What do you want to get out of your social media marketing?
For most companies, the benefits they expect to see are:
- increasing exposure (89%)
- developing loyal fans (68%)
- providing marketplace insights (66%).
These are all real benefits of social media and can deliver great value for your business, but they are also a little too abstract and a little distanced from marketing’s main priority – customer acquisition.
Further down on the list of benefits, 66% of marketers expect to generate leads from social media. This is where social can really make an impactful, measurable difference for your business.
While there was once a time where social media was only beneficial for brand awareness and customer loyalty, the way consumers buy has changed that. 67% of the typical B2B buyer’s journey is done digitally and 90% of buyers say that online content has an effect of their purchasing decisions. Customers are not only open to being engaged and converted through social – they actually expect it:
- 55% of B2B buyers do their research by using social networks
- 78% of people say that their buying decisions are influenced by a company’s social media posts
- 77% of Twitter users feel more positive about a brand when their Tweet has been replied to
This change has opened up social media as the new path for customer acquisition.
Social Media is the number one channel leveraged by CMOs to move every stage of the customer experience forward – except buying. When brands look to engage customers at the discovery, learning, trial, use and advocacy stages of the buyer journey, social media was hands down the channel they lean on. For buying, social is only beat out by website and email.
While you will eventually need to move your customers onto a web page or sales email (until Facebook Marketplace takes off…just kidding) social media is still your best way to lead customers through the path towards an acquisition. Here are a few key steps towards building out your customer acquisition path through social media:
Right Channels With The Right Content
While most people understand the importance of carefully segmenting their audience and creating engaging content, few marketers are good at combining the two. According to the IMN 2013 Content Marketing Survey Report, only 22% of marketers have a separate content marketing strategy in place for each social media channel.
Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization saw success by targeting the millennial segment of their audience with specifically tailored content in the form of their #WinterWander campaign. After tailoring their content to their audience, they published that content on the specific social media channels that segment was active on through promoted posts on Instagram and Facebook. In just three months of focused efforts they were able to see a 168% increase in Instagram followers and a 18% increase on Facebook.
The right social media channels for your business may be completely different, depending on your audience. You also may engage different segments of your audience on different channels or speak to the same segments in different ways depending on the medium you’re on. That’s why the average organization uses 6 different social channels and rates these as the most effective:
- LinkedIn 66%
- Twitter 55%
- Youtube 51%
- SlideShare 41%
- Facebook 30%
- Instagram 22%
- Pinterest 20%
- Google+ 13%
By targeting your message to each social channel you can speak to that audience’s unique needs and promote content and offers most likely to move them forward in the customer acquisition process. Also, because you only send your message to qualified leads rather than scatter-shooting the same message across all your social channels, this strategy will greatly reduce your lead generation costs. Military social network Sandboxx found that by targeting their content to specific segments of their audience they were able to decrease cost-per-acquisition by 70%.
Tracking Relevant Keywords And Target Brands
Ensuring your social media content fits each network’s audience will help you increase web traffic and generate leads, but in order to move your customers further along the acquisition process your social strategy needs to get even more targeted.
By tracking relevant keywords and prospects, you ensure that your social team can respond to your social leads in a timely and personal way. Unfortunately, brands run into several issues when trying to track social activity:
- 96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands. Even though people are talking about your business, they aren’t making it easy for you to find them.
- Social profiles aren’t going to include keywords like “decision maker” or “investor.” Social marketers need to map their buyer personas to discover which keywords indicate a qualified lead.
Merchant service provider Ethix learned this the hard way when their initial attempt to find investors did not generate many leads or responses. By measuring and honing in on the keywords that brought them the most leads, the company was able to retarget their social marketing, find the brand persona that are moving the needle, and increase website visits and phone call volume by 15-20%.
Integrating Marketing Automation
Targeting the right audiences with the right messages at the right time will greatly improve your ability to acquire customers through social media. Unfortunately, it will also take a lot of time. While this effort will certainly pay dividends, most businesses simply do not have the resources to spend all day tracking and nurturing social media leads.
That’s where marketing automation comes in.
Automating the repeatable aspects of your social acquisition will actually allow you to offer an even more personalized experience to your audience. In fact, companies using marketing automation are 230% more likely to create custom content for each acquisition stage and 350% more likely to trigger content through intelligent targeting.
Here are a few ways automation can help you use social media to guide your followers through the acquisition process:
- A/B Test Different Social CTAs: Test out different messaging strategies for each channel and segment to figure out what makes your leads take action. Your calls-to-action will always require tweaking, but these insights will get you closer every time.
- Engage Leads on Social: By tracking specific keywords that indicate buying interest or include mentions of your brand, you can automatically send messages to qualified leads to begin the customer acquisition process.
- Automate Lead Follow-up: Using a social automation tool like Socedo you can automatically share a piece of lead generation content with new followers and then use a marketing automation tool like HubSpot to enter those leads into a nurturing campaign.
One of the biggest social media challenges for businesses is to understand and measure the true value of various social media channels. By focusing on customer acquisition over more abstract social media goals, you can create a funnel that will bring you much better results and be much easier to track.