A recent discussion on LinkedIn asked “If there’s only one to choose of all the social media channels for your business. What would it be ? And why?”
Why Would You Want Only One?
My answer to them was why would you want only one? Each social media channel has a different use case. So your decision to target a channel should be centered around three criteria:
- What is your objective?
- Who is your target buyer persona?
- Are they active in any of the social channels?
- How do they discover content?
Social Without Strategy is Like Selling Without Empathy
Generally, when people ask a question like that, it’s a sign that they don’t have an integrated marketing strategy. Trying to use social without a strategy is like selling without any empathy to the customer needs. You can try it, and you’ll make a lot of noise. But it won’t be particularly effective, and it risks annoying prospects and damaging your brand.
Someone else in that same group asked the question, “How valuable have you found LinkedIn as a platform to drive leads? Do you feel that company pages alone, if used well, are sufficient in doing this or should they be combined with LinkedIn groups?”
For our business (marketing consulting for technology vendors targeting the financial services industry), we find LinkedIn to be our most profitable channel for generating sales-qualified leads. Roughly 60% of our current pipeline found us on LinkedIn. But more importantly, LinkedIn has helped nurture EVERY deal we’ve closed in the past 2 years.
Engaging on LinkedIn has an interesting impact on relationships. Because we’re sharing and updating daily, our connections are seeing us in their daily updates. I know people are seeing them, because every time I go to an industry event, I’ll see people I haven’t seen in a year or more, and they act like we just talked yesterday, because they see (and value) my updates.
We publish updates multiple times a day on our individual pages and on our company page. It’s a mix of our content and other people’s content, but it’s not about spamming updates. When we share, we always incorporate some kind of insight so people can get value without needing to click a link. We have a specific integrated marketing strategy, and our updates follow that strategy.
LinkedIn has sponsored some research on how people use that platform for social selling. Here’s a useful article and infographic.
We promote some content in groups, but only in a manner that will foster conversation. We’re strongly opposed to spamming LinkedIn groups or just posting updates just to promote our blog. We don’t always succeed in getting a discussion started, but it’s consistently our objective.
I’ve been participating heavily in LinkedIn discussion groups lately, and I know that a number of our clients are watching those discussions. So far, this activity hasn’t produced a sales opportunity, but it has produced some excellent blog post topics. In fact, this post was adapted from a comment I wrote in a LinkedIn discussion.
Twitter has had a positive impact also. We know for certain that two of our recent wins discovered us on Twitter. I don’t think it’s as powerful as LinkedIn, but it does provide some amplification. When we write a particularly remarkable blog post, we see some social sharing – not as much as people with huge followings, but what we do get generates traffic to our website.
Like LinkedIn, we work to engage with our followers, share content, and converse. But we’re not as good on Twitter – partially because I have my reservations about its effectiveness for our target audience. Most of our engagement there ends up being with our competitors and other content marketing practitioners. This is helpful, because we learn from these discussions, are sometimes able to help other firms, and enjoy building relationships in our industry. But it’s not generating leads the way LinkedIn does. Should you decide to include Twitter in your strategy, here’s a useful infographic on how best to engage on Twitter.
YouTube also sends us referral traffic, and that channel has served as an important conversion tool. For example, marketing directors often share our videos with their CEOs and CMOs to help them build the business case for hiring us.
We use Google+ to share our content and interact. At first, it seemed like a platform for individuals to post personal content like Facebook; but it’s growing in popularity among our B2B client base. We haven’t seen any sales results from Google+, but we can’t ignore this channel because Google prioritizes it in search results. Getting your key content shared on Google+ can be a factor in improving search results.
More important is Google Authorship. Today, we establish Google Authorship for every post we write. This is important to establish Author Rank. It also causes your author bio photo to be displayed in search results next to the page description. This can increase your click-through rate by as much as 150%. For more information on this important topic, here’s an article on Google authorship and author rank.
Because of its connection with Google+ and the new Hummingbird algorithm, we’ve had to give more serious consideration to establishing Google Authorship. Here are some helpful links, in case you’re not familiar with this new development:
- 3 Ways Content Will Be Affected by Google’s Latest Hummingbird Update
- How to Establish Google+ Authorship
- Author Information in Search Results
SlideShare, Pinterest and Other Channels
SlideShare and Pinterest are a channels we’re just beginning to explore. I’m convinced that SlideShare will prove valuable, but we need to develop content for that channel. We’ve done webinars on a couple platforms, and those were good for getting a general audience, but attracted very few of our target market. We just recently started experimenting with Pinterest, and last week, it delivered as much referral traffic than Twitter. But even more important was the engagement. Pinterest delivered an average of 5 page views per unique visitor compared to Twitter’s average of 1.5. To be honest, I have no clue why that is, but we’ll continue to test and measure.
We do not use Facebook for business. This has been a deliberate, and carefully thought out decision. We find that our clients and our target industry tends to use Facebook for personal use and LinkedIn/Twitter for business. I’ve never seen a compelling reason to try and leverage this platform. However, that decision is specific to our business and our target market. I’ve seen some businesses leverage Facebook very effectively.
Industry Trade Publications
We get really good visibility by publishing blogs and bylines on industry publications that accept external editorial. In this case, we publish articles and thought leadership that are very specific to our target industry. The purpose of this content is to build awareness and demonstrate our knowledge of the subject matter on which we write for clients. We’ve won a couple deals because someone saw a story we wrote about another client’s project called us wanting the same type of content. We serve a niche audience, so it’s straightforward to target the publications our audience reads.
It’s Not About the Channel, It’s About the Strategy
So that’s why I ask the question – why would you choose only one social channel? Each channel has a different use case. What’s critical is knowing where your target audience is and developing an integrated marketing strategy that aligns all the channels around common objectives. It’s not about the channel, it’s about your target customers and how they research and solve problems. Throughout the rest of this quarter, we’ll be writing about how to develop an integrated strategy.
It Takes Time to Build a Social Community
None of these results happened overnight. It’s taken us about 4 years to build out our social community. We nurture those connections daily. Our community is not as large or as refined as some, and we continue to refine our strategy as we measure results. Crucial to this strategy is an effective content strategy. Without consistently publishing high quality content that our audience values, our social media outreach would not be as effective.
Now It’s Your Turn
Do you have a strategy that integrates social? Have you found it effective? Which channels are delivering leads to your organization? Have you tried social selling?
If you’d like more information about developing an integrated marketing strategy, click here to read more posts on content strategy or call me to discuss.