Welcome to TechSPARK’s digital advice column, Dear E Me.
Every month we look at digital marketing problems affecting tech businesses. To submit your own question, just email us at (jo@leancontent.co.uk / hello@techspark.co)

Dear E Me,
Our company has a marketing intern, but we don’t know how much time he should spend on social media marketing. Can you help us decide which social media channels to use?
We sell IT support, consultancy and virtual desktop services, and we’re exclusively B2B. Our intern focuses most of their efforts on building up a Facebook page and Twitter account. I don’t know how to put this, but it feels like it’s going nowhere. Should we pull the plug?

Hi Tim!
Oh boy. You’re not alone, in fact, every business owner I speak to has the same concern. Here’s the common scenario I see:
You hired an enthusiastic marketing executive to boost your social media
6 months later, you’ve not had any sales, your audience is still the same size, and you’re wondering what to do about it.
Sound familiar? Fear not, because social media is actually very difficult to do well. However, when done thoughtfully it can deliver a lot of new business in very little time.

The difference between doing it well, and doing it badly? If I’m honest, it’s not your marketing intern’s fault. It’s yours.

Stay with me here, Tim. The key to getting the most out of your social media executive is effective training, management and relevant KPIs. With a clear sense of direction, he can resist the all-too-tempting inertia of weekly social posts that go absolutely nowhere.

1. Training
Your current marketing hire may have no qualifications, or they may already consider themselves a social ‘guru.’ But here’s the kicker: they’re probably only a B2C expert, trained in communicating with their peers. This means they know precisely nothing about B2B practises.

Get your marketing intern on a social media for B2B course, straight away. Investigate it yourself, and select the course that’s good for your business. But start with:
Hubspot’s certified inbound course
HootSuite Social Media University
The CIM social media course for B2B

2. Management
The second thing you need to do is effectively manage your employee. They will need direction and support to do their job effectively. So, start thinking about your company, which social channel is right for your business? You can read my blog about it here. Select two channels for your employee to focus on and then manage their time carefully. If you’re B2B tech, then LinkedIn and Twitter are going to be absolutely vital for you. Ditch your Facebook page, if you want my advice, because it’s going nowhere.

There are so many useful social media tools out there, but my favourite for audience growth is Crowdfire. Use it to target the followers of your competitors, find influencers, and join conversations for your sector. Then, ask your marketing executive to spend one hour per day on engagement in online conversations. Replying, commenting and re-tweeting the content that your users actually care about. This is crucial.

Finally, you’re going to want to set your marketing executive some clear expectations for finding new business. Don’t expect to publish content or retweet relevant posts, and get sales. For this, you’ll need to do some social media listening. Search for keywords, look for job adverts, and eavesdrop for companies that need your help. Your marketing executive should be able to pull 2-3 leads a week this way, and if they don’t, they’re probably not doing it right.

3. KPI’s
Finally, for your social media strategy to work, you’ll need to set your intern some fixed KPI’s. At Lean Content, we specialise in overhauling our client’s underperforming social media channels. Very often, it’s down to having clear goals.

What % audience growth are you expecting to see in 3 months? 6? How many new business leads to you want to get each month? Every quarter? What % uplift in website traffic would you like to see? By when?

These SMART targets should nudge your hire towards a more focused, strategic use of their time online. Social media marketing is vital and can be a powerful new business tool when deployed effectively. However, the ball is in your court. You’ve hired someone, it’s now down to you to show them how to be the very best that they can be.

Jo Duncan