B2B social media marketing took off dramatically in 2010 with more and more businesses exploring the potential, and using increasingly confident and innovative approaches. Looking back over the top-performing strategies and tactics, there are some core lessons that every B2B marketer can learn from those that delivered exceptional results to their businesses. This article highlights ten top tips to help you replicate the success of three social media star-performers from 2010.
Cisco – The ‘Less is more’ Product Launch
In the first half of 2010 Cisco launched their new ASR 1000 router using exclusively social media. They did this so that they could tangibly measure the impact of their social media campaign. The global virtual launch event was a huge success, reaching 90 times the usual number of participants– with reduced costs estimated at over $100K and saving over 42,000 gallons of fuel. The key take-aways from this are:
1. Meet Your audience where they are
Research enabled Cisco to create innovative methods of reaching people, such as iPhone Apps, and gaming. They discovered 17-18% of IT professionals play online games every day, so they created their own game where users ‘defended the network using the ASR’. This helped communicate the product launch with greatly reduce spend, resources and logistics.
2. Make it easy to re-post your content
Cisco assembled videos, collateral and images in a widget format and embedded it into “social media” news releases and launch pages. Bloggers and others could spread the information easily using the ‘embed’ code. The widget thus accelerated the republishing of their marketing content – in essence turning the audience into PR agents.
3. Monitor results to get success benchmarks
Cisco has a team using social media monitoring tools to measure the impact of campaigns relative to cost and – crucially – after the campaign has finished they can successfully set tangible benchmarks for the next campaign. In this way Cisco manages to equate their social media activities with measurable ROI.
4. Use multiple platforms to ensure universal messaging
Cisco ensured that they captured all of their possible audience by having active campaigns on Facebook, blogs, forums, video, mobile platforms and gaming sites. This ensured that Cisco could creatively deliver their messaging to the widest audience using fresh and varied formats appropriate to the context.
Kinaxis – Converting the Community
In 2009 Kinaxis launched an integrated social media program focused on building a community in the Supply Chain Management field. The goals were simply to increase web traffic and conversions. By the end of 2010 they had increased website traffic over two-and-a-half times, and more than tripled conversions – through innovative content and careful implementation.
5. Use content and context to inspire your audience
To overcome the perceived ‘boring’ nature of Supply Chain Management, Kinaxis created spoof TV show ‘The Late Late Supply Chain Show’ which uses comedy and informative demonstrations to draw interest. Creative, human approaches using video and interaction really engage audiences. Efforts like this means companies like Kinaxis thrive in B2B social media marketing because they align quality content with a context that is relevant to their audience.
6. Integrate social media with other marketing activity
Kinaxis set ambitious targets for their social media marketing to more-than-double traffic and conversion. But they managed to exceed these goals by integrating social media activity with an already-strong SEO program. Running both campaigns alongside each other also saw engagement with the company blog massively improve, from a disappointing lack of interest a few years back to a 530% increase in traffic. Who said supply chain management was boring?
7. Be patient
Despite popular opinion, social media is not a quick fix. Yes, it is real-time; and yes, engagement is instant. But to build a successful campaign takes skill, time and effort. Social media is not free – but approach it strategically and it can greatly reduce spend and resources in the long term. Kinaxis started using Social Media in 2004. After a creative rethink in 2007, they carefully and meticulously planned a broad social media strategy centred on building a community. In 2010 they led their field in the use of social media.
Archer Technologies – Closed loop marketing
Winner of a 2009 Forrester Groundswell Award, Archer Technologies went from strength to strength in their social media campaign in 2010. The company runs two community platforms that enable their clients to interact within a forum-based environment (The Archer Community) and to download and share applications (The Archer Exchange).
8. Get customers talking together in a viewable space
The Archer Community gave customers the ability to interact directly with each other – to share ideas, concerns and advice. It now gets 20 new members a week, with 4,000 unique visits and over 400 downloads. Likewise ‘The Archer Exchange’ created a channel for the company to push out applications to dedicated enthusiasts. The Archer Exchange boasts 17,000 unique visits, 90,000 page views and 1,200 downloads every week. By figuring out what customers really wanted, and creating focused spaces where it could happen, Archer Technologies effectively got all their customers together in one place where advocacy was able to manifest itself strongly.
9. Use customer feedback to drive and enhance change
Both the ‘The Archer Community’ and ‘The Archer Exchange’ enabled Archer Technologies to monitor industry expectations and learn from their customers’ requirements. This level of education through user feedback and sharing led the company to declare in early 2010 that ‘The Archer Community’ had contributed directly to the development of their Business Continuity Management, Mobile GRC and Data Feed Manager applications.
10. Ignore feedback at your peril
Archer Technologies harnessed what their customers were saying and applied it into real life strategies. But conversely, ignoring what customers tell you – especially in social media channels – undermines your campaign by making it appear as a transparent marketing ploy. This is risky, because disaffected audiences can tell you so – quite publicly. Ultimately setting yourself up to hear customers’ opinions and then ignoring them would be detrimental to your reputation. The good news is that the reverse is also true – and the unsolicited testimony of happy customers is a key reward of committing to social media.