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Top Ways To Increase ROI In B2B Social Media Marketing

Top Ways To Increase ROI In B2B Social Media Marketing

Key Points

Measuring and harnessing social media marketing is an ever-changing endeavor, but one thing remains stubbornly persistent—it’s really difficult to consistently maximize your social media ROI.  Whether it’s tweaking your strategy, tracking performance, or quantifying your efforts, it’s hard to show the tangible results of social media.

So let’s take a look at the challenges of measuring social media ROI for b2b companies and where you should be focusing your social media marketing efforts.

It’s hard to translate likes and comments into actual business outcomes and determining attribution is nebulous. A potential customer could have started their journey with your brand via a LinkedIn or Instagram post, but not reach out to you until months later. Obviously, this poses big hurdles in explaining the positive effects of your work in the bigger picture.

According to Sprout Social, 55% of social marketers worry about how to communicate ROI. If you can’t justify the ad spend on your social media posts to your business goals, it will be hard for you to persuade stakeholders to take the steps you know you need in order to achieve good ROI. It’s a vicious cycle.

As social media marketing pros, is there anything we can do to break it?

Yes. We don’t have a choice. Social media costs can only be justified when results can be traced. The good news though? There are more ways to use data analytics and social media tools than ever before to create initiatives that produce measurable results capable of growing over time.

Measuring B2B social media marketing ROI matters big time!

Measuring B2B social presence and marketing how it relates to improving roi

Why go through all this in the first place? Aren’t social media marketers really responsible for a lot of the immeasurables? Things like brand sentiment?

Traditionally, yes you are, but today’s social media reporting tools offer better ways to measure things like vibe and sentiment.

Social media marketers who know how to plug into the right metrics and create strategies from the results are winning, not just the post, not just the page,  or vanity metrics but the entire account.

Think about all the ways social platforms and digital marketing have evolved since Facebook opened up its channel to brands, back in 2006. Not only are there more social channels available to consumers than on broadcast TV, but content marketing to online audiences has become more targeted.

A whopping 84% of b2b decision makers turn to social media when it comes to purchasing. Imagine all the potential there. Now imagine the competition. We can no longer throw a net into the social strategy water with the hopes of catching whatever we can; we need a thousand different personalized fishing rods dangling in the sea.

With all this customization comes data you can measure and reinvest. So not only do you need to measure  ROI, you need to harness it.

“When I hear people debate the ROI of social media? It makes me remember why so many businesses fail. Most businesses are not playing the marathon. They’re playing the sprint. They’re not worried about lifetime value and retention. They’re worried about short-term goals.” —Gary Vaynerchuk, author, entrepreneur, and speaker

Unfortunately, there’s no quick and easy solution, but there are a few time-tested strategies you can use to keep on improving social media ROI. The more you understand how it works, the less time you can spend working on it. As we all know: time is money.

What is B2B social media ROI?

A base understanding of how to measure social ROI will help you start talking numbers.

Business-to-business social media ROI, or return on investment, is calculated by dividing the profit earned from a social media campaign by the cost.

  • Costs can add up quickly and include everything from creative and production to agency fees and your in-house staff.

  • The return is measured by the profit, which should be further drilled down according to your business goals, for instance, profit per customer visit or profit per customer purchase.

The ROI is more than a dollar value. It can be a crystal ball showing you how to improve your social media presence.

B2b Social Media ROI Calculation Cheat Sheet:

  1. Determine Your Investment: Complete cost of the social media campaign

  2. Determine Your Profit:  Money earned after investment

  3. Divide: to get ROI rate Profit / Investment x 100

Example:

  1. Ad Investment: $10,000

  2. Profit earned: $5,000

  3. ROI rate: 20%

These are of course much easier to determine when you can set a clear profit for each action, which isn’t always the case, but we’ll look into ways to quantify ads without clear attribution.

Setting benchmarks for social media ROI

Setting benchmarks for social media ROI

The best way to read into your ROI? By understanding how to compare the numbers. You might want to measure your performance vs. the standards of your industry, competitors, or even your own past.

They help you set practical goals (that you can realistically improve upon), set your strategy and ultimately evaluate your performance.

