Making B2B Marketing More Social
As a multi-disciplined, multi-functional channel, social deserves a seat at every B2B brand’s strategic table. A robust social strategy does more than just drive brand awareness, it also can also generate leads, attract talent, and build a strong employee culture with far-reaching effects. Don’t take just our word for it though—this week’s guest is Jamie Gilpin, the CMO of Sprout Social, a leading social media management platform, and she’s here to discuss all things social.
From why the C-Suite needs to be on social to why you need more than just a “Twintern” to manage your social channels, this episode is chock full of insights about common B2B social media mistakes and specific B2B social media success. Jamie not only shares how social plays an important role in Sprout Social’s marketing mix, she also addresses how social listening has informed successful marketing motions and driven revenue. Check it out!
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- Why B2B brands need to take social seriously
- How Sprout Social drives revenue from social channels
- Common social media mistakes for B2B marketers
Renegade Thinkers Unite, Episode 212 on YouTube
- [0:29] Developing a Healthy Relationship with Social Media
- [6:24] Why the C-Suite Needs to Be on Social
- [14:51] Sprout Social’s Brand and Marketing Mix
- [20:08] How Social Listening Informs Marketing Motions
- [29:50] Why B2B Brands Need to Take Social Seriously, Too
- [37:49] Common B2B Social Mistakes: Valuation, Inauthenticity, Staffing
- [41:58] Why B2B Brands Need to Give Social a Seat at the Table
Transcript Highlights: Drew Neisser in conversation with Jamie Gilpin
[0:29] Developing a Healthy Relationship with Social Media“B2B brands are dangling more content across more channels than ever before and they're building a squadron of employee and customer advocates, then arming them with social sharing tools.” @DrewNeisser #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Thinkers. I don’t know about you, but I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I really love the fact that social saved my agency way back in 2008 when everything crashed and we did a quick pivot. It really saved the company and it’s been an important part of our service offering ever since.
I love Instagram as a creative platform that makes me feel like a photographer, or the photographer I always dreamed about being. I love the fact that I recently tweeted to the CEO of Legal Zoom. I was having an issue and he responded right away, and I got the problem solved within an hour. By the way, I had already tried phone and email. I love that—the power of social to solve personal challenges.
But oh, the time suck. Hey Facebook, I want all those hours back. Hey, Twitter, my feed is essentially useless. And TikTok, thanks for forever wrecking renegade.com’s ranking on Google because the Renegade dance is showing up #1—we own the domain renegade.com I’ll remind you—and you pushed it down. So, yeah, I’ve got this love/hate thing.
Now, regardless of my personal predilections, as an advisor to B2B marketers, I’ve monitored how social media has come in and out of favor since the early days of LinkedIn and Facebook. Well, guess what? Thanks to in part the pandemic, social media has really moved up a rung this year. B2B salespeople in particular, because they’re lacking physical events, have turned to social media like never before to start conversations, open doors, and even get themselves close to closing sales.
B2B brands are dangling more content across more channels than ever before and they’re building a squadron of employee and customer advocates, then arming them with social sharing tools. These same marketers are using paid social to drive awareness, generate leads, and attract recruits. Just to be clear, I’m talking about how B2B marketers are spending big on things like LinkedIn and even Facebook to drive not just awareness, but also leads. Meanwhile, customers are providing real-time feedback on social for B2B brands, and these prospects of yours are literally reading that and digesting it. Social media touches all these aspects of the business, and B2B marketers ignore it at their peril, which finally gets me to our guest today, Jamie Gilpin, who is the CMO of Sprout Social, one of the leading social media management platforms. Hi, Jamie, welcome to the show.
Jamie Gilpin: Thanks, Drew. Excited to be here. And that was an amazing introduction. I don’t know if I can add any more. You said it all.
Drew Neisser: Oh, we have so many things to talk about, but since I went personal with my favorite platform, what’s your favorite social platform?
Jamie Gilpin: I would agree from a personal perspective. I do have a little bit of a love and frustration—I won’t say hate because I do love it more than I am frustrated—and that’s because you and I are probably part of the 62% of people that are going to social more than they ever have before. For me, it’s about the connection. It’s about keeping up with my family members. I’ve got 35+ first cousins, about 20 aunts and uncles in all different states, so there’s a lot to keep up with. I would say right now my favorite platform, similar to you, is Instagram. Partly because it feels still a little bit light. My Facebook feed is getting a little heavy coming up with the ensuing things to come in November. Instagram is definitely my go-to.
