Is Social an Effective Tool for B2B Marketers? Q&A with the CMO of Shareablee

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Social media is, perhaps surprisingly, a powerful tool for B2B marketers. Today, we’re just beginning to realize its potential – and not just LinkedIn, but also consumer-oriented social media. I reached out to Tracy David, the CMO of Shareablee Inc to learn her experiences with the medium and its impact on her employers bottom line.

Tracy David (Right) with her colleagues at Shareablee's HQ.

What are some of your data driven best practices and which mechanism with social media have you experienced benefits B2B brands?
When looking at the B2B brands that drive the highest engagement across social platforms, three key themes emerge around their content: innovation, leadership, and education.

Brands that tell their story by highlighting exciting innovation and technology, like Lockheed Martin, Informatica, Huawei and GE Technologies, have captured the most engagement among B2B companies. For example, Lockheed Martin has grown by more than 340% in Q1 2015 compared to Q1 2014, by illustrating its spirit of product innovation through the brand’s legendary Skunk Works program. Huawei’s Facebook post about CEO Ken Hu’s speech on the future of 5G captured 88,850 engaged actions on Facebook (likes, comments, shares) and ranks as one of the most engaged posts by a B2B brand in Q1 2015. On leadership, Nasdaq frequently profiles visionary leaders, especially female leaders, and offers inspirational lessons for success on its social channels. The brand has grown by a staggering 716% in Q1 2015 compared to Q1 2014, thanks to this strategy. And, Cisco grew 352% across social platforms by offering its community of engineers, through the Cisco Certification social pages, educational white papers and training videos on how to find jobs in the rapidly changing world of technology.

In Q1, the average B2B brand grew 262% in social engagement compared to Q1 2014 outpacing the average US brand, which grew by only 70%. Meanwhile, the amount of content published by B2B brands has increased by only 31% during the same period. This represents a huge opportunity for B2B marketers as it clearly shows that engagement is rapidly outpacing available content. For B2B, Instagram has seen the fastest growth at nearly 400% since 2014, however, it still represents a very small part of the overall picture– approximately 15% of B2B brands we looked at are active on Instagram.

That said, B2B brands are starting to diversify and coming around to the thinking that their ‘social customer’ is just their customer reached through social, and they are active on Instagram just as they are on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Take Pantone, one of the top social B2B brands in 2014. The brand captured 80% of its social engagement from Instagram with a strategy centered on reprogramming customer posts that highlighted inspiring and creative ways they interacted with the product.

How do you drive customer loyalty, beyond acquisition and into long term evangelic retention?
In social, there are three building blocks we look at that can help drive social success. Audience loyalty is one of them.

First, it’s important to understand who your unique engaged users are (those who share, retweet, comment, etc) on your social content. Then, it’s important to unpack how to make your engaged audiences more consistent with your brand over time. This requires an understanding of which pieces of your content, and your competitors’ content, resonates most with your audience, and which days and times of day they are most active.

Lastly, it’s important to understand who your influencers and advocates are and determine which other brands they engage with across social media. Knowing this will give you an indication of your audience’s behaviors, the kinds of content they consume, and the categories they interact with across the social web. Armed with this knowledge, you can fine tune your strategy and tailor it based on what your community wants. If you consistently offer your customers the kind of quality content they find relevant, then your fans will turn into loyal advocates.

The audiences that are engaging with your brand are at most spending about 1% of their time with you. The rest of the time they are engaging with competitive brands, other content providers, or other brands, and they may help you understand more about your customers, and how to turn those customers into advocates.

In your experience, what social media sites are best for B2B marketing?
Knowing which social media sites to consider using for B2B marketing really comes down to what your objectives are. Pantone gets most of its engagement from Instagram, but that might not be the right place for your brand. It’s critical to know who your customers are and what their objectives are on each platform. Then, it’s important to have a social strategy that doesn’t look at social platforms in a silo, but evaluates it from a cross-platform perspective.

Marketing today has become a constant battle for attention. In many ways ‘integrated marketing’– and I this case I mean in the context of social platforms–is a challenge to stitch together people’s experiences across the many digital touch points, and weave them into something fluid.

It’s why understanding how your customers behave on different channels is so important. Someone on LinkedIn might be reached effectively and very differently there, than they will on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. So it’s not only understanding the audience, but also the context.

And how does Shareablee, Inc market itself to engage prospective clients?
There is still so much confusion about how to measure social, our primary goal is to work with our industry to shed light and facilitate clearer optics and transparency around social media. Our marketing strategy is intrinsically tied to that goal. At the core of our marketing is content and we are laser focused on turning our data into insights, whether those be in the form of rankings, blog posts, infographics, or fact packs, that are easy for our clients and prospects to engage with.

Every day we analyze which pieces of content on our site are read, downloaded and shared most by our customers and we consistently tweak our content to make sure we are delivering more of the kinds of content they want to consume. Content that highlights data-driven best practices from other social brands is incredibly popular as our clients and prospects are interested in learning from the success of others and incorporating some of those insights into their strategies. Rankings have been particularly successful for us as our clients and prospects have a deep interest in understanding how their brand compares against their competitors and industry in performance. As the only true census measurement of all brand related social activity, we are best positioned to give them this kind of valuable information.

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