This is part two of a two-part blog post - Recapping the Business.com and BtoB Webinar, 'Finding B2B Marketing Success Integrating Social Media and Search'
As promised, we'll address many of the additional questions asked during Thursday's webinar that we were unable to answer during the Q&A.
In reviewing the questions, we evidenced a common desire among marketers to understand more clearly how they can measure social media and better integrate it with their search marketing efforts, a trend supported by the responses of more than 450 marketers in our recent co-sponsored survey.
In fact, our survey revealed more than half of B2B marketers currently do not use a social media monitoring tool to measure their social media efforts, even though three-quarters of marketers are currently using social media to enhance their search marketing efforts.
It's clear marketers understand that (1) social media is an important part of an online marketing program and (2) that social media can be used to enhance search marketing efforts. However, when it comes to truly executing on the measurement of efforts, many marketers are unclear how to proceed. Our in-webinar poll reaffirmed this assumption in showing that 41% of marketers are currently not measuring their social media efforts; only 27% are using a social media monitoring tool.
Many attendees asked us similar questions surrounding the measurement of social media and the integration of social with search; to better educate our attendees and B2B online marketers, check back in the coming weeks for our upcoming solution guide detailing the top social media monitoring tools available for B2B marketers.
In the interim, we've addressed some of the main questions asked during the webinar. If you have additional questions on this webinar, feel free to contact us directly or comment on this blog post.
Q: How did you define/determine 'The Best' and 'The Rest'?
A: The two groups, 'The Best' and 'The Rest' were a result of respondent segmentation on this within the Business.com and BtoB Survey: "What has been the overall impact of social media channels on the search performance of your business website(s)?"
Respondents who answered as having a positive impact (either 'very positive' or 'positive') were grouped into the segment 'The Best' (n = 205). Respondents answering anything other than these two choices (neutral, negative, very negative or don't know) were grouped into 'The Rest' (n = 259). Data was then rerun for each segment and statistical significance was analyzed.
Q: For the BtoB/Business.com Survey, you said that the survey consisted of 464 people. Was that a random sample? How did you find the participants?
A: Participants were recruited through multiple BtoB Online E-mails that went out from July 1 -- 16. Recipients were asked to complete the survey and were provided with an incentive to be entered into a raffle to win an iPad.
Q: Also for the BtoB/Business.com survey, what types of businesses participated and what industries were represented?
A: Respondents were primarily B2B decision-makers in an executive or managerial role that were overseeing or managing directly both paid search and social media marketing. Responses on key variables were not significantly different between B2B and B2C respondents so that data was pooled for analysis purposes. Although there were some specialty marketers, many (33%) were general B2B marketers and had cross-channel roles and responsibilities. Most companies had fewer than 250 employees (59%) and were from a variety of industries, including high/tech, advertising and media.
Q: Must you post on multiple social sites, or is it beneficial to focus on Facebook and Twitter? Is it necessary to also go to Digg and others? Or should you stick to one venue?
A: Again, it all depends on what your overall goals are for your social media efforts -- let your objectives determine the appropriate social media channels. We found within the study that The Best marketers were using, on average, more social media channels than the rest, so definitely don't be afraid to usemore than one social media channel and continue to try out and test new channels that might fit with your overall goals.
Q: What is another option besides CTR that will help track views/sales?
A: Some social media monitoring tools like Radian6 or Viralheat are CRM compatible and will allow you to link social media activity to clients and prospects, better allowing you to capture the influence of your social media programs. The majority of CRMs (like Salesforce.com) will allow you to then pull reporting that can show activity impact among these contacts and revenue generation.
Q: In today's economy, how can a company approach the resource issue of social media ($ or people) within the confines of existing resources... without more budget or staff (or agency expense)?
A: A few suggestions for increasing your social media footprint without increasing resource allocation are:
- Will work for free -- Check out your local community college or university to recruit interns to come on board at no cost to you in exchange for class credits.
- Clearly define your social media goals -- Companies who set up Twitter and Facebook accounts because they feel like it's a "must" can easily waste valuable time and resources. Consider your social media efforts as an extension of your overarching online marketing goals to clearly understand which social media accounts are the most right for you.
- Get other marketers on board -- Now that you know what you want to accomplish with social media, let other team members know how you can use social media to assist with their marketing programs.
- Establish KPIs for your efforts -- Work with your colleagues to establish measurable KPIs for your social media programs.
- Set up a free social media monitoring tool -- There are many free and easy-to-use social media monitoring tools that take minutes to set up like SocialMention or Google Alerts to help you measure the success of your social media efforts. They are great resources for monitoring all the major social media channels for conversations and mentions about your brand, product or a competitor's product.
