In my last blog, I emphasized the importance of social media for marketing and business. A global study by IDG found that nine out of 10 tech B2B buyers engage with social media sites and services. It takes a potent mixture of paid, owned, and earned media working together to interest prospects and convert them to customers. The best description I have seen is from a 2012 report “The Converged Media Imperative,” by the insightful folks at Altimeter which stated:
©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.
“Converged Media utilizes two or more channels of paid, owned, and earned media. It is characterized by a consistent storyline, look, and feel. All channels work in concert, enabling brands to reach customers exactly where, how, and when they want, regardless of channel, medium, or device, online or offline. With the customer journey between devices, channels, and media becoming increasingly complex, and new forms of technology only making it more so, this strategy of paid/owned/earned confluence makes marketers impervious to the disruption caused by emerging technologies.”
Social Media Plus
By this definition, social marketing is not just advertising on Facebook or Linkedin, posting blogs, tweeting, inviting visitors to comment on a website, or running engaging digital ad units. Multiple elements that are planned in concert are needed to interest and influence people. In our experience, socially optimized ads work best when supported by other social activities that allow us to make decisions in real-time on where the ads should appear, what type of content themes we should develop for the tech marketer, and what kind of language should be used.
A key part of a social program is identifying and engaging influential bloggers based on client topics of interest such as cloud computing, security, mobile, and big data. Then, how do we, on behalf of a client, respond to comments and tweets? As a marketing partner, a publisher needs to think about all these things from the outset across all social and media platforms.
The various social and interactive pieces can be complicated and they do not fit easily into established advertising and media processes but when done right, you can expect CTRs and engagement metrics that are two to six times greater than traditional digital campaigns. CTRs, by the way, I believe are an outdated metric. What is more valuable a retweet or comment compared to a click through? I would take the former any day since social equity is far more useful in brand amplification.
In summary, of course your plans can be structured but the reality is so much of what you do will be unstructured in terms of how you engage in a social, real-time marketing world. Think beyond advertising, blogging, or tweeting. Appreciate the enormous power of social platforms, co-opt those platforms, and use advertising that is supported by socially optimized content that is always changing. A B2B marketer can build deep and meaningful relationships with prospects and will in turn receive insights that can shape communications strategy and lead to new business opportunities for the marketer’s company.