Drew Neisser: I follow a number of professional photographers so, to me, it is literally an escape. I love it. A few minutes on Instagram and I feel like I’ve been all the way around the world, seen some beautiful things, a lot of nature in my feed. Do you have a least favorite?
Jamie Gilpin: I don’t have a least favorite. I would say, probably similar to some of the memes with the different headshots that you have for each of your socials, I use each of them differently. Twitter and LinkedIn would be, to some degree, my go-to from a professional perspective. And that’s fun, too. Actually, I follow some pretty funny people. Probably not my least favorite, but one I’m still trying to figure out is TikTok. Very entertaining. I am more of a lurker there than a content creator. So, not my least favorite, but one I’m still just trying to figure out.
Drew Neisser: I love the whole crossover with TikTok to advertising Ocean Spray and music. I mean that whole thing is probably closer to driving culture right now than any brand I’ve seen in a long time. It’s phenomenal. I saw a feature from Fleetwood Mac or one of the others who actually now is doing that same take with Ocean Spray, singing his song from 50 years ago. It’s incredible.
[6:24] Why the C-Suite Needs to Be on Social“My ability to digitally network with powerhouse marketing professionals is also mission-critical to my ability to execute and be successful in my role.” @jamiewo @sproutsocial #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: As I think about social, personally it’s very easy. Professionally, I have a strategy for that. Talk a little bit about your use of it as a professional, your use of social just on an individual level before we get to how Sprout uses it.
Jamie Gilpin: As a professional, and the part of the reason for the love/frustration part with social for me is I’m a bit of an introverted extrovert. I definitely get a ton of my energy from talking to people like you and working during brainstorming, but I also need that time to just be on my own. Part of that is I don’t really…I’m not a bragger. I’m sort of more humble in that sense, but I’ve had to, especially as a CMO—CMO before this at a Series-C B2B brand, software brand, before that VP at CareerBuilder for a long time—I realized that a big part of our brand was very much connected to me as the head of marketing.
I had to get out of my comfort zone and start posting a bit more. It’s easier for me not to post about myself, so the way I really use social, especially from a professional perspective—and you can see this on LinkedIn or my Twitter–it’s really about promoting all of our content because we have amazingly rich content, especially for my peer group in marketing. It’s also around, for me, giving accolades to my team. There’s an employee brand piece of it. When I think about—and you mentioned this before in recruits—we are growing. We are growing as a company. We are growing as a marketing team. My ability to digitally network with powerhouse marketing professionals is also mission-critical to my ability to execute and be successful in my role. Those are probably the three areas I would say are most used: building the brand, promoting our own content and our people, and then recruiting.
Drew Neisser: It’s so interesting. For the CMOs that are listening to this show, if you’re not spending any time on social, shame on you. I’m going to say that for a couple of reasons. One: you can learn a tremendous amount about what’s going on. You could follow someone like Jamie and figure out what’s going on in social. Two, the time to be thinking about your personal brand is not when you decide you need to look for a new job. The time to be thinking about your personal brand is when you have a job. Part of the thing is that even if you’re an introvert sharing content—sharing is caring, right? It is in many ways. I’m on my soapbox for a second, but I’ve talked to too many CMOs that are in transition who have no social footprint whatsoever.
There’s a double problem with that. One is what it says to companies is that you’re not current. If you’re active in social and you’re following and you’re an influencer, that means that you’ll be able to help your company do that. These things go together. There is a line where you can over-promote, over-self-promote, but as long as it’s good for the company, you’re fine. When it gets beyond that, where your brand becomes better known than the company or you’ve associated yourself so closely with it, you create a problem.
Jamie Gilpin: Especially as marketers, right? Of any C-suite in the organization, it should be the CMO that’s most familiar with all of the channels, all of the communication levers that you have for your marketing stack. I think that’s really important.
There was something also that you hit on that I’d want to advocate for as well. It’s not just you, but really promoting that for your CEO. That’s something that we are seeing more and more. This applies to B2C but, as I will hit on probably a few times, forgive me, B2C is an absolute indicator for the behavior on B2B. One of those is that we as people find brands more trusting. We are more trustful of brands where their C-levels are on social, where they’re talking about the business, where they’re talking about where they’ve not only done really well and are beating their chests and promoting, but also what we’ve learned and where we’ve messed up. That bit of transparency creates that connection and that trust with our buyers more than anything else. That’s why social is so critical, but also who is on social and how you’re talking on social as well.
