Companies need to focus on growing engagement with their fan base, not just collecting more fans.
Social marketing's value in the B2B space has generated debate for several years. However, companies are beginning to see how these networks influence their users' buying behavior as more of their customers use social networks.
According to a Kissmetrics report from last year, 64 percent of Twitter users and 51 percent of Facebook users said they will buy from brands that they follow. In addition, 34 percent of respondents said they would likely become a brand fan if an acquaintance likes the same brand.
Facebook's research shows that creating social engagement can increase brand recall by 1.6 times and increase purchase intent four times. Facebook posts receive 50 percent of their "likes" in the first 80 minutes. On any given day of the week, half of an e-commerce site's traffic is logged in to Facebook.
Now that social channels are moving from novelty to maturation, companies need to shift their focus to grow engagement with their fan base, not just to collect more fans.
Marketers must shift their focus toward getting users to "like," share, retweet, and reply to content within social communities to build an engaged community.
Step 1: Lead engagement. Here you must engage your leads effectively. Promote reasons for being active within social communities in other marketing channels, such as your email program, to grow engagement within the community:
Avoid posting content for just the content's sake. Don't waste your fans' time with surveys or polls if you aren't going to use their responses to optimize your program.
Step 2: Listen and analyze. Leverage listening and analysis tools to help monitor and understand your community's comments and actions:
Step 3: Bring the data together. Tap into the social networking data that your networks profile. Analyze and leverage it to segment your ongoing email campaigns with versions for social influencers.
Don't collect data just because you can or be sneaky about collecting it. Let your users know what they are giving you permission to see and use for marketing.
Skincare company Philosophy is a good example of a brand that saw the opportunity with social and jumped on it. The company analyzed which types of Facebook content drove the most social engagement (shorter posts, photos, etc.) and used that analysis to plan its social content.
By focusing on engagement, Philosophy's posts are more likely to display in its users' newsfeeds. This led to increased reach with its community and a significant boost in the average engagement of posts and consumption of posts (people clicking on content).
The Last Word
Remember, social marketing is much more than just getting a customer or prospect to "like" your brand. Attracting highly engaged followers is a strategic process that emphasizes content quality over quantity.
By taking some time and effort to determine what types of content your customers and prospects like, you can open up a path to more engaged subscribers who will encounter your message in multiple channels.
Encourage those with high social activity to share your key marketing messages with their networks.
An email subscriber base that is also highly engaged with your social community will allow you to generate more referrals and magnify the effects of your marketing efforts for years to come.
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Mike Hotz is a senior strategic consultant for Responsys, working with clients to design, develop, and execute cross-channel digital marketing strategies that contribute to their cross-channel digital marketing success. As an industry veteran, Mike has worked in e-mail marketing since 1998, designing, building, and executing e-mail and multichannel direct marketing strategies focusing on increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, supporting sales organizations, and driving revenue for companies such as CDW, OfficeMax, Grant Thornton, and Digitalwork.com.
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