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5 Ways IBM and ARPR Approach B2B Social Media Marketing

By: Sophie Maerowitz

September 5, 2019

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a one-size-fits-all approach to successful social media marketing?

If only it were that simple.

The definition of success on social varies widely depending on what market your business serves. A nonprofit might track the number of attendees at its annual gala to see if a Facebook event campaign is working. A pharmaceutical company could measure overall Twitter sentiment to assess whether patients view them in a positive light.

B2B businesses in particular face hurdles on social media that consumer-facing businesses don’t. A tech firm looking to close a million-dollar software deal will require a much longer funnel to determine whether its digital campaigns are successful than, for instance, a CPG company tracking sales for a new cookie brand.

Nicole Shevlin, IBM Corporate Marketing, Social Discipline Social Brand Strategist

Nicole Shevlin, Social Brand Strategist, IBM

To address the challenges B2B marketers face—and provide insight into how their peers at other B2B companies are handling them—The Social Shake-Up has gathered four digital marketing professionals for its Sept. 26 webinar, “Success on Social for B2B Brands.” We asked speakers Nicole Shevlin, social brand strategist at IBM, and Blair Broussard, chief operations and people officer at Atlanta-based agency ARPR for some of their insights, below.

Try IBM’s “3 A’s” approach to KPIs. While Shevlin notes there’s no quick fix for finding the right KPIs for a given brand, she says IBM tracks and measures against the “3 A’s”: attention, advocacy and action. “Attention includes likes and comments, advocacy includes shares and retweets, and action includes link clicks and video views,” says Shevlin. Before her team shares a post, they set quantifiable goals: Is it to drive on-platform engagement? To get people to watch the video? Or to drive people to the site? “Once we determine the objective, we tailor copy and creative to optimize for the primary KPI,” she says.

Invest in LinkedIn retargeting. Broussard is a proponent of LinkedIn advertising. “If you stop and truly think about your B2B buyers’ journeys of late, you’ll know that any purchase decision over a certain dollar amount requires more convincing than just one or two touchpoints; more like 7 to 10,” she notes. Her team makes use of LinkedIn’s retargeting as “one of the last pieces of the puzzle.” Broussard has found that employing LinkedIn’s programmatic advertising pushes users further down the funnel to conversion. “It’s a cost-effective and strategic approach that will help you beat out competition, resurrect a lead that hasn’t yet converted to a sale or even bring back former customers,” she says.


For more tips and tactics, join Nicole, Blair and B2B marketers working in design and healthcare on Sept. 26 from 1:30-3:00pm EST for The Social Shake-Up webinar, “Success on Social for B2B Brands.” 


Be thrifty: Repurpose B2B content across social channels. Although Shevlin’s team optimizes copy and creative for specific audiences and platforms, they choose to repurpose stories that align with IBM’s wider cross-platform strategy. “We may repurpose a story about an IBM researcher working to find a cure for breast cancer, but bring that to life through a tweet thread, IGTV episode, AMA on Instagram Stories and a profile piece across LinkedIn,” she says.

blair broussard ARPR

Blair Broussard, Chief Operations & People Officer, ARPR

Forget vanity metrics. Broussard makes the case for ditching followers, impressions and clicks as benchmarks and “focusing on the whole story” instead. “Many marketers will showcase the number of clicks a website receives from social as ROI, but the number of page views you receive is only slightly more valuable than the number of followers you have,” she argues. After all, page views don’t denote whether your products and services are in alignment with visitors’ needs. Conversions, despite being lower volume, are the key metric to watch, she says. “Tracking conversions from leads that come from social platforms not only showcases the value of your social efforts, but also the value of your content.”

Don’t be afraid to test new platforms. While B2Bs are notorious for taking a “wait-and-see” approach to social, Shevlin sees being overcautious as a missed opportunity. Brands miss out by “playing it safe, and only sharing things they already know work. Each social platform is ever-changing, which means what works is ever-changing too,” she argues. She advises brands to test different platforms to find a good match. That said, “if a brand feels like there isn’t ROI on a platform, they should feel empowered to reallocate resources to a platform that performs to their KPIs.”

Connect with Nicole and Blair on LinkedIn.

Follow Sophie: @SophieMaerowitz

At The Social Shake-Up

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