Social media managers reveal their biggest marketing challenges (and how to fix them)
What keeps social media managers up at night? Alex Clarke talks with five social marketing experts to find out
When it comes to the tangible benefits of social media, there are still a reticent few in the world of B2B who are perched on the proverbial fence.
Yet even those who have implemented a social approach and managed to convince the c-suite of its benefits continue to encounter a myriad of challenges; such is the nature of this ever-shifting marketing beast.
We sat down with five B2B social media managers to discuss their biggest marketing challenges, and ultimately, how they overcome them.
The challenge: Accurate and timely performance reporting
This is an expected one, but it really is still a challenge. In the eight plus years I’ve been working in social media marketing, the perfect solution has yet to be developed. Using third party reporting and analytics solutions, such as those on offer from Sprinklr or Hootsuite, provide a myriad of benefits (visually appealing and customisable dashboards, tailored distribution lists and real-time notifications) but they are forever limited by the metrics social channels make available to them. Anyone who has ever wanted to report on their LinkedIn company pages or groups via third party platforms knows just how limited it can be. The alternative is therefore to go direct to the source and pull numbers natively, but when reporting on over 100 accounts as we do here at Informa Business Intelligence, going native is prohibitively time consuming.
How do we overcome this? In all honesty, we’re still figuring it out. We’ve recently implemented Sprinklr, which does a really good job at meeting most of our data needs, and we’re pulling analytics natively where required. With the addition of Sprinklr’s capabilities, we have much more time to dedicate to analysing the numbers versus simply gathering them. It’s a solution that works, but there's definitely room for improvement. I’m interested to know how others are tackling this issue.
The challenge: Establishing a culture of being social
There are three aspects to this:
- Changing the mindset of marketing and communications teams to not think of social media as a channel, but the approach of using content as a trigger point to nurture prospects and build stronger relationships with clients.
- Activating the sales reps to not just post random updates on social media sites such as LinkedIn, but to always be educating our buyers by having a unique point of view around the issues and challenges (eg. the impact of the US presidency on regulation or the asset management sector) that their network and clients are facing.
- Encouraging and guiding our senior executives and business leaders to be confident and comfortable in connecting and talking to partners and clients over social media.
You can achieve this in a number of ways:
- Use data and social listening to guide content marketing and community engagement decisions.
- Continually consult early with field marketing and product marketing teams in order to activate end-to-end social campaign plans.
- Teach sales teams the value of social visibility and the key social selling principles.
- Collaborate with corporate communications and PR teams to improve senior executives’ social brands.
- Create gamification incentives such as prizes and managers’ recognition.
The challenge: Staying ahead of the curve
I'd say our biggest challenge in the B2B space is how and when to leverage up and coming social networks. We're currently focused on the more traditional networks (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), but don’t want to be left behind or late to the party on networks like Snapchat and Instagram, especially as leadership begins to ask why we’re not on those networks.
To combat this, we try to keep a constantly updated strategy of how these networks fit into our overall marketing objectives and what our participation would look like should we maintain an active presence on these networks (editorial calendar, staffing, and reporting). Once we feel a social channel is able to meet our marketing objectives, this is when we'll maintain an active presence – although we haven’t found that sweet spot yet.
The challenge: Death of organic social
Within Facebook (and other channels) we’ve seen a drop-off in organic social media reach.
This is something we can overcome by using tools like Facebook Audience Insights and Twitter Audience Insights to learn about communities, create personas, and ultimately devise targeted advertising that will resonate with them. Having the right type of content and using moving imagery and visuals is also a big help – if pages and their campaigns are creative, they'll stand out. How about giving away a case of champagne or a product that’s suitable for a B2B audience to encourage them to engage with the content, boosting the chances of them seeing it in the future when there are more important things to shout about?
The challenge: Employee fear of creating a personal social brand
In my experience, social media in the B2B world is becoming increasingly less challenging as more businesses buy into the impact it can have. However, I have to say there’s still the ‘fear factor’ among many teams, and how to make them let go of what they know. Across sectors I’ve found people are wary of how they engage with social media, from what to post to who they engage with. They tend to just stick to engaging with and sharing the brand’s activity (which of course isn’t a bad thing), yet fail to create their own personal online brand.
I’ve found the easiest way to overcome this is through one-to-one or team training sessions, educating colleagues the basics of creating an online persona and the benefits of it. Tactics I’ve used include sharing business case studies of social selling, bringing in quotes, or using fellow colleagues as ‘star pupil’ examples, and demonstrating how they’ve made a real impact on the success of maintaining their activity.
Employee advocacy tools such as Voicestorm – that allows social media managers to provide pre-populated content for employees to share – helps ease teams into social, builds their confidence in using a range of platforms and demonstrates social's benefits.