Since the start of the year, I’ve had about a dozen conversations with B2B clients and prospects about whether and how their customers are using social media. Marketers want to make sure they are spending their time (and money) where it will be most impactful, and they’re not always sure social media is worth the investment.
If you’re still struggling with how your customers are using social media, try one of these approaches to inform your perspective a bit more:
1. Conduct an audit.
Taking inventory of conversations that are happening on social media can provide great insights into where customers are spending time and what they are talking about when they’re there. An audit can tell you what kind of content your customers react to best, which platforms are most active for your industry and whether there are any best practices you can glean from how peers, industry associations and trade publications are using (or not using) social media. Remember, an audit will be most effective if you identify the most important 3-5 questions you want to answer before you even get started so you can analyze the data through that lens.
2. Test social advertising.
Even if you don’t have a large organic social media presence, you can use targeted social media advertising to test the efficacy of different platforms and content types. Even a small investment on platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn can yield some interesting insights to inform your go-forward social media strategy. We recently deployed a social media advertising program for a client launching a new product at a big industry trade show. The client didn’t have a large organic social media presence and had never advertised on social media before, but our research suggested its customers spent a lot of time on Twitter. We used a modest budget to test whether their customers were, indeed, using the platform. Both the program analytics (quantitative data) and customer feedback (qualitative data) proved Twitter was an extremely effective tool in raising awareness of the new product and driving booth traffic. In fact, the test program worked so well that the company is now determining how to leverage both paid and organic social media as a standard tactic for all future product launches.
3. Ask them!
Of course, the best way to find out whether customers are using social media is to go directly to the source. We worked with a few companies recently to conduct customer surveys designed to identify where customers spend time online – and what they look for when they’re there. One client discovered its customers were spending a lot of time online, but not necessarily on social media. Instead, customers were utilizing message boards to talk with peers, and using search engines to find solutions to their problems. Those insights led to a change in the digital strategy for the company – moving away from social media and toward advertising on message boards, deploying a PPC program and developing relevant problem-solving content in the form of blog posts and videos.
If you try one (or more) of the tactics outlined above, I can promise you will learn something new about how your customers consume information online. I’d also venture to say there’s likely a place for some sort of social media investment for your company – but you probably won’t know how to get the most bang for your buck without doing some sort of due diligence first.
If you’d like to talk about your specific social media needs, feel free to contact me for a complimentary consultation or take this short assessment to get some ideas for improving your social media efforts.