LinkedIn has long been the place where B2B marketers could build a professional network, create an online resume and share compelling content with that network. As part of LinkedIn’s content marketing push, they launched the Influencer program to bring top quality content from thought leaders across multiple industries into the platform. And they picked who could participate. And they worked with editors.
Now that this program is well established, LinkedIn is opening their platform up to all members. This doesn’t mean you and I can become part of the Influencer program. It doesn’t mean that you will instantly become a thought leader. It does mean that you can now blog on the LinkedIn platform and have it associated with your profile. Following will now become part of the regular vocabulary on LinkedIn. Someone can follow your posts without asking your permission to connect.Create a Plan to Drive Traffic
Now matter how starry-eyed you become about the potential, and I mean potential and not real, reach of these blog posts, you should create a plan that still drives readers back to a site you own, like a company blog or web site. LinkedIn is still a platform that you cannot control. As they roll out this platform, things will change.Write Unique Content
Your plan needs to focus on great content. If you really want to make an impact on LinkedIn look at the popular Influencer articles and see what resonates with professionals. There are no cat videos or list-based articles. It’s a look of good, solid advice that appeals to a general audience, but with a focus on careers, business growth, technology and entrepreneurship. Don’t syndicate your content between your blog and LinkedIn. Create unique posts for LinkedIn and offer more on your own blog. If your LinkedIn posts are general, your content on your blog can be a bit more specific and focused on your prospects.Include Calls-to-Action
Have you seen what many of the influencers do on their posts? Subscribe to my blog. Follow me on Twitter. Sign up for my newsletter. While this overload of actions can cause readers to do nothing, the idea is still sound. Blog posts need calls-to-action. A connection to stay informed about future posts or activities is fine. Connecting them to another post you have published is great. Driving them to a landing page to download additional content works too. View these posts as above the top of your funnel and think how can you convert them with content and identify those who are prospects.Use the Platform to Grow Your Reach
Posts will show up on your personal profile, so make sure you share them on the company page and within any active groups. Ask your colleagues, partners and customers to share these posts on their LinkedIn profiles (and other social channels) to get more reach on LinkedIn. There may be a most popular posts, like the Influencers have, so it will be beneficial to get lots of views on your posts. And don’t forget that you can tag people in updates that include a link to the post to make them aware of it, but don’t go overboard. You can also follow others and they may see you followed them. Until this is fully rolled out, we don’t know the complete functionality.Share Your Unique Posts on Other Platforms
Each LinkedIn post has its own URL, which means you can share these posts on Twitter, Facebook and any other platforms where your prospects spend their time. You can even include them in an email newsletter to drive more traffic to them.
What are you thinking about the new blogging platform embedded in LinkedIn? Are you working on that plan yet?
Are your salespeople actively engaged in social media as part of their lead generation efforts? If not, they (and your business) are missing out on great opportunities for researching potential B2B clients, building new networks and uncovering prospects by investigating their social media profiles.
Here are ways to encourage your sales team to embrace social media:1. Direct your salespeople to refine their profiles
Start by making sure they have social media profiles on the appropriate channels. The marketing team can help determine where your customers and prospects those platforms. Their profile pages need to attract potential customers. While including the basics on an individual salesperson, the profile should mostly focus on your business and the solutions you offer to prospects. Also include videos, PDFs and links to your business website in these profiles.2. Schedule time for focused social media activity
It takes discipline to use social media properly (and avoid wasting time watching cat videos!). Work with your sales team to plot out a schedule of focused activity on various social media networks, whether it’s a half-hour a day or 2-3 times a week.3. Generate content your sales team can use
Back in the day, salespeople handed out brochures or fliers to interest prospects. Today, it’s all about customized content marketing. So it’s up to you to ensure your salespeople can refer prospects to first-rate, problem-solving content on your business website. Not only will this draw more traffic to your site, it also supports the sales team’s efforts to position your business as an industry and thought leader.4. Promote sales blogging
It’s no longer enough to feature a blog post from your CEO or CMO. Members of your sales team should also be blogging and steadily building a rich network of followers. Encourage team members to think about new ways to focus on prospects’ needs and business challenges by answering common questions that prospects ask in their buyer journey. They should also think and blog more broadly about general industry issues, rather than shilling for your business. Again, focus on solutions your sales team can provide and that will draw more interest from prospects.5. Keep an active LinkedIn presence
For sales of B2B products and services, LinkedIn is probably the most significant platform for your sales team’s activities. Your individual salespeople’s LinkedIn profiles are the first place a prospect will check out, so as noted above, be sure these are up-to-date and contain the right messaging.
