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Best Practices Q&A

Briggs: Before using social media, define your brand

Rex Briggs is CEO of research and analytics firm Marketing Evolution and author of “SIRFs-Up: Catching the Next Wave in Marketing.” Briggs, whose work at Marketing Evolution has tracked how advertisers have over time received less return on their marketing budgets, thinks B2B marketers need to demystify social channels before they can start to measure them. He spoke with BMA Buzz about some of the most effective ways to link social media to the top and bottom lines.

BMA Buzz: There are many studies pointing to the difficulties B2B marketers now face in creating social media ROI. You’ve said the lack of ROI in social media is a ‘myth.’ What do you mean by that?

Rex Briggs: Unfortunately, some of the less experienced marketers start first by trying to go to the social zeitgeist and they haven’t really done anything to really connect with their advocates or existing customers—these marketers are the ones who walk away disappointed with the results from social media. The ones who are doing it right have great ROI.

What is involved in doing it right? First, If we really want to try and improve the effectiveness of social media you have to get to the beginning of the problem and first have the marketer define what their brand ideal is.

Second, we argue that marketers should focus first on their advocates and turning existing customers into advocates. This is the key population that will influence others to check out your company—especially those about to make a purchase decision that are seeking advice from their network.

Third, marketers need to decide what structures and dedicated resources to put in place to execute social media to advocates, existing customers and those about to make an initial purchase decision. Only after you’ve done those three things incredibly well 24/7/365 do you begin to do these broad awareness, favorability type campaigns.

BMA Buzz: Regardless of the business sector, what do you see as the biggest barriers among B2B marketers in establishing better metrics for their social channels?

Briggs:  The complexity of social media has been overstated.  You can boil it down to a couple of fundamentals around the metrics. The first is voice-of-the-customer initiative, which is doing searches and setting up listening devices to hear what the customer is saying about your brand; that’s a customer insight engine that needs to be in place.

The second effort is using social media as an instrument in marketing to generate sales or repeat business. On the second point, the key metrics are the numbers of advocates you have and the way in which those advocates are sharing your information with others.

Once you are engaging the advocates, then you can pay attention to the metrics. Count the number of advocates that pass along your message. Track the pass along that results in somebody else who then comes to your website. Count the leads into your sales funnel. These are appropriate metrics, but you absolutely first have to build a mechanism for finding and engaging your advocates.

BMA Buzz: What are some of the most effective ways that B2B marketers can communicate the value of social media to the C-suite?

Briggs: My favorite chart to the C-suite would be a one-slide picture of a megaphone. At the mouthpiece of the megaphone is the count of how many advocates you have and then on the part of the megaphone where the volume comes out you show the number of people who the [advocates] are connected to. That multiplication becomes huge. We call this ‘The Momentum Effect.’

That chart can be followed up with a bullet point that our job in social media is to provide advocates with great content that gives them a reason to want to share it with their network, and have that content connect back to us in our lead-generation engine.

You can even run a scenario or two of how many leads you should be able to generate from your advocates sharing great content with their network—content that points back to your lead engine in an appropriate and subtle way.

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