This article originally appeared in IT Pros Portal.
A whopping 56 per cent of companies haven’t formally defined buyer persona(s), which is holding their marketing and sales efforts back. Why? Well, you need these semi-fictional characters, created based on market research, to represent your ideal customer(s) in order to provide streamlined structure and insight to company-wide efforts. In the B2B tech world, buyer personas are primarily used to help reach decision makers where they are and with the messages that are most likely to resonate.
More specifically, buyer personas are more critical to a B2B tech social media marketing strategy than most realise. They define the right mix of channels and messages, which is essential to success. However, defining them is only the first step.
The following tips explain how to utilise personas to ensure your technical buyers not only see your messages, but that the messages resonate with them and actually prove social media marketing works!
The power of personas – identifying channels
Oftentimes technology companies, especially those in the growth stage, are running on all four cylinders perfecting their products and services, focused on getting ahead of the competition. As a result, they sometimes forget one important tactic inherent to scalability – customer research. According to Cintel’s B2B buyers study, 70 per cent of companies that miss revenue and lead goals have not conducted qualitative persona interviews. The moral of this sad tale: taking the time to do the customer research could not only perfect your overarching social media content messaging and ensure you reach the right audience on the most popular social channels of your burs, but also boost your marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and, ultimately, sales
For example, I’m willing to bet my next pay check that an oil and gas executive isn’t signing on to Instagram to look for a cybersecurity solution, and reversely a B2C buyer isn’t shopping for coffee on LinkedIn. Understanding what social network your buyer persona frequently logs on to in order to talk shop, read peer reviews or promote their own business is imperative.
Once you do your persona research, you’ll find that technical buyers, similar to any other consumer, have an expectation of transparency and expertise from a tech company’s leadership. In the era of distrust, 44 per cent of a company’s market value lies in its CEO, (that number jumps to around 80 per cent for a tech startup), and 73 per cent of buyers are willing to pay more for products and services that guarantee total transparency. Therefore, your social media strategy should include setting up and maintaining profiles for your company’s key subject matter experts – not just your brand channels.
A recent study from LinkedIn revealed that companies with a socially active C-suite are 58 per cent more likely to attract top talent, and their employees are 24 per cent more likely to feel innovative. In short, we’re 99.99 per cent sure your through your persona research you’ll find that your customers will connect and trust personal social media channels. After all, they are the most authentic conduit to all your target audiences – media, influencers, partners and buyers – allowing you to create a narrative that showcases your executives’ expertise, opinions and even a sense of humour. The results go far beyond building trust and help the company earn media coverage, website referral traffic and ultimately, qualified leads.
Forget followers and focus
With only ~2 per cent of your followers actually seeing each piece of your company’s content on Facebook, you’ve got to be sure there’s ROI on the 30+ minutes it took your social media manager to strategically craft and optimise a post. It’s also why using your buyer personas to deploy content on the right-fit channels, then setting realistic goals on said channels, is essential to proving social’s impact. Forget follower counts and focus on what really matters by looking at social through an integrated lens. For example, instead of looking at impressions (let’s be real, that is a fluffed-up number that doesn’t mean much at all), find the correlation between the social syndication of thought leadership content and earned media for the quarter. Or, compare your company’s share of voice with social media influence it has on its channel.
Aligning KPIs between social media efforts and overarching business goals will also help brands steer clear of basing their success on vanity metrics, like followers, page views, subscribers and other flashy analytics that are satisfying on paper, but don’t move the needle. Remember, what really matters isn’t the count, it’s the quality of the follower – the one that fits your buyer persona(s). Even Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter regrets creating habits and tools that put too much focus on vanity metrics. During a recent TED2019 interview, Dorsey revealed a few big changes he’d make if he were starting it today, like not emphasising the follower count as much or creating the “like” feature. Similarly, at this year’s F8 developer conference, Instagram announced it would start to experiment with publicly hiding like counts. There’s finally a shift in the air that will hopefully continue to dim vanity metrics’ power.
In 2019, there has never been more truth to Marshall McLuhan’s prophetic musing that the medium is the message than when referring to social media marketing. As algorithms continue to shift and distrust continues to grow, observing the behaviour of your target buyer personas will help you assess your entire social media strategy and pivot when needed, so that you never have to take another sales call about the hottest social media network, filter or fad – your personas will have already told you where you need to be, who needs to be there and what you should be measuring to prove true business impact.
Blair Broussard, chief operations & people officer, ARPR