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B2B social media strategy

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Social media compared to other known forms of media primarily differs on the interactivity and engagement process. This paper presents the process of building a successful social brand.A detailed …

Social media compared to other known forms of media primarily differs on the interactivity and engagement process. This paper presents the process of building a successful social brand.A detailed understanding about what are the steps to be followed from the vision statement to the review has been provided.A list of recommendations has also been enlisted.

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  • 1. From the trenches: B2b social media strategy
  • 2. Social Media: Background Social media revolves around conversations, community, connections and social networks.Social media encourages contributions and feedback from the interest group. Social media compared toother known forms of media (newspapers, TV, Business journals, etc) primarily differs on theinteractivity and engagement process. The fundamental difference in offline and social media brandingis that while former adopts more of a push strategy, the later is a pull strategy. User and internalcustomer generated content is used to inform, listen and engage the various stakeholders. In thetraditional approach, the engagement is transactional, marketing objective is mostly to inform the userand user participation in content creation and enhancement is minimal and comes at a significant cost.Social media exploits the reach and richness of the medium to involve users at an early stage of contentcreation, quality check and also distribution through +WOM, while ensuring lower transactional cost.For startups and established firms, social media makes a lot of business sense because the social mediatools enable free and easy to manage. In this paper we present the collective experience Browne &Mohan consultants had in defining the social media strategy, the roll out, impact assessment and do anddo n’t.Building a B2B social brand: The Process Flow The process for building a successful social brand requires certain steps to be followedsequentially as shown in figure 1. Online purpose: Target customer, Content Themes: People: followers, Brand as geographies, Product, fans, influencers , complement, or communities of competition, leads, time of replica or interest, industry evolution, engagement experience. communities of customer pain consumption areas, corporate RSS feeds, email Shared positioning of best registrations or event understanding of Own or join the practices attendance, likes, social media communities of dislikes, comments, amongst stake interest Content type: trackbacks, forwards, holders: employees, informative, completed profiles, marketing, sales, Platform selection referential, brand mentions, etc comparative and sentiments. offerings: Blogs endorsement Social media (external or internal Review & Act Expectations source), tweets, Content Map (Brand/revenue Video’s and growth) presentations, etc User & Employee engagement Tools Figure 1
  • 3. Building a social brand broadly involves four stages: vision, target audiences & platformselection, content & engagement model and finally metrics & review.1. Visioning Visioning fundamentally involves aligning all the stakeholders in an organization to the purposeof social media presence and objectively defining the purpose of social media presence. Clarity of whatthe social media is expected to be ensures the purpose, positioning and alignments are attained withoutmuch confusions amongst the actors involved. A company may chose social media to complement itsphysical media activities or just replicate the physical media content on the social media. A company canalso choose to offer social media as an experiential platform to engage and deepen the relationship withits clients and employees. Brand as an extension is a practice where brands execute partial activenessand commitment in the social media sphere supported by extended brand values with respect to onlineuser expectations. Brand as a comprehensive experience maximizes the return on user interactions withclearly chalked out social media strategy, fruitful in-depth engagements, higher user and employeeempowerment. For a successful branding as a complement the organizations need to have a systematiccommitted and long term basis bent towards social branding. The engagement dimensions must changewith respect to social media platform characteristics. An explicit understanding of the purpose ofpresence in social media, whether it is for branding or revenue growth would help define the focus andimplementation of right activities.Social media involvement rests on the core values the company wishes to reinforce in the social mediaor at least appear to be doing so. The objectives for engaging in social media could be to highlight thevalues of respect, responsibility (including CSR) or signal innovation, as highlighted in the Table below.Table 1 Engagement Values at Company Level Explanation of the same Transparency Authentic content and conversations Protection Respecting consumer privacy Respect Respect for consumers views,opinions,suggestions Responsibility Sense of ownership for the conversations, content and participations Utilization Adopt the best practices in social media2. Target audience & platform selection In the second stage, target audience and platform selection decisions including who the targetcustomers are, what geographies to target, what would be the communities of interest (that espouseinterest in what the company intends to focus on) and what are the actual communities of consumption(those communes that drive demand).
  • 4. Having identified the target customer segments and the communities, companies should definethe breadth of platforms they are likely to use, whether their social media engagement would berestricted to Blogs, tweets, etc or cover the complete gamut of community sites, video and presentationmaterials, social communities, etc. Most companies, given the investment and resource commitmentsrequired, opt for Blogs (company & subject matter experts), professional communities on Facebook,Linkedin, corporate presentations and video’s showcasing their organizational prowess and customercase studies.Table 2 Platforms Deployment rdBlogs Company Information, insider & 3 party branding, Employee Engagement & InteractionFacebook No of users, youth connect, user experience sharing, product evaluation, user feedback, rd communities of interest, managed 3 party promos, drive traffic, User engagement for new product, promotions, contestsTwitter Microblogging, status updates, celebrity branding, market announcements, Announcements, updates, senior management interviews/opinions, community of practice, CEO brandingLinkedin Hiring, professional networking, branding, information sharingYoutube visual promotions, corporate video, expertise, customer experiences,Flickr Sharing of Photos, Albums, reinforcing celebration.Orkut Personal Networking, drive traffic, youth connect, user experience sharing Once the platforms are selected, companies also need to focus on various tools they are likely touse to engage, track and manage the social media. Companies need to plan PR and media managementtools (for assessment of opinion and views about the company or its products. Ex: Reputica) , trackingtools (Converseon, Whos Talkin, Social Mention, Trackur, Viralheat, and Netbase Consumer Insights&Whos Talkin, etc), and security tool (Fraud protection, security, and threat detection. Ex Filtrbox,KnowEm).3. Content & Engagement Models Social media content strategy design is a very innate aspect to drive any social media engine.The content connects and glues the members in a community. The content creation can be usergenerated content (UGC) or company generated content. Content themes could be around product(features, novelty, price & other advantages), competition (strategies, their product/servicecomparison, marketing and other related strategies), customer pain areas (what are the key pain points,what solutions are customers interested, how to solutionize the requirements, etc), industry evolution(how is the market evolving, new designs, standards, regulation, etc), best practices or differentiatedprocess (what new practices is the company adopting, its value, etc), awards & press mentions as shownin Table 3.