Drew Neisser: I love that point. I’m going to just expand on it in a couple of ways. One, every CMO should be thinking about their CEO. You can’t succeed without them succeeding. Two, and one of the things that I’ve noticed is, if we post the same exact thing on my personal channel versus Renegade’s channel, my channel always gets engagement.
When you talk to other CMOs on social platforms, the truth is that we humans like to follow humans and believe humans. If you have a CEO who is representing your brand and is articulate, it’s gonna go a lot further, as long as they’re talking like a human. This is where I think the big fail in social media is. Brands put out content and they don’t talk like people. They’re not social.
Jamie Gilpin: 100%. Because you immediately go into your business mode. That is fine when you have invested months and months into a marketing campaign, let alone whether that’s TV or print (I think that print is coming back) or maybe a direct mail piece (which actually is coming back), you’re going to spend time—that’s going to be professional, that is extremely important that that’s very thoughtful. Social is your channel to be a human. Social is your channel to be truly authentic and connect with your buyers, with your customers, in a more meaningful way.
I’m going to try not to go on a soapbox, but if anything that we have learned in these last six months since March 13th—I’ll never forget that date of 2020—anything that we have learned in this is that connection, when we are physically not able to connect, this idea of what digital can actually do for us as people, but more importantly, how we can really—and I don’t mean this in an opportunistic way—but really leverage this as brands and as companies to create more meaningful connection and relationships with our customers than we ever have before, at scale…I mean, this is the opportunity with social, that scale point. Our salespeople obviously are creating great relationships, but do we have to depend on a great salesperson to have great relationships with our customers? Or can we build that? Can we build that as a marketing function?
[14:51] Sprout Social’s Brand and Marketing Mix“More than 80% of our new business acquisition actually comes from marketing.” @jamiewo @sproutsocial #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: I’m curious, how does social media fit into the overall Sprout Social marketing mix?
Jamie Gilpin: Well, this is not going to be a surprise to anyone listening, but it is a critical part of our entire marketing plan. The reason for that: One, we do have the benefit that our customers are marketers. As we’ve been talking about, of course, marketers should be more familiar with social than others. That may not always be the case, but that is a little bit of an advantage for us. Not to mention, our key user is a social media manager, so very familiar. But what I would press on, especially as a learning for other B2B marketers—one, this playbook worked at CareerBuilder where my persona was HR leaders, at Envoy, a Series C software focused on global mobility managers and even general counsel, still a critical part of it.
What I would say across all of those organizations is where social fits in based on where you are and where your goals are as a company. For us at Sprout, we are mission-focused on our customers as the center point. I know every company says that, especially in B2B, especially in software and tech, but that was one thing that really attracted me to Sprout in the first place two and a half years ago when I joined. One, as a customer of Sprout prior to, but also, they’re just so authentic. I mean, when we say that our customers are center point, you can see it on social, all of the #SproutLove that our customers give us. But we absolutely are always thinking about them. From a customer experience perspective, social has to be part of every single touchpoint of our customer’s journey.
From an awareness perspective—I can talk about this because it is public knowledge—but more than 80% of our new business acquisition actually comes from marketing. The majority of that comes from a highly efficient inbound engine. I know we talk about this a lot in B2B… Content, how that fuels different needs and different organic impressions from a need perspective across personas, but social is a really critical part of that. That is a critical part of our channel for which we promote. We can talk all about publishing. Social is far more than publishing these days. It is an engagement piece. You mentioned reaching out to Legal Zoom earlier—that is what B2B buyers are also doing with B2B companies. We see that all the time, asking about a certain feature that’s about to be released or a problem that they’re having and acting as customer care.
The final one that I will say—and I think this is going to be really important for us as B2B CMOs, marketing leaders, but just business-minded people—take a page from the B2C playbook. For B2C, a big percentage of their marketing budget is spent on research and focus groups and really understanding their buyer at a very intimate level. We can do that now, without the millions of dollars or very high expenditures, through listening. We’ve got to listen to our audience and that becomes also a mission-critical part of our strategy that actually dictates everything else. What we hear from our audience on listening dictates our campaigns, what topics our content is going to revolve around. I can share, if you want to hear it, a little bit of how that has been a game-changer for us, honestly, post-COVID.
