Transcript Podcast S1E7: How to Use Social Media to Drive Demand and Achieve ROI in Unique Ways

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Inga: Hello and welcome to the MarTech Braintap, Weekly insights from MarTech consultants in New York. I’m Inga Romanoff.

Robert: And I’m Robert Vo.

Inga: Today’s guest is Adam Hutchinson who is the Head of Marketing at Socedo, a software solution that helps marketers discover, engage, and qualify leads at scale using social media signals.

Inga: Adam, welcome! Do you want to make a quick introduction first?

Adam: Yeah. Thanks, Inga. So, as Inga mentioned I run the marketing team at Socedo and we’re really focused on bridging the gap between what’s happening out there on social channels, all the rich conversations, and the data we can find out there on the web, and bringing that back to the rest of the marketing organization in order to fuel leads, higher conversions and more revenue for businesses. And really I like to approach it from both the B2B and the B2C standpoint. So I think, you know, different industries are approaching this in different ways today but it really is a common issue. Even prior to Socedo, I was running some promotional programs at Amazon where we were bridging social media campaigns with email campaigns and ad campaigns. And, you know, it’s crazy when you look at even a big brand like Amazon it’s still kind of in the beginning days of using social throughout its marketing ecosystem. So I find this a common problem between very small companies and very large companies. That’s kind of what I’m passionate about and really bridging that gap into the Marketing Operations world, specifically, where all the rest of the data lives.

Inga: How fascinating. I completely agree with you in terms of Social Media and where it stands. Perhaps only in the last year and a half companies took social media seriously and actually turned it into more of an omnichannel conversation, rather than before it was just one person doing social media and [companies] just had to do it because everybody else did. I feel like your role, what you do is still really rare because, it’s only now being seen as part of the overall marketing message.

Adam: Yeah. I mean it’s crazy if you look at 2015 was actually the first year that the majority of marketers were doing social media marketing. Prior to that, it was around 40-45% of marketers said they were doing some social. 2015 we kind of hit that breaking point and then in the last couple of years it really exploded and now about 80% of marketers actually are doing something on social. So it’s really growing quickly. But I mean, if you just look at it, most people still aren’t even tracking the ROI of Social. They have no idea how to track investments from it and really not plugged in. It’s still very much as a broadcast channel or, you know, maybe a customer service channel at this point.

Robert: What are your thoughts on why 2015, what was like the turning point there. What was the thing that really kind of made people go from like ‘social: we’re kind of scared of it’ to ‘Hey let’s really incorporate social into our own marketing effort’.

Adam: I think a couple of things have been happening in the marketing industry, kind of a perfect storm that’s converged here. You know, on one hand it’s just you look at the other channels that were really traditional to marketing – they’ve declined over time. Email click through rates are about a fourth of what they were 10 years ago. And even ad click through rates continue to decline as well. People are more and more bombarded with messages.

At the same time, social media platforms, their usage has just expanded greatly. And, you know, you we hear some of these negative news stories about ‘oh… what’s going to happen to Twitter’, ‘what’s happening to Snapchat’. Well, honestly Twitter’s revenue has grown 8% just in the past year alone. These platforms are really thriving right now. This is where people want to be and we really reached that breaking point where the majority of Americans and people across the world now are actually on some sort of social media form logging in daily and actually want and expect their brands to interact with them.

And so I think marketers have had to take a pretty hard look at this the past couple of years and say look the old way of doing marketing isn’t working. We’re kind of flushing money down the drain at this point versus our customers are actually craving to interact with us and these other channels. And so we’ve seen this shift happen pretty quickly as marketers out of necessity need to make the transition but also have reaped the benefits of better customer experience as well.

Robert: That’s interesting. What are some of the key use cases or kind of interesting use cases that you’ve seen and how marketers are actually using social to really engage their audience.

