Stand out of the crowd. create your own pathInterview
Mike LewisInternation Speaker and Author of 'Srand-out Social Marketing'
Effective Social Marketing Strategies to Rise Above
In our conversation with Mike Lewis, Author of Stand Out Social Marketing: How to Rise Above the Noise, Differentiate Your Brand, and Build an Outstanding Online Presence, he points out some scalable social strategies for raising your brand awareness and how you can get the best from social media marketing in the years to come. Mike Lewis is the VP Marketing of Awareness, and a part time faculty member at Clark University St, Worcester in the Boston area.
REGALIX: What do you mean by Stand Out Social Marketing?
ML: The book addresses six different areas that allow brands to rise above the noise and figure how to differentiate themselves across social channels. As a brand, you are no longer competing just with your direct competitors. You are also competing with the noise on social media platforms.
REGALIX: Social Media Marketing is focused on nurturing relationships to build loyalty and brand advocacy and not directly drive sales for B2B companies. Do you agree to this?
ML: Yes, but not completely. Not only B2B, even B2C organizations adopt social media to raise brand awareness. But 90 percent of the time it is to drive sales. You want people to be familiar with your brand and become loyal customers, to eventually drive sales.
B2B and B2C organizations therefore need to understand that just by sharing nice content out on social media is not enough. They need to create the content that is sales centric.
REGALIX: In your experience, what are the challenges that limit the potential of Social Media for B2B companies?
ML: One of the prime challenges that limit the potential of social media for B2B companies is running rudimentary marketing campaigns. B2B brands were used to communicating and marketing their brands in one direction which is usually about finding the target market, developing campaigns around it and going out to social channels. These social channels usually consist of B2B context email, banner ads and may be some direct mail depending on what you’re doing.
But with social media, B2B companies are forced to use a different direction of communication, in other words, actually hearing back from the potential buyers, customers, partners and advocates. Social media has become an innovative and productive communication mode and pragmatically adopting this new way has become the biggest challenge across the board in B2B and even B2C companies.
REGALIX: In your opinion, what are the key elements of an effective Stand Out Social Marketing strategy?
ML: Foremost concern is to pay attention to customer requirements and needs, rather than just listening and monitoring. It’s really about paying attention to various aspects of the user and differentiating them is the single biggest rule. B2B organizations need to understand buyer persona and not the demographic information of a buyer.
Customer engagement is another significant aspect, B2B and B2C brands have an audience on distinctive social channels; how they engage and distribute the content in a distinct way to beat competitors is very influential. There is another great book ‘Content Rule’ by C.C Chapman and Ann Handley if you are looking forward to figuring out ways to get better interaction and engagement.
Measurement of success is when the lead is actually transferred into revenue. Brands need to understand how they can transfer that conversion rate into revenue.
Understanding how the organization works behind the scenes for social media is important. This includes creation of teams using subject matter experts, correct policies, procedures, and ensuring everything is aligned with each other. Brands need to make sure all teams and channels are speaking with one brand voice.
Brands need to create a consistent social presence across social media platforms. They need to align everything within the overall social strategy.
REGALIX: According to you, what method of interaction on social media has the highest return on investment?
ML: It depends on two things: the brand and the brand’s social channel that audience is focused on. Some B2B companies see a lot of ROI conversion from LinkedIn. However, other B2B companies see revenue conversion from other tools like Facebook and Twitter. It depends on who your target market is, for example, a standard service software company TriNet realized that they can sell their software a lot better on a company events where there is a step up or down at the CXO level. Their analysis showed that those were the right candidates to sell their software. To target potential clients, they started paying attention to traditional marketing techniques along with specific social media tools like Facebook and LinkedIn. This opportunity is about understanding the targeted audience and using that to figure out the best conversion rate.
The book talks in detail about how to pay attention, engage, and convert people across social channels depending on what your audience is looking for.
REGALIX: What do you think are the common mistakes being made that act as a deterrent towards successful B2B social media marketing?
ML: Social media is like any other way to communicate with each other. This is achieved through automating the way brands have conversations when they meet and engage with customers. Brands make mistakes when they start pitching in their products and services to people rather than communicating. Engaging with people and understanding by working with them is one of the most important factors.
The last two areas are management and metrics. B2B organizations fail to track engagement, as brands fail to understand that social accounts managed at the business level is different than personal conversations. B2B businesses venturing into social media need to figure out which content is most compelling to generate leads. Figure out how to organize the social media department and measure that at the back end.
The piece of advice I give to organizations venturing into social media is to make sure you think about the back ends, the metric and the organization before you take the leap.
REGALIX: What are some of the best examples you’ve seen of businesses who have achieved great success in social marketing?
ML: My favorite example is with Delta Airlines, a B2C organization. In my recent travel, Delta was hugely affected due to a major software issue that put travelers on hold and rebooking. As a passenger traveling to see my newborn baby, I tweeted about them once and got a personalized surprise message congratulating me for reaching safely to see my baby. A campaign run single handed by a lady named Rachel, led the organization to create a huge social media impact. With 140 characters, I was moved from a Sky Miles member to someone important. This is the power and capacity of social media. I love what Delta Airlines have done in social, Delta Assist. This is an unbelievable program where they have a war room based in Atlanta with 24/7 staff. They actually just monitor what is going on, figure out what challenges customers face and communicate directly.
From B2B perspective, I also love what TriNet has done because it sets an example of how social can generate sales. It did not start with technology, but with the audience.
REGALIX: Which social media platforms do you see businesses putting their money into?
ML: The top two successful social media platforms that brands are venturing into are LinkedIn on B2B side and Facebook on both B2B and B2C side. Brands are still trying to figure out Twitter because the perception or reality is that Twitter has become a spam engine. Twitter is like a big room where people are just streaming different things at different times.
Another most critical component of a brand social marketing strategy should include blogging. It is really about SEO and the blogging platform, when done rightly is a great way to increase your web visibility. This forms the home base of any social media strategy. This is where you put all your content and related stuff, and readers come to learn of the organization. This is the time to invest and upgrade in your blogging platform.
REGALIX: What does the future hold for social media and digital marketing? How do you think it will affect the way we do our business in 5-10 years from now?
ML: There is a great video on YouTube by Erik Qualman, Author of ‘Socionomics’. The video presents stats on social space in the near future. The video talks about how digital marketing is helping the user to decide what products to buy. Some of the stats towards the end become really interesting stating that 40% of Fortune 500 will not be there in next 10 years. The ultimate idea of the video is that it’s not a question of whether you need to be on social media anymore or how well you will do at it because if your brand is not in social, being digitised or not using digital marketing from the ground up, then chances are you will not exist to be a business because that’s where most consumers go to make decisions before they actually buy a product.
REGALIX: What according to you are the top social media marketing trends that will dominate in 2015?
ML: Mobile technology, mobile adoption and mobile usage, especially in B2B side will continue to grow in 2015 as we haven’t even yet hit the potential of mobile. In 2014, when working with clients, everybody considered mobile as a key part in their RFP and RFI. There is a huge potential for B2B and B2C companies taking advantage of it.
It will be interesting to see where this augmented reality type innovation such as Google Glasses and wearable technology is going to take us in the future. 2015 will be the year of Mobile.