New to B2B Social Media Marketing? Here's Where to Start
Congratulations! You accepted a position as B2B Social Media Marketing Manager and start next week. In this article, I’ll provide you with advice on how to plan your first month on the job.
Don’t Jump Right in to Social Posts
It’s the first day of your new job and you’re excited. You open up the laptop and you’re raring to go. You want to make a good early impression, so you arrive to work full of ideas for social posts to publish that day. Time out! The worst thing you can do is jump right in to publishing social posts. I get it: there are scenarios in which business needs require you to post or publish right away. If you have your choice, spend the first 2-3 weeks building the right foundation before you start posting.
Here are three things to do first:
1) Become Educated about the Organization
You play a prominent role as social media marketer. While customers and partners may not know your name or see your face, you serve as the voice of the brand and the face of the organization.
So study up on all there is to know about the organization. In the short term, you’ll aim for a bachelor’s degree. Long term, you want a Ph.D.
According to Monina Wagner, Social Media Community Manager at Content Marketing Institute, “The first thing you should do is listen. You can’t jump into a new role without knowing about the company. What business objectives do executives have? What goals are they trying to achieve? What needs do they expect social media to fill?”
During the onboarding phase, Wagner also recommends that social media marketers have a frank and open discussion with their managers. Social media marketing can be used to achieve many things, so it’s important to understand your manager’s goals and expectations. Then, you can tailor and optimize your plan towards achieving those goals.
Here’s a checklist of items to consider:
Meet with colleagues! Have informal breakfast, coffee or water cooler chats with Sales, Engineering, Product Management, Customer Support, Customer Success, etc. Don’t leave anyone out: I’d also talk to HR, Legal and Finance, as that will give you a complete picture of the organization.
Understand the organization’s goals for this month, this quarter, this year.
Understand Marketing’s goals for this month, this quarter, this year.
Request your organization’s mission statement and brand promise.
Request documentation on style guide and brand personality.
Request documented user personas from Product Management and Marketing. Hopefully the two sets align.
During your first month, a bachelor’s degree provides a great foundation for your role. You’ll understand your organization’s products and services. You’ll gain insights into brand style and brand voice and have a firm grasp of the types of users you’re trying to reach.
2) Perform Social Media Audits
Audit your organization’s social channels, as well as those of your competitors. Coming into your new role, you probably received feedback from others in the organization. For example:
“We never really had any success there and that’s one of the reasons we brought you in.”
“We liked what was done on Facebook, so keep doing more of what they did.”
“We’d love for you to establish a more consistent drumbeat across our channels.”
Immerse yourself in your social media channels, browsing through the posts from the last 3-6+ months. Determine whether your qualitative assessment matches the input you received from colleagues.
Hint: if there’s a disconnect, have a sit-down with your manager to discuss further.
When I do a scan of a social feed, I make mental notes of “ooh, I like that one” and “hmm, I think this could have been done differently.” Commit your mental notes to paper (or a document), so you have a written record of what you found.
Next, do a similar, qualitative scan across your competitors’ social channels.
On a quantitative basis, establish a baseline of metrics you’ll track. Among other things, this helps you assess the effectiveness of your role. Six months from now, you can compare updated metrics and counts to when you first came on board.
Metrics to consider capturing:
Average new followers per month
Monthly engagements (e.g. shares, comments, likes)
Track these same metrics for your competitors - now, and on an ongoing basis.
3) Identify Employee Advocates
You’re only 2-3 weeks into your new role and there’s already a lot on your plate. However, it’s never too early to identify employee advocates: people whose expertise you can feature and who can advocate on behalf of your brand.
Your breakfast and coffee meetings are a great time to start jotting notes down, with a reminder to circle back with key employees later. You can drop hints during these meetings that you’d like to explore ways to feature colleagues’ expertise.
Groups that are natural fits for employee advocacy are:
Hands-On Social Media Use
You’ve now completed your bachelor’s degree. As you prepare for your first social posts, it’s time to get a trade school degree in parallel.
Create personal accounts on the social networks you’ll be managing. If you already have accounts, plan to be more active on them. Your personal accounts give you hands-on experience as you experiment with new features - all without risk to your brand’s accounts.
To use a software analogy, your personal accounts are a beta release or a release preview, as opposed to production code.
You don’t need to post about your organization on your personal accounts - use them just as you would otherwise, connecting with friends and family, sharing articles about your hobbies or sharing video from your kid’s soccer game.
In my personal use of social media, I’ve experimented with and learned about:
Some of these I’ve applied directly to my work projects, while others are ready to be used in the right scenario.
Hopefully, you found this advice useful as you prepare to embark on the open waters. Social media marketing can be like a cruise: it’s “all you can eat” and the ride can cause nausea.
But you’ll meet awesome new people and you’ll have the time of your life.
Dennis is an independent marketing consultant who works with brands on content marketing, product messaging and social media marketing. Formerly, Dennis led the content marketing function at DNN Software. Dennis curates an email newsletter called Content Corner and publishes marketing-related content on Medium.