Adam: Yeah. Well I’ll tell a quick story of a friend of mine, actually. So Tara Reed is the CEO of two different startups. She started Kollecto, which is an art collecting, curating startup to help art lovers find art. Very B2C focused, very consumer-end and almost like a publication. She also founded Apps Without Code, which was actually geared towards marketers and sales people who could their little apps and utilities to improve their own processes without having to go to their engineering team. And both of these, you know, she started these on her own, she wanted to connect with her audience because that was the only way she is going to go her business was to find them and gain some trust with the people out there in the industry. So she turned to social. She didn’t even spend any money on ads and she did a little bit of content marketing to start with. And then she turned to social. She said, where are all these people? For Apps Without Code she went straight to Twitter because she knew she could find marketing and sales people and literally all she did was, she started just following a bunch of people, interacting with them, joining in on conversations. And whenever someone in marketing or sales had a pain point or was talking about something ‘oh, man…I wish I had more resources for this’, or ‘I wish I knew how to code’, she would join in that conversation, actually drive them to the landing page, share a piece of content with them, and that’s how she grew her business. And she actually increased her traffic by about 10x in months just by doing this. You know, she was starting from little so it was easy to grow, but still think about that, someone brand new at that company driving 10x in three months. That’s really how she grew her business to start out with. And then she was able to automate on top of that, kind of do some of the more traditional lead nurturing lead generation stuff.

Robert: That is interesting.

Adam: Yeah. And then her art startup. She took the same approach. Where she said, where is my audience? For artists, it’s Pinterest and it’s Instagram. And so she did the same sort of thing. Just on a different channel. And really connected with people where they were. She shared some of her favorite art. She really painted this brand voice on social. Allowed people to trust her, come to her. And so when someone was talking about purchasing art or they were really excited about a new piece that they just bought at an art show, they’d put it on Instagram. She would follow up with them and say ‘hey, if you want to find more pieces like this, sign up for my newsletter.’ And then. You found about. You know 3x growth in the first month. Just doing that on Pinterest and Instagram.

Robert: Wow. Wow. Especially with art right, because it has to be very visual where Twitter for example is more… I don’t wanna say more words, because it’s really only 140 characters, but Pinterest was very specific… and Instagram as well, was specifically designed for images and photos.

Adam: And that’s kind of where it all comes back to as well as, you know, I hear the mistake that a lot of markers make. Which social channel do we start with that? Where do we go first? And it’s like, you know, first of all you kind of need a full web presence but here’s your audience and we are they talking about something relevant. Because that’s going to be the biggest bang for your buck. Don’t worry about, you know, how many people are actually on that channel. How active are they, what’s my ROI. Worry about where are people actually talking about things that you can join in the conversation with.

Robert: So here’s a question for you from when you were at Amazon, what channel did Amazon leverage, or you, I guess, leveraged when you were at Amazon and found the most engagement.

Adam: That’s a great question. So Amazon has always really put a lot of its resources into Facebook.

Robert: Makes sense.

Adam: Part of this reason, and for better or for worse, you know, part of this reason is, that we’re able to grow a very loyal audience on Facebook. People liking their page because they liked the brand Amazon. Or they would share these product pages, these little promo offers because they cared about it. Facebook is great about that, Facebook is a very tight knit network because you can only see things of you know post of people in your network or you can only join pages on you know things that you like versus just seeing the wide everything on Twitter right. So Amazon really invested heavily on Facebook and it’s, you know, their audience there is about 10 times larger than it is on any other channel.

So they seek a lot of returns on their products to their loyal customer base. Promoting those on Facebook. They can run really great sweepstakes campaigns on Facebook, promotional campaigns where you can just launch new products. But what I found really interesting while I was working there is that when we know certain initiatives, we were trying to tap into a new market or we were bringing on a new vendor. We wanted to launch a specific product line. It usually wasn’t Facebook that got the highest returns for us actually. Where that audience was already active around a certain brand or a topic or a product line.

