For B2B marketers, social media no longer necessarily just means having an up-to-date LinkedIn page. Today, savvy B2B marketers are expanding their social circles to connect with audiences where they want to engage.
Budgets are backing up that need for increased engagement: 50 percent of respondents to Chief Marketer’s recent 2019 Martech Outlook survey said they would be investing in social media management software within the next 12 months.
For Constant Contact, having a mix of social channels is important, says Hannah Budreski, vice president of marketing. “People jump from social channels—our social director calls it ‘fleeing audiences’—so we can’t be too invested in any one channel to keep them engaged.”
How people interact with the brand on social has evolved, she notes. Where in the past, conversations might have occurred directly on the social channels, now, people are instead direct messaging with questions or comments.
“We’re seeing a lot more lurkers and people searching for content,” Budreski notes. “They might not be inclined to engage publicly via social, but they might send a message via Facebook Messenger, so we’re having a conversation there. It’s just getting taken out of the public eye.”
Thoughtbot has built a social audience by sharing ideas and thought leadership both through LinkedIn and Quora, where it can target interests by topic, notes CMO Lindsey Christensen. Social content helps with lead nurturing, and can help increase engagement at live events, where someone from the company might be speaking.
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The design consultancy—which helps technology innovators and start-ups design and deploy applications—also builds social momentum with podcasts, such as “Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Robots,” which talks about the design and development of software, or “Build Phase,” a weekly discussion on iOS development.
“We interview founders and technology leaders, and talk to them about their stories, themselves, and the challenges they face,” she says. “It’s a great mechanism for nurturing our audience, particularly with people we want to reach out to—we can invite them to be on the podcast.”
B2B social engagement is a little different for Boston-based restaurant management platform Toast.
“Restauranteurs are not sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day, they’re out on the restaurant floor,” says Kelly Esten, senior director of product marketing at Toast. This means unlike many B2B pros, LinkedIn is not the natural place to find them.
“We’re reaching restauranteurs wherever they are, whether it is on Faceboook, Instagram or via text messages,” she says.
On Facebook, the company recently launched an online community, called Food for Thought. The goal is to give restaurant professionals a place to communicate with each other. While a benefit is, of course, brand building, the intent is not to promote Toast in the community. “We try and stay out of the way—it’s more about our customers,” she says.
B2B Social ROI
For Constant Contact, how the success of a campaign is gauged depends on the goal. “It depends on what we want to accomplish. We’re putting a lot of content out there, but the ROI is different than, say, with email [offering a] free trial,” Budreski says. ‘It’s more of an impression, rather than getting them to take an action right at that moment.”
Toast looks at social ROI through the lens of engagement. Existing customers are the company’s number one source of referrals, says Esten, so using social to connect with them and encourage them to talk about the brand is important.
Christensen says Thoughtbot primarily considers paid social when gauging ROI, which can be a bit more straightforward to track than organic efforts.
“Organic social is trickier,” she says. “If we can track it, great. If not, we continue to share and follow best practices because we can ‘feel’ the results, even if they’re less tangible.”
Hear more from Lindsey Christensen, Hannah Budreski and Kelly Esten at LeadsCon’s Connect to Convert 2019 in Boston, Sept. 25-27