Drew Neisser: I do want to talk about social listening because obviously that’s what you guys do, and I know it’s really important and I’ve seen it work incredibly well on any number of levels. But before I do that, because you mentioned that you use social listening to drive your campaigns—I’m wondering if there is a big brand idea behind Sprout and the success of Sprout. Customer centricity is certainly an important part of it…Is there an articulation of the brand that helps drive your marketing?
Jamie Gilpin: Yes. Our brand—and we’re going through some persona work right now to define this more—but for us, we will always stand by the power of social for businesses to connect and create a real connection with their audience. That’s always been our mantra. And most importantly, as we think about that, it was telephone, then it turned into email. Now, social really is that connection point. It’s more than a communication channel. It truly is a way for businesses to connect, but more importantly, drive an end-to-end, authentic, empathetic customer experience. That’s what we hopefully do and hopefully, our customers agree, but also what we help our customers do.
[20:08] How Social Listening Informs Marketing Motions“We are doing better from a lead generation, top-of-funnel, traffic perspective than we ever have.” @jamiewo @sproutsocial #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: As you were talking, you reminded me. After 2008, we focused exclusively on social. We had a bunch of social clients and then a few years later we had two clients who had national advertising agencies who launched national campaigns. We knew within 24 hours that both of those campaigns would die. We could tell the negative sentiment on both. It was remarkable. It wasn’t just one, it was two, based on the TV advertising that they were doing. And they were spending enough money that this had to be the driving force for the brand and across all channels.
It was at that moment we said, “Okay, I don’t want to be in this position as an agency.” We started spending a lot more time on brand strategy and B2B in particular because these were B2C companies. It bothered me because, often, social is an add on. It’s an afterthought and it’s not at the core of the strategy. I can connect dots here from “You are customer-centric so, therefore, social listening has to be at the core and social listening has to drive this,” but help us understand an example of how you’ve used social listening to help inform the content that you’ve created or a marketing campaign.
Jamie Gilpin: One—I can say that’s across all of our campaigns—that example that you just gave for B2C is one of my worst nightmares. The way to not live an actual nightmare in reality is to listen to your audience and understand. Do that pre-testing of those campaign ideas, which is actually what we do across all of our big campaigns that we’re going to invest in. A really good example—and I mentioned that I can talk about this with the COVID example that we have—March 13th, again, the day that I’ll always remember, including June 18th, which is my wedding date, and then my children’s birthdays. Anyways, there are a few dates swimming around in my head.
On that day, about a week later, our social media leader, who is phenomenal, came to me and said, “Hey, I pulled a listening report post-COVID, and I just want to share with you, one, what topics they’re interested in; two, what things they are getting really frustrated with in terms of what we’re talking about; and three, I have very specific recommendations for what we should be pausing from a campaign perspective, from a publishing perspective, and where we can start to invest our content resources to provide real value back to our audience.”
That was data from social that we then took to inform our website, inform how we’re talking about Sprout, how we are supporting our audience during these incredibly crazy times. And all of that, we are, candidly Drew, doing better. You’ve heard, hopefully, or the audience can hear our earnings reports from the last few quarters, but we are doing better from a lead generation, top-of-funnel, traffic perspective than we ever have.
I think that just shows the power of this data, the power of these insights. And some of it honestly was like, “Yeah, well, this makes sense.” Some of it was more confirming than raw insights, but there were actually some very, very important insights. Another one we used to launch a new awards program for social media managers because they were feeling so burnt out. This has been by far one of our most successful campaigns, which we wanted to do anyway because it was the right thing to do, but it also really helped from an awareness and top of funnel perspective.
Drew Neisser: I love this. To me, it says it says that social deserves a seat at the strategic table as much as say, marketing automation, the data that people want to have in how the campaigns are performing. But the thing that’s interesting to me about social is that social can lead. It’s a leading-edge indicator.
I also just wanted to highlight the notion of testing on social, of testing concepts on social. It’s so easy to do. It always shocks me, in B2C or B2B, when a brand is launching a big campaign and they don’t use social to test it. I think the insight part of it is so important, but it takes the CMO to recognize that this isn’t just some outlier thing. This is core to who we are and what our customers are saying in the marketplace.