So for example I was working with large phone accessories company with Amazon and you know they wanted to launch some of their new phone cases. And you know this was a company that was well-known for quality a little bit higher than the market but they weren’t designer brands. So they didn’t have this really loyal following. And they certainly weren’t the cheapest on the on the market either but they had these really great products that they wanted to get people excited about. And so you know Facebook well…we had this great audience but you know the people that were on there already cared about the phone cases that they had or you know they weren’t coming there because they wanted to talk about phone cases, they want to talk about Amazon and its products. What we did is, we turned actually to Instagram in that case and we said people are really passionate about their phones, not only do you like taking pictures with their phones, they actually like taking pictures of their phones in fun places when they really care about it.

And so launched this campaign where we said, it was user generated content and we used the sweepstakes, and we said, you know, ‘submit your picture of a day in the life with your phone’. What does that mean to you. And we built this whole campaign around people who would you know take their pictures of their phones at breakfast or they take pictures of their phones at mirrors, where they were.

Robert: I was going to say, how does it work? Especially at breakfast. I mean, I definitely get it like from the mirror perspective right. You’re standing in front of it.. but anyway, that sounds very interesting.

Adam: And people got pretty creative they do it with friends, even they take pictures of each other with their phones. So it’s just really fun and people really got into it. It as it was a platform-specific for taking photos, sharing of the world, wanting to be excited about the things you care about. We had a huge success by doing that on Instagram versus trying to put out some promotional ads on Facebook that just didn’t work quite as well because the audience wasn’t there yet.

Robert: Got it. So let’s see, for marketers who are kind of thinking about getting into social, how do they find, what are the methods what do they have to think about to actually find the right platform to actually promote their… or engage with their audience or build their following. What are some guidance you can give them?

Adam: The are a few steps. The first one, you know, don’t overthink it. Where are your competitors already? Where are your partners? Where are those conversations already happening? If you’re in a brand new industry, obviously, that’s a little bit tougher. But for most of us, we have other brands, other… you know, the industry ecosystem is already kind of out there and built for us. Where are they seeing the most success? In the B2B space a lot of times that’s actually on Twitter. Because it’s so easy to connect with people. And it’s kind of all public right. So you can just join into conversations. For consumer brand, sometimes it’s Facebook, sometimes Pinterest, et cetera. So figure out where those brands already are on social and join in on this conversation. You don’t have to start from scratch. You really want to kind of join something that’s already happening because that’s where you are going to get the biggest lift.

Robert: Yeah, because you’ll get exposure as you are part of those conversations in those streams.

Adam: Exactly. Exactly. It was really interesting. You know, we do Twitter chats and stuff like that once in a while here at Socedo. We did a little experiment about a year ago, where we did some Twitter chats that we hosted on our own, as own handle and on our own hashtags. And then we did a few, where we joined in and participated in one. And we actually got.. we drove more traffic by joining in other people’s Twitter chats, other people’s conversations rather than hosting our own because one – we were able to leverage someone else’s network that was net new versus our own. And, you know, it was a much broader, much more rich conversation for the people involved. So they wanted to learn more, they wanted to figure out our perspective within this broader topic vs us, just pushing out our messaging.

Robert: Right. Wait. How did that work? Is it, you coordinated them, you saw the conversation going on and you just kind of jumped in. What was sort of the behind the scenes, if you will.

Adam: Yeah I mean both. You know, my favorite thing to do is, you know, pick one partner in your network, even if they’re just loosely related to you and have them host a Twitter chat. Make them the experts, and then what we do is you know we agree on some questions ahead of time, agree on some topics, an article, a hashtag. They would just start posting those questions out there and then we would just kind of come in and answer questions once in a while that we had good answers to, we would comment on other people who were answering those questions, we had our own perspective, we had a link to kind of back them up, a great point, ‘here’s how we think about it’.

Robert: That’s interesting. So, it’s like… just so that I can just sort of equate it to something that a lot of marketers are more familiar with, like, if you host a webinar. Right. And you have a guest speaker. So, in your case, you’re saying, you know, work with someone who will host that webinar or they would run it. But then you are almost like the guest speaker on it. But this sort of happens to be within twittersphere.

Adam: Yeah absolutely. It’s the same exact principle like you are the expert. Make yourself the interesting story. And people will want to keep talking with you.

