So with your new grasp of how digital marketing needs to encompass more than just siloed sections, you’re probably wondering just where social fits in.
You’re also probably wondering why poor social media results aren’t the end of the world, since I made it pretty clear in my previous post that social is a major way you can encourage prospects to find your business.
Let’s dive into that, shall we?
No results? Don’t panic – yet.
So I may have been a bit misleading in that the lack of results isn’t a bad thing. You do, eventually, want results.
But it’ll take time to see anything significant from social, if you ever see anything directly attributable at all.
When I say no results, I mean when you view Google Analytics, you see minimal traffic that comes to you from a social channel. Facebook, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Twitter, any of these count as social media traffic.
If you’re not currently tracking, and measuring your site traffic, where it comes from, and which sources generate the most conversions on your website, you need to start – now. To help you, download my free metrics template, linked for you here.
Many times, lack of results is actually lack of data.
If you don’t have data going back a year or more on the historical performance of all sources of traffic, it’ll be hard to know how you’re doing compared to the same time last year. Comparing month to month is acceptable, especially if you’re just kicking off a real digital marketing strategy, but sometimes there’s seasonal fluctuations that you won’t know about without historical data.
Your takeaway is that even if you’re not implementing a social or other type of marketing campaign, you should still be tracking your metrics. Set up event monitoring, goals, and other types of information gathering now, ahead of time, so you can see the impact of your efforts later on.
How social fits in to the bigger puzzle.
Let me make this as crystal clear as possible.
Social media marketing is not a stand alone endeavor.
You will not see results if all you do is implement some postings on a handful of the social media networks most recommended for B2B. It’s actually why I won’t take on clients who only want social, without blogging or some other form of content generation.
Without something that leads people back to your website (and encourages them to visit again and again), there’s little to no reason to be active on social at all.
Think about it.
Sure, you could (and should) be sharing curated content. But that shouldn’t ever be the only thing you share.
When you only share curated content, you’re losing out on the main reason to be active on social media in the first place: to get people to your website.
If someone lands on a page and only sees content from other sources, those sources are what get the traffic when they click through. It also does nothing to lift the brand recognition for the page sharing that information, since there’s little to nothing about the brand itself being shared.
You can get around this, to a certain extent, by adding your own commentary to the curated content being shared. This works well on LinkedIn, especially in the groups, because adding your own comment encourages discussion.
But alone, curated content is, at best, going to attract a lot of fans and visitors that want to see you continue to share other people’s content. Even news aggregation sites have moved towards hosting the content they steal – er, share – from other people on their own site (i.e. Buzzfeed).
On the other extreme (and the more common end of the business social media spectrum) is the companies that share nothing but their own content.
Press releases, blogs, new hires – these are all great to share mixed in with curated content. That’s ideal, actually.
But sharing nothing but your own content is detrimental, because it’s self centered and overly promotional. If you’re lucky, you’ll get that one prospect who’s the guy who always types in ALL CAPS and couldn’t figure out how to get out of Facebook and over to Google to search for you.
It’s that idea that I touched on in the last blog – just because you published something doesn’t mean you automatically deserve the attention of the audience you want to attract.
Social media fits in to what you’re doing by turning into one of many channels where you demonstrate your value to the buyer, as well as your thought leadership within your industry.
Those are super jargony phrases, so to put it plainer: social media is how you increase the reach of the personal networking you already do.
It’s the public display of what your company is.
Let’s talk metaphors.
Think of it this way. Just about all of us have encountered this guy. The guy standing on a boardwalk by the beach, yelling at the people who walk by to buy his mixtape. You walk by as fast as possible, doing everything you can to avoid eye contact, because once your eyes meet his, you’re doomed to hear his pitch and worm your way out of paying $5 for the burned CD in his hand.
On the other hand, there’s tons of musicians who offer their music for free, or for $1, on the various streaming sites out there. You can learn about them organically, through the algorithms on those sites, or by searching, or through a suggestion from a friend of a friend of a friend. These underground artists that become successful don’t shove themselves at you, and often offer some (or all) of their songs for free – letting you choose to donate if you want.
“Jen, that’s great for a musician, but I’m a business. I can’t offer my products or services for free, and no one’s hunting for the next big B2B thing on Facebook.”
Think about it another way.
Who are you more likely to stop and talk to, and remember after a trade show?
The booth where there’s a pack of sales guys, hungrily staring at the people walking by, waiting for someone to make eye contact so they can walk up and force a business card in their hand?
Or the booth with staff looking relaxed and pleasant, with information easily available, who happily spend time with you answering questions and helping you decide if they’re even a fit? They may not even give you a business card, or instead, they politely ask for yours, and whether it’s alright for them to followup with you after the show.
