After reading my last two blog posts, you have a better appreciation for what social media marketing, combined with effective content marketing, can really do for your business.
At least, I hope you do.
You may be committed to social media marketing now, and willing to be patient in the face of poor performance (on the surface), but what if the worst happens?
What if it just plain sucks?
What if your business just doesn’t do all that well on social media?
Let’s talk about what poor results really look like in the context of B2B marketing, and what you can do about them – or if you should do anything at all.
Your results may not be as bad as you think:
Understanding what “bad” results look like in the context of B2B marketing means having some data to compare your performance against.
The use of a tool such as Audiense can let you know how you’re doing against similar accounts.
Alternatively, you can use a premium tool such as SEM Rush to see where your competitors are getting their site traffic. It may be that you’re not doing as poorly as you think – by comparison, you may even be excelling!
You can, and should, also scope out your competition or complementary businesses to see what they’re doing, as well as how well they’re doing it. See how often they post, how many likes they get, comments, etc.
You won’t be able to easily tell how many clicks they’re getting from specific posts, nor will you know how many prospects they’re really getting from their social media efforts. That’s alright – you’ll still be able to get a general idea of what they’re doing and how well it’s working for them.
Once you’ve scoped out your competition, look at your own performance again.
After only a month of activity, you likely won’t see much in the way of immediate results – that’s entirely normal. Like I said in the last post, if you’re not already tracking the key metrics of your website and online appearance, you need to start. You won’t have context for your own site and your own efforts without a baseline of what your site looked like before you started.
What do bad results really look like?
There’s small results, and there’s big results, and there’s no results.
There’s also bad results, which may not actually be as straightforward as you think.
We’ll start with one of the most obvious “bad” results: no results at all. You get no clicks to your site, no new prospects, and you may as well be talking to yourself on social media for all the interaction you get.
That is a bad result for very clear reasons: you’re not getting anything at all, at least it doesn’t seem like it. We’ll explore that again later on in this article – as I keep saying, lack of clearly attributed results from social doesn’t mean that it’s not working at all.
Big results – as in, lots of clicks, interactions, or shares – can be almost as bad, if not worse, than no results at all. This is because if you go from zero to 100, you may not have the bandwidth within your company to cope with dozens of leads and properly qualify them. That’s a happy problem to have, to be honest, but more often than things going so well that you can’t keep up, big results are for another reason.
You get big results because you’ve appealed to a whole bunch of the wrong people, who are, naturally, always much easier to attract and connect with than the prospects you actually want. When you see your social media performance metrics all jump, significantly, it’s time to take a look at what’s really happening. If it seems too good to be true…it probably is.
Then, there’s the much more common small results. Small results are actually my favorite results, because they’re far more likely to be genuine. Small results can also be easier to map to specific activities, if you’ve been careful to document them and use URL shorteners.
Small results can still be bad results, however. If you’ve spent money on advertising, or recently initiated a large push in marketing effort, then getting minimal results in return might be a pretty bad sign. If you’re offering something that should appeal to a large number of people or a large number of companies, getting only a blip on the radar is definitely a bad thing.
Bad results, then, useful reference are all about context.
How do you know if your results are bad, or good?
If any result could be seen as good or bad, depending on the context, how do you understand what the context even is?
Knowing what you’re doing is, naturally, an important part of this. You need to be aware of anything being published on behalf of your company – which is why if you utilize a social media marketing manager, they’re probably such sticklers about scheduling content. For the sake of knowing the impact of what you do, you’ll need to be as strict as possible about using the scheduling tool you’ve selected for managing all the social media accounts.
The reason for this is twofold: there’s probably a built-in reporting tool that you’ll want/need to use, and to ensure that there’s no overlapping posts or duplicated content.
It’s the reporting tool (and historical data) that’ll matter when it comes to context: if you see your socially referred traffic trending upwards, you’ll want to take a look at what you’ve been posting lately. How well did the posts during the upward trending time period do? Did they seem to get more engagement – or none at all? Did you post more about a specific topic, or share images, or change the time of day that you usually post?
