Account-based marketing (ABM) can be one of the most powerful tools available for generating qualified B2B leads that result in significant revenue. But it requires knowing your target audience on a more granular level than in the past.
Enter social media: Networks like LinkedIn and Twitter are rich sources of buyer interests and behavior and can help you segment your audience for more personalized messaging. Social media also can help before and during ABM campaigns by allowing you to test messaging and heighten engagement.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years about leveraging an organization’s social media presence to perform research, enhance execution, and measure the success of ABM campaigns.
Do the Research
I’m a huge believer in buyer persona development, so segmentation absolutely is critical. Who is that person you want to reach? Where are they on the age spectrum? On the experience spectrum? What’s their background? All those data points matter, yet I’m still seeing that many marketers who aren’t gathering that information.
One of the best places to find this data is social media. A smart, savvy marketing team can easily analyze how their targeted buyers think and behave. What type of content are they engaging with on this platform? What are their interests? One of the key benefits of social media is that it makes it easier to not only gather the information, but also to slice and dice that information and disseminate it back to your organization.
Here’s a suggestion: Select five target customers a week and follow their activity. Look at the times of day they’re online, what they’re sharing, and what they’re saying or doing. Over the course of a month, you’ll gain rich data on 20 key prospects—data you can immediately put back into your strategies to prioritize platforms, channels, and content.
There’s another dimension of social media that I call OPC: other people’s community. What communities are your buyers a part of, and how can you tap into them? This opens the possibility of partnering with other members of that community to produce content your audience is interested in. At the same time, social media offers an opportunity to test your messaging. This could include posts using wording that you’re considering for your campaign, or even a couple of blog posts, videos, or podcasts on the topics your contemplating to better understand which ones resonate.
Execute, Monitor, and Measure
The biggest takeaways when it comes to augmenting an ABM campaign with social media are value and consistency. ABM depends on providing real value to buyers, and that goes for social media as well.
Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Instead be something really great to somebody: your target audience. Targeting one or two high-value buyers is better than running a blanket campaign. Keep in mind that social media is not a one-night stand. You have to take the time to build trust so that when you execute your ABM campaign, people are ready to listen. That requires a carefully developed content calendar and execution plan. What is that drumbeat going to be to take that program to market? How are you consistently earning trust and building relationships? Put together some amazing content assets that are going to engage your audience, and then make sure you have systems to schedule them, monitor the resulting conversations, and measure the success of each asset on the back end.
Speaking of systems, don’t be afraid of automation. You need it to maintain that steady drumbeat. The key is to remain authentic even as you automate. As long as it’s an authentic conversation and customers are getting what they need, it doesn’t matter if they’re talking to a robot. That said, you also should dedicate some time to engaging directly yourself to keep the conversation going. Your robots should be more like humans, and your humans could learn a thing or two from robots.
I want to close with a caveat about engagement. Some people, particularly professionals, aren’t going to engage on social media. They’re lurkers. For that reason, traditional measures of social engagement won’t reveal the full truth. Be sure that your KPIs reflect more than just social engagement. You should be looking “behind the curtain,” as well, measuring activities like blog views, podcast downloads, and opt-ins. Looking at the wrong KPIs is a huge risk because it can cause you to give up when the results don’t meet expectations — but the opportunity isn’t really closed.
Social media has long been a great B2B marketing tool, but even as you move away from mass campaigns and toward account-based marketing, you can leverage online communities to gain tremendous insight into your target audience. Plus, when you know your audience well, the chances of your ABM campaign’s success will be all the greater. Social media and ABM can work in tandem to enhance one another’s benefits and achieve greater results than you’d see with either alone.
For more information about ABM and on how to focus on the right leads, take a look at our Account-Based Marketing Handbook.