A quick guide to setting benchmarks

Each industry will have its own quirks, but generally, marketers should always consider the following:

  • Figure out what to focus on and establish goals—What actions would you like to measure, how do they relate to your business goals, and what does success look like, realistically?

  • Audit your competitors—think about direct vs indirect competitors, brands that have had sustained success, and those who have had periodic or one-time hits, as well as buzzy up-and-comers.

  • Select the most appropriate social media platforms and choose the best metrics—For b2b businesses, LinkedIn will prove essential.

The most important social media metrics to compare are:

  • Engagement rate per post—shows posts that perform well, and resonate with your target audience

  • Likes and comments—more likes, shares, and comments translate into more people who are shown the post.

  • Reach—measures brand awareness from your post

  • Follower growth—attributes the growth in social media followers to specific posts, which can signal a potential quality lead

  • Impressions—measures how many times our content was seen and can help you discuss intangibles like brand awareness

How can you measure social media metrics?

Assessing and measuring social media ROI on social media platforms

How can you measure social media metrics

Here’s how to get started.

  1. Set a marketing budget that matches your goals. Be sure to consider the short-term investment goals vs the long-term as well as your bigger business objectives.

  2. Decide on your messaging. Make sure it feels authentic to the platform you are using.

  3. Give your ad time to do its job. Don’t expect the clicks to come raining in minutes after publication. Or even weeks. Give the ad time and keep a watchful eye over its performance.

The finishing line can look hazy so let’s talk a little about what success looks like and go over some challenges and tips in reporting each.

Website Traffic

Whether it’s your home page, a sales page, or a landing page, use Google Analytics to track how much of your online traffic originates from your social media accounts.

Challenge: People behave differently. Social media posts may spark a visit to your brand’s website, but that action could take place a few hours later on their desktop computer, making social media ROI hard to follow.

Tip: To get the most accurate picture use Google Analytics 4, which allows you to track users who switch between mobile and desktop devices—a huge leap in attribution, especially for consumers who frequently jump between the two, like b2b decision makers.

Lead Generation

B2b leads and direct sales are notoriously difficult to trace to social media marketing. Luckily, many social media platforms have lead-generating ads that help you track the source of your lead.

This is especially important in b2b marketing where the initial point of contact might be lost in the shuffle. With lead gen ads, you can trace a sale one or two years in the making back to a specific interaction—perfect for measuring social ROI.

Challenge: B2b leads are more intricate and it’s harder to trace their social media ROI than b2c leads

Tip: Use LinkedIn as your lead gen platform. 89% of b2b content marketers say that LinkedIn is the best in generating leads.

Conversions

Conversions can be quantified in more than clicks, especially if they are connected to tangible business goals.

Challenge: Conversions are hollow without effectively communicating social ROI

Tip: Conversions can be extremely cost-effective—create content that is low-effort but high-impact that you can use over long periods of time. If you can tie the content of your action to the profit funnel, you will always have a go-to in the back of your pocket.

Customer Service

More and more, customer service teams are working more closely with social media teams to manage customer satisfaction, and measure social media ROI.

Challenge: It’s time-consuming and hard to quantify. Without a clear system that connects customer care representatives with their social media team, it’s easy to make problems worse.

Tip: Keep a detailed spreadsheet documenting the customer service issues your social media team spends time managing. Include wins and challenges so you can examine and improve the cost efficiency of each interaction.

Growth in Followers, Reach, and Impressions

Social media follower growth is a key performance indicator (KPI) that measures the number of new followers you’ve gained relative to your previous social media followers’ count and helps you paint a broad picture of social media performance. Reach is how many people see the content and impressions are how many times.

The higher your follower growth, the more people can see and engage with your content—including positive customer reviews. It’s also a good temperature of your brand’s engine: a steady growth rate shows your influence online.

Challenge: Acquiring followers is one of the most challenging conversions, and it can feel like a vanity metric, especially without context or realistic benchmarks. Algorithms can be broken, but it’s not realistic to create a strategy around something going viral, even if you’ve paid for the reach.

Tip: Set realistic goals according to the factors that influence social media growth: company size, market, strategy (including and especially a review response strategy), and social platforms. To help give the full picture of our efforts, coordinate with sales to see if there were any bumps in inquiries during the campaign.

