While much of B2B marketing and sales is about developing relationships, many of the social media metrics tracked are number of followers, connections, comments, clicks and retweets. It may be possible to assume that you or your company are providing some value to those who start engaging, but these are not significant metrics to track. What if you raised your metrics to a higher level and focused on real conversations and relationships as a measure of success?
It is too easy for Twitter to become a numbers game where any user can “buy” or otherwise game the Twitter system to increase followers. If those followers are targeted, no matter how they were gained, the increased reach of a company’s message is a positive, but tracking the number of followers is meaningless. Finding customers and prospects on Twitter through detailed search queries or monitoring solutions and engaging with them is a better thing to measure. These can be tied more directly to business outcomes. Set a goal that each day you will find and interact with a new person from your industry or someone seeking your product or service on Twitter. It is up to you to determine if this is possible based on your industry involvement on Twitter and the time available to seek out and engage with prospects and customers.
LinkedIn is built on relationships, but many of them are weak or non-existent. There are two ways to approach relationship goals on LinkedIn. The first, and easier one, is to strengthen a relationship of one of your connections. This is someone who you can easily contact and see what value you can provide. This would need to be someone who could be a potential customer or is already a customer. The second way is to find someone new through a discussion group or a common event and connect with them. Do not send them a generic connection request. Customize it with some information about why you are connecting. Begin a conversation through the request and continue after approval. This not about accumulating connections, but about starting meaningful relationships on LinkedIn. This is a harder goal to put a number around, but start with one per week and see how that goes. Adjust it as necessary.
So many communications pros miss the point of blogger outreach. Blasting out emails with press releases attached is not blogger outreach. Having an intern log into your email and sending the same email individually is no better. While some of this is a numbers game, and the chance to get picked up increases with the number sent, it is more likely that you will get better coverage, things like a follow-up interview, by starting a relationship. Start by making a list of bloggers that cover your industry, including those connected to trade publications. Pick a few bloggers and send an introductory email letting them know about your company or clients and how you think it relates to their coverage of the industry. This will show them that you actually read their blog. So many top bloggers get so tired of mass emails, they will appreciate a simple, email addressed only to them. Think of each one of these as building a relationship to get more than just a placed release. You want to become a source for stories where they contact you. This is no different than traditional PR, except many of these bloggers probably have day jobs. Again, depending on the amount of industry coverage, a goal for building these relationships might be one per week or one per month.
Have you thought about building relationships for your B2B company as a social media metric to track?