In the old strategy circle, you would have brand and you would have culture and you would have competitor. That intersection of the Venn diagram was really a place for strategic insight. Well, social has the ability to show what’s going on with your brand, what’s going on in culture, and they can do it in real-time. I think people forget about that. Is there a specific story? I’m really interested in COVID in particular because we’ve noticed that “sadvertising” never worked, but just mentioning COVID—first of all, if you want to do Google display ads, you can’t use the word “COVID,” which is hilarious, but they’re helping you. I’m just curious…What was the insight that you turned into a campaign?
Jamie Gilpin: There were two. I’ll tell you the insight, but you also hit on something just a second ago that I think is important to double down on. Social has so much data. To that point, it’s up to the CMO and really a strong social media leader to glean the insights of that data that are most relevant to your brand. I’ll talk about the key insights and how we use them, but most importantly there is, whether it’s cultural trends that you’re seeing, whether it’s audience needs that you’re seeing, you will be called out to the carpet (because social also does that) if you are inauthentic in what you’re talking about.
If you are just latching on to the latest keywords of the biggest themes or brand keywords that you’re starting to see and listening to, and not have either, one, a real value connection as a company to that thing that you’re talking about or, two, something that your product does. You need to have that connection. That’s the CMO’s job, and that’s my job, and this is what I did in this situation.
This is very specific to social media managers, but I would say this is probably across the board—we saw that people were feeling burnt out. Social media managers were working, in some cases, 24 hours a day—and I’m not being unrealistic about that or being dramatic about it because they were just constantly on. A lot of this had to do with B2C because that’s obviously a big portion of our customer base, but also software and technology is a big portion as well.
This feeling like they’re always on; not having the answers was another one. As a social media manager, you want to have answers, you want to respond quickly, but when you don’t know when your doors are opening, when you don’t know what the protocols are because the companies are still trying to figure it out, it was highly, highly stressful. What they did not want to hear from us was how to publish more content or how to do more with social. They did not want to hear that from us and that was very clear.
A lot of our content came from managing your mental health, how to talk to your boss about taking some time off, what does even look like in a, in a remote world? The content shifted to managing social media during a crisis, not crisis management, which is a nuance there that was really important. Sharing best practices, getting our customers on webinars to talk about how they’re managing through it. That’s really where we started to pivot and part of that was a big reason for how we’ve been able to build awareness, but most importantly, that we were able to show our audience that we heard them, that we empathize, and that we’re here to support.
[29:50] Why B2B Brands Need to Take Social Seriously, Too“Consumers and people on social want a response from a brand within 24 hours.” @jamiewo @sproutsocial #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: As you’re talking, I have to marvel—so, way back in March 2011, believe it or not, I published a story on Social Media Examiner. This is the one and only story that I wrote and it’s still there. It was a comparison between Sprout and TweetDeck, which doesn’t even exist. This was so early in Sprout’s history that the founder was so excited about the article that he gave us Sprout for free, and believe it or not, we had a free subscription from 2011 until 2020 until your folks finally cut up and went, “Wait, you’ve been using it for nine years for free. Don’t you think…?” In full disclosure, Renegade is now a customer of Sprout Social. So yes, a little free marketing for you all, but we’ve been fans for a long time, and I imagine that you have a community of fans out there.
Let’s talk to the folks that don’t get it right now. Let’s talk to those who are just in B2B land and think, “Oh, it’s enterprise; it’s CEOs; it’s CFOs. They’re not on social. Why do we need to worry about them?” What do you see are the biggest mistakes right now being made in B2B when it comes to social?
Jamie Gilpin: First of all, to your point of like, “Oh, I’m enterprise; I sell to enterprise. CEOs are not on social. That may be the case that they don’t have a profile, but the numbers are staggering for how many millions of people are on social. Even from a place that they go to lurk—I said that I lurk on TikTok—there are lots of lurkers in the C-suite of large organizations because, one, they’re looking hopefully to social to see those trends, understanding their own brand recognition. All those things are important. The other one that I would keep in mind, and this is something critical to us—I’ve talked about our customers being in our core—in particular, our users are absolutely are at our core, and those are the social media strategist managers.
Even though a CMO or a VP of Marketing—depending on the size of the contract—is the signer, they’re not the user of the product. When we talk about, especially in B2B, going deep and wide into our accounts and creating that trust and, more importantly, advocacy across the organization, social is such a critical way to do that. If I think about that big takeaway, yes, C-levels are there. Perhaps you don’t see them necessarily interacting. They are viewing, but most importantly, their employees, your users, are absolutely on social. That ability to connect with them in the channels in which they are already connecting is critical.
