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Marketing doesn’t happen without goal-setting.
B2B marketers in particular, being tasked with the job of bringing prospects into sales funnels for complex products and services, need to know how to set goals for every aspect of their campaigns – and that includes social media initiatives.
Marketers must clarify what they’re aiming to achieve with B2B social media campaigns, especially given the stubborn status of social media as a younger, relatively untested type of marketing.
Setting specific goals will help illustrate the conversions and ROI that can come directly from involvement in social networks, as well as help set solid expectations for future social media ventures.
So you might ask: How can B2B marketers define goals, especially in the ever-changing social media world?
Types of goals to set
When it comes to social, there are two types of goals that marketers should be setting.
Broad goals help you and your team understand the purpose behind your social media campaigns but they are useless without specific, measurable goals to help track your progress.
Choosing broad social marketing goals is perhaps the easy part, but it still requires careful consideration.
The top 5 goals of B2B marketers are, in order:
- Brand awareness
- Lead generation
- Customer acquisition
- Thought leadership, and
Any and all of these things can be accomplished with a good social media campaign. Depending on the market position of your company, you might select just 2 or 3 of the above goals for now, and focus on others in the future as company needs dictate.
For example, if you choose brand awareness and thought leadership, you’ll focus your social media efforts on achieving those two objectives. First, focus on creating social content that’s helpful, shareable, engaging, and uniquely styled to give definition to your brand. Secondly, for the thought leadership component, make sure your social posts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook link to your comprehensive guides, ebooks, and white papers on important industry topics.
To create your specific goals, you should use the very intuitive SMART paradigm. SMART is, of course, the famous acronym for “specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound,” which describes everything a reasonable, clear-cut goal should be.
Formulate some social media marketing goals that can be put in those particular terms.
A reasonable goal for social lead acquisition might be “over the next 3 months (time-bound), increase leads by 50% via LinkedIn publications.”
If you’ve found that prospects have a peculiar affinity with your brand over Twitter, you might devise the following goal: “over the next quarter, get 300 new people to engage (RT’s and/or comments) on Twitter.”
With such SMART goals, you’ll weed out distractions and your social marketing team will know exactly what to focus on, day to day.
Building a social strategy around goals
Once you have both specific and broad company goals in clear view, it’s time to construct your social campaign around them.
The focus on these goals shouldn’t take away from continuously engaging with prospects on each social platform and responding to all lead engagements in a timely manner.
You should attack the specific goals you’ve set by incorporating them into these day-to-day social management tasks as well as in your overall campaign strategy.
Here’s how you can construct a social campaign that has very specific goals as a target:
- Create drip campaigns. Consistency in social publishing is the key to success. Using your social media management platform, construct a calendar for automatic publishing; so that for the specific networks you’ve chosen to target in your SMART goals, your posts go out exactly when prospects are most likely to see them. Be sure to use a combination of the best practices for scheduling social posts and your own metrics for assessing optimal posting times.
- Monitor competitors, and take advantage of what you find. Your competitors are a gold mine for marketing intelligence – that is, if you choose to see them that way. Take particular note of what they’re not doing. It may be that they’re not speaking to specific market concerns that have arisen within LinkedIn discussions with your prospects. Or, they’re all linking to whitepapers and lengthy eBooks in their social profiles, while your segmentation research reveals that your target audience wants to see more videos. Or, your competitors are doing everything right, which makes your job simple – do everything even better and more creatively. Whatever the case, social media monitoring can help you discover and take advantage of your competitors’ social media activity to achieve your company’s objectives.
- Optimize social posts. Don’t just write text-based posts on social. A B2B professional’s news feeds can be “dry” enough, and it’s easy to gloss over blocks of text. Instead, make your social posts visually appealing. Infuse them with images, engaging questions, and provocative (though not necessarily controversial) headlines. Raising the bar of social post quality, especially on the social networks you’ve decided to build SMART goals around, will always bring measurable results.
Tracking success in achieving goals
It’s a no-brainer – if you’ve used the SMART system, you know exactly whether you’ve fallen under or exceeded those goals after the specified period of time. That makes it a breeze to measure the impact and value of social within your overall marketing approach.
If you’ve fallen short of specific expectations, there are two possibilities: you didn’t go about achieving the goal the right way, or it perhaps wasn’t the right goal in the first place. To cover both bases, think about whether what you’ve done within the defined time period was specific and intentional enough.
To return to an earlier example, if your goal was to acquire 200 leads on LinkedIn, ask yourself: have you truly defined a “lead” from LinkedIn? Have you produced enough enticing, informative content on the network – whether through blog posts, status updates and group participation – for prospects to entertain making a purchase (or at least, visiting your site and downloading more content)?
Or perhaps you’ve determined that you probably didn’t set the proper goal in the first place. It could be that the numbers your marketing team strove for were too ambitious, considering resources and time constraints, or that the focus was placed on the wrong social network from the start.
With 85% of B2B buyers wanting vendors to present more information via social, it’s certainly not time to give up. Set a new SMART goal based on your customer profiles, aggregate interactions with current customers and leads as well as knowledge gained from the missteps, and keep trying to reach those prospects who are waiting to make a social connection with your brand.
If you exceeded your social SMART goals, do more of the same! If your lead acquisition has been bolstered by your specific social efforts, it’s important to keep the tactics you’ve used in your arsenal. Of course, the one thing B2B marketers should keep in mind through goal-oriented campaigns, particularly when they’re successful, is the importance of tracking conversion rates.
If sales increase (that is, if more and more qualified leads from social are entering the sales funnel and converting to buyers), marketing ROI increases, and that’s a great point to make to stakeholders. Throughout your social media marketing ventures, keeping goals in focus is the only way to make sure you’ll reach them.
Take the above suggestions into account when setting objectives for your next B2B social media campaign.
Guest Author: Daniel Kushner is the Co-Founder and CEO of Oktopost, and is passionate about helping B2B marketers bridge the gap between social media efforts and ROI. Daniel has been in the field for more than a decade and has successfully led the online marketing departments of various global organizations.