Robert: And is that like a scheduled conversation or is that just more like ‘hey, let’s just get on and have this conversation’? From a coordination perspective.

Adam: You know, the most successful ones have been just kind of ad hoc. ‘Come as they go’ type ones, they might even stretch over a few days and then we’re just posting, answering. Scheduled ones work great too if have a large audience.

Robert: It’s very interesting. So, now.. OK, so you mentioned, you know, you got better results from it. How are you looking at it. Or what are you looking at from a results perspective. How does that actually work?

Adam: That’s a fantastic question. You know, there’s kind of three stages when we think about success or impact from social media. And it’s all beyond reach. Reach is great. But you kind of got to go beyond that. We’ve got to really talk about the rest of the business, rest of the marketing funnel. So the first place is really, just which leads am I driving from social media. From traffic, net new form fills, who am I getting into my system, the top of the funnel. So that starts with kind of first touch attribution and the nice thing is, most social media management platforms today, have some sort of first touch attribution, lead generation number already built into them – that analytics is already there, whether you’re using Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social, Oktopost. It all kind of ad hoc, right out of the box, which is kind of just turn it on. And you can see what traffic am I driving from certain posts or certain interactions, what form fills did I drive from this campaign that I ran.

Really easy to see once you turn that on. Kind of the next step there, is just hook that up with Google Analytics. And again, this doesn’t have to be super technical or very hard. Literally, all it takes is, you know, set up your conversion tracking in Google Analytics. Make sure you know what kind of successful form fill looks like, what page find that in Google Analytics and then from there you’re going to break down exactly which social channels your traffic is coming from anyways. And you take those raw numbers you say, look, I drove 50 form fills from Facebook over a six-week period. And I know out of my social media management platform, maybe Hootsuite, that I got 60 clicks from this one campaign in that six-week period.

And then all of a sudden you can start to do the math together, and infer a little bit like ‘hey this campaign’s drove X number of form fills for me at this conversion rate. Seems to be really successful. Let’s try some more of those types of things.’

Robert: Right. Have you ever seen it go through, sort of, the further end of the funnel, meaning like pipeline or revenue, the association of all the initiatives, all the conversations that we had on Twitter, for example, and it drove X number of dollars when it comes to revenue or pipeline.

Adam: Absolutely. I’d say, about a little less than 10 percent of marketers are probably there today. But it’s definitely somewhere where we need to head as an industry. And the nice thing is, again, it’s not super complicated, if you’re using a marketing automation system, everything from Marketo to Hubspot, even CRMs like Infusionsoft, it’s pretty easy to integrate these things together. Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Oktopost, Sprinklr on the higher end of the system – all of these systems integrate pretty well across marketing forms. And you know it comes down to, you know, we use Oktopost here internally and so anyone who clicks on one of our links no matter where they are in the funnel we add that click data directly into our marketing system. And so, if it was a net new lead – great – we can attribute that lead to social but even if they are a deal that’s currently being worked by sales and they happened to click a link to our blog post that we just published – well, great – now I know that that blog post actually influenced that deal once it closes. So, I can attribute revenue back to social from there as well. You know, there’s kind of a lot of ways to do it. But that’s even only just one step because then you think about, you know, you go further, all the things people are talking about on social media that aren’t necessarily your tweets but maybe they’re interacting with your brand in a different way, maybe they’re replying to you, maybe they’re retweeting you, maybe they’re actually talking to one of your competitors, they are talking about an event coming up in your space. All of those are really relevant actions for you as well, just the same way when someone is googling something in your industry might be relevant or visiting a review site and looking at some of your competitors. All of that is really rich data that you want in your system. The nice thing about social is it’s all public. You can actually start to scrape some of that information, put it with known leads in your database and then really get an understanding of what is this buying cycle. What are people talking about online that’s driving deals and so solutions again like Oktopost, Socedo, Sprinklr – they all have some element of social listening beyond just your own content online. So, once you can hook that up, that’s when you really start to get rich rich data that I can get into your entire marketing system.