Drew Neisser: You mentioned that business has been good, knock on wood, the past few quarters. One of the things that I’ve observed in B2B in general with the companies that have succeeded in the last six months have been very much about how they’re deemed essential. The CF-No doesn’t say “no” to that because they see the opportunity either to save money or to make money and to do it in a relatively quick period of time. Do you think marketers looking at your tool are seeing analytics right now as essential? You’re right on the cusp there, as opposed to say, for example, security. “I’ve moved all my people out there. That? Must have it.”
Besides security, just anything cloud that keeps your business operational. Obviously, those were essential at the core. You couldn’t do business unless you had moved everything to the cloud, but then there’s this next level of essential because, otherwise, there are so many categories, frankly, where it’s just the CFO saying, “2021. I don’t care. I don’t need that today.” What’s helping you, do you think, keep your sales moving even during a pandemic, particularly when B2C’s really hurting?
Jamie Gilpin: I think it’s the definition of “essential.” There are safety aspects of essential; there are risk aspects of essential; and then there are opportunity aspects of essential. I’m sure we are probably all tired of hearing this as the drinking game buzzword: “digital transformation.” We’ve been talking about digital transformation for as long as I can remember, at least 10 years back, but it’s always been the thing that we are talking about. We stopped talking about it and we just had to figure it out. Literally overnight, March 13th, we had to figure it out and this is across B2C, this is across B2B. For some of us, it was more essential than others because they no longer had retail locations open, they had figure out their e-commerce, delivery. There are certain things that they had to figure out, but that digital transformation was real, and companies had to figure it out.
They were able to because they could shift things like event budget or things like direct mail, because people aren’t even in the office right now, to digital. To the digital aspects of not just their marketing, but really their business strategy. Because of that, social—and I talk about this a lot, especially for brands that no longer can meet in person, and that’s B2B and B2C—social really became the only door open to have those conversations. You mentioned before you couldn’t get a contact back from an email or a phone call from Legal Zoom, but within social it’s within an hour. That’s actually the expectation. All of our data shows that consumers and people on social want a response from a brand within 24 hours. That really becomes that customer care point. Again, we’ve talked about the awareness point. It really becomes that critical part of every part of the customer experience and it is even more essential from an opportunity perspective today.
Drew Neisser: It’s well said. I’m going to borrow—I had a conversation the other day with a guest of the show, Rashmi Vittal, who’s at Conversica, and she defined it for me, which I love: “A pain reliever is essential. A vitamin, not so much.” When you think about social media analytics in the context of digital transformation and the fact that all these retailers had to focus on e-commerce, and once they had to focus on e-commerce, they needed to spend more time on social. It totally makes sense, so I appreciate that. I would suspect that, in B2B, they’ve been slower to pick up on that.
Jamie Gilpin: In some ways. It depends. I’ll give you the MBA answer. It really does depend. Depending on, as we’ve talked about, how social your current audience is, that’s an indicator of how quickly B2B has changed. But if I look at our segmentation across our customer base, it is still technology, software, B2B brands are still a very important part of our entire customer community. To your point, I think it can be assumed that, in general, B2B is a bit behind B2C, but I think this is one area where it’s a little bit more prioritized than others.
[37:49] Common B2B Social Mistakes: Valuation, Inauthenticity, Staffing“I think the biggest mistake is that B2B marketers see social as just another distribution channel.” @jamiewo @sproutsocial #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: We’re going to help summarize here for B2B marketers who are—I don’t think we talked about the mistakes that they’re making, but let’s just give them—what are the mistakes? What are they missing? What are the opportunities that they typically, again, B2B, are missing out on?
Jamie Gilpin: I think the biggest mistake is that B2B marketers see social as just another distribution channel. You hit on this before. It’s like, “Oh, we’re going to launch this campaign. Oh yeah, we should create a couple of posts for social.” That is really undervaluing the potential and the power that social can have for your overall strategy, so that’s number one. Two, I would say, B2B companies make the mistake of not seeing social as a way to connect and be human with your audience. That authenticity—that’s also a big buzz word at Sprout—but being authentic, being empathetic, that is the channel that you get to do that in. Become a human and take that part of the brand to an important level with your audience.