Also, each salesperson should be gathering new LinkedIn connections as frequently as possible. Have them build their network by reaching out to past customers, colleagues in the industry, friends and family members. It’s important to have a robust network of connections as part of your LinkedIn profile.
By joining and participating in LinkedIn discussion groups, salespeople will come in contact with a wide range of potential customers — though it’s important to remember these discussion groups are about specific issues, not a venue for blatant self-promotion. Encourage your sales team to answer questions that demonstrate their problem-solving knowledge. An interested prospect will often follow up on his own.6. Use Twitter to make connections and follow trends
The businesses and prospects you want to connect with may be tweeting. Shouldn’t you and your sales team be listening? Twitter offers a wealth of opportunities for staying abreast of industry trends, which can in turn help your team anticipate future sales opportunities. Once your salesperson has become comfortable on the platform, he or she can reply individually to a prospect’s tweet, thus initiating a one-on-one exchange which turns a cold lead into a warm one.7. Have a vibrant Facebook presence
Your business should already have a Facebook page. From there, encourage members of your sales team to create a Facebook group that relates to your business offerings and invite people to join. Once the group starts talking, there’s always an opportunity to send targeted messages to individuals within the group and get the sales process moving forward.
Being active in social media isn’t a substitute for picking up the phone or firing off an email to prospects, but it represents a dramatically different way of cultivating leads and enriching your sales pipeline.
Our friend Doug Kessler of Velocity Partners has written a lot about the what and the how of B2B marketing, but never the why. In this amazing Slideshare presentation called The Search for Meaning in B2B Marketing, and embedded below, he tackles the question of what makes his career in B2B marketing meaningful.
In addition to the ideas expressed, pay attention to the presentation itself. Presented as a notebook with handwritten notes, sketches and more formal type, this comes across as the simple musings of a creative guy (which Doug certainly is). He really captures the right tone and visual style in this piece. And the voyeuristic quality of reading someone else’s notebook makes it even more fun.
The honesty of Doug’s writing really creates a connection with his audience of B2B marketers. While he is working out meaning in his own career, he hopes that it helps others in the field. My favorite line is:
When you were a kid, you never said, “I want to be a B2B marketer when I grow up.”
You definitely need to check out the whole notebook, but here are the seven things that give his work as a B2B marketer meaning:
1. I like helping companies grow.
2. I Like helping our clients achieve success in their careers.
3. I love working alongside talented, engaged, positive people who also love what they do.
4. I love learning new things.
5. I love work that demands creativity.
6. I like honest work that asks me to build a great case for my client.
7. I like figuring out how the business of business works.
Are there other things that give meaning to your career as a B2B marketer?
Infographics are key to many B2B companies’ content marketing efforts. Randy Krum is the president of InfoNewt and the author of the new book, Cool Infographics. Featuring over 100 infographic examples, this guide prepares you to create compelling infographics for online marketing, business reports, posters, presentations, and even design your own infographic resume. Randy answered the following questions about the business of infographics.Data visualizations and infographics have become interchangeable terms to some. What is the difference and why use one over the other?
I often have to define the difference between Data Visualization and Infographics, because when a client asks for an infographic design it’s not always clear what they are requesting. I define the difference like this. Data visualizations are visual representations of data, usually in the form of a stand-alone chart or diagram. Infographics are larger designs that combine data visualizations, illustrations and text together to tell a story. For example, a data visualization chart could be one element of a larger design, as seen in the Could You Be A Failure? Infographic.How do brands use infographics for storytelling, both within a single infographic and as part of a larger content strategy?
