Everyone knows that content rules, especially when it comes to social media. But for B2B marketers, knowing that someone shared your funny video, "liked" your company photo, or even retweeted that link to your new whitepaper is not enough. B2B marketers want to know that their social media efforts are generating or influencing actual leads and impacting the pipeline.
Learning to Share
The problem is that the way that content is distributed via traditional lead generation channels is at odds with the way that content is generally exchanged via social media. Content in social media—mostly user-generated content—is addictively shareable and, more importantly, free. Social media owes its massive reach and engagement to the fact that everything about the channel (at least in a financial sense) is free—whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest. (Can you imagine what would happen to the number of users and levels of engagement of these channels if, all of a sudden, a monetary cost were associated with them?)
As B2B marketers, we’re very much used to the idea of providing valuable content to our prospects in exchange for their contact information so that we can ultimately follow up with them, build a relationship, and ideally, close a sale.
So, what’s a B2B marketer to do?
Saying Goodbye to Instant Gratification
We need to expand our thinking around what “lead generation” means in social media. While it never hurts to use your latest tweet or status update to promote content that is gated by a registration form (e.g., whitepapers, free trials, and case studies), we also can’t rely solely on this technique to drive leads and customers from social media. People want more from the brands they engage with on social media—and they don’t want to have to pay for it.
As marketers, we need to provide the best content we can on social media by freely sharing useful blog posts, engaging and even entertaining videos and photos, and informative tweets about our industries. But more importantly, we need to try and get beyond the idea of “instant gratification” in marketing.
You know you’re succumbing to an “instant gratification” moment when you are...
- Excited that 150 people viewed your post on Facebook.
- Rejoicing that you gained 100 more followers on LinkedIn.
- Celebrating after you find out that your tweet has been retweeted 10 times.
Don’t get me wrong—these are all fantastic things to have happen. Where we fall into the “instant gratification” trap, though, is when we measure the entire success of a social media campaign based on these metrics. Why? Because views, new followers, and retweets, as isolated metrics, are not responsible for a B2B sale—they are only pieces of a larger metrics puzzle.
To think of it another way: An infographic that has been shared more than 200 times is great. What’s even better, though, is an infographic that was shared more than 200 times, and as a result increased your brand lift by 30%, caused 75 people to search for your company online, made 60 people visit your corporate website, and compelled 20 people to purchase your product over a competitive solution. Suddenly, your B2B social media content has become more than a lead generator. Your B2B social media content is now a brand lifter, a search and website traffic driver, and most importantly—a sales closer.
Who needs instant gratification when you can achieve results like these?