Marketo’s Jason Miller On Facebook For B2B: Why So Serious?

Dennis Yu, CEO of BlitzMetrics, will speak at the AllFacebook Marketing Conference June 5 in San Francisco.

We caught up with Jason Miller, Marketo’s social media strategist, at the Marketo Summit Conference to talk Facebook business-to-business marketing and spill his best tips to drive leads.

Yu: Jason, think fast – name five purple things.

Miller: Barney, Grimace, crayons, eggplant, and Jon Miller’s shoes.

Eggplant

Yu: Awesome. How important is a sense of humor in social marketing?

Miller: I believe it’s vital. On Facebook, you have to showcase your personality by having a comedian on your marketing team. Then, you’re golden. He comes up with clever and catchy jokes to post, and he ties them back to a business offer with your company. And Dennis, believe me when I say we’ve seen dramatic success with that approach. Marketo Facebook Post
Yu: I believe you, but most folks say they’re not so  sure. They’re targeting information-technology managers at big brands. They want to maintain a “professional” image — not tell jokes or post cat pictures. How would you convince them?

Miller: We see Facebook as a place to have fun. And that might be why we’re always asked if it works. Just in case you weren’t sure, of course it works; there’s a reason why nearly every brand you can think of has a Facebook presence. “But Jason,” they say, “our audience isn’t there so why should we be?” I can’t help but laugh. My friend, 1.3 billion people have a Facebook profile. Do you really think your prospects – decision-makers, too – aren’t on the largest social network in the world?

[Editor's note: when uploading emails to Facebook, B2B companies should expect a 30-40 percent match rate.]

Don’t make the mistake of “selling” to them, though; they’re not on Facebook for that. Entertain them. Delight them. Give your marketing campaigns such personality that your prospects want to share it with their friends. We do that at Marketo to raise affinity and drive engagement.

After that, you’re ready to market an event. Get them to sign up for your Webinar by offering valuable content about your industry.

But at the end of the day, what really matters is having a social presence, showing your personality, humanizing your business, and having a little fun in the process of course. We all know the B2B sales cycle is long. Your Facebook posts are little touch points that can make all the difference in staying top-of-mind with your prospects. B2B marketers really underestimate the power of this, so there’s a lot of opportunity to show improvement.

You want them to remember you when they need your business, so keep marketing on Facebook – and elsewhere – during the entire life cycle. Don’t forget, though, that leads from Facebook and other social networks usually need to be nurtured. So, you should have a nurture track to drop them into. They’re seldom ready to buy outright, so building a relationship with them is key. But on the bright side, you’re getting them at the top of the funnel, which means you’re catching them where they spend most of their time and, in turn, you’re staying top-of-mind.

Yu: How do you quantify that for marketers driven by return on investment, who are used to cost per lead and cost per sale?

Miller: Well, that’s the fun part. You get to use a marketing automation system like Marketo. You can tag your Facebook landing pages or forms to a lead-generation source. You can do this with Facebook — Facebook organic and Facebook paid. You can use geo-targeting in North America, too. When you run your reports, you’ll see how many leads Facebook brought in, and then you can score those leads based on job title and demographic. You can really assess lead quality before putting them into the funnel, so you can nurture them intelligently and watch how they convert.

It’s still a new science, but we’re starting to make sense of it with our RCA reports. They’re revenue cycle analytics reports that pull in leads and calculate their quality, as well as identify any opportunities we might have with them.

Yu: Marketo is a leader in this industry, with 60,000 Facebook fans, so what would you say to a B2B marketing manager who’s just getting started and only has 200 fans?

Miller: Get some money to spend. You’re going to need it to drive results more often than not. Unfortunately, you have to pay to build your community. But Facebook targeting makes it so easy that we’re not mass-marketing; we’re targeting the people who actually matter. And when they click that like button, they’re basically subscribing to an email list. That’s how precise it is.

You need a like to get them engaged, and after that just burn a little money to get visibility in their News Feed. You remember that sales aphorism, “Always be closing,” right? Stop remembering it. With social marketing, it’s, “Always be helping,” and that applies to content marketing, too.

Yu: Always helping. Not always selling, always spamming.

Miller: You’re onto something there, Dennis!

Yu: But if you’re in charge of social marketing and you’re the only one advocating it, how do you get buy-in from everyone else? There’s always too much to do and too few resources.

Miller: That’s a very good question; I think we’ve all had to grapple with it at one time or another. I’d start with social marketing case studies – how other companies are driving business results with Facebook, Twitter, and so on. Folks often say I market to marketers, and that’s not quite B2B. But, trust me, this is coming from the trenches. It’s coming from a lot of trial and error. I know what tactics and strategies work.

It takes a little creativity. It’s not free, and it’s not easy, but once you get a cadence going and you find out what your audience reacts to, it becomes pretty fun. It’s another channel for your content, so you can bring those people back. We’ve seen great success with it. When I first started, Facebook sucked because nobody was paying attention to it. There was nobody there. We were just posting without an objective, cadence, or purpose. We were just publishing. And once we changed that mentality, we put together a strategy, an editorial calendar on Facebook.

Yu: Let’s talk about that editorial calendar.

Miller: Well, it’s very similar to our blog calendar. We post five days per week, like a business, but we thought we’d do something special to kick it off.  Mondays suck, so we came up with “Inspirational Mondays” (we post a motivational quote to get you going for the week). That was our idea, but you can think up your own Monday post theme. Talk about the problems in your industry; it might resonate with more people than you know.

