Top Takeaways for B2B Marketers from The Complete Social Media Community Manager’s Guide

February 19, 2013: Marty Weintraub and Lauren Litwinka, our friends over at AimClear, recently published The Complete Social Media Community Manager’s Guide: Essential Tools and Tactics for Business Success. The book offers tips and advice for community managers on how to set up, manage, and run a social media program. More importantly, it contains process checklists, tools, and real-world examples of what to do.

The book is great for community managers of all levels, and I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Here are five of the top takeaways:

Tools Can’t Do It All

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While it’s important to make sure you’re using tools to monitor the web for mentions of your brand and product, it’s more important that you understand what those mentions actually mean. How are people talking about you? Where are they talking about you? What are they actually saying?

A tool can gather all of the data, but you need a human to figure out what the data means and how you can use it. Some tools B2B marketers can use for listening include:

Be Where Your Customers Are

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For many businesses, the idea of establishing a social media presence can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of networks that currently exist and it feels as if we’re always hearing about the next big one coming down the pipeline. Where do you start?!?

At the end of the day, your business should be spending time on the networks that matter. Here are a few tips on identifying the best social network for your business:

  • Look at analytics. What sites are currently sending referrals?  This is a pretty good indicator of where your customers are.
  • Look at competitors: Where are your competitors spending their time? You don’t need to copy their efforts but you can let them at least do some of the research for you.
  • Look at network demographics: Evaluate each network to determine where your customers are likely to be. For example, we know for most B2B companies, LinkedIn is better at driving conversions than Facebook or YouTube. Based on that information you may want to spend more time on LinkedIn.

Of course, once you determine the proper networks, you need to make sure you are choosing the right content to distribute.

Your Site Should Be the Content Hub

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I read an article not too long ago that recommended people forget about posting content to their own sites and focus on Facebook instead. That’s terrible advice and the book does a nice job of addressing why it’s terrible advice. You don’t own Facebook or any other social network and you don’t control what they do. What you do control is your own site. That’s where you should be placing your content.

On top of that, as the book points out, content is the center of social. Sites like Twitter and Facebook are built for sharing posts, images, videos, etc. If you’re content is not hosted on your own site, you’re simply driving your network elsewhere.

Note: The book emphasizes the 80/20 rule for non-branded vs. branded content for social media promotion. A good rule of thumb.

Paid Advertising Is Becoming Necessary

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One of the biggest takeaways (and sad realizations) for me is that relying solely on organic social media for success is becoming nearly impossible. The book notes that on Facebook, only “16% of users will see your content if you post to brand page 5-7x per week.” Think about it. For every 100 fans you have, only 16 will actually see your post. Sigh.

For businesses, this means organic-looking ads like sponsored stories and promoted page posts are becoming the only true way to reach the fans they’ve worked so hard to get. The good news for Facebook is businesses are apparently realizing this. According to Inside Facebook, the 2012 Q4 earnings call reported that 500,000 pages are now using promoted posts, 2.5 million posts have been promoted, and 70% of pages using promoted posts are return customers. That’s a lot of money for Facebook.

Of course if you don’t want to pay for promoted posts, you can always try and get your fans to pay for you.

Create Social Media KPIs

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Social media measurement and ROI is something that many marketers are still struggling with. It’s also a big reason many businesses are hesitant to put money toward social media campaigns.

The good news is that there are ways you can measure social and, more importantly, ways you should be measuring social. For any B2B company, it’s important to remember social is a marketing channel, and just like any marketing channel, you need to be establishing KPIs and goals for your campaigns.

Here are a few good articles on setting up social media KPIs:

But Wait, There’s More…

The takeaways covered in this post are really just a morsel compared to the total amount of info contained in the book. Aside from the great tips on how to manage your social media, there are some amazing and time-saving analyses of tool sets, breakdowns of social networks (for B2B community managers, there are even some niche networks), process guides available to download, and real-life examples to show you what to do and not to do.

The best part is, the book is written like Marty and Lauren speak, making it extremely fun to read (especially if you’ve ever seen Marty give a presentation).

If you are a social media community manager, a business owner interested in starting a social media campaign, or just a marketer interested in learning more, I highly recommend you get reading. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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