- You have a social media army -- use it! -- We hear you on the resource front -- realistically, many companies are still lacking in a dedicated social media manager.
One way to lessen the load (or reallocate, in a way) is to educate all employees on your social media efforts and encourage them to participate. Train sales to share the latest press releases, news and product updates across their social networks; show them how to monitor the major social media channels for potential customers looking for your product or service. Let engineering or product departments serve as the 'field experts' for any feature and functionality conversations or questions raised in online communities and forums where they're most likely already participating. You'll quickly find you're able to make a bigger impact with less stress on your end. It make take some up-front work to establish company 'best practices' for social media use and train employees, but the investment will pay off.
Q: How can I train for myself for social media without paying big bucks?
A: Start by using social media to find what you're looking for! Webinars are great (and usually free) educational tools. I'd also recommend doing a quick search in YouTube to see if anyone has set up an instructional video you can watch.
Some channels and monitoring tools also offer free demonstrations and information on their Web sites for getting started, so make sure to look there; finally, consider asking around in community forums to see if anyone has additional advice for the best ways to get started, given what you're looking for.
Q: I have heard that Facebook may not be as key a component of social media for B2B organizations with a niche market. Is that true, or should we have a Facebook page and post updates even if we only have 5 "friends"?
A: You need to start somewhere, right? Every company out there probably had just a few Facebook "friends" at the beginning stages of their Facebook efforts. As to whether or not Facebook is the place for you to focus your social media efforts, it depends on where your audience is and how they are using that channel. If your product has a viral element and your brand has a personality that matches that of habits and behaviors on Facebook, then it makes sense to continue there. However, if your business is more conservative and thought leadership is a key element of your marketing strategy, you may want to consider starting off with a blog or Twitter account.
Take some time to really think about the end goal for reaching your market with social media, and that will help dictate your use of social media channel. You may find you're better served engaging in a tight-knit online forum or community where your audience has established itself.
Q: How do you build a Twitter following without a "personality" to drive the content?
A: Share really, really relevant and quality content. Twitter users follow other users who are sharing information they're interested in. Share links to the latest articles, blog posts and videos you find or create that you think your target audience would find valuable.
You should also engage with industry thought leaders and other key influencers on Twitter who are sharing content your audience values. Follow them and publicly thank them and retweet their articles and content you find valuable. Just make sure to keep a healthy mix of what you're sending out and what you're retweeting of others.
Q: For B2B videos and webinars- is it better to cover products & services, or simply share expertise?
A: Both can be effective, as long as you know when and which to use. Webinars are powerful thought leadership vehicles and are a great way to share your expertise with a large group of potential customers and current clients. And, since the majority of webinars can be archived and accessed on-demand, this thought leadership content can easily be incorporated into your Web site.
Product and service videos are a great addition to your Web site or YouTube. They allow clients and potential customers to gather information about your product and maximize the use of your services. If you have an upcoming product release or enhancement to share, you could consider a webinar to showcase the new release and give a quick tutorial of what clients and future clients can expect. Just make sure to be clear about the webinar content up front -- don't lead attendees in under false pretenses of thought leadership only to be presented with a product pitch or demo.
Q: How much do the social media theories apply to non-retail businesses? e.g. Selling technical software to financial institutions or specialized equipment to manufacturers.
A: Consumers aren't the only ones turning online for purchasing information. According to an Enquiro Study, 83% of business purchasers first locate a vendor online. Furthermore, a recent Coremetrics whitepaper indicated 67% of Twitter users who become followers of a brand are more likely to buy that brand products, and 60% of Facebook users who become a fan of a brand a more likely to recommend that brand to friends.
In the end, a business purchaser is still a single person looking to gather information and make an informed decision. With the majority of people turning online to conduct that research and locate vendors, missing out on the social media conversation can mean missing out in general. By knowing your target audience and how they search for and interact with your product, you'll best be equipped to determine the social media channels that are right for you.
Q: Is there a tool for tracking mentions/text for such "social" networks like Flickr?
A: Yes, there are many. Some of the free tools mentioned above are SocialMention and Google Alerts. There are also paid tools like Alterian's SM2, Sysomos' Heartbeat and Viralheat. Check out Chris Rawlinson's blog post for 21 Free Social Media Tracking tools for more information, and stay tuned for the upcoming Business.com whitepaper detailing the top social media monitoring tools.
Q: Is there any point of setting up a Twitter or Facebook account if it is not frequently updated? And how often should these accounts be updated?
A: Would you be inclined to follow or engage with a stagnant account? If you're going to invest the time into setting up these accounts, you should make sure you're maximizing the use of Twitter and Facebook to achieve your goals. These accounts should be updated as often as you have something new or valuable to share with your audience. News? Discounts? Interesting research? It's all worth sharing.