If you didn’t change anything, look again. Something different happened.
The only thing you might be able to do at this point in time, without knowing more about what caused the change, is to simply note that a change happened.
It’s when you look back at your efforts after multiple months, or for the entire year, that you might finally see what caused the change in performance. Or, you may see that the shift was the beginning of an average fluctuation in performance – completely normal.
buy Keppra online Tracking your performance over time is essential to understanding what’s happening with your social media (and overall) marketing efforts.
A lack of results doesn’t mean that you’re seeing no results at all.
When you’re seeing no directly attributed traffic as a result of social media, or no likes, no shares, no comments on any of your posts, that doesn’t mean that there are no results from your efforts at all.
In B2B in particular, since no one is really that excited about that realm, it’s significantly less common for people to happily and publicly engage with the content that businesses or their employees share.
Plenty of folks do their research online, especially for new vendors, but even if they do check out their potential vendors or partners on various social media networks, they’re unlikely to interact.
Part of this may be because if they do interact, it “shows their hand” – if they like a post or shared content on the company’s page, then (theoretically), the salespeople know that they’re interested. They may worry, as many people do, that the company will then click through to their personal profile and peruse it for marketing data.
Additionally, your results might be hidden underneath a few layers. Knowing what to look for, as well as viewing your data in multiple ways, is essential to actually understanding what’s happening with your marketing efforts.
Real life example:
This is a real example from one of my clients as we experimented with post frequency and various channels.
This graph takes a second to understand.
The yellow/orange areas are the combined reach of their Facebook and LinkedIn posts – I don’t add Twitter reach to this calculation, as most tools calculate this roughly based on your follower count, and add that to whoever retweets or interacts with your post. Not every one of your followers sees every one of your posts, so the measurement is fairly inaccurate. LinkedIn and Facebook should be taken only as generalities, but they count each impression based on how many timelines/newsfeeds your post shows up on, making them a bit more accurate.
Anyway, yellow areas = reach.
The green bars are all types of interactions or clicks with the shared content.
The blue lines are graphed as a stack (like the stacked yellow area) to show how many posts were shared across all channels.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. We were testing frequency, as well as specific networks, and how that impacted the goals set for their website.
Those goals were increased site traffic, from organic/paid search, and most importantly, more leads converted. I didn’t plot out the organic/paid search or conversions to this particular graph (it gets too busy), but if you look at the simplest measure of their progress towards the KPI of increased site traffic…
That red line is pageviews, while the black line is unique visitors.
Slightly decreased posting frequency, if anything, appeared to have a positive impact on total reach, as well as a correlated site traffic spike.
What gets more interesting is when you compare overall site traffic performance of the same time period, combined with those oh-so-important conversions (the blue bar):
I removed the data tags on this particular graph for the sake of anonymity for the client, but the orange area is paid search, the green is their increasing organic search.
The blue line is pageviews again, as some context – the spike in pageviews happening the week before their paid search spike indicates they had far more repeat visitors the week before their paid search saw increased results.
As social media interactions and direct clicks from social decreased, the site traffic as a result of paid and organic search went up.
They also saw conversions climbing back up – they were seeing a strong increase in awareness stage buyers, and wanted more consideration/decision stage buyers converting on their site. Adapting their marketing strategy accomplished this, but did result in fewer overall conversions.
Two graphs, and a lot of possible conclusions to draw!
This isn’t the end of their experiment, but it seems to clearly indicate that targeted posts, shared less often, have a distinctly positive impact on their desired sources of site traffic – even if those posts get little to no direct interaction.
Social media marketing, especially for B2B, is seldom as straightforward as you might think.
Many of the ways that social media becomes extremely helpful is as an aid for research, particularly for the sales team.
Looking at the bigger impact of your posts is far more important than the vanity metrics of follower counts, likes, or shares on a particular post.
Think about it this way: would you rather have dozens, or hundreds, of likes per post – or would you rather see conversions climbing?
Above all, this post should highlight the immense importance of collecting and monitoring data.
Without data, you wouldn’t have the information you need to draw the types of conclusions I was able to for the client in the example above.