Brain Vibe

marketing muses to stay engaged

B2B Marketing Dilemma – It’s My Social Media Account!

Back in December I read an article regarding an employee of a British company that built up quite a following to promote his employer and then left.  The company sued, saying the account was their along with all the followers.  “Experts: Twitter account case may blaze new trails in social media law” CNN December 27, 2011

Personally, I’ve tried hard to keep my online presence separate from my employer (Trillium Software a Division of Harte-Hanks).  But, as we ramp up social media activity, there is pressure to blog, join LinkeIn discussions, tweet, and generally use our personal social media accounts to help promote the company.  The irony is that as the head of product marketing and programs it is my team, and yes me, that is encouraging this.  However, I’m a bit hesitant, and here is why.

My social media marketing manager is doing a lot of the promotion and monitoring for our campaign and social media bureau.  He uses his LinkedIn account primarily.  It brings up the challenge of separating personal goals and employer goals.  Remembering the article above, I suggested he create work identities that are specific to Trillium Software to avoid conflicts of interest and to help him maintain his personal brand.  Sounds easy enough.

Not so fast.

Twitter is fairly simple.  LinkedIn poses issues.  It seems he tried to set up a professional profile on LinkedIn and they shut it down.  I understand this reasoning and actually agree with it.  As I move around LinkedIn I am those truly trying to network have much more credibility in my mind than those just trying to sell me something.  Also, LinkedIn wants to ensure that they remain a network, not a marketing platform.  Their value is business relationships for jobs, career growth, and networking.  Promotion is secondary, even if lucrative.

  • So, what is a social media company representative to do?
  • Where do intellectual property right begin and end?
  • When will social media account management catch up with employer non-compete and IP trends?

There is a real disincentive to network as part of your job with the threat of legal action when you separate from your employer.  Even if the separation is amicable, why would an employee want to give up his/her account where they have built relationships and a network.  The lines are very blurred between personal and professional and right now, personal seems to be at a distinct dissadvantage.

Any suggestions on what you have done?

Filed under: b2b, personal brand, social media, social media marketing, , ,

Social Media Insight to Optimize Paid Search and Display

What if you could target your search engine marketing (SEM) efforts in paid search and display the way you target your direct marketing efforts?  Analysis of your b2b social media networks may give you that edge.

In my quest to get more out of social media than just followers and a soapbox platform, I am looking at what content my network follows, reads, and shares more closely.  In my last post I talked about the analysis of hashtags in tweets, and how that could help me better understand the personas of my network.

Now I am looking at what else I can gather and what I could do with this.  In particular, I am interested in the content being shared: blogs, web pages, video, etc.  The titles tags, description meta tags, and urls all have keywords that tell a lot about interest areas and build a richer persona.  This step got me thinking, could I tighten alignment to my network by optimizing…?

  • My paid search to reflect keyword tendencies in shared content
  • My display placement based on sites aligned to my market offers
  • The SEO on my own website

Right now, SEM allows anonymity which creates challenges when you want to focus digital marketing efforts on existing customers or known prospects.  My paid search and media plans look at broad behavior, demographics, and firmographics but specifics on their web patters at the individual level is sketchy.  However, if I align my followers to my customer list and profile their specific personas compared to the broader market, I get much closer to a targeted campaign.  This makes my digital efforts more closely resemble my direct marketing efforts – smaller targets, highly relevant content shared, higher conversion.

Another reason to think about  b2b social media beyond influence marketing and make it work to drive revenue and customer relationships.

Filed under: b2b, blogging, customer relationship, social media marketing, Web Analytics, , , ,

More to Social Media than Influence?

How much conversation is really happening in B2B social media?  Almost every company is using it as a direct marketing vehicle to push white papers, events, and opinion.  There is evidence of readership in the tracking of views and clicks.  However, retweets, comments, or forwarding is another story.  There seems to be a select few that engage in this manner.  I have to wonder if social media and the measurement of influence really makes sense for B2B.  Or, is it just that B2B uses it wrong?

For the sake of argument, I am not including a company’s internal customer portal that is like a private social network and really just an updated user forum.  I am talking about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.  These are the properties that are measurable for an overall perspective of market impact and not just customer experience.  Take Klout, Social Mention, Radian6, and the various Twitter tools, and it is all about who influences who and the sentiment buzz.  Great for PR, not so great when you have to measure social media to revenue.

I did an analysis of my immediate Twitter network with the help of my engineering husband.  I wanted to see engagement level and topics of interest and determine the influence factor of my friends.

First, my network is divided between marketers interested in B2B social media (no surprise there) and those that are focused on data management (where I spend my marketing time).  I have a rarely even spit between these groups.

  • Between the two groups, my data management connections are most prolific in posting, by 8:1.5.  Makes sense since this group consists of consultants, companies, and industry analysts/media.
  • The marketing connections appear to retweet more frequently by profile.  Although retweets in general are low and infrequent.
  • Hashtag analysis showed a higher tweet count related to events in data management, where marketing was more interested in general marketing terms such as social media and marketing.
  • Replies account for about 1/3 of my network activity and mostly in my data management group.

So what?  Well, as a marketer, I already knew who my influencers were without having to go do Twitter analysis or run a social media report. I also had a pretty good idea without the report that they gravitate and communicate highly at events – that is where they spend most of their time.

