SaaS social media marketing: Brand Awareness vs. Lead Generation?

Whether you are an emerging or established SaaS, social media marketing is an important part of your overall marketing strategy. Social media marketing is a cornerstone of both brand awareness and lead generation – but it’s important to be clear on your goals and tying your individual efforts and campaigns back to the overall strategy. If you are in the stage of thinking through the overarching goals, a comprehensive overview is outlined on what your SaaS social media strategy should be.

According to Sprout Social the top goals for social are increasing brand awareness and lead generation.

social marketer's top goals for social graph

Let’s take a look at the best ways to achieve these goals and break them down into tactics that can be successfully implemented.

Tactic #1: Know, Understand and Target your Audience

With an infinite budget you can blanket the world with your message irrespective of whether they are interested in your product, but who has infinite budget? The key is to optimize your spend – and to do this you need to know, understand and target your audience.

Hopefully at this point you have determined your product-market fit, your ideal customer profile (ICP), and the industry verticals of interest. Now you need to find them across social and create accurate audiences.

Custom Audiences

Each social channel allows for uploading lists, so a good place to start is by uploading audience lists – this may be from conferences you attended, websites you scraped, or lists you bought. The more data points you have, the easier it will be for the channels to match them. Consider additional tools layered onto those lists, by doing audience data enrichment (ZoomInfo, etc.) or employing buyer intent data (Bombora, Rollworks, etc.) that will inform you of surges in interest in your product category.

Using Channel Targeting Tools

Both Facebook and Linked in particular have very robust audience insights from which to build audiences and so testing out audiences using their tools is a good exercise. Target by job seniority, title, industry, interests, location or thousands of other data points to get to your ICP. Be as targeted as possible- best to start with smaller audiences than to start too broad.

Retargeting

Retargeting audiences are a key audience to target and nurture. Installing pixels on your website allows you to retarget those visitors on social media channels. This is an audience that is already demonstrating a level of brand awareness and interest.

Particularly in niche B2B marketing, audiences may be very small and/or difficult to find, but it is worth it in the long term to find them. Your audiences may change or expand. You may find after you have been in the market that a different type of customer is engaging with you. Or that a particular social channel is not working – your audience is somewhere else. Your audiences are not static and will be constantly evolving. Dividing your campaigns by audience will better allow you to monitor and adjust for this.

Tactic #2: Align and Leverage Your Content

Content is king and drives both brand awareness and lead generation. Keep it fresh, keep it consistent - overall you want to be establishing your brand as an authoritative voice in your industry niche and posting content that speaks to your ideal customer.

Make sure that it is based on what people are actually searching for (use Google keyword planners, trends, people also ask).

You need a variety of content that is addressing your target audience at all stages of the buyer’s journey. For brand awareness, content should be a healthy mix of the following: original content balanced against third party content (curated for your target audience) and a variety of media types: images, videos, memes, infographics, etc. Your organic social media channels are the place to humanize and personalize your brand and tell your story.

For lead generation, ensure that you have optimized your social profiles with complete information, call to actions and links to your website. You also need to ensure that you are offering clickable content that is driving traffic to your website (which helps you build audiences you can retarget!). But the king of content for lead generation is to offer some great pieces of content that offer real thought leadership that is gated. By gating with a form to download and access, you are able to grow your contact lists and begin a nurture sequence of these prospects. Don’t gate all of your content – but a whitepaper, e-book, or interactive checklist are all great pieces that can tempt.

Tactic #3: Engage and Respond

Your SaaS social media marketing should also include a plan for engagement and creating conversations. You need to demonstrate that you are responsive and accessible. How to do this?

For brand awareness, leverage your employees to help spread your content. Respond to any comments you receive; ask questions in your posts.

For lead generation, leverage tools to make it easy for prospects (and customers!) to engage with you. Link your calendars for easy scheduling and booking of appointments and demos. Use chatbots. And on Facebook, there is cross-stream messaging functionalities across Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp to allow you to instantly respond.

In fact, people expect you to engage and respond quickly – take a look at these statistics from Statista:

Statistic: What is your expected response time for social media questions or complaints? | Statista

Tactic #4: Social Proof

Social proof is the psychological phenomenon of herd mentality – if someone says it’s good, or there are trust signals, then they must be good. People rely on referrals and recommendations. Establishing trust signals and social proof is an essential aspect of your overall strategy and should definitely be part of your SaaS social media marketing plan. But how to do it?

For brand awareness, this may include creating partnerships. Does your SaaS integrate with other products? Can you employ co-sponsored promotions or put in place an agreement with non-competing complementary products? It could be memberships in associations and featuring their logos. Or certifications related to your industry. It could be partnering with influencers.

For lead generation you need to establish proof and trust signals that assure prospects they are making the right decision. These include testimonials, reviews, ratings, case studies, and client logos. Then leverage them across the internet – on your website, yes, but you also need them on other sites – whether on social media channels, Google, Yelp, Capterra, G2 or others. Pick several and then cross-link and syndicate them across all of your channels.

Tactic #5: Invest in Paid

Paid advertising should definitely be part of your SaaS social media marketing plan. The fact is, there is only so much you can do with organic, and putting a consistent and concerted effort into paid advertising will amplify your efforts. Organic is a great way to test your content to see what resonates. And then use paid to boost your best content.

For brand awareness, your goal is to gain more visibility and familiarity with your solution – to gain more followers or drive traffic to your website (allowing you to later retarget these visitors!). Even $5 a day will go along way to boosting your brand awareness. For lead generation, you can use social leads ads on each of the platforms at all stages of the sales funnels – with goals to book demos or download gated content. Be sure to have multiple offers in place that align with each stage of the buyer journey.

How does one measure the success of SaaS social media marketing?

Brand awareness is the most common goal among brands today, but is also very broad and nebulous. So what should you be measuring?

KPIs: Followers, Reach, Engagement, and Click thru Rates. These are good indicators that you are increasing brand awareness and making a lasting impression.

However, for the broader brand awareness effort, consider doing periodic measurements of changes in conversion rates, time to close deals, and costs per lead. These metrics should show an improvement, particularly in the channel where you are doing brand awareness activities.

For lead generation, it can be difficult to connect the dots back to specific brand awareness activities. If you retarget, then the impact is easier to attribute. So what should you be measuring?

KPIs: Lead conversion rate, non-revenue conversions, email signups. As you nurture these contacts, are they continuing to engage with your brand? This is where having a CRM and utm tracking parameters become incredibly important – otherwise you can only guess.

Set up goals in Google Analytics to track leads, downloads and traffic to your site. This will allow you to monitor the success of your individual campaigns but also of the social media channels overall. You may find that LinkedIn or YouTube outperforms Facebook and should reallocate your efforts accordingly.

Conclusion

The buyer journey will continue to be dynamic and unpredictable, and preferences (particularly in B2B) are constantly changing. There are multiple decision-makers in the buying process and buyers will be increasingly hard to reach. Constantly test, analyze and iterate and be prepared to adjust and pivot quickly. Keep reviewing how you use each channel, and make the most of the tools available. And while social media marketing is a critical piece of your overall SaaS marketing strategy, make sure that it is not the only part of your customer journey. It is just one piece of your larger omnichannel marketing plan.

Keep reviewing how you use each platform, and make the most of the tools available. It’s a challenge, but if your audience engages with video more than posts, for example, you’ll want to adapt your content to meet their expectations, or risk losing them.

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