Robert: Wait a minute, so you are able to – you know, I’m not as familiar with all those technologies – but you are able to use some of those technologies to get a sense like ‘hey you know we were looking at a competitor and they came and purchased from us’. You can kind of get that level of data?

Adam: Yeah, absolutely. I mean you know there’s a ton of social listening tools out there. From a very high level, track which types of leads, what’s the breakdown of who’s following your competitors, or talking to one of your competitors online. Use those keywords competitors, events, partners, influencers in your space, understand where the conversation is headed. And then you use a tool again like Socedo, we do this a little bit, Oktopost can do some. We expand that to specific leads. Once you have that Twitter handle in your marketing system, start to track everything that person is doing online. It’s actually relevant to you. Break down those keywords just the same way you’re breaking down your SEO keywords, have a list of social media keywords that you should be tracking.

Robert: Very interesting. What B2B company have you seen that used social and measured it and you know, actually got results from it and doing it really really stellar-ly.

Adam: My favorite example is a company called Go Animate. They do these little animated videos on demand, kind of drag-and-drop features, very easy for marketers or product people to be able to create their own animated videos and just launch them pretty quickly and scalably. So, they were already doing..they were already pretty social, obviously doing a ton of video content because they were a video platform. But they were all across Twitter and Facebook, and even Instagram, Snapchat – they had a pretty wide social presence there. But they weren’t really tying it into their marketing systems yet. They were a new company. They had recently purchased Marketo. And so what they did was, they said, all right it’s time for us to kind of hook up and our marketing system and figure out what’s happening on social. And so first of all, they started targeting people who specifically talking about video marketing but maybe weren’t interacting with them yet. So what was that net new audience out there that they could find.

So they did this by watching people tweeting about video marketing, specifically people who had video marketing in their Twitter profile as their bio or even people following other video marketing platforms, or publications around that. People who were following Vimeo obviously, who also had marketing in their job titles, or people who are following Vidyard or Wistia or other video platforms. Targeting all of those people and literally just sending them messages to try their demo. So they would connect with them, they’d follow them on Twitter, when they’d followed back, send them a direct message saying ‘hey, looks like you’re interested in video marketing, would you like to try a demo of our new platform that can spin up an animated video in five minutes?’.

That was super compelling. A lot of people came to their website, filled out the form, and started a free trial. But it didn’t stop there. And this is what I think is really cool because even the people who just interacted with them online but didn’t sign up for that demo yet, we took their contact information – the ones that they knew who they were, they had their email address and then they sent them very specific emails around ‘Great to connect with you on social media. We saw you were tweeting about this. I’d love to connect with you. We love to show you a demo of our product.’

And what ended up happening was, those emails that they were sending out had a 500 percent higher click through rates than their general nurture emails.

Robert: 500 percent – wow!

Adam: 500 percent. And so we talk about email being kind of this dying industry. It’s not true. Once we get better data, and we have better targeting, it starts to work. And so they saw these huge returns on their emails, and they said that they actually had an 81 percent lift in MQLs once they started doing the strategy. It was huge for the business and all it took just some more specific targeting on social media.

Robert: Wow that’s pretty cool. That’s pretty amazing, actually.

Adam:  I love that story.

Robert: Now it’s definitely definitely a good story. Because I think… we talked about this when we had our chat the other few weeks ago or whatever, it was but kind of being out there in the marketing sphere. I’ve only seen a very small percentage of marketers who were actually like totally open to jumping into social. Again, this – we’re talking about the last five years and a lot of it in technology companies. Which is kind of interesting. But happy to hear that. Glad to hear that it’s kind of changing, people first of all, are being smarter about that, and getting some results as well. So here’s a kind of, hopefully interesting question. What is the social DNA on the marketing team that is needed in like, and what number of people do we really need to, or the team needs, the company needs, to really thoughtfully do social and not just one person who maybe just graduated from college and ‘here’s Twitter – just go for it’.

