… and now – a reality check

To summarize my last couple of posts on social media strategy, I think we all agree that social presence without any purpose or strategy behind it is not enough. What you need to do is assess your current situation based on a number of key parameters to understand if and how your social presence serves you and then build a cohesive social media strategy that will leverage your social presence to support the main brand objectives.

Once you’ve determined the right social strategy for you, it’s time for a reality check:

  • Which stage of your funnel do you want social media to impact most? For example, if it is the consideration phase you want to impact, you will need to create a lot of thought leadership and research materials. Based on that you will also need to create a content mix to your various social channels that will ensure continuous relevant content flow.
  • What kind of results should you be looking for? If you’re looking at an awareness strategy your main KPI’s (key performance indicators) should be around brand awareness of the company and its values which can be measured through a survey, search volume, industry recognition etc. But if you’re looking into a loyalty strategy the main KPI should be customer retention.
  • Do you have the right social assets to support your strategy? For example, you might need to build a new community or create a new social ecosystem of pages in LinkedIn to support your new strategy. And btw – cleanup of some old and non-active social assets is always a good idea.
  • Do you have the right team to support your strategy? Everybody wants to be a thought leader, but it usually requires a dedicated team of analysts and researchers that can follow up and comment on industry trends, in order to lead and shape the conversation. Do you have these people available? Are the roles, responsibilities and processes in the marketing team supporting your strategy?
  • What kind of underlining technologies do you need to support your plan? Do you have the right kind of content management system (CMS) and what about the measurement / dashboard tool?

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Reality check can be painful in showing you the gaps and mis-alignments in your organization, but hopefully it will also help you in setting up a realistic plan with achievable KPIs. Good luck!

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YOUR BRAND – is this what you need to promote through social?

Maybe it’s the first strategy I should have presented here – applying social media for increasing awareness to your brand values and growing the brand equity. So why did I keep it to last? Well you know why: in many B2B companies we don’t really like our brand … We feel it’s a fluffy story, that doesn’t really say anything, doesn’t really get anyone engaged and definitely doesn’t help get more sales.

Let’s look at 2 examples of some people that seem to be doing it right.

A couple of years ago IBM came out with the Smarter Planet initiative. The initiative seeked to highlight how forward-thinking leaders in business, government and civil society around the world are capturing the potential of smarter systems to achieve economic growth, near-term efficiency, sustainable development and societal progress. For IBM, it was a good corporate story that tied together brand values, social responsibility and their IT solutions.

Ericsson is another example of someone that utilized social media for the brand’s vision – around the networked society. When they launched it, maybe a year ago, they came up with a new corporate video, a lot of new content (~70% of their posts were related to the “Networked Society”  directly or indirectly), and a whole set of new visuals – including even a new font. As a result, they did see high engagement and social traffic contribution, as well as big communities that were created around this topic.

Is it the right strategy for you? To make it work you need to find the right story and create the WIIFM and real connection to your customers and your company.

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Promoting your solutions in social – is this your easy way out?

Another popular social strategy is to promote your products, services and solutions in the various social channels – i.e. use social media as a live catalog and thru it generate interest in your solutions.

The main KPIs (key performance indicators) you should be measuring and looking to impact are social contribution and sales leads.

This strategy allows you to connect marketing directly to sales and show your impact by directly driving sales. The challenge here is that unless you are a digital-first* type of company, it might be quite difficult to generate leads and actual sales from social media.

(* According to SiriusDecisions, your digital type provides insight into an organization’s relationships with buyers and customers and is determined according to what you’re selling, how it’s sold and how it’s bought. Prior to pursuing digital marketing campaigns, B2B organizations must determine their digital type)

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The other thing to consider and be aware of is whether being (too) focused on the individual products and services, might dilute your bigger brand story. In other words, be careful not to take the easy way out and promote your many sub-brands while ignoring the fact that your overall brand is too weak and doesn’t tie all of them together into a stronger story.

Customer Loyalty – Is this the right social strategy for you?

Customer loyalty is another popular social strategy that you can pick for your business. It means that you’ll build and enhance customer loyalty through improving customer satisfaction, by creating a community of valuable resources for your customers and continuously listening to customer feedback. The community can be a support community or a success / champion community, but it should include resources that can truly help your loyal customers.

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Marketo was able to build a community that helps users become “Superheroes”. In the community you can find articles, product documentation & on-demand training, key tips and techniques for enrichment, best practices, and sales and marketing success kits. This community has very high engagement levels, and is able to present true collaboration among over 40K Marketo users.

Any type of a support community is another vehicle to increase your customers’ loyalty. Of course you will need to provide a unique and unusual support experience including capabilities like dedicated pages and groups for customer support; Quick response time and many “How to” guides. Hopefully you’ll see results like positive feedback from your users and above average visit duration.

So is this the right strategy for you? Well, it depends… I think that the 2 main questions you’ll need to address are:

  • Can you provide content with real value to your customers for a long period of time? Something so unique and appreciated that will make them come back to your community again and again
  • Can you work in cooperation and collaboration between internal departments in a way that will genuinely put the customer first? In many cases support sites become a frustration outlet for customers and you need to be prepared and ready to try and turn frustration into loyalty. Not an easy task.

What a coincidence! I’m a thought leader too!

So if ticking all the right boxes won’t do, you need to build a cohesive social media strategy that will leverage your social presence to support the main brand objective.

A very popular strategy, that everyone seems to wants to adapt these day is “to become a thought leader”. What does it mean? Becoming an authority on relevant topics by covering trends and topics that influence the industry – information, insights, news etc. In order to become a thought leader, you will have to provide content that the customer really wants (like research and online courses) in order to lead and shape the conversation.

CMO. By Adobe is a good example. In their site they provide CMO exclusive content including a lot of research, interviews etc. , and in their about section they say: “We are the CMOs one-stop shop for digital marketing insight. Our goals are to help CMOs & marketing executives stay informed and save time by providing the best digital media marketing news from key players in the space. We want to help you find what is important and relevant in the easiest way possible. Get Informed!”

So is this the right social strategy for you? The opportunity here is very clear, but you also need to consider: do you have an understanding of what the customer wants and whether you have the right level of resources and commitment within your organization to be able to constantly create new content.

In my next article we’ll look at other social strategies – stay tuned …

Did you check all the right boxes? – It’s not enough anymore …

In many big companies the approach to social in the past was: do I have social presence in all the major social channels? And innovation here meant: do I have social presence in the latest / greatest / coolest social channels?

Well, that’s not enough anymore.

What you need to do is analyze how your social presence serves best the brand key objectives, and does it translate into valuable assets like web site visits.

In order to assess your current situation and compare yourself to others, you should look at the following dimensions:

  • Strategy – Do you have one coherent voice and a clear focus across social channels? How closely is social media tied to your brand objectives?
  • Structure – Did you define a social media eco system? What is the connection between earned, paid and owned media?
  • Management – Are you measuring your on-going social performance? Do you have any guideline and are you supervising adherence to those guidelines?
  • Community – Did you establish a community per target audience? What is you brand reach in general and within each target audience?
  • Content – Is your content valuable for your defined target audience? Did you establish the right content mix for them including a thought leadership stream / brand and product streams / management stream / etc.?
  • Performance – And finally, how are you doing: what’s the size of your community? Level of engagement? Social traffic  contribution?

Looking at all of these dimensions, give yourself a grade.
Now you’re ready to evaluate your social efforts and find the right social strategy for you – and no, ticking all the boxes won’t do…