Why You Should be Listening to Your Prospects on Social Media

As marketers in 2017, we’re asking ourselves this question everyday: How can we earn the attention of buyers when they’re busier and more information overloaded than ever before?

Marketers need prospects to pay attention to their content, but buyers are overwhelmed. Consider the following stats: 

  • The average click through rate for display ads across all formats & placements (USA) is 0.08% (Source: LookbookHQ)
  • The average CTR for promoted tweets on Twitter is 0.35% (Source: LookbookHQ)
  • 79% of marketing executives say it’s a challenge to get and hold the attention of target customers (Source: LookbookHQ)

Now that social media has become an established and habitual part of our everyday lives, many marketers have realized that social insights can help them figure out what buyers want, so they can find effective ways to get buyers’ attention.

In the past few years, a myriad of social media listening and analytics platforms have risen up to help marketers understand what their customers want.   

B2C brands such as Walmart, eBay, Unilever and American Airlines have been the first ones to take advantage of social media analytics to understand their target audience, identify influencers, and analyze emerging topics of conversation to strategically drive brand awareness.

The tech investor community has poured a lot capital into this category of social intelligence platforms. In 2015, Brandwatch announced that it’s completed a 33 million Series C financing, led by Partech Ventures. Companies like Sprinklr and Hootsuite have gone on acquisition sprees in the past couple of years.

Although consumer marketers have made great strides in using social data to understand their customers, B2B marketers have lagged behind. Why is this the case?

Knowing what people are talking about and doing on social media on an aggregate level just isn’t useful enough for B2B marketers.

Up to this point, social media analytics platforms have been primarily used to help marketers make decisions that help drive brand awareness and to augment traditional approaches to market research and service feedback.

When you take a look at the major players in this landscape (i.e. Simply Measured, BrandWatch, Crimson Hexagon, Netbase, SocialBakers to name a few), they emphasize value propositions around helping marketers understand customer sentiments and spotting emerging trends.  

These insights gleaned from aggregated social media data can be extremely valuable to B2C brands who have millions of potential customers, whose competitive advantage is often their brand.

But B2B businesses have specific challenges. They have a much smaller universe of buyers, and purchasing decisions involve multiple stakeholders over months instead of days. B2B marketers’ biggest challenge is figuring out how to engage the right contacts and accounts at the right time.

B2B marketers turn to marketing automation platforms like Marketo, Eloqua, Salesforce Pardot and Hubspot to create sequenced email nurture programs, score leads based on leads’ engagement with marketing campaigns, and send lead data to their CRM system.

All of these marketing processes are all data-intensive processes. What B2B marketers need is complete and accurate contact level data and insights to figure out who is in-market, what they care about, what message to send and when.

Enter Social Media Listening 2.0

In the old world, marketers turned to social media listening for market research, reputation management and customer service. The next phase of social media listening is about using social insights at the personal level to inform every stage of the customer acquisition process.   

With advances in technology, B2B marketers are now able to gain much more granular insights on their target buyers from the social web.

Marketers can now turn to solutions to match the leads in their marketing automation database to their activities on the social web, and use this data into their marketing automation platform and CRM to change the way they communicate with prospects at each stage of the buying cycle. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at some recent developments in the social media marketing space that have made social media insights more actionable for B2B marketers.  

  1. Integration between social media management platforms and marketing automation platforms

Social media management platforms have been around now for a number of years. They help us save time by automating the posting of content to social networks and come with reporting tools to help us measure results.

While these tools are great at automation, their reporting capabilities have fallen short. Because these tools were not integrated with our marketing automation systems, we did not have insights into how social media impacts our other marketing activities.  

While we knew how many shares, clicks and conversions we drove from each social network, we didn’t know whether those shares came from customers, prospects or from people who will never purchase our product.

We didn’t know if a conversion from social led to a closed won deal or just resulted in a new lead who sat in our database. We couldn’t put a lead who came from social into a particular nurture track in our marketing automation system because the two systems were not integrated. We couldn’t give a lead more points in our lead scoring model because they’ve engaged with our content on social.  

In the past couple of years, social media management platforms have started to mature as they realized that social media has use cases across multiple teams and departments within an organization.

For example, Oktopost has added integrations with leading marketing automation databases like Marketo, Eloqua and Act-on and CRM systems. 

Octopost integration

With the integration, social data on individual leads – such as the social network, campaign name, link clicked, and the time of the action – can be written onto your lead records in a marketing automation database.  

By tracking people’s engagement with your content on social, you’re really tracking user intent. When someone clicks on a link in your post, it’s a signal that they interested in what you have to say.

Instead of using a basic buyer persona and relying on data points like job title and company size to create your nurture tracks and marketing campaigns, you can create nurture tracks and email campaigns tailored to people’s interests (based on social data) and engage buyers on their own terms.    

Hootsuite is growing up too. The company recently launched the Hootsuite Integration Fund, a $5 million, multi-year fund to support developers building enterprise-strength integrations and business applications for the Hootsuite platform.

