Last week, DemandCon invaded San Francisco, and demand generation marketing and sales was a hot topic of discussion. In conjunction with this year’s event, the Social Media Club of San Francisco hosted a panel to discuss whether “Social Media ROI Can Equal Sales.” The panel consisted of Adam Metz, author and Principal at the Social Concept (@theMetz); Jason Miller, Social Media Strategist at Marketo (@JasonMillerCA ); Koka Sexton, Sr. Social Marketing Manager LinkedIn (@KokaSexton ). If that doesn’t turn you on, then you’re reading the wrong blog post. Here are some of the key takeaways.
Just Do It
At the risk of sounding like a ‘90’s era Nike commercial, this was a universal theme. Social Media can drive leads, and the ROI can be tracked, so what are demand generation marketers waiting for? All three panelists were adamant that there are leads and sales out there to be had using Social Media and if your organization is not utilizing these valuable channels, your competition is. Koka Sexton pointed out that “while 60-70% of the buying cycle is online, most companies don’t get it… there are ways to find and engage targets, but they either don’t understand how or they are reluctant to try new tools.”
It’s All About Engagement
Anyone studying social media will have heard this a million times, but engagement is still the key to success. Targets and leads are not the same. Further, just because someone follows you on Twitter or downloads your white paper doesn’t make them a lead. In B2B marketing, the “leads” aren’t usually ready to buy immediately. They need to be engaged and nurtured before they are truly part of the sales funnel. With social media, you can provide them with what they want – to be helped and entertained. It might take 7 to 10 touches before the sales team is even ready to mobilize. However, Jason Miller pointed out that if you repeatedly fill the sales funnel with too many uninterested, unengaged “leads,” your sales team will begin to question the veracity of your work.
The Tools Are Cheap
There is no longer an excuse to say that you cannot track ROI. A convenient excuse in the past has been that the tools are too expensive, but that’s simply not the case any longer. Miller cited the “old days” of 2007 when a suite of services such as Buzzsuite cost thousands for the promise of tracking influencers, engagement and leads. Now there are services such as Hootsuite that provide all of that and more, many of which are free.
Make Sure You Know What You Are Measuring
All of the panelists agreed that it is crucial to know what you are measuring. Sexton suggested that there are 3 levels of measuring – 1. Likes (which is very basic); 2. Engagement (which provides more context to what you are doing but doesn’t quite equate to closed business); 3. Leads (which ultimately can be traced to closed business). Adam Metz suggested that many organizations do not have robust business intelligence tools and metrics. If that’s the case, he recommends that you buddy up with an analyst and develop metrics by which your success can be judged.
Know The Full Cycle
It’s not always easy within an organization to have complete ownership of the sales cycle or control of the metrics. As Metz pointed out, cross-functional ownership of the customer is crucial across a long sales cycle. That is why it is important to clarify what needs to be measured, and what you are measuring against. You can track the lead from social to a closed sale, but you have to follow it and in organizations with multiple touch points, that can be difficult.
In Social, Good Content Helps…And It’s OK To Be A Little Goofy
Whether it’s B2B or B2C, good content helps engage your targets and ultimately can help develop them into real leads. “What is good content?” you might be asking? There’s no magic formula, but helpful or entertaining content is a good start. Sexton recommends that all content be sharable. For example, utilize “click to tweet” functionality in order to make it as easily sharable as possible. Miller gave an example of “Baby Godfather,” a silly, low-budget campaign based upon – you guessed it – a “Baby Godfather” meme. Taking a cue from a viral meme that was making the rounds, the campaign was wildly successful, garnering thousands of “Likes” that his team could then follow-up with progressive touches and behavior understandings. Many of those contacts became engaged targets and eventual leads. The takeaway was that in social it was ok to be a little goofy, as long as the content was entertaining and sharable.
In case corporate America were still in doubt, milestones such as the LinkedIn IPO and the Facebook IPO indicate that social media is no mere fad. And it’s no longer merely the domain of the PR team. It’s a channel that demand generation marketers need to utilize. Social media as a channel and the tools that can track ROI have reached a more mature stage – is your organization taking advantage?