By adaptive - July 18th, 2012

Sage recently won the #usmaward for best b2b social media marketing. We asked Greg Tirico, Senior Social Media Manager for the company, to talk to us about their approach. Sage provides business...

Sage recently won the #usmaward for best b2b social media marketing. We asked Greg Tirico, Senior Social Media Manager for the company, to talk to us about their approach.

Sage provides business software, services and support to small and medium sized businesses. They are a global company with more than 6 million customers, over 12,600 employees and more than 30 years of experience working with small and medium sized businesses.

Greg Tirico, Senior Social Media Manager, Sage North America

Greg Tirico Senior Social Media Manager Sage North AmericaQ Can you outline Sage's overall approach to social media marketing?

Sage customers are small and mid-sized businesses and our products support them with a range of their operational needs, from accounting to customer relationship management to human resource management.

As a result, our social media marketing takes different forms in reaching decision makers in the various functional areas of a business. For example, when communicating with HR leaders, our overall approach to social media marketing is to use social media as an avenue to drive thought-leadership within not only the Human Resource Management Software (HRMS) field, but the broader Human Resource (HR) industry.

We make sure to stay closely aligned to the trending topics within the HR and HRMS industry. This ensures that our content is as timely and as relevant as possible for our target audience of HR professionals. We schedule all content to be posted within 24 hours of us sourcing it and we respond to any engagement with our brand within the same 24 hour timeframe.

Also, we are constantly evaluating emerging social media networks for their business use-case for us and have kept our eye on sites like Quora and Pinterest to see if they are networks that our target audience is adopting. The examples I’ve mentioned are focused in the HR space, but we have equally strong programs to work with decision makers in finance, sales, marketing and other business areas. Social media is an important part of our overall marketing mix and has equal importance to other more traditional marketing tactics such as email, telemarketing and paid media.

Q You won your award for B2B marketing. Can you describe your campaigns in this space and how social media plays a central role?

A We integrate our social media efforts with our demand generation activity as part of a holistic, innovative marketing plan. Right now, our current demand generation email campaign centers around themes that are "puzzling" HR that feature a new puzzle for our target audience to solve each month.

We point to landing pages from these campaigns from Facebook and Twitter for more exposure and to help gain prospects that we may not be able to reach through traditional email. We make sure that our social media activity is tracked within our marketing automation platform by using reference URLs to specific social media posts that accompany our monthly lead generation emails.

By doing this, we are able to track not only click-throughs generated by our social media actions that contribute to our demand generation efforts, but also resulting from submits from social media posts that could be marketing qualified leads. We also upload high-value content from our marketing campaigns on Slideshare and leverage its lead generation module which allows us to gate select content with the same lead generation form to help drive net new lead opportunities.

Q As a corporate user of social networks, how does your company value the networks it has a presence on?

A We really value the presence we have on all our social networks. Our presence has allowed us to connect and build our social target audience with influencers that we may have not been able to connect with as successfully or easily through other mediums. Being in the HR industry, social media is an engaging platform for many industry influencers, popular bloggers and executive-level decision makers that are always looking for a reputable source of timely and relevant content that they can relate to in their day-to-day activities.

Q Measuring the effectiveness of social networks is a focus for corporations at the moment. How does Sage track the ROI that its social networks deliver?

A Aside from follower growth, we also place emphasis on more meaningful social metrics to track R.O.I. We monitor our engagement scores through social networks on a weekly and monthly basis. This includes metrics such as number of replies, clicks, @mentions, retweets, likes, views, form submits, influencer engagements, etc. Each month we also select popular topics of interest in the HR industry that we focus most of our content around. Past examples have been recruiting, social media and employee engagement. We gauge our "Social Stickiness" score by using an internal formula that helps us summarize multiple analytics and allows us evaluate how effective our posts are at driving engagement for us.

Q How does Sage decide what it spends on which social media networks? Does Sage have a social media roadmap it is working to?

A When we first began our social media efforts we started with an audit that included a historical analysis of areas such as key conversation trends, industry influencers, competitor best-practices in social media, top social media categories/formats and top online sources of information for the HR and HRMS industry. This helped to give us insights into where conversations were taking place, whether it be Twitter, blogs etc., through social from our target audience. It also allowed us to prioritize not only the social media networks to focus on first, but established what level of activity we should maintain to succeed.

Another key point is the degree of customization and creative control social networks provide. We made the commitment to have a fully custom Slideshare channel to insure a consistent brand experience when interacting with multiple Sage HRMS social networks. We have established a social media roadmap that plans through 2013 and are able to use it as guidance while maintaining flexibility to adjust to the ever-changing and evolving social media conversations.

Q What's next for Sage in the social media space?

A We continue to watch the social media space with great excitement.  What’s next for Sage?  Honestly, that depends on two things.  How the social networks adapt to a continuously changing environment and what our audience tells us they want.

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