Monday, April 8, 2013

Best Practices for Paid Social Media - An Up and Coming Tool for B2B Marketers


The stigma of social media is something I have been fighting for years. As someone whose education and career has mirrored Mark Zuckerberg's (minus the dropping out of an ivy league school to build a multibillion dollar company and taking it public…so really when I say "mirrored", I mean we are approximately the same age), I feel an affinity to the social networks that have matured as my own career has moved forward. Because of this I have found myself defending the merits of different social networks' "tangible" value to relatives, colleagues, and random people on the subway. So, when I received an email stating I had $100 free Twitter ad credits, I jumped at the chance to see where Twitter has taken their ad platform. While that $100 was great to boost my twitter followers (speaking of which follow me here), retweets, and ego it didn't really answer my questions around how creative B2B marketers are utilizing social networks.

To dive in deeper I tapped the knowledge of 3 digital and social marketing leaders to educate me on how their organizations are harnessing the power of social through "Paid Social" Campaigns. The experts I spoke with are listed below:

Lauren Vaccarello, Sr Director of Online Marketing at salesforce.com

Lauren Friedman, Manager of the Social Community Engagement Team at Adobe

Dan Slagen, Head of Global Marketing Relations at Hubspot. (Now SVP of Marketing at Nanigans)

You can find the full overview and guidance on 'Paid Social' within IDC's CMO Advisory Service's most recently published document Paid Social Media: A Look into How TopBrands Are Utilizing Paid Social Campaigns. For 3 'take aways' for B2B marketers look no further:

There are Two Kinds of Marketers in Social: The Quick and the Dead: A pillar of social is the fast pace and instant reactions it provides. While moving fast is necessary, leading companies go to great lengths to make sure they are able to move quickly and effectively. The experts I spoke with all emphasized seamless communication across the organization to assure there was no misunderstandings on the current social game plan. Additionally, they each spoke about implementing technologies on the backend to measure the data and output actionable metrics.

Paid Social is a Different Kind of Advertising Buy: Social ad buys are not your father's paid advertising campaigns; marketers must acknowledge this before going head first into a paid social campaign. Social networks are built with the end user in mind; all of the marketers I spoke with emphasized this point. Think creatively when it comes to Twitter or Facebook ad buys, consider leveraging the platforms to amplify a message or push something that will strengthen your community rather than just driving leads.

What Can Social do for Me?: Most marketers have acknowledged and embraced social marketing as a part of their overall strategy. However, that does not mean it is accepted throughout the organization. Before asking for (or putting) advertising dollars towards paid social campaigns, marketers need to answer the question "what can social do for me?" for other decision makers within the organization. The experts I spoke with pointed towards heavy alignment with sales so the reps understand the incoming leads and how to act on them. Some companies put SLAs in place to assure that both Marketing and Sales commit to specific responsibilities. The other best practice is to create a pilot program before committing big dollars and major resources - this way you have specific proof points to set your goals on and optimize off.

What are your thoughts on "Paid Social"?

Does your organization currently run paid advertising on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn?

Do you have any comments to add to what is above?

Sam Melnick is a Research Analyst with IDC's CMO Advisory you can follow him on twitter: @SamMelnick

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