At RampUp on the Road Seattle, Kelly Rigotti, Senior Director of Digital Engagement at SAP Concur, joined our panel on B2B marketing to discuss leveraging learning from B2B and B2C. We caught up with her before her session to discuss social media’s role in B2B marketing and how to match an organization’s social media footprint to their overall marketing strategy.
RampUp: You’ve led and worked on a variety of social media campaigns. What are your thoughts on how to right-size an organization’s social media footprint to match their business strategy? Should you hire an agency, build a team internally, or go for something in the middle?
Kelly: That’s a great question. I really believe in developing talent in-house.
This won’t make me any friends in the agency world, but I’m not a fan of using agencies, because I think it’s easy to create imbalances in the cadence of work and the way that you work. [When you’re working with an agency] you are involved in an initiative, you have this great team of people who are doing all of this exciting work, but when you run out of budget or the project is over, you’ll go back down to one or two people.
I’m a big fan of growing that competency in-house, really developing those skills, and keeping that within the team. I also think it’s much easier to then look at innovative ways to integrate your social media strategy into the rest of your business strategies by looking at ways to drive demand or create engagement that are aligned to what’s happening through paid or organic search or through display advertising or partner marketing, etc. If you have the right people on your team, you can better recognize those opportunities to cross-integrate. Whereas, if you’re not developing that in your team internally, it can be more challenging.
RampUp: What is the one thing companies should remember or keep in mind about engaging on social media?
Kelly: We need to remember that behind every social media handle is a person. We recently had a situation where an individual was really unhappy with us—this happens to all companies. Somebody gets unhappy and they start yelling on Twitter, maybe looping in executives, and talking to anyone they can reach out to.
We chose to look at that conversation, not as an angry troll, but instead as a person who was so frustrated and unhappy, they felt they had to reach out to us in this particular way. How can we help solve their issue? Maybe we loop in support or escalate it to a reactive team. Other times, it might mean just listening and engaging with them.
RampUp: Yes. It’s also like social media is the first line of defense for almost any communications within a company.
Kelly: Definitely. We frequently hear about [problems] on social before we hear about it somewhere else.
RampUp: On social media, B2C marketers have a pretty clear idea of the persona they’re speaking to. Do you think B2B marketers face the same challenge in social media engagement as they do in pinpointing their target audience? How do B2B companies overcome the social media hurdle?
Kelly: Sometimes, I think it’s easier to work in B2B on social media if you’re working on the right platform. For example, on LinkedIn, it’s much easier to be B2B than B2C because your professional presence is what draws you to the platform.
It’s challenging when you’re talking to people about something like intelligence spend management. How do you talk to people about that on Twitter in 220 characters? It’s not always easy. People don’t include, “I want to talk to you about intelligence spend management,” in their profile. So, instead, when building audiences of our ideal persona, we look for people who are following other companies or who are following related ideas or who say they’re in a role where they might be open to having that conversation.
RampUp: Along that B2B trajectory, what do you think is important for success in the B2B customer journey, and how is it different? And is it different from B2C?
Kelly: They’re actually really similar. I’ve always thought about B2B as ‘P2B to B2P.’ It’s the person behind the business who’s talking to whoever asks questions of a B2B company on social.
What makes B2B unique from B2C as it relates to social is B2B social media strategists really have to think, “what does this person need that’s going to make them successful? What does this person need that is going to make their job easier and how do we make them feel more important?” These are key questions to ask because choosing to purchase an intelligence spend management solution, for example, is done in a much different way than making the decision to buy a bar of chocolate. It’s going to be a longer cycle. So you really have to talk to a person about their business needs, and in some ways that makes B2B social media more open and transparent.
To hear from other marketing thought leaders, join us in New York on September 18, as RampUp takes over the Big Apple. See more details and register here.