Those are probably the two. Inauthenticity is a big mistake. It’s so important from a posting and publishing perspective but seeing that as the only use case for it are probably the two. And then the other, I would say, is not properly staffing. Once you start to leverage social and realize its potential for your marketing strategy, you will start to get more followers, you will start to get more engagement. Back to the authenticity point: If you are not responding—maybe not within 24 hours, that is probably best practice, so good job, Legal Zoom—at least in that 48 hours and really engaging with your audiences, that is probably another mistake when people start investing in social.
Drew Neisser: I’m afraid to ask this question, but way back in 2010-12, when we were doing early days of social and going back farther than that, we had an expression “Twintern,” the Twitter intern. Is that still a thing? Are people still giving social to the youngest person in the room because they know how to do this stuff?
Jamie Gilpin: Of course, and don’t be afraid to ask it. There are two reasons for it. One, there are tons of freelancers that are social media managers that help brands. Part of that is not because it’s not important, but because it’s just the growth stage of the company. I talked about that a while ago, where social sits in your priorities from a growth stage perspective. The other one I would say—and this goes back to something else that I talk about quite a bit—we as CMOs never were social media managers. Most of us, the average age of a CMO is 54. Most of us are over 40. I’m somewhere in between there. We never were social media managers, so we don’t always fully understand the value, but more importantly, we sort of figure that a younger generation knows more about it from a personal perspective. I think those are the two things: One, we don’t get it because we’re too old because it wasn’t part of our life growing up. Two, depending on the importance and where you are from a growth stage perspective.
Drew Neisser: One of the things that I encourage CMOs to do in those cases is a little reverse internship. Get to know a social media manager and have them get you on TikTok, and you can teach them a little bit about marketing. One of the things that I often find is that folks in social really think social is the world and don’t see how the pieces fit together. Obviously, the CMO needs to do both of those things. I love those as advice to CMOs in terms of mistakes.
[41:58] Why B2B Brands Need to Give Social a Seat at the Table“Social is stronger than domains.” @jamiewo @sproutsocial #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Let’s add to the list of this and just wrap up. I know that right now, because of the economic downturn, that there’s a tremendous pressure on CMOs to drive revenue. You talked about how, with content, you can point to marketing driven leads or qualified leads or whatever—80, 85% of your business was inbound. There’s tremendous pressure on CMOs to drive revenue. Flat out. In that context, where does social media fit in as a revenue driver?
Jamie Gilpin: For us, it is all parts of our funnel. From an awareness perspective, it’s a huge distribution channel for our content. You mentioned SEO before—TikTok taking over your own domain—social is stronger than domains. That’s probably a key learning here, so the way that it plays into and supports our organic is extremely important. From a consideration point, so a little bit further down in the funnel, they’re going to social to ask their networks: “Hey, do you use Sprout? What do you think?” They’re going to the communities where they live and asking questions as well. That networking piece all the way from awareness through consideration, social really is a key part of all of that. And then as I’ve talked about, and I will get off that soapbox, but the listening and really the power of the analytics and insights to inform all of that.
Drew Neisser: Cool. If you didn’t get it, I’m going to give a few more points to think about this. To start: You never go wrong by listening to your customer. That’s a good thing there. You can use it as a testing platform. You can use it to inform your strategy or refine your strategy, one or both. Then, the thing that is key to all of this is that social has a seat at the table. One of the reasons why I could see social analytics and platforms like Sprout Social growing now is, if we’re going to invest more in social, we better be measuring it. You need those tools in order to do it. It’s really hard to do it well and track it.
We’re gonna do two things. We’re going to respect social as a multi-discipline, multi-functional channel. We’re gonna measure and track our performance over it. And we’re going to give them a seat at the table. It’s not going to be the afterthought. And if we’re going to do that, then we probably want to have someone who’s relatively seasoned. I would argue that social has been around for 15 years, easily. There are seasoned people out there; get them on your team. At minimum, make sure that your social analytics person is seasoned. Alright, I’m off of my soapbox. Jamie, thank you so much.
Jamie Gilpin: Thanks, Drew. This was great. So much fun.
Drew Neisser: Here’s a thought for you all. If you enjoyed this show—speaking of social and sharing is caring—go to your favorite social platform and share that you listen to the show. That’d be awesome. Feel free to share it on LinkedIn or Twitter, Instagram. I promise to engage with you. And so does Jamie. We’re on it. We’re there.
Renegade Thinkers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me. Audio production is by Sam Beck. The show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins. The intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, and learn more about quite possibly the best B2B marketing agency in New York City, visit renegade.com. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.