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NetMarketing Breakfast: With social marketing ROI, keep bigger picture in mind

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New York-—Social media must be considered as a single ingredient within a portfolio of campaigns, and not bear the burden alone of driving revenue or other "hard" metrics, according to a panel of marketers who spoke at today's BtoB NetMarketing Breakfast in Manhattan. "The real ROI of social media is quite different in the b-to-b space," said Kirsten Bjork-Jones, director-global marketing communications at Edmund Optics. "Our social goals have no reference to revenue but rather focus on consistent content that supports our core business." Christine Jacobs, director-demand programs at IBM Corp., agreed that the metrics surrounding social media marketing need to be considered in the context of an overall marketing approach. "As marketers, we can dashboard ourselves to death if we allow it to happen," Jacobs said. "Social media succeeds when it picks out and supports a few KPIs that are tied to business outcomes." With social marketing so dependent on content, Jacobs said it's best to focus on relevancy of content and making sure it's packaged and delivered appropriately to the right audiences. Bill Strawderman, executive director, b-to-b marketing and social media at AT&T Inc., said social outreach is still evolving at his company, primarily in an effort to put a human face on AT&T and position it as a brand to trust. "Trust is shifting from institutions to people, allowing employees to be voices of the brand," Strawderman said. He cited the company's efforts to highlight in-house experts, train them in creating informative blogs, and give them platforms to express themselves. "It wasn't in our DNA to have people write content on a daily basis, so we had to build a 'Trust Academy' to teach them social media skills," Strawderman said. As for harder metrics, AT&T's efforts in social media are having an impact on the company's search engine optimization results, he said. While Mercury Systems, which provides technology subsystems to the Defense Department, does engage in social media, its prime focus this past year has been on rebranding itself. Going by the name Mercury Computer Systems for 30 years, the company had grown both organically and through acquisitions, and needed a new identity to communicate its evolved product lineup and position in the marketplace, said Phil Juliano, CMO. "In the b-to-b world, branding matters," Juliano said. "Most all major brands have had to reinvent themselves at different points of time." Mercury Systems not only changed its name, but also revamped its website and created a new tagline, "Innovation That Matters." Along with the new website came a new URL, which caused a slippage in unique visitor volume. However, with the new site and positioning, "site stickiness"—page views, pages per visit and time on site—all showed improvement, Juliano said.
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