Businesses of all sizes are taking advantage of social media marketing to connect with prospects, engage with clients, and share informational content. In fact, according to this B2B study, 93% of B2B marketers participate in social media marketing.
But often, companies are left with the question “Does it work?” Are their social media efforts really targeting the right people and properly representing the brand? The answer: they certainly can be. According to a recent study by Nielsen, “Approximately 46% of online users count on social media when making a purchase decision.” This is fantastic news for marketers who are looking to attract and convert leads via social media. But just because social media can work, doesn't mean that it is working. So how do you know?
Making social media marketing work for your B2B brand requires a specific strategy and the ability to measure how well it is succeeding in the context of your overall marketing plan. Scheduling posts haphazardly and sharing inconsistent or uninteresting information will net few results. According to MDG Advertising, 64% of marketers are integrating social media into their marketing plans. However, even the most carefully thought out, comprehensive plan can go awry. The only way to know is to measure your progress and analyze results. As we like to say here at Oktopost: “you can't improve what you can't measure.”
Here are four steps to track, measure and assess your social media marketing efforts – and leverage that information to work to your advantage.
#1: Measure against defined goals
Before you can determine how successful your social media program is – you need to define and understand the objectives it is trying to reach in the first place. Are you looking to boost lead generation, increase website traffic, engage with current clients, or promote brand recognition? For 80% of marketers, their biggest social media goal is increasing traffic, but this may not necessarily be your top priority. In fact, your goals don’t necessarily have to be related to increasing sales. Computer manufacturer Lenovo was able to achieve a 20% reduction in call center activity by encouraging customers to seek answers on their social media accounts and website.
Write down your goals and share them with your entire marketing team. It's critical during this meeting to make certain each team member understands and agrees with the goals. Not only should your social media marketing team buy-in to these goals, your entire marketing organization should see the benefit, realizing these goals will have on the overall marketing plan. It serves no purpose if everyone is on different pages.
#2: Choose relevant, measurable metrics
Once you have defined your company's B2B social media marketing goals, determine what metrics you will use to measure whether you are hitting those goals. In a recent poll CMOs were asked about the metrics they use to measure social media marketing activities: 68% chose site traffic, 66% selected conversion rates and 63% said the number of fans or members.
Getting specific about metrics is important. Use numbers and percentages to your advantage when setting up success points and key performance indicators for your social media marketing strategy. Instead of saying you'd like more sales, set the task of increasing social media lead conversions by 15%. Rather than wishing you had more engagement on Facebook, aim to achieve a 30% increase in comments per post.
Using a social media management tool that measures the different metrics that are important to you is vital here. Such tools are efficient and provide enormous time savings while also producing beneficial and relevant information about ROI. See my blog post What Social Media KPIs You Need to be Tracking.
#3: Keep a keen eye on costs
One of the most attractive facets of social media marketing is its low cost. The price to post or connect with other site users is practically zero – but that doesn't mean it's completely free. As low as it seems, the cost of employee time, software costs, design costs, advertising and any other costs associated all add up to affect your social media ROI.
According to a survey, 41% of companies and agencies have no idea about social media’s financial impact. No one's time should be considered free. Without a complete view of how much your social media is costing, you won't be able to have an accurate idea of how much is spent versus how much social media marketing brings in. Make sure your results justify the investment.
#4: Make the Big Kahunas aware of the results
In any marketing initiative, it’s important to get C-level buy in. In the relatively new avenue of social media marketing, there may be at least one exec who is skeptical about the value of social media in general and strongly advocates for staying the course with more traditional marketing initiatives. It's marketing's job to ensure that the business leaders understand why social media is important to the bottom line and realizes real, meaningful results. Create an easy-to-read report outlining the overall goals with the planned actions and investments. Including multiple charts and graphics to communicate data will help readers visualize the results of your work. While you may want to design your own report, social media management tools offer comprehensive reporting capabilities that can streamline this process for your team.
Professional marketers understand the potential of connecting with leads on social media platforms, and how doing so successfully serves to increase the bottom line. Even if you design the most outrageously brilliant social media campaign ever, know that it can always be improved. And, careful analysis of the results will show you how.
Proving that your time and money was spent well is important, but it’s even more important to become a marketer armed with insights that you can use to continually tweak your social media strategy
Do you measure your B2B social media efforts? What goals and metrics do you use to measure success?