When it comes to social media plenty of companies like it, want it, can’t get enough of it. But many demand generation marketers don’t know what to make of it.
Sage, a global provider of business management software and services however, has made social a key part of its demand activity. About a year and a half ago, the global software company’s Employer Solutions business unit, makers of Human Resources Management Software, wanted to do more than drum up awareness, they wanted a full fledge social demand generation strategy.
Today, the brand has 24 social leads, employees who dedicate all or part of their time to social media across the entire Sage brand and about 10% percent of its employees are active on Twitter alone. Best of all, they are actually engaging and generating leads through social. How?
In a recent interview, Sage’s Joseph Baird, Integrated Marketing Manager, and Bryson Hale, Director of Business Development, shared five steps they took to build a social demand generation plan.
1. Have a Strategy
A lot of brands “create a Facebook page and just start blasting away,” said Baird. “In the beginning you really have to start out with a plan.”
That means knowing what goals you want to accomplish, understanding how you’ll measure results, and know what tools and content you’ll employ. Baird described his social demand strategy as consisting of three pillars: content to educate and engage prospects, the social channels to share that content with prospects and influencers, and marketing automation to track and nurture leads.
It’s important to note that, while Facebook or LinkedIn might be free, the resources you’ll need to support social efforts won’t be. “You have to be very clear and specific on the time you’re going to spend in-house,” Baird said.
2. Do a Social Audit
So you think you want to go social, but do you know if anyone is talking about your market? Or where they’re talking about it?
One of the first steps Sage took for its HRMS social initiative was to conduct a social media audit. “We found that there was a high volume of activity around HR products, and that included identifying the influencers,” Baird said.
The idea is to uncover who is talking about your market, which social channels are most relevant and who is steering the conversations. With that knowledge, you can start communicating in a strategic, rather than haphazard, way.
3. Don’t Over Promote
If you’re ready to start joining the conversation, don’t do it in a ham-handed way, pushing obviously self-promotional messages. Sage, for instance, follows a 90/10 rule. “90% of our social media activity is us talking about and with others, and only 10% is about promoting ourselves,” Baird noted.
It’s been repeated so much that it’s almost a cliché, but the truth is that social is a two-way conversation with a curated audience. At best, shameless self-promoters get ignored. At worst, they get punished.
4. Track the Channels
If you’re getting traction on social channels, you’ll want to track it. Retweets and “Likes” are nice, but what you really want is to tie the leads coming in from social back to your marketing database.
“We create landing pages in Eloqua that are specifically tied to social or we use query strings,” Baird said. That means leads that respond to an offer or message are easily marked within their marketing automation platform. With that kind of data in place, you can measure the success of particular channels over time and better segment your campaigns.
For instance, Sage knows that leads coming from their SlideShare channel, where the content is more meaty, are more mature, and closer to getting kicked over to sales.
5. Re-Purpose Content
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for every social channel. The new talent of content marketing is re-purposing your work with the partialities of each social channel.
“It’s all about cross promotion and re-purpose,” Baird pointed out. So if you have an email newsletter, think about how you can chop that up for Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Could some of it fit on SlideShare? Just make sure it all ties back to a central marketing platform so you can measure the individual results.
Want to hear more? You can hear more about Sage’s social demand generation strategy by tuning into this recent webinar.