In the era of Big Data, marketers use buyer information to shape their initiatives more than ever. Data on what your targets are searching for, listening to and buying can provide a mother lode of insight that empowers you to create relevant, high-ROI campaigns. Yet this only works with targets whose data is available. Quite a few targets seem frustratingly out of reach — and all too often, they’re the executive decision-makers B2B marketers want to contact.
The good news is there’s a side door that can get you access to these mysterious targets: social media data.
True, social platforms are best known for fostering brand visibility and lead generation, but they’re also fertile ground for buyer information. And those other, more “knowable” targets whose purchase and demographic data are readily available? You’ll want to collect their data, too. Often, their social media persona tells a very different story from their demographic data — and make no mistake, it’s a valuable story.
Here’s the secret of social media marketing: the persona the buyers want you to see is much more powerful than whom they really are. It’s not surprising to find a large gap between a profile based on age and buying habits and a profile based on social messaging behavior. You might not even know you were looking at the same person. Social media is popular precisely because it provides an opportunity to craft an image of ourselves as the person we wish to be. By carefully curating our profiles and choosing the right status updates, links and photos, we present a self to the world that reveals more about our ego and aspirations than our daily reality.
It’s that projected self image that we want to see validated — and that is where social media marketing gifts you with an invaluable window. By capturing this social data, you can serve your targets meaningful content that plays directly to their social media selves.
Access To The Most Valuable Data Of All
The magic of social media, of course, is access. Take company blogs, for instance, and their ability to connect executives with their prospect and customer base. Instead of being forced to climb a convoluted ladder of internal bureaucracy, customers and vendors alike can reach out to a company’s CEO before they’ve even spoken to anyone else in the organization. The face of the company is humanized; customer relationships are created and strengthened. This ability to connect with executives and companies throughout the course of a day is part of what makes social media so inviting. The promise of access to virtually anyone is a promise of opportunity.
So what’s the best way for marketers to leverage this access? Start by establishing an influencer list, for starters. Sites such as Klout, Technorati and specific industry sites can identify the right thought leaders and decision-makers who should comprise your influencer list. Once you have your targets identified, you can begin to expand your knowledge.
Let’s say, for instance, you have your eye on a certain B2B executive who so far has seemed impossible to reach. You’ll look up her Klout score and her industry profile; you’ll also check out any LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter behavior, such as content posted, people followed and general online interaction. Of course, all of this valuable data won’t do you much good if you don’t use it. After carefully analyzing the social media persona she’s crafted, you’ll incorporate those meaningful insights to target that persona with complimentary messaging.
But it doesn’t stop there. Remember, one of the best things about social media is that it is interactive. Once you have your hard-to-reach buyer firmly in your sights, it’s time to engage her. One great way to do this: draw her into the conversation by inviting her to create content. Craig Rosenberg of Funnelholic fame did this brilliantly with a Madlibs campaign that reached out to a group of thought leaders. Not only did the campaign collect a treasure trove of data, it opened the door for Craig to have one-on-one conversations with executives as his peers.
The lesson here is clear. Invite your targets into your social media world, and you’ve eliminated the distance between you. Not only will you reap the rewards of high-value data, but you’ll also spark a relationship that transforms you from vendor to trusted leader and peer.
Turning Social Media Into Social Business
Ultimately, when assembling or revitalizing your buyer personas, your best source is the buyer’s ego. Demographic data is always good to have, but ego is the single most influential element in the buying process. Catering to it can shift the balance of power greatly in your favor. This isn’t a surprise; authors like Deepak Chopra have said that ego thrives on approval. Social media is the perfect portal for that kind of validation, approval and feedback.
By speaking to your buyer’s social persona, you’re speaking to his or her most treasured and aspirational self. Collect the data on that self and you’ll have the insight to craft the high-impact programs that turn unattainable targets into long-term customers.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.