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#124: The B2B Social Media Marketing Strategy that grew Apollo 400% in 9 Months

Episode 124

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If you’re a B2B company struggling with your social media marketing, or just looking to see what the best in the game are doing – today we’re sharing actionable frameworks from industry leader, Meryoli Arias. Meryoli is the Head of Social Media & Sr. Community Manager at Apollo – an awesome database and email sending platform that I love.

In her short time there, she’s increased Apollo’s social media community by 400% in 9 months. She also launched an amazing employee advocacy program that garnered over 2 million organic impressions. We’ve been following her for a long time, and trust us, everything she touches just turns to gold!

If you’re ready to build a social game that makes customers fall in love with your brand and drives pipeline, watch, listen or read our catch up with expert Meryoli Arias.

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Start Your Social Media Strategy By Listening To Your Customers

When developing a social media marketing strategy, many brands take a “megaphone” approach – they push out content and messaging without first listening to their audiences. They’ll feature industry news, or copy what their competitors are saying, or look at what people are searching on Google and create content around that. However, social media expert Meryoli Arias firmly believes the listening phase is a crucial first step most marketers overlook.

You need to start your social media marketing journey by LISTENING to your customers and audience.

The Importance of Listening

As she took the reins of Apollo’s social media efforts, Meryoli’s priority was to “do a lot of social listening” and “research what has been done for the brand” [00:04:50]. This allowed her to objectively “take the pulse of what people were saying” about Apollo, without any marketing spin influencing the narrative. From this listening, Meryoli discovered there were already “raving fans” organically discussing the product despite minimal marketing activity. She makes the point that:

“A lot of social media is about reading and listening to what customers have to say, not just blasting out campaigns.”

Meryoli Arias – The B2B Playbook – [00:10:35]

Use These Insights To Develop Your Content Pillars

These initial insights helped Meryoli identify exactly what customers responded to about the Apollo product and brand. She could then develop content pillars and campaigns tailored to their interests.

As she explains, “it’s [so important] for social media that we tap into the kind of topic or angles that people are already naturally talking about” [00:10:07]. So if certain features or use cases kept arising in social conversations, her team would focus energy there. For Apollo, their key audience are people in sales and now marketing too.

So listening to what’s important to them, the issues they’re dealing with and just generally “taking the pulse of what people are saying” [00:09:39] is so core to her role. This allows Meryoli and her team to keep a finger on what’s important to their customers.

Feedback Social Media Insights Into Content

Once you create your content pillars, it’s not enough to leave that stagnant. You need to constantly listen for customer insights, and feed those back into your social media content strategy. For example, when Meryoli spots customers asking lots of questions about a particular topic, she’ll feed that back into her content pillar to answer it.

As she says:

“If I see someone that’s asking a lot of questions about something, I will want to create content for them”

Meryoli Arias – The B2B Playbook – [00:11:00]

Her calendar then reflects the key areas their audience wants to hear about.

In Meryoli’s words: “I would say the biggest mistake we social media marketers make sometimes is thinking that we have a microphone… [yes] we do have a microphone, but it’s not a monologue. You really need to be listening to what others are saying in order to amplify, your voice and their voice too.” [00:11:37]

Social media managers need to use their microphone to amplify the voice of their customers and audience. Don’t just make it a one way monologue.

The key insight here is that social media is a platform for engagement and community, not just pushing out marketing messages. Brands need to listen, respond, and facilitate wider discussions – not just broadcast their own narrative.

So make sure you don’t skip this step! The listening phase gives brands like Apollo crucial customer intelligence to kick off an authentic, engagement-driving social media strategy. It ensures the messaging will land, without wasting effort on guesswork or assumptions. This approach has been vital for Meryoli in building Apollo’s highly successful and targeted social media presence. So before drafting any posts or campaigns, follow her advice: take a step back, tune into your existing communities, and let your customers guide your social media marketing strategy.

Humanize Your Brand on Social Media

Every industry is saturated with competition – so how can you help your brand get an edge? In B2B, building trust between your brand and your Ideal Customers is essential if they’re going to choose you over the competition.

Creating an authentic connection between your brand and your Ideal Customers is a terrific way to help build that trust. This is why humanizing your brand should be a priority for any marketing strategy according to social media expert Meryoli Arias. During her time revolutionizing Apollo’s social presence, Meryoli prioritized humanizing the company and making people “feel connected to the brand” [00:07:30]. This emotional connection drives real engagement and growth.

Expert Meryoli Arias recommends ‘humanizing’ your brand if you want people to trust it.

What Does Humanizing A Brand Look Like?

So what does “humanizing” a brand actually involve in practice?

It’s about injecting personality into the brand. Making it feel like a person when you’re commenting or interacting with the community.

It’s also about showing the people behind the brand. Meryoli gives the Apollo employees “the space on our own company page social media…to talk about the things they’re passionate about”.

I try to give the Apollo employees the space on our own company page social media…to talk about the things they’re passionate about”

Meryoli Arias – The B2B Playbook – [00:07:40]

This showcases the real people behind the brand, not just polished corporate messaging. When audiences see company leaders and team members openly discussing their interests, values and personalities, it builds a sense of relationship.

