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What’s So Sexy About B2B Social Media Marketing?

Jade Furubayashi
Jade Furubayashi

B2B marketing is often seen as a stodgy, risk-averse segment. Is that still true when you’re working in Twitter, Facebook, Vine, and other social channels? I sat down with Simply Measured’s Social Media Manager Jade Furubayashi to find out from her why she loves her work so much and what makes B2B social media marketing so sexy.

You’re a B2B social media marketer. Were you ever a B2C marketer before?

I did social media for a hot tub company once. But, mostly I’ve worked in B2B.

How would you describe the role of social media in a B2B marketing strategy?

For the B2B marketing strategy, especially the one we have here because we’re a software company, we actually use our social media to drive tangible business outcomes, such as leads and names. There are ways that B2C marketing people have a little bit more trouble proving the tangible value of social marketing because they’re all about reach and impressions and metrics like that.

What’s So Sexy About B2B Social Media Marketing?

I think brand awareness is good. It’s a big part of social media but I think it’s hard to tie into, “How does that drive the bottom line?” Everyone assumes that social marketing does create lift and that they know why but I think the difference with B2B and B2C marketing, at least in the context of how I’m framing it, is that with B2B marketing on social you can actually drive a download or get someone to sign up. As opposed to B2C marketing, which is much more for brand awareness.

For us, in particular, I find myself changing our social strategy to get our followers to take an action rather than to simply spread the word. That is the distinction I would make between the two. Brand awareness is really important and being a community manager is still really important, it’s just that we don’t have a product we can push in a store so we have to get people to a different venue.

So, you’re a step in a marketing funnel?

Yes, we have a funnel and I sit at the top of that. Then, once they enter, they decide whether they want to continue down it. It’s just a matter of bringing people in.

B2C does allow people to buy. What about that very measurable goal?

I think the distinction between B2B and B2C is, in general, B2C has a tangible product that they then advertise and promote – something that someone could hold or use in a more physical sense. B2B requires finding a way to promote and sell something that doesn’t give you the instant gratification that B2C products provide. It’s a less sexy industry that way.

What are things that have worked for you on social to get those leads and names?

I think the way I drive a lot of leads is by testing. The majority of the testing being content types. Something that we’ve found is that certain types of content do better on certain networks more than others, and that’s an insight I wouldn’t have been able to find if I weren’t looking really, really closely at the data week in and week out. So, I’ve learned to be attentive to where we stack up strength-wise and where we don’t, especially when we’re promoting content as a driver of business, leads, and names.

Also, I think maintaining the balance between selling too much and not selling at all is really important. Falling somewhere in the middle where you haven’t turned your social channels into a blast of “get this now” or “download this now.” I try to maintain the the holy grail of social marketing, which is that it is a social space that isn’t meant to be exclusively outbound. That’s really important. Just blasting people is a sure fire way to piss off your audience and it’s not going to work at all long term.

What are some ways that you’ve had success with more interactive social content?

Our Halloween campaign was really great. We engaged in a costume contest with a bunch of other Seattle startups. It was a lot of funs things like shots around the office of people in their costumes. We had a nice competition going on. It ended up getting covered by our local tech news site, Geekwire. A lot of people got in on it that weren’t from any of the companies. It was awesome. We got Lulu Lemon, Porch, Redfin, Moz, and Zillow. It was really fun.

There’s a ton of Seahawks stuff going on, too, which is really cool. People really like that. That’s a lot of our content team’s work because we help produce a weekly social media graphic for the Seahawk’s marketing org, as well as keeping a good relationship with them on social. We talk with a lot of people from Seattle, a lot of football fans. It’s a really interesting space that we’re somehow able to interact in. It’s unconventional for a software company to be tweeting back and forth with the Seahawks. Kevin Shively, our blog editor, writes a blog every week for the Seahawks and is also a data nerd, for the record.

You’re on a data-driven team. What are some of your goals for your own work?

They split into two categories. One is brand awareness, which is signified by impressions, reach, and engagement. Those metrics are really important for brand awareness goals and are almost exclusively what I look for there.

For sales, which is another set of goals, I look at visits, net new leads, MQLs, and conversion rates.

Can you tell me more about how you define visits versus conversions?

For my measurement purposes, I track visits to our website or content. I then measure the rate of conversion from a visit to a net new lead (or a form fill) and then that to a MQL (a qualified lead). The visits are to our website or content. Conversions are an actual form fill or download. Conversion rates are a great way to expose weaknesses, either in your Tweet copy, your landing pages, your form, etc. If people aren’t converting, there is likely something misleading in your Tweet or post copy that’s driving them there but then they’re choosing not to opt in. I like to look at the full story.

One thing I would call out is that, even though they live in two different worlds, engagement and visits are very much connected. It makes a lot of sense, of course, that if you’re getting more Retweets then more people are going to see your content and more people are going to visit it, which leads to more impressions. So, even though those things exist separately for me in terms of how I think about my goals and how I report on them, they influence each other a lot.

What your favorite thing about B2B social media marketing?

It really is super challenging. Sometimes you feel like you’re trying to reinvent the wheel, which sounds boring for a lot of people but I find that some really great ideas come from that place of, “How are we going to do something that everyone’s done already?” I think the experience of being able to make something really sexy from a product or in a space that isn’t known for that is fun, exciting, and hard, but rewarding when it works.

B2B is a place where everyone is reaching for the same ideas and it’s a place that has stayed within certain constraints. There are a few companies that have broken through and been really innovative. But, I think that is part of the challenge, becoming one of those companies.

What are some of the breakthrough social media marketing tactics you’ve seen that you think are really cool?

Hubspot is my B2B marketing crush. I think everything they do is awesome. I love the way they package their content. I love the tone they’ve decided to take on social because it’s not dry, which is unusual for a B2B company. They crank out some really awesome stuff. I like to think of them as the BuzzFeed of B2B. They’re very young, hip, and innovative, and they don’t dumb it down to the point where it’s a joke but they keep it lighthearted and simple so it’s consumable for everyone. They make it useful for the masses rather than a niche audience, something I think more B2B companies could do.

What would you tell a B2C marketer to bring them to the dark side… B2B marketing?

If you’re an accomplished B2C marketer and you want a whole new challenge, market a B2B product that you can’t dress up and doll up. It is what it is. We think our product is sexy but we have to make other people think it is sexy, too.

Bridget Quigg

Hello, fellow Marketeers. My job at Simply Measured is to tell Kevin and Lucy how awesome they are at running the blog. Because, they are.

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