Social media marketing for B2B brands requires creativity, scalability and buy-in across the organization. Just after the Tuesday morning keynote at SES New York, Adriel Sanchez, Senior Director of Demand Generation at SAP and Jasmine Sandler, CEO at Agent-cy, shared with attendees a framework for building a B2B social media machine in their session led by TopRank Online Marketing CEO Lee Odden.
Social media management changes constantly, Sandler reminded participants as she took the stage. The opportunity for B2B brands continues to grow; one-to-one conversations are happening across social platforms, blogs, forums, and elsewhere across the web.
Companies need to first understand the social media landscape – where are we today. where are we going, who is already here? If you’re into social media, you need to have a global perspective, Sandler said. Marketers must be thinking of social and its relationship with:
- search marketing
Your social strategy has to be integrated with search and Google has made sure of this by stressing authorship, she noted. Original content that is relevant to your brand is crucial; marketers must invest in contributors and writers who have your brand voice and story in hand. Optimized content, such as properly tagged videos or images, or optimized written blog posts, drive social signals back to search.
Building a Scalable Social Presence
The first critical step is a social audit, Sandler advises. Companies need to understand their current positioning and that of their competitors. What assets do you already have? Which properties are you employees and customers involved in?
Next, companies need to align their social team. Having a plan and resources, then knowing where to put them and measure their success is critical. Organizations should have an editorial team and Social Media Manager, who get sales involved, ensure executive buy-in, and help hold all team members in the organization accountable for their involvement in social.
Sandler recommends that marketers have a deep understanding of what they are trying to accomplish as a social brand. Engagement, data mining and market research all work together to help brands understand how effective their efforts are in servicing customers, acquiring leads, driving sales and improving targeting.
You have to be able to measure your success, she reminded attendees. Many still struggle with this aspect of B2B social, but goal-setting and analysis is crucial.
Once you have set goals and have a plan, content planning is the next big step. “No B2B brand will survive in social without a content plan,” said Sandler. Think about your content in terms of themes to plan content around interesting, engaging and fun topics. Use a calendar to track upcoming themes and specific pieces of content.
Email marketing plays an important role and goes hand-in-hand with social, Sandler noted. At all points in social engagement, you want to think about email capture and opt-in.
Companies need to look outside their own social presence to understand where they sit in the larger social ecosystem. Where do you sit amongst competitors? Who does your brand influence and who influences your brand?
The SAP Experience in Building the Social Media Machine
Adriel Sanchez heads up SAP’s Latin America demand generation in social and shared his team’s experience in building a scalable social presence across platforms.
SAP has a vibrant, active online community with great engagement, but it wasn’t always this way. Just a year ago, they had no content framework, no centralized governance, and no clear strategy on community management.
SAP first thought a lot about their objectives and what, exactly, they wanted to accomplish with their social presence. Their social objectives had to tie directly to what they wanted to accomplish as a business.
When it came time to hire someone to head up their social strategy, they looked for a journalist. Sanchez said it’s critical that organizations hire a content person, not a social person. Social tools and platforms can be learned.
The mission that informs their content and social media marketing strategies dictates that their marketers not think of social in terms of a tool that helps salespeople sell. Rather, social is meant to help customers buy. This is a critical distinction, said Sanchez.
SAP established guidelines to help ensure a good content mix without overt self-promotion. They use:
- 90% helpful content
- 10% offers
On measurement, Sanchez notes that metrics must vary by funnel stage. No one has quite figured out ROI in B2B social media yet, he noted, but marketers need to try. This doesn’t mean attaching a dollar value to a social channel. As Einstein said, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.”
A company as large as SAP needed a workable infrastructure in place in order to scale their social presence. They worked with an agency on monitoring, content, reporting and community management. Internal subject matter experts are still critical.
Social is a paradigm shift in the organization and belongs to everyone, but you need clear processes and guidelines in order to be successful, Sanchez said. Governance, transparence and processes are key.
>Once your organization has a scalable social plan in place, it’s time to listen, learn and adapt, said Sanchez.
Social monitoring and management tools will enable brands not only to see what is happening around them, but to take action in real-time. A few of the recommended tools from today’s session included:
One audience member asked a question of the panel: how can non-profits possibly keep up with the amount of work required to do social at scale, given their limited time and budget? Sanchez and Sandler pointed out that many tools have a free version or a very inexpensive monthly fee. The more expensive paid tools are fantastic, but may not make sense for non-profits. There are still solutions within their reach.
What challenges have you faced in your organization as you’ve tried to scale your social efforts? Share your tips or questions in the comments!