Creating an Employee Advocacy Program

This engagement from the people behind the Apollo brand plays into the employee advocacy program she’s setup at Apollo. Employee advocacy is notoriously difficult – getting your colleagues (especially not in the marketing department) to like or share or engage with your social posts is almost impossible! Let alone getting them to post on their own.

So how did Meryoli do it?

Educate on Benefits of a Personal Brand

Meryoli educates employees on “the benefits of having a personal brand” to motivate them to post.

She explains potential advantages like career growth, highlighting opportunities like “getting a promotion, maybe getting your next job” [00:22:10]. This shows the tangible incentives of developing their social media presence.

Here’s how Meryoli got other employees at Apollo to post on LinkedIn, garnering millions of impressions for their brand!

Leading By Example

Additionally, Meryoli emphasizes the importance of “lead[ing] by example” [00:21:00] for driving employee advocacy. This involves actively posting from official company accounts and her own personal accounts.

Meryoli explains, seeing employees post makes people think “hey, they’re doing it. Why wouldn’t I?”

Meryoli Arias – The B2B Playbook – [00:21:00]

By showing that social media activity is embraced across the organization, it encourages wider adoption.

Tracking Impact of Social Media

While they track the impressions and reach generated by employee activity, Meryoli does not take an enforcement approach. Rather than “force participation”, she provides information so workers can assess their own impact [00:25:50]. Metrics inform but do not dictate their strategy or demands.

Encourage Authenticity on Social Media

Critically, Meryoli’s employee advocacy approach is not about telling people what to write. She does not spend time “writ[ing] copy for anyone” or mandating what they have to post [00:24:53]. Her focus is on enablement, simply “offer[ing] the opportunity” to leverage Apollo’s platform should individuals wish to. The more authentic your voice is, the more credibility you’ll drive with your Dream Customers!

Why you should avoid using scheduling tools on social media. Stay authentic!

The 3 Circles of Influence – The Keys to your Social Media Strategy

Meryoli outlines 3 key circles or audiences that she creates social media strategies around:

  • Internal audience
  • Customers
  • Potential fans/influencers

As she states:

“The way I think about social media is like you move around three big circles where it’s like your internal audience, then you have your customers and then you have your potential fans or the influencers or the thought leaders that, those are three circles that I’m always thinking about when I create like a social media strategy.”

Meryoli Arias – The B2B Playbook

She tailors the messaging and campaigns to nurture each audience. This way she’s always moving one of them forward! It’s a great, targeted way to structure your social media campaigns.

Building around the 3 circles is important. Also don’t forget to promote your product so you get people closer to purchasing it!

Make Sure You Experiment on Social Media

In social media, you need to always be experimenting and testing new ideas. Meryoli spends at least 30% of her time on testing new ideas. This is because algorithms and platforms constantly change, so you need to be onto the next thing before things change.

A super successful experiment that Meryoli ran recently at Apollo was manipulating the ‘job title’ change function on LinkedIn. Whenever you change job titles, you get a lot more reach from LinkedIn with your posts.

So Meryoli and her colleagues changed their job title to be ‘Sales’ best friend’ or ‘Marketing’s best friend’, boosting this status change and the Apollo brand far and wide. This campaign actually generated over 1 million impressions organically!

Testing new content angles and topics is also very important. But don’t get down if your experiments aren’t working. Failures are part of the gig, and as long as you learn from it there’s no harm done.

Targeting Multiple Personas or Industries on Social Media

When Apollo’s product usefulness extended beyond just sales people to also support marketers, Meryoli faced an important challenge: how to tailor her social content for these distinct professional groups without diluting engagement.

Her solution was simple but effective: diversify the messaging while retaining an integrated structure.

“I make sure that I’m talking to each of my personas, each of these circles at least once a week,” she explains

Meryoli Arias – The B2B Playbook – [00:18:10]

This ensures consistency across groups without overloading any single audience.

Need to market to multiple personas on social media? Here’s how to handle it.

I loved her analogy for how to think about nurturing multiple audiences on social media:

“I think about it as having a party with all your friends. You have friends from high school, you have friends from university, you have friends that you made with, that are friends with you and your partner. You have this different circles of friends that probably the things you have in common with each are different, right? So basically you have, if you have a party with them, you have to take your time to talk to each one, right?”

Meryoli Arias – The B2B Playbook – [00:16:00]

Just as at a party you would split your time between different social circles to keep each engaged, so too on social platforms does content need to appeal to each community’s preferences.

It’s a great analogy, and it perfectly summarizes why a one-size-fits-all approach fails. Tailoring messaging to “take your time to talk to each one” is vital, just as is needed to host any successful diverse social gathering.

Is Your Audience Falling In Love With Your Brand on Social Media?

If you’re struggling to win over your Dream Customers on social media, we recommend a few things:

First, make sure you have a deep understanding of your customer, and are able to create helpful content that makes their lives better. This is a core part of our own Demand Gen framework (The 5 BEs), which you can access here.

Second, follow Meryoli and Apollo on LinkedIn! She posts social media gold pretty much every day. Check out how the best in the business do it.

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Episode 124