The interesting thing was for the marketing group this was more organically grown and appears to be made up of those that lurk over engage.  However, this doesn’t bother me and probably wouldn’t if I was marketing to this group.  What I do know about them is what topics interest them based on their hashtag use.  I also can watch the growth of my following to see if what I say socially matters to the market.  I don’t expect advocacy as they aren’t inclined to do that anyway.  So, for a circle in my social media world that is made up of “groupies”, influence matters little to me.

What do I care about?  Who else do marketers listen to and what is being said.  I can make some guesses at a high level – there are the key social media gurus out there that we all listen to.  There are also ways to understand my followers’ network and analyze this.

In the end, as a B2B marketer wanting to connect to my customers, what my followers follow and potentially share, tells me more about how to engage with them than the influence and sentiment analysis.

Filed under: b2b, social media, social media marketing, , ,

Understanding the Real Social Media Persona in B2B

Buyer Persona and ProcessWhat do you really know about your social media followers, friends, and network?

Interestingly, most marketers only have a high level understanding of the real persona those connected to them through social media.  Relegated to a PR mesurement, anonymity is the norm; influence (Klout) and perception are the KPIs.  And, to be honest, I wonder if a high level understanding of the social media persona is really understood – let alone connected to a B2B marketers prime target audience.

If you are like many, the most you get to show for your social media effort is a warm and fuzzy around your brand.  To be honest, the B2B CEO doesn’t care about overall brand perception in the market, he or she cares about the targeted set of buyers that connect with your value proposition.  If that is 10% of the market, then you better have 8% – 10% market share, 80% footprint with the customer, and a net promotor score of highly likely with over 60% of your customer base.  That is the goal in the mind of the B2B CEO, realistic or not.  At a minimum, it is what resonates and is understandable in the corner office.

For B2B marketing, brand awareness and perception just isn’t good enough.  On top of that, those metrics you track in social media don’t connect to the demand creation activities.  Corporate communications and demand creation remain silos within the marketing organization as they always have.  ROI of corporate communications remains a perceived high cost factor in the marketing budget with little connection to revenue generation, except anecdotally.

The reality is that the majority of your followers, friends, and network overall are silent.  Any social media measurement means nothing when assessing your influence on your marketing buying processes.  Structured around influence and reach, the only thing today’s current measurements really tell you are who can you leverage to SHOUT OUT your message?  The only ones that care about this are your PR agency as this is what they are paid to do.  Your marketing department is responsible for generating revenue directly and indirectly.

It is time we get better at understanding of the Social Media Buyer Persona of our customers, not the Shouters.  The reality is that many times in B2B the social media influencers are the vendors and consultants, not the buyers.  If we really want to know our buyers we need to understand what they read, what they share, and what they do to step into engagement.  It is more than the tag on the link to the blog or marketing campaign landing page.  We need to extend beyond our controlled digital environment and link to the digital environment that our customers interact with to understand.  We aren’t there yet.

The buying process is currently beyond what we track today.  It is time to think about how to connect the anonymous social media and digital environment to our B2B marketing waterfall.

Filed under: b2b, crm, customer relationship, Decision Cycle, social media, social media marketing, Web Analytics, , , ,

Does Data Quality Matter in Social Media?

Data driven marketing is reliant on high quality data, but with the introduction of social media and its pervasiveness in the marketing tool kit, it is easier to engage with your market without having to have correct emails, addresses, or profiles. It begs the question, does data quality matter anymore for marketing in a Web 2.0 world?

I think the answer is, “Yes, but…”

Direct marketing and bottom of the funnel mindset is what most B2B marketers work in as they have been more closely ties to sales goals.  Where sales won’t accept a lead without knowing who it is and the appropriate contact information at a minimum, it has to be collected at every opportunity.  Without this information, marketing also doesn’t have an adequate single view of the customer to profile and segment reliably.  In this context, data quality is critical as it determines if a lead is passed, how to pass the lead, and align the lead to existing opportunities or account profiles.  Name, company, location, phone, and email are the cornerstone to this.

Social media is not outreach, it is in-reach.  It isn’t lead generation, it is relationship generation.  You don’t collect details on your connections and contacts.  You cultivate engagement and conversation.  Without the need to maintain a list of connections in your CRM and the ability to leverage social media organizers like HootSuite to communicate to your community, contact information is somewhat irrelevant.

So, where is data quality necessary?  Having a single customer view that is inclusive of social media profiles and engagement. At some point, us B2B marketers do need to move relationships out of the 2.0 world and into face to face engagements, particularly for complex sales.  At this transition point, the social media profile becomes an invaluable part of the customer view.  Just as CRM captures order transactions, direct marketing interactions, and sale interactions, it also needs to show social media interactions.  Why? The social media interaction is probably more telling of your relationship with your customers than traditional interactions.

The catch? Linking a limited profile from LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook to a standard contact profile in CRM can be problematic.  Your CRM system may not have the ability or capability enabled to link the 2.0 world with your customer data. You may not have a social media platform that is capturing what is needed to integrate your customer data between online and CRM.  Or, it does, but integration needs to be established.  Those are just a few examples.

Ultimately, data quality will matter for social media as B2B marketers mature in their use and linkage of 2.0 activities to best practices for lead creation, nurture, and pipeline generation.  We live for now in customer relationship silos, but the real advantage and benefit of social media to show ROI for marketing will be improved integration and profile management across the entire relationship.  As soon as integration is introduced, just as in the past, data quality plays a critical role.

Filed under: b2b, CMO seat, crm, data quality, marketing technology, social media, , ,

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