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Getting the right attention on social media | S2M-group Blog


We all count the likes. It would be unnatural not to.


It’s how we learn. Put something out there and feel the reaction. Intensive learning, and the stakes only get higher with practice. Apply marketing to that and your strategy starts to reflect human valuations of success. It’s not about the sales anymore. It’s about how people react. It feels good. Create, publish, observe, refine. Vanity Metrics put a gauge on performance, always with the suggestion that you could be doing a bit better. A healthy strategy, done in the name of a good end. The question is: is this the measure of success that we want?

Few contrarians these days will take the stance of “social media won’t help your business”. That’s a hard story to get behind. Convenience gives you opportunity. Opportunity allows money to be made. This is the hunch upon which every year more and more money is poured into Marketing budgets, often with very little analysis of return. The reason that the counternarrative doesn’t get a fair hearing is that at some point we conceded that it was enough that everybody else was doing it. There must be some reason why 88% of B2Bs are using Facebook. You count the likes and start again, and that’s enough.

As it stands, there isn’t an awful lot of insight beyond that. Any hard data on whether or not Facebook makes you money is buried under the pile of ‘how to’ lists and clickbait correlations posing as if the answer is a matter of common-sense deductive reasoning. There’s the assumption of an intrinstic worth to online performance blows any hope of clear thinking out of the water. It’s no longer a question of how it helps you, but how it looks.

I’m not saying that these platforms don’t help, either. It’s that they’re focusing in on the wrong things. Social media provides great exposure for unknown brands – but is exposure enough? The research would have you believe that as long as the thumb of the crowd falls the right way, your performance in the arena has been good. Why? The modern business isn’t condemned to bankruptcy for an underperforming Tweet. That happens when you’re not making enough money. The point I’m making is that if the value of social media is tied to numbers (and not making money), 10 good leads is much less desirable than 100 easy likes.

What’s followed is a system of research that doesn’t bother to assess how good social media is for ROI. Many of the surveys and reports available freely online ask participants what they think of their current operations, and use that to justify the claim that it works. How do you think your marketers are doing? Do you have plans to spend more? Well that should be enough to go on. This mentality isn’t the fault of the lazy researchers; this happens because social media is inherently difficult to use as a gauge of success. In the same way that I can’t derive that I am popular with my colleagues if 63% of them like my profile picture, it’s hard to draw solid conclusions for business when stuck with baseless numbers and opinion polls.

The above Forbes source attempts to overcome this by making a leap at some kind of reason. People prefer things that cost more money. Ads cost more money. Therefore, people will prefer your channels if you pay for ads. Among all the nonsense does exist a gesture towards rational inference and proper investigation. The problem is, it’s meaningless. If you measure online effectiveness by asking people how they feel, you’ll find that most shrug a neutral ‘fine’ because that’s what people do anyway. We’re bound by our research methods, but also by the kinds of questions we ask. Either we accept that that 63% doesn’t mean anything, or we double down and do a better inquiry into how we’ve got here.

I’m saying that you can use the likes as suggestion a success if you can prove that they mean something. It’s a problem when you stop asking questions once the numbers start rolling in. The majority of marketers consider a Facebook like a marketing success, whereas only 35% hone in on actual qualified leads. Here’s your problem. How do you trust that social media will have instrumental value to your business when it’s value is presumed inherent?

But as long as we place our faith in the likes, it will keep happening. Reportedly, social media spending has increased 234% in the last 8 years, bringing it up to between 11.7 and 15% of total marketing budgets, depending on who you ask. 15% of your marketing budget to count the likes. 15% to feel good. Having justified that budget in a survey, 77% will then turn around and say they want to learn how to measure the effectiveness of social media. 58% of B2C content creators will say that they are still looking for a better understanding of what SM content works, and what doesn’t.

The reason we all still play the social media game is that it lets us feel like we’re winning sometimes. All good games need that. You always pass Go just after landing on Mayfair. It’s the numbers that quantify and validate us. And so, you end up with 1,000 connections on LinkedIn looking for endorsements with absolutely no intention to ever purchase your product. It happens. Look at the weight we give to exposure. Social media puts you in front of more people, finds new study. It’s a perversion of value.

What I’m moving towards is a rethink of the use we ascribe to social media. Having access to the private pages of your target market allows for analysis, which can then be acted upon. 85% of US consumers are on social media. This is your in. A space in the public sphere also allows you to choose how you present yourself to visitors. Put something out and measure the reaction. Create, publish, observe, refine. Knowing that (B2B research) 24% of people would look you up on Facebook before making a decision on a purchase is useful information. If you really can identify causation between social media and improved search rankings – great. But one should be careful interpreting what people mean when they say, “Social media is the most effective channel for any business”. Well, what do you mean ‘effective’? And according to whom?

There is research out there to suggest that social media creates living, breathing customers, but you do need to be careful. The bulk of research falls inline to say that social media just works, and if you’re not getting results then that’s your problem. Some neutral research claim like “consumers follow brands on half as many platforms as they expect them to be active on” gets twisted into “most brands don’t do a good job on social” elsewhere. Likewise, ‘52% of referrals are ruled out before anyone speaks with someone in that organisation, and by the way social media might help becomes “52% rule out a services firm before talking to them due to limited social media presence” on another site.

This isn’t the start of some great conspiracy that you, the reader, are unknowingly being conned out of your 15% by a mischievous marketing team, or crafty journalists. On the contrary, I agree that social media can be useful. But I think it’s high time we understand what we want from it. What do we mean when we ask, ‘is this working?’

