Forget what you think you know about social. It’s not something you can fob off to the most junior member of staff, but the key to reaching 95% of your target market – before they even come onto your radar. In the run up to Ignite London, Lucy Gillman sat down with Adobe’s Andy Lambert to investigate what you can expect from his session on unlocking the transformative power of social media.
Where we’ve been getting social wrong
As one of the founders of social media marketing software ContentCal, Andy knows the ins and outs of the state of social media in B2B.
“For the last seven years of growing a B2B software company, one thing that became abundantly clear was that most B2B marketers are clueless when it comes to building and growing their business using social media,” he elaborates.
As Andy outlines, social media isn’t ‘just another channel’ to market your services and solutions but an opportunity to build community and trust at scale. In B2B, we’re guilty of only thinking about marketing in terms of ‘leads’, forgetting that the majority of the buying process is happening in a world ‘entirely invisible’ from us.
“People discover products on social media. They then talk to their friends about it on social media. They’re hanging out in Reddit threads, Quora Digests. They’re in Facebook groups and having private conversations. None of this is visible to a business,” Andy continues. “It’s no surprise why B2B’s typical sales-led approach to social media has a poor reputation and gets poor results.”
Set aside this sales-led mentality and think ‘social first’ – how can you influence your buyers’ decisions and behaviours from the very beginning before you even know about them? Let’s explore.
Be the talk of the digital town
As Andy argues, what B2C ‘gets’ that B2B doesn’t is the importance of share of voice – the amount of mentions that you receive across social media compared to your competitors.
And the more people talk about you, the better.
“Having more people talk about your organisation than anyone else is the way businesses win,” Andy states. “That’s the way you light a fire under ‘word of mouth’. Word of mouth builds trust, trust builds reputation, and reputation builds a brand.”
“All that stuff isn’t thought about!,” Andy despairs. “Social media in B2B becomes something given to the most junior member of staff, often one of the lowest paid because [businesses] don’t see and recognise the value.’
“Understanding the value takes a broader perspective. It requires a culture and mindset change that many B2Bs just don’t get.”
Build trust through communities
It’s not news that people will trust the recommendations of peers over what brands say, Andy argues. But the number of buyers taking to social media as the first port of call has accelerated during the pandemic, a behaviour that’s become broader and wider with the expansion of communities, creators and channels.
The creator economy – people making and earning from content they produce online – has boomed in the past few years. But popular doesn’t always mean mainstream. Niche communities are on the up; think Francis Bourgeois rather than Molly-Mae.
“People en masse loved Francis and it popularised trainspotting! No matter how niche, there’s a community. And it isn’t always consumer-led stuff,” Andy adds.
Applied to B2B, these digital communities make collaborating with others even more significant. “Trust grows in these micro communities far quicker than it does anywhere else because there’s an inherent baseline of trust,” Andy develops. “Businesses have an opportunity to work with these communities and creators! If that community recognises value in your product and wants to talk about it, it’s influencer marketing.”
“We’ve got to think about influencer marketing in a different way”
“This isn’t rocket science. It’s just that B2B-ers are damn lazy!,” Andy quips. Long gone are the days of throwing out messages on social. If you want to win, you need to know how to work with creators and tap into communities to build trust.
“Huge opportunity awaits for businesses who truly understand social media and how the landscape has changed dramatically”
Play the long game
For Andy, “nothing in marketing is ever super complex.” At its core, the aim is simple: how can we change buyers’ perceptions, behaviours so that when they need a solution, they come to you? “The reason your organisation comes to mind is because you’ve had it in close proximity or one of your friends or someone you follow has mentioned it,” Andy continues.
“It’s simple. But it’s easier said than done because there’s no quick way of doing it,” he develops. “It’s all about genuine advocacy and it takes time to grow and build those relationships.”
The key to achieving that? Create a value exchange your buyers will actually care about.
A good example of this is the HubSpot Academy which provides free training on all things marketing. This ‘pretty simple tactic’ of investing in a community by providing something of significant value (unsurprisingly) earns you good will – which then spreads through word of mouth.
“Throughout the process, although it is subtle, you start to think: What is HubSpot?,” Andy adds. “It’s content marketing 101. But they lean into it hard because they understand the value of content creation.”
“If you invest in people, you’re going to win”
This process isn’t immediate. But it pays off in the long run. 95% of any given market aren’t in the market to buy, Andy states. Don’t fall into the trap of treating social as reaching that 5% – but play the long game of brand building and creating demand for later on down the line.
“The bigger opportunity is the people who don’t know that they need your product,” he elaborates. “The businesses that win big recognise the value in creating affinity with those who don’t need them today, but need them later.”
Bagging a quick win or larger, long-term gain? I know which one I’m choosing.
Key takeaways you’ll learn at Ignite
Whether you’re in marketing, leadership or have a direct hand in social media, you’ll leave Andy’s session ready to re-ignite (pun intended) your social media strategy. Some key takeaways include:
- How buyer behaviour has changed and what it means for you.
- How to target your ideal audience.
- The six golden rules of social.
- How to unleash the power of social media through the Social 3.0 framework.
“All my learning has been done through blogs and listening to podcasts, so I’m very excited to learn from people in-person,” Andy continues. “I’m looking forward to connecting with a bunch of B2B marketers and figuring out how the world has changed and how strategies have adapted.”
What more could you ask from an event?