  • 5. Table 3 Product, features, Company achievements, Competition, comparison, announcements Customer pain areas, how they can be addressed, Industry trends, what new technologies, service what are customer expectations, solutions that and business models are likely to emerge, why have failed to deliver, etc companies must prepare themselves for the future We find four content types Informative, Comparative, Referential and Endorsement most effective for b2b markets. The informative content type is “good-to-know” or “for-your awareness” type of content typically presenting personal with respect to the product usage, benefits, or feature positioning. Comparative content is more focusing on highlighting the differences between the process, services and products, key user differentiators, etc. Referential content is posting from the company side announcing the projects won, orders successfully completed, project highlights, etc. Endorsement is content from the customers highlighting why they selected the company, what advantages they benefited, etc. Table 4 lists the content types and highlights some examples. Table 4 Content type example Inform Have released to new virtual personal assistant (VPA) that offers takes all the pain away from delegation and multitasking comparative While EMC, IBM and other vendors may be offering “price advantages only:, KREATIO stands out for value for money, high modularity, ease of deployment Referential WCM roll out at IDG proves .... Endorse We are happy to share the business advantages we got from deploying effipay A key element of social media strategy is the level of involvement of users or employees in content generation, community building, etc. Empowerment guides the level and ways an employee can engage with the user. Some companies may prefer to exercise higher guided control involves centralized control over messaging and information flow while limited guided control focuses on social brand enhancement through increased user and employee participation, information exchange and content co-creation. Higher guided control follow a centralized engagement, content generation, follow ups and messaging tightly controlled with low user/employee participation. The main focus is on brand reinforcement and effective brand reputation management by cutting down the noise around a brand. The noise attenuation is made possible by representing the employees as brand defenders. Some companies pursue the mid position in the guided control spectrum have a partial company and employee involvement. They are neither into compulsive positive brand reinforcement in the user imagery nor an immature and weak social brand to engage with. The balanced guided control facilitates in social brand evaluation and brand reinforcement accordant to the brand evaluation outputs received.
  • 6. Higher Guided Control Limited Guided Control Guided Control Spectrum Figure 2 User and employee involvement rests on the core values the company places on consistency incontent, community and communication strategies. Table 5 captures the core values at employee or auser level.Table 5Engagement Values at Individual Level Explanation of the sameAdherence Adherence to social media policies and online social media principlesResponsibility A sense of ownership for the conversations, content and participations at individual levelEmpathetic Behavior A good listener, addressing unmet customer needs and wants.Open mindedness Open to negative comments and criticism4. Metrics, Review and ActContinuous evaluation of social branding exercise is needed so as have timely implementation of theneeded change. while several measures could be used to measure the effectiveness of social media, wefind some of the measures such as return on participation, return on involvement, return on attention,return on trust and return on conversation are rather cumbersome to capture and or at best someestimates. Our experience indicates the measures should be easy to interpret, offer insights to allactors involved in the organization. Table 4 presents the measures that can be easily captured andmeasured to evaluate the effectiveness of social media spends.Table 6Measure PeriodicityNo of followers, Fans, Influencers Weekly, Monthly, quarter-wiseSales leads Monthly, quarter-wiseEngagement on the site Monthly, quarter-wiseRSS feeds Weeks, Monthly, quarter-wiseEmail registrations or event interest Event relatedLikes, dislikes, forwards Weekly, Monthly, quarter-wiseBrand mentions Weekly, Monthly, quarter-wiseSentiments (positive or negative statements) Weekly, Monthly, quarter-wise
  • 7. Recommendations1) Define the very objective of social media engagement. The objective can be to influence theprospects for a product purchase, increase the brand awareness or creating buzz. The content shouldalways be brand values centric.2) Identify the preferred content forms by target audience. Content forms can be video, white papers,blogs and podcasts. For a sales centric engagement the preferred content form is video due to themarketing strength of viral video and prominent social networks. For an idea centric engagement thepreferred form is company blogs and white papers available onsite.3) Customize content to community & social media platforms. It is very essential to understand usercharacteristics, their preferences and ensure the content is appropriate to that platform. If targeting amatured user identify the top industry issues, top bloggers, the thought leaders and the platforms usedby them and structure the content right.4) Use insource/outsource resources. Using both internal and external resources would benefit thecompany to portray neutrality and self-interest in tandem. Moreover, the content generation is de-risked as not just the quality of original content matters, but also the quantity.5) Engagement cycle should be active and involve multiple levels in the organization & its ecosystem.Social media engagement is a continuous process Involve many people from your organization andpartners to benefit from scale. However, clearly define and control the content and its distribution.Referential and endorsements from external sources matters online.Browne & Mohan insight are general in nature and does not represent any specific individuals or © Browne & Mohan 2011. Allentities. While all efforts are made to ensure the information and status of entities in the insights is rights reserved Printed in Indiaaccurate, there can be no guarantee for freshness of information. Browne & Mohan insights are forinformation and knowledge update purpose only. Information contained in the report has beenobtained from sources deemed reliable and no representation is made as to the accuracy thereof.Neither Browne & Mohan nor its affiliates, officers, directors, employees, owners, representativesnor any of its data or content providers shall be liable for any errors or for any actions taken inreliance thereon.