As with offline marketing, the key is to close that gap between prospects and leads, likes and engagement rates. Identify causation where you can, and find tips that give targeted advice.

I think that’s it. By all means, count the likes. Ask other people what works for them. But don’t make this the basis of your faith.

Know what you can expect from social media before using it. Used well, it’s a great window into the complicated lives of existing and potential consumers. Used poorly, it’s as much a distraction at work as it is at home.

 

To start incorporating market analytics into your social media strategy, check out our free TMA trial here.

Making the Right Connections with ABM


“Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: “Wouldn’t you like to have that?” Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people?”

– Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People


Who buys into YouTube advertising? I wonder what I am to a marketer, a creator, in line with their business strategy. Is my click a decisive lead? It makes you think: who really benefits from producing these? YouTube, of course. The channel owner. A designer, I suppose. The marketing department. But, beyond that, I get the sense that my interests aren’t being properly considered from the point of view of somebody trying to build a brand. There’s something sad and disengaged about a campaign that pans most broadly for any customer that might yield an accidental click. The problem, I say, is that the viewer can afford to just be another number. And so, rather than seeing a individual who needs care and attention, a strategy is drawn up to smother a sea of potential in bland, popularist content.

At the heart of this issue is a disconnect between Marketing and Sales. If your marketing strategy ends at getting your voice heard, then why should it bother working overtime to push those leads towards a sale? Why invest time and money into mapping the problems of a single potential client? The problem with this line of thinking is that you’re not targeting anybody directly. Being heard is different to getting people to listen, and, if you want to make sales, you need to be able to do both.

So, here’s the pitch: line-up with the objectives of sales, and hone in on the audience that will make everybody rich.

Today, 50% of marketers identify that Lead Generation’s biggest challenge is in improving conversion rates from the lead to the sale. Revenue generation is now the key indicator of a successful marketing campaign according to a majority 57% of marketing influencers. The marketer isn’t around simply to tell fish which worms are on offer; they have a duty to understand their client, and to pass on the relevant information that will make a sale.

In short, I’m suggesting a merger of departments around a clear set of account-orientated objectives. It’s simple ABM strategy. Staying on top of the game involves making sure everyone knows what it is that your fish look for in a worm before you start thinking about where to cast a line.

This starts when you narrow down your addressable market to targets you know you can help. Simple value-based selling should give you a rough idea of your worth, and in turn provide a clearer Ideal Customer Profile. Beyond this, it’s about understanding the conflicting and competing interests within the account you’re targeting. Keep everybody up-to-date with new information about KDMs. Know who you’re talking to, and appreciate that one hundred different heavyweights each have one hundred different opinions that you need to go deeper into. Align your teams around a single database of relevant information. Identify clear end-of-the-line objectives and know how everybody contributes towards those. ABM might be understood through two simple principles: understanding that your client is messy, disjointed and complex, and understanding that you can’t afford to be.

If you want your marketing team to stay relevant and sharp, it’s time to align.

The process from start to finish is meant to be quick and harmonised, with minimal overlap and all the relevant information going where it’s needed. You begin a campaign by looking to assess the values and needs of individuals making up a target market. Knowing how your challenges line up with your resources allows you to plan a little further ahead into the future. In the end, a decent system should be simple and utilitarian, working on preparing the best tools available for problems as they arise. Breaking yourself up into distinct departments is a way to ensure that you don’t create lasting relationships with your customers. The idea is to make everybody aware of the destination before you all start paddling in different directions. It may sound obvious, but the mentality is more sophisticated than firing out a new advert every sixth months in the hope that somebody new might take the chance.

Recent research by ITSMA and the ABM Leadership Alliance showed 87% of marketers favoured ABM over other initiatives for Return on Investment. Bad sales & marketing alignment, meanwhile, is estimated to cost B2Bs 10% of their yearly revenue. This shift in practice is seemingly here to stay. As of 2016, over 70% (of over 200 companies) of B2Bs use ABM programs, sales-marketing alignment increasing from 34% to 83% from the year before, and nearly 60% looking to invest in technology services last year.

As university undergraduates pass every year with studies in ABM strategy, the spray-and-pray YouTube-ad lead-gen-focused approach starts to make less and less sense. The marketers of tomorrow are growing up with a commitment to getting results through a simple process of align, win, refine. Take a leaf out of their book. Don’t lose sight of your goals out of obligation to convention.

If you’d like to know more about how to use ABM to generate the right leads, send an email to contact@s2m-group.com


 

Demonstrate the Business Case & Ensure Value Alignment


The value-based qualification process aims to identify the gap between your Value Propositions and your targets’ pains. In other words, if their existing or future goals, plans and related challenges look like the ones you or your competitors faced and solved efficiently with existing clients, either they’re a good fit and you can move forward with the relationship, or it’s time to part ways.


Unlike IBM’s old BANT approach which qualified targets by their Budget, Authority, Needs and Timeline, our qualification process applies value-selling principals to add value to the target’s decision-making process. It does this by gauging and validating first whether their pains could match and benefit from your products/services’ value propositions.

Once we have determined whether your products/services can help your target to achieve their goals, implement their plan or overcome their challenges, we can start assessing their decision process and where the funding would come from.

Such a qualification process is designed to allow organizations to generate or increase their revenue on a specific market or account, by enabling the exploitation of their product/market fit.  This facilitates new business development, cross-sell and up-sell activities, whilst providing a decision-making and team alignment tool.

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