Triple Whale: How an enterprise SaaS found a highly relatable voice on social media
If you want to be successful in B2B marketing, make your efforts look more like DTC marketing.
At least that’s an emerging train of thought, and the strategy being followed by Triple Whale, a marketing analytics and attribution SaaS.
When you think of marketing analytics and attribution, the first word that pops into your mind is probably not “fun.” But, Triple Whale is changing that and shaking things up with its innovative approach to social media marketing.
Triple Whale’s clever approach and super relatable content is what makes it stand out in a crowd, and its social following has gone from 0 to 60 … well 0 to 10K Twitter followers … over just the course of 2022. In fact its Twitter following has grown by nearly 40 percent since June and you can't go a day on Twitter without seeing a 🐳.
I wanted to get more details on the idea behind what’s a snarky B2B strategy, so I sat with Tommy Clark, head of social media at Triple Whale.
Banknotes: Why do you think Triple Whale resonates so well with brands, marketers, and the marketing crowd across social media? What have you done differently than most SaaS companies?
Clark: While most B2B SaaS companies took a more buttoned-up approach, we nailed our brand voice, especially on Twitter, by taking a casual approach.
For example, most B2B brands’ social media didn’t have memes or humor, and we decided to go on the opposite end and lean into light-hearted and positive humor. In terms of the content itself, our focus was on making content for social, rather than trying to get people off social platforms to read our blogs, or to sign up for our email list.
Rarely will you see me link off platforms. What I try to do first is generate attention and engagement on social platforms, and if someone finds value in our content and wants to read more, it's very easy for them to find us in our bios. However, we never directly post links when a new blog article drops, asking our readers to “go read this” for the sake of repurposing content.
We do turn blog articles into Twitter threads by adding all the value there, and if someone wants to read more, there’s easy accessibility out there—this strategy allows us to make content truly native to social media, and it gets better engagement in the long run.
It also leads to more follower growth, more engagement, and, ultimately, more customers. The thing about Triple Whale is that we have a brand voice. And, for me, I find this strategy way more interesting, as it shows that we have spent a lot of time on branding, by creating a personality and a voice.
Banknotes: What was your process for developing a winning social media strategy?
Clark: A lot of our best content is reactive. For example, I have content ideas sprouting in the shower or while I'm on a walk. If I think it’s something that will resonate with the audience, I post it.
My general process is to find humor in content, and I use humor to create short-form and long-form posts. This allows us to build engagement and get the algorithm on our side, and when we need to drop a podcast or an article, or we're announcing a new feature, our audience is already engaged and wants to consume that.
As far as the specifics of exactly how I like to schedule content, there’s not a rigid structure there. My strategy is to plan a few days before to ensure I have some foundational content to post. And that leaves me with enough time to be on top of trends during the week. This free time is especially important because trends can take over Twitter within a span of hours.
Banknotes: How do you stay on top of trends?
Clark: If you're a social media manager or a marketer, and you wish to stay on top of trends, you have to spend time on the platforms, there’s no going around it. I’m not endorsing you spending your entire day there, but it helps to check in at least once a day.
Another way to stay on top of trends is to follow other brands in your space, and marketers you respect and trust. And if you see a few brands start to hop in on a trend and it's doing well for them, then it’s usually a good sign to consider hopping in on it.
When it comes to trends, I don't really have a desire to be the first one to jump on it, as I don’t see a benefit in doing that. It’s also a lot of work to be the first one around. Instead, if I see a pattern of brands outside the B2B space doing the trend, then I consider whether to do it from our own brand.
Another consideration is if there’s a high risk associated with a trend. For example, a while back, brands started tweeting out one word. Although there was a low probability for us to go viral with it, it was a low-risk trend, and I posted a one-word tweet, and that did OK.
Banknotes: What role does audience research play in developing a winning social media strategy? How would you suggest marketers do audience research in an unfamiliar industry?
Clark: Audience research is extremely important, especially early on. I think the biggest learning curve for social media managers when taking on a new brand is understanding what your audience likes and which themes, topics, and formats are going to resonate with them.
If you don't understand the target audience, you don't know what they’re going to find funny and what pain points they're dealing with. In my opinion, having a grasp on these topics builds the foundation of good content.
Being a marketer, one thing that worked well in my favor was that I fit into Triple Whale’s target mix, and that led me to achieve results early on because I knew the pain points of other marketers and understood what we liked to see and things we found interesting.
But if you’re someone who’s in an unfamiliar industry, I’d implore you to spend time on social platforms to explore trends, research what your competitors are talking about, and understand what your clients are posting.
Banknotes: How do you measure the success of a campaign?
Clark: There's often a disconnect between what social media managers define success as and how C-level executives will define success.
As far as social media growth is considered, metrics like follower count, growth, impressions, and engagement rate—things that some people might call vanity metrics—are important because it means you're reaching the right audience and attaining the right followers (which also leads to acquiring potential customers).
I also track how many people have shared our content on their social platforms, which indicates that we’ve been doing a good job with our social media.
When we speak of business metrics, my focus is usually on newsletter signups and how many link-clicks we have achieved. These metrics are a bit easier to convey to leadership as it allows them to understand where the customer moves in the funnel.
Banknotes: Triple Whale is on all the social media platforms, but it seems you have the most followers and engagement on Twitter. Why do you think that is? Does that say anything about different types of businesses lending themselves better to different platforms?
Clark: For most B2B brands, Twitter and LinkedIn are platforms where we can best connect with our audience. For me, these platforms are my utmost priority in building a social strategy, so I’d concentrate on them before even thinking about going to TikTok, Instagram, or any other platforms.
