Leapfrogging Social Media Stumbling Blocks

Leapfrogging isn’t just child’s play; the same concept can be applied to the B2B marketing space.  With so many marketers finding social media stumbling blocks standing in their way, how can they effectively find ways to “leapfrog” over them?  And, just as important, how can they make sure their competitors don’t “leapfrog” over them?

Research shows social media usage is steadily on the rise as companies look to promote brand awareness and nurture leads.  In fact, with more than 5 billion mobile phones (70 percent of the world’s population) and 2 billion Internet users, the number of social media posts is staggering.  Everyday 200 million tweets are shared and 70,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.  But, according to the B2B Lead Roundtable Blog, “social media is one of the most challenging channels for B2B marketers to manage.  It’s so unpredictable, yet there’s so much pressure surrounding it—everyone feels like they need to be on every social media channel or else.”  So how can marketers maximize social media campaigns and face the accompanying challenges head-on?

We’ve scoured the web and, in combination with our own experience, come up with a series of social media stumbling blocks—and their solutions.  Here are the A, E, I, O, and Us of clearing social media hurdles:

Analyze: In order to stay one step ahead of the competition, be sure to keep one finger on the social marketing pulse.  By keeping tabs on what your competitors are doing, you can not only define your own social strategies, but you can stay updated on the latest trends and activity.  “Analyze and monitor [competitors’] social media,” writes Brian Carroll, Executive Director of Applied Research, MECLABS.  “Learn from their mistakes and successes.  Watch what’s being said, and where, about your company, product or service.”

Engage: Sometimes, it’s not as simple as just targeting an audience.  As Carroll points out in this example of marketing to a Scandinavian audience without understanding that it was more private than other cultures, it’s important to first know your audience.  Ask questions and anticipate their answers: Where is your audience gathering information about your product or services?  What kind of social media channels—i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest—would they be using to engage with your company?  Knowing your audience will get you one step closer to connecting with them.

Identify: What if you have a sound social media strategy in place but you’re having difficulty convincing leadership of the return on marketing investment?  Forty-one percent of B2B marketers who participated in Ecoconsultancy’s “The State of Social Media Report 2011” stated they could not attribute an ROI figure to any of the money they spent on social media, and three in 10 respondents from Chief Marketer’s 2012 Business-to-Business Lead Generation Survey said they could not demonstrate that social leads were qualified.  So what’s a marketer to do?  Identify solutions and figure out ways to execute them.  Twelve percent of Chief Marketer’s respondents said their company currently has mechanisms in place to score social leads based on likelihood to convert, and 19 percent who don’t have such tools say they are working on building them.

Organize: According to one B2B respondent from the Chief Marketer report, “The amount of time required to publish new content, establish and foster relationships, and convert them to customers is so much slower than traditional sales methods.”  But that needn’t be a barrier to social media success.  By keeping content strategies organized—repurposing relevant content already created (i.e., whitepapers, articles, case studies, etc.) or having a dedicated person or persons on staff to write new content—you can find ways around the overall time commitment discouraging to many marketers.  Carroll suggests beginning with a blog, as it’s a means to provide valuable content to your audience and a vehicle to distribute it to other social media platforms.

Understand: Of the more than 1,000 respondents who participated in Ecoconsultancy’s report, 31 percent claimed to have experimented with social media, while 43 did an average amount of social media networking (up from 37 percent in 2010) and 21 were heavily involved (up from 18 percent in 2010).  When engaging in social media pursuits, understand that it takes time to move the needle.  Maybe you face a lack of resources or budget or you simply can’t seem to find the level of senior buy-in you need to fully execute a campaign.  Don’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the seemingly insurmountable challenges standing in your way.  Instead, be strategic, selective and, most importantly, forward-thinking.  The social media progress you make today could take you to new heights tomorrow.

Think you’ve got a handle on social media stumbling blocks and their solutions?  Don’t get too comfortable.  What has been hailed by industry experts as the “wild west digital frontier” is only gaining steam as it chugs forward.  But that shouldn’t deter you.  By keeping an ear to the ground as you manage and monitor social media, you may find yourself harnessing the power of a marketing channel that has yet to be fully realized.

What sorts of social media challenges have you faced in recent months?  How have you “leapfrogged” over them?

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