According to Matt Switzer, senior vice president of strategy and corporate development, this fund will encourage developers to “continue to develop applications that enable customers to connect social to marketing, analytics and business solutions they rely on every day.”

In addition to the Integration Fund, Hootsuite has launched a new and expansive developer portal to provide full access to their SDKs and APIs, a developer blog, and technical support, to make it easier and faster to build integrations on the Hootsuite platform.

  1. Improved ability to track the sharing of content on Dark Social

Social sharing is one of the strongest indicators of what your audience cares about.

While some sharing of branded content happens on social networks, a lot of sharing happens in private channels such as email, Twitter direct messages, Facebook Messenger, text messages or Slack. Recent research from RadiumOne found that 84% of all sharing now happens on Dark Social.

Dark social – sharing content privately – represents a big opportunity for marketers. For the most part, people choose to share something with their colleagues and friends privately when it’s important to them.  

The sharing of branded content between colleagues and friends can happen at different stages of the buying journey:

Consideration: One person messages another person when they learn about a new purchase possibility, i.e., “You’d mentioned that your company was looking into solutions to engage with your target accounts – have you looked into Demandbase? [INSERT URL]”

Decision: One person messages another person for advice about which product to buy, i.e., “Should I buy new contact data from Socedo, ZoomInfo, or Clearbit? ”

Advocacy: One person messages another person asking for advice about a product or service, and the other person becomes an advocate for your brand: “You’re looking for a new marketing automation platform? We use Marketo and we highly recommend the solution because they integrate with everything. Here is an integration guide for you: [INSERT URL HERE]”

By using Dark Social data to understand which of your links are being shared via private message and actually converting, you can begin to make your content more “shareable” in a way that matters to your business.

You can also start to incorporate sharing behavior into your lead scoring model to identify warm leads earlier in the buying cycle.

Now, there are several tools that have made it possible for marketers to track the sharing of content on Dark Social.

  • The social media analytics company Simply Measured recently started to provide the ability to track the sharing of content on dark social through their social media attribution solution.
  • Bit.ly. You can use Bitly to track clicks that would otherwise become dark traffic
  • Po.st is a product of RadiumOne. The tool allows users to share content and provides publishers with revenue opportunities and unique dark social analytics tools.
  • ShareThis is a tool that enables people to share any piece of content on the web through e-mail, direct message, or text message. The tool can be customized to measure copy and shares of your website’s URL.
  1. Ability to add intent data from social media into a B2B marketing automation database in real-time

With the tremendous advances in computing power and search techniques, it’s now much easier for companies to process billions of social media signals and extract valuable insights in from the noise.  

Since 2013, Socedo has been developing technology to process the vast amounts of unstructured Twitter data in real-time, including people’s profiles and live newsfeeds and the engagement around it including shares, likes and retweets.  

We’ve developed techniques to identify things like companies, products, industry topics, event hashtags within Tweets.

We are able to help you discover, engage and qualify new leads through social data, and connect the activities happening on Twitter to the individual contacts in your marketing automation database. As a result, marketers are able engage with leads who are showing interest in their space right away, fill their funnel with new leads, and create personalized lead nurturing campaigns. 

Typically, our customers are tracking these kinds of social media activities: 

  • Usage of relevant, topical keywords. For example, a business that sells martech might track the keyword “marketing automation” and “#demandgeneration”
  • Follows and engagements around their competitor’ Twitter handles. For example, a business that sells cloud computing solutions might be tracking activities around @AWSCloud, @GoogleCloud and @Salesforce
  • Follows and engagements around their own Twitter handles
  • Follows and engagements around industry influencers.
  • Engagement around industry events
  • Engagement with technology partners. For example, a social media marketing software business that connects with marketing automation platforms may track activities around @Marketo or @Hubspot

Use Cases for Social Intent Data

Because this data is added to lead records within the marketing automation system, it can be used in a variety of ways.

  • Segmentation: Rather than putting leads into campaigns based on buyer personas and industry affiliation, our customers are able to segment based on user intent and ensure that the delivered content (ads, emails) is aligned to their audience’s interest.
  • Lead scoring: By tracking social activities in their space and adding them into their behavioral lead scoring model, our customers are able to identify warm leads they would have missed otherwise.
  • Sales acceleration: Sales reps need to research the individuals in their pipeline to figure out how to tailor each conversation. Social media signals can be pushed from a marketing automation platform into a CRM so that reps have insights to use when connecting with leads. Here are three ways to use social intent data to improve the sales process. 
  • Content marketing: By analyzing social media signals and looking at which signals are picking up in volume over time, our customers are gaining new insights into their audience that helps them create more relevant content.  

Related: [E-book] Using Social Intent Data in your Marketing Automation Platform  

Conclusion

We all know that there are a million things stealing your buyer’s limited attention. 

In an era of attention scarcity where buyers expect brands to deliver personalized and relevant content, marketers need to tap into external data sources like social media to listen to their buyers and earn their attention back.

Thanks to advances in technology, buyer insights from social networks are now much easier to access than ever before. Companies that use this kind of intelligence to drive the way they engage with buyers will be the winners of tomorrow.   

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