Informa is a leading business intelligence, academic publishing, knowledge and events business, operating in the knowledge and information economy.
In other words, its marketing is unlikely to set the world on fire. In fact, how can a B2B company have success with digital marketing? I’ve had a chat with my old buddy Katie Canton of Informa Business Intelligence to get informed!
Tell us about Informa Business Intelligence and what you do there.
Okay. Informa Business Intelligence is part of the wider Informa Group, obviously the business intelligence side. So we have news products, analyst products, database products surveying several key market sectors including pharmaceuticals, technology, maritime, financial, and there’s a couple more in there – so covering everything from subscription news products all the way up to high end consultancy and one-off research reports.
I head up the social media and content marketing function. And more than actually doing any content marketing and social media marketing anymore, I support all of our social media and content marketers who sit in different parts of the business and together we help them put strategies in place and help them share best practices and help them sort of teach the rest of the business about the wonders of social media and content marketing.
What are the objectives with your social and content marketing strategy?
The main objective for us, and it’s a really nice position to be in, actually, because our senior management completely agrees, isn’t about community size. So we’re not really measured on followers and fans and although it’s a nice metric, but our main objective is to create really engaging communities around some of these interest topics that we support, so around some quite niche areas in the pharmaceutical industry and, again, with agriculture, etc., and to create these communities where our customers and prospects want to engage with us but also want to engage and share information with each other. So that is what we are trying, have been trying to create.
You operate in a B2B space, what particular marketing challenges are you faced with?
It’s a bit of a challenge on social because people aren’t as open on social, wearing their business hat as they are wearing their sort of non-business hat. So it’s harder I think to get people to engage in a business-to-business environment on social, which is kind of a challenge. It’s been a challenge through my career doing social media and B2B, and it’s especially a challenge in my current role. But the nice thing about where I am now is that business intelligence is a content business essentially, so we have loads and loads of really good quality content. And the easiest way to get someone to engage on social media is to give them something of value that they actually want to engage with. So it’s a challenge, but I think we’ve got a good solution for it.
What’s your step-by-step guide to social and content success?
We’re very much in a process to get to where we want to be, but we started about a year ago and did a lot of research, so did a lot of auditing about our current social media state, competitor landscape obviously. Did a lot of customer surveys and customer research and a lot of customer visits to find out what people want from us. And then we had the joy of distilling all that information down. Well, first thing is deciding what we actually then wanted to get out of our social media activity because, like most businesses, we don’t have loads and loads of people on our social media marketing team, so we can’t just do everything for the sake of doing everything and being on every platform for the sake of being on every platform.
Everything we do needs to be quite strategic and quite planned and make sure we’ve got a good effort to return ratio. So we took all that research, we had a lot of thought internalizing the marketing teams and the marketing teams and our product teams and the senior management team to come up with our overall objectives, which is that community focus. And then we had to come up with a plan of how we were going to do that and who was going to be involved. And a lot of that planning was done within the marketing team and the product teams. And then it was about implementing, for getting the right tools and to help us implement was a big part of that and training was a big part of that. So training the whole marketing team so that everybody knows about the importance of social media and content marketing, not just the social media and content marketers. And then another big part is training anyone in the wider business who wants to get involved in social. So that’s something that we’re currently starting to roll out is making sure that our analysts and journalists and sales and client services are as upscale as they want to be on social media.
And then, obviously, once we study implementation and then it’s report and review and tweak, and that’s kind of what we’re in the process of doing now. So it’s an ongoing process.
Have you looked into employee advocacy and/or social selling?
Yes, absolutely. And it’s something that we definitely, definitely need to do more of, do more of in a more strategic and structured way and a more planned way. So right now it’s all been very ad hoc with whoever puts their hand up gets extra help. But I think anyone who works in social media and marketing right now, it would be foolish not to try to implement some sort of employee advocacy program, because our employees are obviously our greatest assets. And for our business, where we sit now, we have a lot of really well regarded journalists and analyst and people who already have a platform with which to shout from. So it’s about making sure that they’re enabled and empowered and have the abilities to just support everything that we’re doing from a marketing side and then vice versa, marketing support, everything that’s happening from the project side. So it’s on the to-do list.
— Link Humans (@LinkHumans) July 26, 2016
What pitfalls should B2B marketers avoid?
