Dark Social Content Strategy for 2024

Author
Updated on
May 3, 2024

There is  a significant shift in B2B marketing and b2b buying journey and the rising importance of what's often termed "dark social." This term refers to the social sharing of content that occurs outside of measurable platforms, such as private messages, emails, or any other form of communication that analytics cannot track directly. Despite the lack of visible engagement such as likes or comments, your interactions indicate that your content is indeed being noticed and discussed among your peers and potential clients. This kind of influence is crucial but often overlooked because it doesn't present immediate, quantifiable metrics.

Importance of Executive Branding and Thought Leadership in B2B

The discussions around your LinkedIn posts illustrate the power of executive branding and thought leadership. Even without direct engagement, your ideas and insights are resonating with industry peers and influencers. This invisible impact is similar to the long-term brand value recognized in consumer giants like Apple and Coca-Cola. In the B2B sector, where decisions are made over longer cycles and often behind closed doors, the value of thought leadership might not be immediately apparent but is crucial for long-term success and influence.

Proposed Dark Social Content Strategy for 2024

The strategy for leveraging dark social through a systematic approach to content creation and distribution is particularly pertinent for today’s B2B environment. Here’s an expanded look at each step:

1. Weekly Live Events:  

Hosting live events helps in real-time engagement with your audience, providing them with valuable insights and advice. This positions your brand as a thought leader and a go-to resource within the industry.

2. Content Repurposing:  

Turning the live events into podcasts and video podcasts maximizes the reach and lifespan of your original content. This approach not only caters to different audience preferences but also enhances content accessibility.

3. Micro-content Creation:  

Creating smaller, digestible pieces of content for platforms like LinkedIn, TikTok, and Facebook Reels can increase engagement and extend your reach. This method taps into the trend of consuming quick, impactful content.

4. Performance Monitoring and Amplification:  

Using organic performance data to guide paid campaigns ensures that your advertising budget is spent on content that has a proven track record of engagement, increasing the efficiency of your spend.

5. Insight Collection:  

Gathering both quantitative and qualitative feedback from these activities will inform your content strategy, making it more responsive to audience needs and preferences.

6. Success Measurement:  

Focusing on total pipeline generated and blended marketing ROI as key metrics for success will provide a clearer picture of how your content strategies contribute to the overall business goals.

7. Continuous Improvement:  

The cycle of repeating, learning, and iterating allows you to refine your strategies over time, adapting to changes in audience behavior and market dynamics.

Final Thoughts

The evolving nature of B2B purchasing behavior and the critical role that dark social plays in influencing these decisions. By adopting this approach, companies can not only maintain relevance but also build a sustainable competitive advantage. In today's digital and networked age, neglecting these invisible channels of influence is not just an oversight—it's a strategic misstep. Implementing a robust strategy that includes dark social content can create meaningful engagements that translate into business results, despite being challenging to measure traditionally.

How can a CMO contribute well in B2B tech companies?

The evolution of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) role in B2B tech companies has reached a critical juncture, one that necessitates a broader, more strategic perspective beyond the immediate outputs of marketing activities like sourced meetings and pipeline metrics. The increasing focus on these tangible metrics, while crucial for demonstrating the direct impact of marketing efforts, risks reducing the perceived value of the CMO role and marketing's broader contributions to the business.

Expanding the Role of the CMO

1. Beyond Pipeline Metrics:  

Traditionally, marketing departments have been assessed based on their ability to generate leads and contribute directly to the sales pipeline. However, this perspective is limiting and fails to capture the full scope of marketing's influence on a business. Marketing's role, especially at the CMO level, should be seen as an integral part of the entire go-to-market (GTM) strategy, influencing not only immediate sales outcomes but also long-term business growth and customer relationships.

2. Influence on Brand and Market Position:  

CMOs are pivotal in shaping the company's brand and its position in the market. This involves a comprehensive approach to managing brand perception, engaging with customers across various touchpoints, and maintaining a consistent brand message. Effective brand management and marketing can lead to a more robust and resilient brand, which is critical in competitive tech markets.

3. Strategic Contributions of a CMO in B2b tech:  

Steve Patti highlights several areas where CMOs should focus their efforts and reporting, including:

   - Brand Management and Marketing: Developing a strong brand that resonates with target audiences.

   - Market Research/Insights: Gathering and utilizing data to drive strategic decisions.

   - Pricing Lifecycle Roadmap: Strategically planning pricing to optimize market penetration and profitability.

   - Public Relations and Communications Calendar: Managing media relations and public engagements to boost brand visibility and reputation.

   - Demand Marketing and Customer Marketing: Generating demand through targeted marketing campaigns and focusing on customer retention and engagement.

   - Sales Enablement and Channel/Ecosystems: Supporting sales teams with tools and training and managing partner relationships.

These areas underscore the multifaceted role of the CMO that goes beyond generating immediate sales results to fostering long-term growth and stability.

Implications for Marketing's Future

Long-term Orientation:  

By expanding the focus of marketing metrics and responsibilities, organizations can better position themselves for future challenges and opportunities. This approach encourages CMOs to invest in initiatives that may not yield immediate financial returns but are crucial for sustainable growth, such as customer experience improvements, brand loyalty programs, and innovation in product and service offerings.

Cultural Shift in Valuation of Marketing:  

There needs to be a cultural shift within organizations to appreciate and understand the broader impacts of marketing. This includes recognizing the strategic role of the CMO as a key driver of not just marketing, but corporate strategy. It also involves a shift in how success is measured, moving away from short-term metrics towards more comprehensive, long-term goals.

Here is an interesting write up from Parthi Loganathan, CEO at Letterdrop, how B2b selling actually works,

"We have over 40 vendors and spend over $10k/mo on them even as an early startup

How I've purchased, listed from most common to least:
- Search and clicked on organic result or ad (HelpKit, Arcade, Postmark, Copyleaks, People Data Labs, CometChat, honestly too long a list)
- Product was talked about on LinkedIn and Twitter (Clay, Fathom, Pinecone, Descript)
- Product was talked about in a private Slack or YC community (Apollo, Vouch)

I've personally never purchased from:
- cold outreach (I don't know why anyone would try to sell to us at our size - most companies <50 employees are unqualified for cold outbound)
- display ads (though I have for personal consumer purchases like clothing. I think this only makes sense for retargeting or if you have an offer people can't refuse)
- newsletter sponsorship

I'm not saying the latter don't work because we've definitely sold through them before."

Conclusion

In conclusion, for B2B tech companies, redefining the role of the CMO to encompass a broader strategic perspective is essential. By doing so, businesses can ensure that their marketing leaders are not only responsible for driving immediate sales results but are also instrumental in shaping the company's future in the marketplace. This approach will enable CMOs to fulfill their potential as key contributors to the business's strategic direction and long-term success.

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