Likes, Comments, and Engagement

How often have you wondered how to explain how 157 likes on a post or 2 really thoughtful comments had any sort of real impact on the bottom line? You will always have to examine the immediate interactions with b2b social media campaigns.

Challenge: Translating seemingly trite actions such as a like or an emoji in the comments to something that has an impact on your business. Even when you fold reach into the mix, likes and comments are difficult to correlate to social media ROI.

Tip: Provide a deeper sentiment analysis alongside reports of likes and comments. Pair your story with data from social listening and other sentiment analysis tools (more on those later).

7 ways to build a better B2B social media strategy (with examples)

Now that you know what you should be looking for when measuring social ROI, let’s focus on some strategies

Top Ways To Increase ROI In B2B Social Media Marketing

Ensure clarity in your target audience

The best way to maximize your social media ROI is to make sure you’re targeting the right people. Many brands use target audience research to center their organic social media content strategy…and hope it cracks the algorithm. However, many b2b marketers pair that approach with paid social ads so they use audience segmentation tools to ensure this content gets seen by the right audience.

Either way, social efforts need to be backed by a consistent brand voice

Amp up your video content

Video has been trending for a long time now and has become one of the best ways to amplify your reach, impressions, and engagement. But they aren’t growing in popularity just because they garner more attention, storytelling via video is more relatable than a curated image or a witty caption, in turn humanizing your brand.

For example multi-national software company, Sap has a YouTube channel that represents the company as an ally for any business success, no matter the border. They connect on an emotional level and offer solutions. Salesforce is another great example, turning an otherwise dull product and making it fun.

Add user-generated content

According to Nielsen, 84% of all consumers value recommendations from friends and family, and 77% of consumers are likely to make a purchase after hearing about it from someone they trust.

Brands like Adobe, which creates design tools many businesses use, and The UPS Store have Instagram pages filled with user-generated content.

Here are three quick UGC content ideas to get you started:

  1. Create an online community where sharing is encouraged, such as a LinkedIn Group

  2. Incentivize sharing (in a way that actually sparks interest)

  3. Cross-promote from the user’s account

Check out our b2b guide to getting the most out of user-generated content.

Make use of influencer marketing

Influencer marking has the potential to yield a high social media ROI in social media marketing. More than 70% of B2B marketers say their customers use advice from influencers and 62% say their influencer programs have improved their customers’ brand experience. 86% of B2B marketers who work with influencers say their programs are successful.

American Express, GE, and Time Warner Business Class are commonly referred to as examples of successful b2b influencer campaigns but keep an eye on your own feed for examples. You never know where inspiration will strike, and it could be that b2c campaign made just for you.

We’ve got more than a few b2b influencer strategies in this guide.

Set realistic goals

It may seem obvious but if you set your social media ROI goal posts too far, you’ll always be struggling. Take an honest assessment of what you can achieve. Note the obstacles and strategize how to move around them. Use this strategy to get buy-in for the goals you set.

Optimize your page and posts

It should go without saying that your brand’s pages should be optimized for the platform they are on. But take note: social channels have drifted away from hashtags, and are now prioritizing keywords in posts. More and more people are using social media as search engines. The New York Times ran a feature about how TikTok is challenging Google for search among Gen Z.

Post content on the right social media channels for b2b social media

We’ll save you a little time: While there is more than one suitable social media platform for b2b social media marketing, LinkedIn is the social media platform that reigns supreme. 97% of b2b marketers use it, and that’s not because it doesn’t generate leads.

So it stands that it’s the one channel you need to measure.

Use another social media channel you don’t have to measure to support your efforts. For example, use Facebook to expand your friendships with prospective customers. Pair a humanizing Instagram campaign along with lead-generation ads on LinkedIn. Get creative—use social channels not just for content marketing, but for an integrated social media strategy.

We’ve got a deep dive into the best b2b social media platforms you should be considering.

Post content on the right social media channels for b2b social media

We’ll save you a little time: While there is more than one suitable social media platform for b2b social media marketing, LinkedIn is the social media platform that reigns supreme. 97% of b2b marketers use it, and that’s not because it doesn’t generate leads.