Adam: You know, I’ll answer that in a few different ways. And first of all, you know, social should be a company initiative. You know, really when we think about this, this is the public face of our company just the same way that your website is the public face of your company. I mean I’ve never worked at a company where an executive didn’t need to sign off on a final design for the homepage or the website. Same thing with social media. Get your execs involved with the decision making, with what you’re putting out there, with the kind of brand voice that you have, make sure they’re active on it, too. You know some of the most success we’ve had is, we have internalized it for marketing – got the people involved. So what we do is, we hook up everyone who wants to participate, we hook up their social media profiles into our marketing social media management system. Everyone from our CEO down to one of our engineers is actually managed through marketing. So what we do is we push out similar content across all of these social profiles from our employees or even our company handles and then of course we give people additional content or kind of nudges to be social themselves. So we give, you know, ‘Hey, we published this thing.. We’re not promoting it yet, but what do you think about it. What did you find interesting? Why don’t you post a quote from it online?’ We send out these reminders, and for the sales team what’s really great is, you know, we actually give them insights on which leads were coming from social. That gives them the incentive to go back and say ‘wait if this relevant conversation brought us leads in the first place, I should probably go connect with them on social media to make sure I have that presence as well. As now I want to be the one who’s connected with my leads.’

Robert: Interesting. So it sounds like not different from a lot of marketing… First of all, you have to have a strategy and like a whole communication strategy, social just happens to be another channel. Right. Meaning, in your examples or your stories, it cuts across social back into the system or sort of your marketing automation and then you continue that conversation via email or what have you. Right. So, very interesting.

Adam: Yeah. And when we talk about kind of social fitting into a marketing team, you know, I’m a huge proponent of having it live under content marketing. Again, it’s a channel, it’s your voice, it’s what we talk about online. And actually the tweets aren’t just a broadcast channel, it’s actually a piece of content itself, that tweet, that 140 characters should live within those brand guidelines and those voices. But really, you know, it’s also for everyone. Right. So, we don’t just have one person writing a blog post. We might have two different people, the marketing ops person, the demand gen person, also writing blog posts for our business. You know, same thing with social. Right. I’ve always had kind of, where one person as the focal point of social, managing the signals, but everyone is required, but also encouraged to participate and share in, and post things etc.

Robert: Nice.

Inga: I know we’re running out of time so quickly but I have one last question. I think as Voice of the Customer became CX customer experience, and it really becomes more of a conversation and it’s a two way conversation. What do you think social media, how will that play the role in CX? And do you think companies will start listening more through social media channels to sort of take it back in and adjust the brand messaging or what their product messaging looks like? Oh I know that’s not a quick question – Robert is giving me “an eye”.

Adam: Yeah but I think it’s an important question because absolutely brands need to be heading in that direction and viewing social media as a way to connect with their customers. You know, it’s about two thirds of all internet users in America want and expect a brand to respond to them on social media. Both when they have a positive experience, but also when they have a negative experience. So just right there, when you think about it, they rather, most people would rather actually interact with us on social versus a phone call. So all of a sudden we need to reframe the way we think about customer service, customer discovery, even, you know, customer success, and giving people the Voice of the Customer. And then even from there, 81% of Americans age 35 and under, log into Twitter at least once per day. That’s huge. I just found out that stat yesterday but that kind of surprised me. 81%! This is where our customers are. This is where they’re living their lives, where they’re posting their food, but it’s also where they’re posting their job complaints, and what they’re struggling with today, and why they have such a hard time working with the sales team today. And those are all really rich insights that we need to tap into and join those conversations. And so absolutely, as brands start to build their presence, you know, it should be a customer service, customer success initiative as well, and really, we be identifying our customers proactively before they even come to us on social media, because that way we can build that trust and be a part of that conversation.

Inga: Very interesting and I cannot wait to see where it goes. This industry is moving so fast. I can see it completely rolling into that part of the company that is trying to listen to their customer and prospect.

Adam: Absolutely.

Inga: And to our audience if you have any questions to Adam, please feel free to text your email at (646) 863-5601 or just join us for another conversation.

Robert: Thanks, Adam. I really appreciate it.

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