project. Many comments confirmed my impression:
- I just make the time for it. There are a few detractors in my company, but most support our SM efforts.
- Some are quick to be detractors: tend to be expecting too much, or not taking time to understand.
- I view SM as an extension of ‘traditional’ communications – advertizing/PR, so weaving it into our regular mark. programs
- I have spoken to some, who do see fear of unknown and lack on control to be concern.
- B2B is all about relationship building during long sales cycle. Social media is a great way to build relationships.
- I can link revenue directly back to my social media contacts/time. Dramatic increase year to year.
What are social media’s practical benefits, even for companies who do not monetize their web sites?
The responses varied from lead conversion metrics (from those lucky enough to have a closed-loop lead tracking system), to better understanding he industry landscape and listening to conversations, market intelligence and building personas.
- SM gives the users a chance to interact with you as a business/product. It’s a big plus.
- Looking at SM as extension of PR, I track mentions, engagement, as well as briefings & other PR opps secured through SM
- Maintaining/monitoring brand perception in real time is an advantage, awareness of enthusiasts/critics comments = opportunity
- A step above brand monitoring is establishing credibility as an industry expert.
- Competitive/market intelligence is a huge advantage that SM brings; gets rid of ‘tunnel vision’
- SM for a small biz helps to level the playing field; leads to interaction with industry pros – as long as you provide quality content
The last observation was especially interesting to me; you don’t need to have a huge PR or ad budget to know what is happening in the industry, and you can engage with the influencers directly. In addition, having the first-mover advantage, you can establish a position in social media and stand apart from the crowd.
Do you know the impact social media activities have on your brand awareness?
There was no easy answer to this question yet, so many of us have to rely on qualitative feedback.
- You do if you set GSOT (goals, strategies, objectives & tactics) at start & keep scorecard two track progress.
- Awareness is a measure of total reach and increase in reach online. So yes through analytics that can be determined
- Brand awareness can be measured and tracked to some extent; but crucial to establish a baseline from which to measure
- It can be difficult to measure, particularly for small businesses without resources and access to high powered apps or 3rd party software
- Social Media ROI question is tough. BUT, what’s the ROI of having a telephone? Or email?
- Without question, SM lets small companies and startups compete with vastly larger firms.
Do you generate leads with social media? If yes, how do you track them?
- We track leads from SM by using Google Analytics and unique URLs.
- We do a lot of content registration: Webinars + white papers through Facebook & Twitter. 5-10% of registrations come from SM.
- SM for our company has been key for building awareness. Our web analytics show SM as top referrer.
- We assign a unique URL to each tweet and then track inbound clicks all the way to a lead or other success event.
What are the tools that even companies without social media budgets can use to track impact of their social media presence?
- Trackur; Google Alerts; even Tweetdeck are great measurement tools (or combination thereof)
- For tracking twitter engagement over time: @twitalyzer & @klout
- PostRank is a great way to tie social media with blog performance.
- Great SM measurement tools being mentioned: PostRank, Twitalyzer, Klout, Rowfeeder, Trackur, Radian6 (although a later commenter said “Radian6 is a great sm product, but I don’t have $’s for it.”)
- If you are using an existing web analytics package, you can use APIs like the Twitter search/REST API to grab data on buzz.
What are the objections you encounter regarding social media initiatives? Any tips for overcoming them?
This was more of a venting session as I mentioned early. It surely felt good!
- Biggest obstacle I hear about is security and inertia
- The age old challenge in B2B = tying SM to revenue. Yes, it’s a cliché at this point.
- Do I have the resources in time, $ & people to make it work? It is a relevant concern.
- Ah, the famous question: ‘What if they say something bad about us?’ Answer: ‘Then you have a prime opportunity for conversion.’
- Internal objections when starting SM initiatives? “Our clients don’t use SM.” “It’s a time trap.”
- I have a client that would love to tweet if they could do so to a controlled audience. [Classic!]
- “We don’t have time to do SM right.” “Our B2B customers aren’t using SM.” “CEO won’t like negative feedback.”
- Another challenge is the perception that social media is cheap and does not require any specific knowledge and expertise.
So, even as it may seem that social media is a given, many B2B companies are still in the early adoption phase, and are grappling with associated challenges. The dialog helped bring them to light.
As one of the participants said: “Social media is an amplification of the conversations that are happening anyway.” With social media you have the opportunity to participate, rather than staying on the sidelines. Jump right in!
For other posts on social media topics, see: