Social media marketing forges ahead every single day, infusing relationships between B2B companies and their prospects and customers with a richness they never had before. 85% of B2B buyers believe vendors should present info via social media, so both the audience and their desire for business-related social engagement exists.
But, in order to maximize their performance, your social media marketing campaigns must be built on the cornerstone of one essential activity: market segmentation.
Segmenting your social approach and targeting your content is absolutely necessary to inspire prospects to connect with you. B2B marketers that segment their audience effectively, and use that segmentation to drive their social outreach, will have no problem creating authentic interactions, expanding lead generation efforts, and ultimately building a community of customers who raise both your revenues and your brand’s marketplace profile.
Here’s how a B2B company can go about segmenting its social media messaging:
1. Identify key aspects of buyers
You can create your market segments based on any number of characteristics, but there are some key features you should focus on. These are comprised of business demographics or “firmographics” such as company size, geographic location, job titles of contact persons, and seniority, as well as features such as customer attitudes, type of end user, and buying behavior.
Here’s how you can go about identifying distinct segments of your market to be served by tailored social media marketing:
- Revisit your ideal customer profiles. Make sure you’re keeping track of key firmographics of both current and ideal future customers. Analyze both data sets, and through consultation with marketing staff and your sales team, refine your ideal customer profiles, ensuring that they highlight specific corporate characteristics of the kind of prospects you want as buyers.
- Refine your buyer personas. You know the hard facts, and now it’s time to take stock of the “softer,” more qualitative aspects of your buyers. Perhaps you already have a sense of what will garner “Likes” for your Facebook posts, Retweets and replies to Tweets, and in-depth comments on your LinkedIn posts. But it’s always good to dig a little deeper and think of more qualities that motivate the humans on the other side of the screen to make buying decisions. For example:
- Do they like an informal tone or a more buttoned-up approach?
- What is the work-life balance for someone with your point person’s job description?
- What perceptions and beliefs do buyers hold in your industry?
- How do the individuals involved in buying consume and share industry-relevant content via social networks and their own web presence?
Barbra Gago, writing for the Content Marketing Institute, provides a useful buyer persona template for B2B marketers. Make sure your buyer personas are up to date with the deepest insights you can glean from sales reps and current customer relationships.
- Look into other standard B2B market segmentation methods. Many B2B firms use Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes to create segments of business customers by products and service type. If you choose to implement it, segmentation by SIC codes will conform your data to industry standard codes, which is useful for statistical analysis and comparison with other segmentations.
After refining your buyer insights from a variety of sources, you can informally meet with your marketing team to define key segments that your social media marketing will focus on targeting. Those segments can, and should, mix and match insights to create a realistic picture of the perfect buyer—and the more detailed segments are, the better your social messages can target fitting prospects on social channels.
If you’re after an even more detailed and accurate method for defining your segments, you might hire a data mining firm to perform a cluster analysis, a statistical evaluation of your buyer insights that makes sure your segments are both internally consistent and completely distinct from all others.
Once segments are defined, it’s time to start designing streams of content to resonate powerfully with each.
2. Create content around newly-defined targets
Each of your market segments should engage with your company in a social media experience that’s fully unique and relevant to them. As an example, Skytap, a provider of cloud automation services, saw an 124% increase in leads from all channels as a result of increased targeting based on detailed personas.
The power of targeting is not to be underestimated. There are a few steps involved in ensuring your social content hits all the right marks for each segment:
- Develop an editorial calendar that meets the needs of each segment. Brainstorm pieces of content with your marketing staff and content writers, making sure that they speak to prospect slated to each segment. Then, put everything on an editorial calendar that’s accessible by the right team members to keep all content production on schedule.
- In planning social posts, consider both corporate attributes and human psychographics. The power of aggregate wisdom gained from your customer profiles and buyer personas comes into play here. Your social messaging should take into account things such as business buying cycles, company size and the personality, pain points and desires of the real people you’re reaching through your social profiles.
- Ensure transparency and accessibility in all targeted social media streams. Whether your sales team exists entirely in a single location or is spread throughout the world, it’s essential to have a platform where sales reps can understand how each account is tied to a particular market segment and its social marketing stream. This is what Sociomantic, a premier provider of programmatic advertising display solutions, did to great effect, streamlining sales processes across their multinational presence.
- Assign roles and permissions to key staff. Make sure your sales reps are assigned to particular social content streams and have permission to update and edit content only for their assigned campaigns or segments. Sociomantic achieved this through Oktopost, giving team members clear direction on roles and responsibilities and eliminating content targeting mishaps.
If you publish your social messages with this approach, you’ll notice a difference in how prospects interact with you: they’ll be more invested in each engagement and enter your sales funnel faster and in greater numbers, just because you took the time to meet them where they are.
3. Track your social approach and refine for greater ROI
The last step is a continually tracking your segmented social messaging to make sure it’s meeting your goals. With the tracking capabilities of your social media management platform, you’ll be able to see how well your planned social content production is engaging your segment and earning you greater market share.
Here are a few key points in determining ROI from segmented social:
- Track important KPIs by campaign. For each segment, you’ll want to track how well your social media is improving campaign performance along key KPIs. Oktopost features detailed analytics reporting and campaign tags that let you measure performance over time for specified campaigns, in areas such as engagements, conversion rates, and social traffic. Sociomantic used this capability to review campaign performance on a yearly basis, obtaining useful information on how to move forward to achieve company goals.
- Revisit tactics and market segments as necessary. You might uncover insights that lead you to refine your segments. But knowing what needs adjustment is a good thing. Herein lies the simple beauty of analytics: if a particular social marketing tactic is working well, keep using it. If it’s falling short of expectations, tweak the tactic to better target your segment, or take a look at the segment itself to see if you’re properly getting the attention of those prospects in the first place.
Segmenting your social media messaging is worth the effort it takes. The rewards? Increased lead generation, more stable lead engagement, a better-informed sales team, and greater marketing ROI and revenues. In short, market segmentation is an important part of turning unknown social prospects into well-known, loyal customers.
Cover image via @r. nial bradshaw