Chances are, it’s that second booth that you’d be much more comfortable talking to when the show is over.
Social media marketing should feel like that helpful, informative guy you were happy to meet at a trade show.
Social media should be an extension of your company culture, whether that’s a professional, formal feel, or a more casual, informal way of doing business.
Companies that do this well include Sprout Social, Hootsuite, or Buffer – all social media tools with exceptional customer service on social media, as well as information-packed blogs that are useful whether or not you’re a customer of theirs.
Companies that aren’t in the social media space that do this well include Jim Keenan, of A Sales Guy consulting – as a sales consultant, you’d expect him to know what it takes to attract and convert potential clients. Spoiler alert: he combines curated content with his own.
TreeHouse, a company that offers training for coding, web design, and more, shares a ton of various resources on their social media channels. They also retweet successes from those who tag them as a helpful resource, showing social proof that their programs work.
TopTal is a network of tech talent for helping companies scale up, and while they share more content related to themselves than curated content, they’re still a helpful resource. They also retweet and share content from their audience that mentions how helpful they were to a success, or just a win for one of their partners. Social proof can be a powerful tool!
At a certain size, businesses become enough of a brand in and of themselves that sharing nothing but their own content is acceptable – because they’re large enough that people care what they have to say. That being said, your business probably isn’t a Salesforce, Glassdoor, or Amazon Web Services size company.
If you’re not that big, you need to utilize a different strategy.
That’s where the whole concept of being helpful, friendly, and part of the larger community within your industry comes into play.
Get your entire team involved in social.
The best way to prevent the social media marketing part of your strategy from becoming a siloed endeavor is to include everyone at your company in the process.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone posts to the company accounts, or that you need to coerce everyone into starting a Twitter account.
Rather, it’s better to treat social like a company-wide effort to improve their daily workload, too.
Embrace using the folks behind the scenes as a way to generate content. Set up a web call or record a casual interview with one of your designers, coders, or developers, and let them talk you through their pet project. This is one of my favorite methods of getting content to turn into a blog without having to spend hours researching – they know all about what they specialize in, why not let them tell you about it?
Their investment in what you’ve created encourages them to take an interest in the content, and you can provide them with links to share on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter (if they’re so inclined).
Or talk to your customer service team, and find out the most common questions or complaints they receive. You can set them up with access to your preferred social media management tool, and they can start using any social media network as a first line of support for users reaching out that way.
Turn those common questions or complaints into an article or blog they can easily share with the customers they’re helping. A bonus result from doing that is anyone else who’s not a customer, searching for help with that same issue, will find your blog and appreciate the resource.
Your sales team should be heavily involved with social. More than just a way to promote your business, it allows them to research prospects and target them more effectively than through purchased lists or searching through the Inc 1000 companies. Through LinkedIn groups, they can build up knowledge of who’s active on social media, and who is likely to refer business to them.
Naturally, this all takes time – but it’s possible (and effective) if you stick with it.
The lift effect of social media (and why those “poor results” aren’t so bad):
All that activity you do with social, the curated content, your own content, the team being active and engaging with your company’s content as well as sharing it themselves – that all adds up to an interesting effect.
Namely, the more activity that your combined social media efforts get, the more website traffic you’ll start to see.
It’s an effect I see correlated with increased blogging + social, being the most pronounced with regular, consistent blogging. Without both new content being created, and an active social media presence, the lift from one or the other is minimal at best.
You might think one or the other is better – or why bother with social if you’re going to blog, since after all, that’ll give you the best results for increasing site traffic, right? This thought is especially prevalent when there’s only a dozen or so directly attributed clicks from social media, which is hardly anything when organic or direct traffic numbers in the hundreds.
When you track site traffic against social media performance, you may see trends start to arise.
This busy graph maps the effect of Twitter and LinkedIn (bar graph) against site performance (green stacked area), and the resulting clicks on social media statuses (line).
This client has had an inconsistent blog posting schedule, which has resulted in varied performance. You can see significant dips in pageviews (dark green line on top) that correspond to major holidays, but other traffic results correspond to blog posting.
Where you see the bars indicating Twitter posts begin is when I began working with the company, and when social media was incorporated into their marketing strategy.
They were posting blogs at about the same frequency before I began, but it wasn’t until social was added that they began seeing site traffic rise, and a corresponding rise in contact requests – which were, primarily, demo requests.
The graph isn’t a perfect exponential curve, but it does show growth, even with inconsistent blogging. Their site traffic increased, and their lead generation increased.
Worth noting as well is that the social media traffic, as a part of the greater whole of site traffic, is minimal. Out of thousands of visits a month, they only see a few dozen from social media.
But without social media, they weren’t seeing an increase in site traffic at all.
Food for thought.