So it stands that it’s the one channel you need to measure.

Use another social media channel you don’t have to measure to support your efforts. For example, use Facebook to expand your friendships with prospective customers. Pair a humanizing Instagram campaign along with lead-generation ads on LinkedIn. Get creative—use social channels not just for content marketing, but for an integrated social media strategy.

We’ve got a deep dive into the best b2b social media platforms you should be considering.

Set LinkedIn B2B social media goals for your C-level leaders

One way to supercharge your brand account is to pump some life into your brand’s C-level accounts. Not only do they humanize your business, but they foster and nurture relationships, and keep your brand marketing efforts more transparent.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to get started:

  1. Set goals—think about the big picture but also create more specific goals, especially on the outset, like how many posts they should do a week and how many comments they should be making.

  2. Establish the target audience—CEOs can reach audiences in ways your brand page isn’t designed to. Think about your current employees, industry peers, and of course current and prospective customers.

  3. Create a content strategy—Consider the content creation formats available on LinkedIn and play to the CEO’s strengths. Some execs do great on live while others are great at churning out an insightful blog.

  4. Create a distribution plan—There are two things to keep in mind:

    • Organic—cross-promotion: expanding your execs reach by sharing it from your brand account or other influencer accounts

    • Paid—Exec posts usually get more engagement and so make good candidates for sponsored content.

  5. Implement and manage—make sure that execs are live commenting, both on comments their posts receive, but also on other relevant content in their field.

Pay attention to how other CEOs use their page. Here are a few great examples to help with your social media content marketing strategy:

  • Shamsh Hadi, Co-Founder, and CEO at ZorroSign, Inc.—a well-rounded profile with keyword-rich copy and strong credentials.

  • Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft—is notable for keyword-rich posts which provide useful tips on his products.

  • Sallie Crawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest—a page with many ideas for thought leadership

Essential tools to measure social media ROI

Essential tools to measure social media efforts on the right social media platforms

Your social media strategy is only as strong as the data you are able to pull. Each of these tools has its own strengths. You may want one or a combination, depending on the full scope of your operation.

  1. Google Analyticshelps you measure conversions, and google search console will help you manage your SEO as well. Both are free.

  2. Hootsuitea general social media management tool that offers an ROI calculator and social listening.

  3. Hubspota broad CRM tool that incorporates social media analytics, including an ROI calculator.

  4. SproutSocialA social media management tool that works well with LinkedIn and offers an ROI calculator

  5. Keyholea social listening tool that helps you monitor influencer campaigns

Analytics can be tricky and require at least a general working knowledge of a digital marketing strategy. Creating content worth analyzing is also an investment with specialized needs. There are many kinds of partner agencies that know how to use these tools and can help turn insights into action. A good place to start is by checking out the free versions of the apps and your in-house capabilities. Agencies are usually happy to discuss ways they can help and guide you.

The Wrap-Up: Use ROI to set yourself apart

Nothing is certain about the future of social media except this: marketers who consistently pull the most ROI value out of their social media marketing strategy will be in high demand.

Start by getting familiar with how to frame your reports in terms of dollars and cents. Harness social listening and competitor analysis to tell a complete story and set expectations.

Wrap your strategy around measurable social media objectives and get ahead of any potential challenges. Built it with tactics designed to fuel those goals and arm yourself with the best tools so you can show up with receipts.

Kimberly Stricker

Founder / Social Media Storyteller
Kim Stricker is a social media strategist, social media marketer, and founder of Social Motto social media marketing agency in Detroit Michigan. Kim consults with brands and companies on how to use the digital space and Social Media tools in growing brands. She’s managed campaigns for Nonprofits, Fortune 500 Companies, and small businesses in how to effectively incorporate social media into an overall marketing mix, and excel in the medium by giving their brands a strong voice in the community. Kim offers strategic marketing insights that focus on brand building and communicating visions, products, and services through innovative social marketing campaigns. By becoming a brand advocate and expert, Kim can develop and optimize content for social media outreach including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, etc. In addition, she always maintains an awareness of new social media marketing techniques in the marketplace, as well as looking for opportunities to innovate in new territories.
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