As it stands today, LinkedIn is great for reach and engagement, and Twitter is essential for relationship building with the community. We’ve created some momentum on both platforms. On Twitter, we have over 10,000 followers, so we’re also at a comfortable spot where it's getting a little bit easier to consistently get engagement and reach.
However, if you’re starting from scratch on Twitter, and you don't have an engaged community or influencers you can tap onto to boost your account, then it might be a little tougher to grow. What I would do is use LinkedIn to get in front of more people.
LinkedIn is the TikTok for B2B brands. Right now, the engagement and the algorithm are extremely favorable for brands. So, use LinkedIn to get more engagement, and then use Twitter to build deeper one-on-one relationships.
Banknotes: Do you have any tips for SaaS brands who are looking to build a social presence? Where should they start and how do they move forward?
Clark: Our team is extremely active on social media. When I joined Triple Whale, I got the CMO to interact on social platforms. So, combining our efforts, we were able to gain momentum when starting from scratch. If you have a founder who is half decent at creating content, I would urge you to consider focusing on building the founder’s personal brand rather than creating a brand Twitter account.
Gaining momentum for a Twitter brand account is extremely difficult. And, I think, one of the reasons why we've been successful is because we almost treat Triple Whale’s brand account like a personal account. Since people know I'm the one behind it, it also becomes easier to build connections there.
Building connections would be far more difficult if we were a faceless brand account. We’d need to do a lot of work with outbound engagement for not that many results. Seeing as people follow people on social media, it becomes easier to build your founder’s or your team's personal brands.
Banknotes: You’ve posted a lot of videos from webinars from eCommerce, DTC, and marketing influencers. What role does featuring influencers play in a successful social media strategy?
Clark: If you're a newer account, influencers can be of great help. You can tap into your influencer network to grow your social presence and gain some initial momentum. However, one piece of advice I’d give is to make influencer partnerships authentic and transparent.
Another thing is to partner with influencers that have the audience's trust. Triple Whale has had great success partnering with influencers who have the trust of their followers.The engagement rate is phenomenal, especially when compared to B2B brands that do partnerships with other brand accounts.
Banknotes: What social media trends are you most excited about right now?
Clark: I’m recently noticing an emphasis on short-form videos. You see TikTok videos taking over Instagram, and Instagram is, in turn, pushing reels and short-form videos a lot. YouTube Shorts are popular too. For us, short-form videos are the next area that we're planning to try to crack. However, I still don't think brands should pivot away from Twitter and LinkedIn, especially just to go on TikTok—I don't think the shift would be worth it.
My suggestion would be to keep Twitter and LinkedIn dialed in first, and then begin thinking about short-form videos. As opposed to most brands who are planning to shift to TikTok, I’d like to keep our focus on YouTube Shorts, mainly because if your audience is already on YouTube Shorts, you can ask them to transition to regular YouTube videos or podcasts on the same channel. You can’t, however, expect them to make a switch from TikTok to YouTube.
As far as TikTok is concerned, I do believe that if we start using TikTok aggressively, we can rank for attribution for a few key search terms.
Banknotes: What would you recommend for brands and companies to look for when hiring a social media manager? Are there any questions you would recommend asking?
Clark: This might be a little cliché but look for someone who’s really passionate about social media—someone who willingly spends time on these platforms to understand trends and how people communicate.
Perfecting platforms like Twitter and TikTok is a little tricky because you have to rely on little nuances such as the way the audience speaks, phrases things, or even spaces a tweet or edits a TikTok video, to build audience engagement. LinkedIn, on the other hand, works on a formula that, once cracked, is easy to grow with.
Even though, to the outside eye, a small change or a minor edit may not make a huge difference, getting those right can be a make or break between something that totally takes off or falls flat.
As far as questions are concerned, if I were hiring a social media manager, I would arrange a paid trial shift with them to see what their thought process is like. For example, I’d ask them to make a TikTok video or write a few tweets through which I could consider if they nailed the brand voice or not, and I think that’s a fair way to assess if someone can be a good fit for your team.
Banknotes: Are there any other brands on Twitter that you think are crushing it right now?
Clark: Shopify is a great account to follow on Twitter, mainly because they create content that’s native to Twitter. Air HQ is another brand that does really well there—they have fun, humourous, and hilarious content. They might not have a great following, but they have a really engaged audience, so I think they are worth studying.
Banknotes: What’s a piece of advice you’d give to B2B brands who are looking to build their social presence?
Clark: My only advice is that the best way to have a good B2B social presence is to not study other B2B brands, except maybe us, AirHQ, and Shopify. There aren't a lot of brands in the B2B space right now that are truly crushing it on social platforms, so the best way to go about creating an engaging B2B social presence is to look at B2C brands, and explore industries beyond your own to study what they’re doing. However, take everything with a grain of salt as you can't apply everything they use.
If your company’s leadership allows it, then try to study brands that understand meme culture, trends, humor, and have super engaging content. Don’t just study brands, but also look at content creators to see what they are tweeting, what videos they are posting, and what TikToks they are creating.
This strategy works exceptionally well because, at the end of the day, even though it's B2B, you're still talking to a person. And that person wants to be entertained, just like anyone else. If you can create content that resonates with them, you're going to put yourself in a good spot and stand out from your competition.
Today, a lot of B2B brands try to go too heavy into education, and although that’s really important, entertainment takes precedence. Once your audience trusts your brand, then they'll go read your newsletter, blog article, or listen to your podcast. And that's where real education happens.
Platforms also play a huge role in the relevancy of content. For example, Triple Whale has two podcasts that are super technical. But I can’t translate the same insights on Twitter or LinkedIn as they won’t hit the same way.