B2B buyers are getting younger. And younger folk like to spend time on social media. So it would stand to reason that hiring a full-time professional social media marketer (SMM) should be pretty high on the priority list for B2B brands.
Yet… many companies simply hand over the responsibility of social media to an intern or – gasp – don’t leverage the channel at all.
AND if brands do have a professional marketer on board, managing content creation, distribution and analytics is usually just one task on a very long laundry list of tasks that has to be dealt with on top of:
- Unrealistic expectations from leadership
- Too much red tape and layers of approval
- Limited budgets and/or resources
- Unclear objectives or an understanding of ‘the why’
In this article, I’ve shared some of my thoughts on how to set up SMMs for success.
#1. Give Them Room
When you see a social post that reads something like…
“Introducing our market-leading enterprise solution for leading industry professionals across the enterprise sector”
…you can almost guarantee it’s had one too many pairs of non-marketing hands on it.
I’m a firm believer that the reason there’s so much drivel out there in the B2B ether is an unwillingness from organisations to give their content creators some room to be… well, creative.
Perhaps this comes from a fear of handing over control of what is one of the most customer-facing channels there is for a business? Or perhaps it’s an unwillingness to take risk and move away from the crowd?
Whatever the reason, non-marketing executives demanding ‘final approval’ of any and all content before it’s published stifles what can be incredibly effective and resonant content.
If you’re going to hire an SMM, give them the framework and freedom to make decisions in real-time and – most importantly – trust in their reasoning.
#2. Give Them Budget
If you go out for a walk and see some ducklings in a pond, you’d be forgiven if the photo you post to Instagram has your thumb peeking in from the bottom right corner and the caption reads “cant get enogh of these cuties!”
Not so much if you’re professional B2B brand.
High-quality copy and visuals are the lifeblood of social media. SMMs must have access to the tools, resources and people they need to pull it together – and this means budget.
I’d argue that in B2B, there’s actually a competitive advantage to investing in high-quality creative. Why?
Because the bar is usually very low. Often competitors in a sector use the same stock imagery and tired one-liners as each other, preventing any single message from standing out.
Empowering a B2B content creator to go out and capture original photos and produce copy with a unique tone of voice can put you above 95% of the competition.
#3. Give Them Direction
When I was a kid, I had an after school job that required me to go post leaflets of a local business through all the doors in my village.
One day, I asked my boss how many clients we got as a result of the leaflets in the last year. His response?
Translation — what I was doing with the leaflets was effectively meaningless. A box-checking exercise for a brand unwilling to stop beating the dead horse.
If success in social media for your brand is simply ‘posting three times a week’ it can at best limit creativity, at worst kill any enthusiasm the person once held for the role.
Avoid this by clearly defining and communicating how social media is tied to the success of the business.
This usually comes down to clearly defined, revenue-influenced goals – e.g. social sourced registrations to a company webinar or traffic driven to a high-intent landing page on your website via social.
Importantly, invest in the attribution platforms that allow you to track this effectively. These can be your bread-and-butter tools – from Google Analytics to Oktopost – but also qualitative mechanisms that can help you understand the effectiveness of channels not picked up otherwise, like adding a ‘Where Did You Hear About Us?’ question to all your forms.
#4. Give Them Time
There’s a quote from legendary basketball coach, John Wooden. It goes:
“Good things take time. We shouldn’t expect good things to happen overnight. Actually, getting something too easily or too soon can cheapen the outcome.”
Mr. Wooden would have been an excellent leader of SMMs as he would have understood that expecting instant results from a social media strategy is as foolish as letting a fox guard the henhouse.
At it’s heart, social media is about building trust with your customers that in exchange for their attention, you will provide them value.
And just like how it takes time to build trust in our everyday relationships, so too does it take time to build trust with an online audience. So give your SMMs the time to see through their strategy.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t set milestones – you absolutely should – but work with your colleague to understand what’s a) realistic to expect in terms of timeframes and b) that they have the support and resources they think they need to hit these targets.
ALSO consider that is social has become an added responsibility on top of an existing workload that this will impact their other responsibilities.
Good rule of thumb is to expect social media management to take 3x as long as you think it will.