For Tuesdays and Thursdays, we like to publish fun mini-graphics. We call them “Pie Chart Tuesdays” and “Line Graph Thursdays.” It’s just one well-designed statistic that’s sharable and asks a question. People engage with us. They share our posts and give their thoughts on the statistic before asking their friends to do the same. Wednesday is our hump day marketing joke of the week. And then Friday, appropriately, is a free-for-all; we post whatever. Plan your week out. Have fun with it, so your audience will too.

If it helps, we have the most success on Friday when we make it “Photo Bomb Friday.”

Yu: I’ve seen it myself. Photo Bomb Friday gets you the most interactions. Tell us a little more about that.

Miller: Well, we published a silly photo bomb once of a dog poking his head into his owner’s picture at the last minute. Another, our most popular one, was a guy at a zoo with a gorilla photo bombing him from the window upstairs. And people think this is silly – the B2B marketing purists alternate between laughter and confusion. But we get a lot of engagement out of this, and people are telling us they love our content, so they’re ready for us to deliver our next message – the one we really care about. It could be an invitation to an event or a new piece of content.

Dog PhotobombYu: I see. You use lighthearted posts as a steppingstone to something more serious, like a piece of content, something important they can download, or a webinar. Tell us, though: How do you balance those different funnel points for engagement and conversion?

Miller: Well, there are two ways we do this.  The posts we just talked about – the general weekly posts on Facebook –they’re for the top of the funnel. We’re just trying to attract people with good content. The interesting thing — and you speak about this extensively — is that in our email lists, we have prospects and we have opportunities. We have emails for our prospects, and they’ve shown a little interest by viewing our content, so we want them to watch a demo. That’s the next step and the opportunity. They’ve watched the demo and they’re close to buying, so we just want to show them a little message, “Hey, we’re No. 1 on the app exchange, we have 26,000 people in our community, and we’re part of the marketing nation.”  We just want to show them that we’re paying attention and we’re a great marketing software company.

So, the idea is to segment those email lists and upload them into Power Editor and then target folks based on where they are in the buying cycle. Now, again, the jury is still out on whether this is converting or pushing, but I would say in the next few weeks, we should have enough data to determine if it’s working. These little social signals, these little ads, might be the difference between a prospect signing a deal with one of our competitors and reconsidering our services. Just seeing our ads or marketing could be all it takes for them to weigh their options again – and pick us instead.

Yu: What are the top Facebook misconceptions out there? What are the leading mistakes you see people making on Facebook?

Miller: For one, quite a few marketers forget that Facebook can be visual – and that’s good, it’s a great opportunity to sell. Use big, bold photos and tie them back to an offer. You’d think most people know this, but you’d be surprised. Too many of them just post pictures of their products, or use absolutely boring iStock photos that nobody’s ever cared about. If a page is dull, it’s probably dead.

Too many people make the mistake of not investing the money they need to. Have a budget for your posts – try $100. You’ll see the growth, the engagement, and the shares, and if you tie it back to a lead you’ll see the names coming in and you can score them. B2B social marketing gets a bad rap, with Facebook bearing the worst of it. But, really, it’s just because nobody understands how to use it properly.

BlitzMetrics Industry Dashboard

Yu: What are the B2B implications of the updated News Feed and Graph Search?

Miller: Oh, that’s a good question. The new News Feed is definitely becoming more visual, and I like that. I like big, bright photos. Our editorial calendar is based around visual content, and everyone who is anyone in the content marketing world will tell you that visual content is the way of the future.

Yu: But if you sell IT services, how do you make that content visual?

Miller: There’s always a way. Discover the memes everyone’s laughing at on Reddit and borrow them while giving attribution back. Reddit is very popular with IT workers – it’s a veritable cultural hub for them – so it’s a great place to find material that resonates with that audience.

Yu: Who are the top B2B people you follow on Facebook – or elsewhere – for thought leadership?

Miller: I subscribe to Robert Scoble. I love that he’s in there, building these lists, which isn’t easy to do. What’s more, he puts them out there for everyone. If you want to learn about startups, then subscribe here. Interested in social media tech guys? Subscribe here. I’m fortunate enough to have some friends like you, Dennis, who share really great stuff. Social Media Examiner also comes to mind.

But I really pay attention to Jay Baer and Chris Brogan. These social guys aren’t necessarily my friends, but I follow them and they share a lot of their stuff publicly anyway. At MarketingProfs, Anne is one of the most creative people you’ll find today. I get a lot of my news through MarketingProfs. With Google Reader going away soon, I have to figure out a way to pipe RSS from my Google Reader into my Facebook, but separate it so it’s not all blended together.

Yu: Awesome, any final tips?

Miller: I have one. I really think what works for B2C (business-to-consumer) on Facebook works for B2B on Facebook as well – being fun and engaging. Facebook is the place for that. So, please, don’t take yourself too seriously, and remember that B2B marketers like to have fun and B2B marketing can be sexy, too. It’s all about how much time you put into it, how creative you are, and how much trial and error you can get away with on your page.

Yu: Perfect, thanks for your time.

Miller: Thank you.

This isn’t the first time Jason and I have gone on record about Facebook. Check out our interview last July to learn about breaking EdgeRank and building big-impact ads.

Dennis Yu has helped brands grow and measure their Facebook presences. He has spoken at Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, Web 2.0, The American Marketing Association, PubCon, Conversational Commerce Conference, Pacific Conferences, HostingCon, Affiliate Summit, Affiliate Convention, UltraLight Startups, MIVA Merchant, and other venues. Yu has also counseled the Federal Trade Commission on privacy issues for social networks. Yu has held leadership positions at Yahoo and American Airlines. His educational background is in finance and economics from Southern Methodist University and London School of Economics.

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