Recently, Ian Michiels of Gleanster presented Quantifying the Value of Social Media Engagement in B2B Marketing, a webinar in which he discussed social media and B2B marketing.
According to Gleanster reports, 52% of Top Performers have used social media in marketing campaigns, compared to 18% of Everyone Else. However, Top Performers also say measuring the return on investment is their number one challenge with social media.
Before you dig into how to measure social media, Michiels advises, there are three big questions to ask.
- Should we engage in social media?
- Where should we engage? – where are we going to see the biggest bang for our buck?
- How should we engage?
Should we engage in social media?
Social media has changed buying behavior by changing the ways that people interact and influence one another; social sites have democratized information. In the past, B2B marketing was a 1-to-many broadcast conversation between a seller and multiple potential customers (think trade magazine advertising and direct mail).That’s changed; buyers now use social media to get information from peers, customers, competitors, and anyone else who might have an opinion.
Are people talking about any of the following on social networks?
- Your company
- Your industry
- Problems your product addresses
- Your products
If so, you should be there. Your competitors probably are.
Where should we engage?
According to Gleanster research, LinkedIn is the number one social media site where Top Performers engage. Sharing links within email, on websites and in blogs is the second most popular place.Data from eMarketer.com shows that LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogging are the social tools most successful for lead generation for B2B marketers.
Don’t neglect to blog. It’s your best opportunity to share new content and become a thought leader. Blog entries also create content that can be shared on social media.
How should we engage?
The 2 Cs of B2B social media marketing are content and conversation. In order to create measurable ROI, you need both.
Don’t use social media to push sales information; use it instead to become a trusted advisor and source of valuable information. Your goal is to get in front of people and educate them. Social media isn’t a sales channel itself, but supports other channels used for selling.
If you have good content, people will share it. Make it as easy as possible by using Share This links in email, on landing pages, and on your website, and cross-link shareable content. Sheer numbers don’t make a viable metric; identify active influencers and look for the channels they use. For the B2B marketer, five advocates are better than a million followers. Consider using marketing automation to set up dedicated campaigns for influencers who share your content.
How do we measure it?
It’s difficult to link the value of social media to return on investment, because so many variables are involved in a complex B2B sale.
Michiels advises weighing metrics based on the company culture and strategic imperatives, such as brand exposure. You can’t measure social media with a single metric; Michiels advises four areas to benchmark as a beginning:
- Distribution. Look at how many and which channels you’re using, and measure followers, fans, and mentions.
- Interaction. Count forwards, shares, and comments, and measure sentiment,
- Influence. Look at your reach and credibility, and your Net Promoter score.
- Action. Track how many leads, conversions and sales came from social media, or appear to be influenced by it.
Michiels also advocates a sophisticated “Mean Performance Media Score” that he uses to track the aggregate growth on social media, depending on what matters most to a particular organization. Regardless of the sophistication of your tool, taking multiple measurements allows you to benchmark your activity and identify what’s most important to your organization, giving tangible metrics for social media.
Looking for tools to help measure your social media efforts? Our Twitter Prospector allows you to identify relevant conversations and track your overall effectiveness. Contact our sales team to learn more.