The Marketing Strategist:

Leveraging Social Media to Accelerate ABM

May 11, 2018

  • Account-based marketing

B2B marketers have long embraced social media as a means of listening to our markets, promoting our ideas and content, and building out our networks. But as account-based marketing (ABM) takes off, it’s not necessarily clear that our established social media approaches are best suited for account-based success.

With the right strategy in place, social media can help with almost every aspect of ABM, from selecting the right accounts to engaging key stakeholders to supporting sales and customer success.

Just as ABM is pushing us to rethink a number of traditional B2B marketing strategies, however, so too should we look anew at how best to use social tools and channels to strengthen reputation, relationships, and revenue with our most important accounts.

A recent podcast conversation with colleagues from MomentumABM, Samara Donald, VP and Americas Regional Director, and Strategy Director Luella Ben Aziz (listen to the full podcast), highlighted valuable tips in three critical areas of ABM development:

  • Selecting and Prioritizing Accounts
  • Building the Right Relationships
  • Supporting Sales
     

Selecting and Prioritizing Accounts

Social listening allows us to gain insights into the markets, issues, and people we care about, and craft more compelling content and campaigns. It can also be a great way to help select and prioritize the most important accounts for ABM investment. 

With the right tools and process in place, as Luella Ben Aziz notes, you can focus just on your list of target customers and listen for signals that they might be in the market for your services. Are they asking questions you can answer? Are they mentioning pain points or needs that you can address? Are they moving further into the solution review process? Are they talking with or about your key competitors?
 

Building the Right Relationships

Social media offers fertile ground for engaging with the companies and individuals you may be trying to reach through ABM. But these efforts can backfire if you approach social media as just another outbound marketing channel. Samara Donald points to two key differentiators for doing social ABM in an authentic, non-annoying way.

  1. Go beyond your own social profile. Spend time looking at other people’s feeds, whether it’s a customer you’re watching or even a competitor.
  2. Watch trends, not just what’s happening on any given day. Social ABM is about understanding the context of what’s happening and how you might need to adjust your ABM program or tactics.

Ben Aziz further emphasizes the importance of considering the multiple nodes and connections across relevant networks. That means you’re not just having a 1:1 conversation with individuals within a targeted account. You’re also engaging with subject matter experts, with your sales team, with content your company has produced, and with influencers in your industry.

Who connects is often as important as how you connect. With ABM, you’re typically working as a tag team with others at your company to amplify your collective efforts and build the right relationships longer term.
 

Supporting Sales

ABM is best viewed as a long-term strategy; marketing works hand-in-hand with sales and others to develop trusted relationships with key accounts for long-term growth and success. Social media can play a critical role here, too, but only if you avoid some common pitfalls.

Too often, as companies build out their social media programs, they take shortcuts with the sales teams. They provide some basic tools for content sharing, quick-hit training, and then a stream of content for sales people to share as widely as possible on LinkedIn and Twitter. Fear not if this describes your approach, you’re in good company!

With ABM, you’re risking damage to key relationships by flooding the zone with often irrelevant content. Instead, consider a deeper and more targeted approach to helping sales people become the trusted advisors that they want to be with key accounts:

  • Help with research and social listening for those specific accounts
  • Make sure they have appropriate, client-friendly professional profiles and online identities. (Hint: If their LinkedIn profiles are three years out of date and look like job-hunting resumes, don’t let them engage)
  • Provide education and guidance on how best to engage individually and at the account level with constructive commentary, content sharing, and connections
  • Track connections, engagement, and best practice to share back with the team 
     

Putting Social ABM into Practice

One of the biggest challenges with social ABM is that managing multiple conversation threads and knowing the right thing to share with the right person at the right time can be time consuming and mostly manual. Even if your company has a team dedicated to social media, most of those teams are relatively small, and they’re typically focused on broader initiatives to support and promote the corporate brand, campaign launches, and events.

There is not necessarily one right way to balance social media resources between broader efforts and more targeted ABM programs but it’s worth looking at ways to bring these efforts closer together. At the very least, work to connect social teams with ABM programs so they can train and support the sales people and SMEs to build the right networks and amplify highly targeted content and conversations with specific accounts.

Social media offers powerful tools for building deeper relationships with the right customers. But as with any other B2B marketing strategy, we need to tailor our tactics to support an account-based approach.

To learn more about how social media tools and networks can help you accelerate ABM, tune into our Practicing ABM podcast.

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