Pitfalls, let’s see. I think in the beginning we were focusing on the wrong things. So in the beginning, the overall feeling was to just grow big communities and get the numbers up. And so that’s what we were measuring against and that’s what you’re tracking against and that’s what you’re tracking against and that’s what’s where the goal was, and it just really wasn’t working in a sense that we were growing but we weren’t getting any more visits from that, we weren’t getting any more leads from that, we weren’t getting much more than that other than that Twitter ticker going up. So I think a pitfall, I guess, to avoid is making sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons and those reasons are in line with your overall marketing objectives and your overall business objectives, because there’s no point in going off and trying to accomplish one thing on social media that actually doesn’t move the business forward.
What initiatives are you especially proud of?
The one thing that I’m particularly proud of is when I joined the company, everyone, the social media team especially, was working in silos. So you had people on one side of the building doing social media marketing for a certain group of products and people on another side of the building doing it for another group of products and not really talking. So one of my big objectives when I came in was to start pulling the… I keep calling them the super team, although I think they cringe every time I call them that, but to pull this sort of super team of social media and content marketers together so that they can start fostering knowledge sharing and sharing your best practices and sharing of efficiencies, because a lot of us are doing the same thing. So we’ve done that, which is great.
And we’ve got this great team now, and off the back of that we’ve been able to implement some of this training and we’ve got social media newsletters going to different parts of the business. And this team really are regarded as the expert go-tos on all things social media, so all different parts of the business know who to come to, which is great and it’s something that I’m really proud of and I think all of them are really proud of the sort of team that they’ve become and what we’ve done within the business.
Behind the scenes, what technologies do you use?
We’ve actually just implemented a social media management tool called Sprinklr which we’re in the very early days with it, but so far so good and we’ll be using that to do our reporting and our management, our engagement, our listening, and all of that. And because before that, again, much as our team is very disparate, our technologies were very disparate, and everyone’s kind of using different things. So coming together, we’re all using the same platform, we’re tracking the same things, we’re using it the same way, and within that tool we can pull in different team members from inside the social team. So it’s incredibly powerful and what we’ve seen from it so far has been great. So we’re really, really excited about that. Beyond that, I think the most powerful tool for us is Skype or IM because we’re in constant communication with each other and not always sitting within arm’s length, so for us to all speak in real-time collaboratively is probably the most thing that we use.
Do you have an internal social network tool?
Salesforce Chatter, yeah. So one of the things that our team has done, just what I mentioned before, was we’ve got the social media best practice Chatter group that wants different people from lots of different teams and parts of the business, have joined so that we can update everyone. I’ll still need a Chatter, though. I’m still not totally to grips with it.
How do you go about measuring ROI on social and content marketing?
Essentially we can distil our social media metrics into three buckets. And one is community growth, one is engagements, and that includes lots of different things, and then the other one is moving those people from engagement through the funnels, so whether it’s visits to the site or whether it’s context or whatever that next step is. So all of our metrics fit into those three buckets. And then any time anyone within the business comes up with a suggestion of a piece of content we should be creating or different social network we should be joining, we need everything to come back to, A, the objective and if we can measure it. We need to have return for that effort, so everything needs to come back to those three buckets or the overall objective.
What brands or organizations or companies inspire you in terms of social and content?
I think content especially, whenever I need some sort of inspiration on creative content marketing, I always look to the tech vendors, like HubSpot, Marketo, Hootsuite, because I think what they’re doing now is just so interesting because if you take a tech vendor like 20 years ago, all the marketing material would just be talking about the tech specs, we’re the fastest, we’re the biggest, all of that salesy brochure stuff, where now most of the tech vendors are telling stories and they’re providing valuable content and they’re spreading the net so much wider which I think is just incredible and I think what most other business are trying to do, but they’re just way far ahead of the game on that.
What’s next for Informa Business Intelligence and also for social and content marketing in general?
So for us, there’s lots and lots of change within Informa Business Intelligence happening right now. We have loads of investment and so we’ve got some really great tools coming in and so there’s lots of really exciting things coming up in the next sort of 12 months, so that is keeping us and our team very, very busy, which is exciting.
With all the different networks turning towards the more algorithm-based news feed and making it really hard for people and companies to continue to grow organically on any of these channels, I think if anyone can find a way to get around that or best that or utilize it better, I think lots of companies would pay lots of money for that.
Follow Katie on Twitter @katiecanton.