Infographics are a perfect medium for brands to tell the many stories behind their company, products and services. They have the potential to break through the information filters of customers that don’t want to take the time to read product descriptions, product reviews or packaging claims on the shelf. Specifically for brands, they can offer a fast-to-read and easy-to-share story, and visual nature of infographics increases customers’ recall when the time comes to make a purchase decision.You make a point to say that you can’t just publish an infographic, but you need a launch strategy. Can you describe that?
Publishing an infographic without any promotion or strategy is like a tree falling in the forest when no one is watching. People can’t find or share an infographic online without a successful launch strategy, and it’s disappointing to watch companies publish an infographic online, and then just wait for people to find it. That doesn’t work. In the book I outline my three part Infographic Release Strategy that includes designing the landing page on your website, self-promotion through your existing communication channels and finally outreach to other sites and influencers that have audiences that would appreciate the infographic. This extra effort can exponentially increase the success of an infographic online.Many B2B companies use content to drive leads. In the book you don’t mention putting an infographic behind a gated lead form. Are there any exceptions where it makes sense to gate an infographic?
I’ve seen a few companies put their infographics behind a form requiring your email address before you can view the infographic, but this doesn’t work in practice. It goes back to the data visualization vs. infographic question you asked earlier. An infographic is meant to be easy to share, and as soon as the first person shares the infographic image in social media, it’s freely available to everyone without completing the form. The nature of infographics also implies quick to read, which is perceived as only a small reward for giving up your contact information. On the other hand, including many good data visualizations within a longer content piece, like a white paper or research report, behind an form can increase the value of the overall piece, and make it more valuable for readers.One of my pet peeves with infographics is the inconsistency of listing data sources. Can you share best practices for identifying where the data comes from?
Absolutely! This is a pet peeve of mine as well. I recommend designers include links to the original, specific data sources in their infographic designs. The original source may take some research, but the readers are expecting that from an infographic designer. Don’t list the news article or wikipedia entry where you found the information. Instead, track the data back to its original source and include that link as the data source. Also, being specific is just as important. If a designer lists just the home page URL as the data source, that doesn’t help anyone track down the original data on their own. Include the link directly to the specific data so readers can easily access the data on their own.How has the explosion of mobile affected infographics? Is anyone making it easier to read those really long infographics on a smart phone?
Surprisingly no. I have seen a few attempts at mobile responsive designs, but nothing I would consider to be successful. Data visualizations are being used fantastically within mobile apps, but viewing full infographics on a smartphone is still a challenging process.We’ve seen animated, interactive and video infographics used on a limited basis. What are some of the pushing-the-envelope trends of infographics? Will we see augmented reality or 3D printed infographics?
We will continue to see experiments with interactive, animated and video infographics as well as other new formats like augmented reality and zooming interfaces. I fully expect the art of infographics to continue to evolve along with the most current interfaces, but infographic image files are still the most successful because they are so simple and easy to share online. As people move towards wearable devices like Google Glass and smart watches, I expect new areas of data visualization to be developed to take advantage of the new displays.
Download Chapter One from Cool Infographics here.
Every B2B company, regardless of size and industry, will encounter the occasional crisis. Whether your company botches a product shipment or endures a network outage that affects the mission-critical software you deliver, your customers will be upset. In times of trouble, B2B companies can find high-dollar contracts at risk and strategic relationships in jeopardy, and these threats can shake an organization to its core.
Social media has raised the stakes when a crisis occurs, given that customers can communicate their dissatisfaction quickly and broadly. If not managed properly, social media can amplify a crisis and severely damage your business before you have even had the opportunity to troubleshoot the problem. But even though sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn may make managing a crisis trickier, they can also help you communicate with your customers, demonstrate your commitment to them and bolster your reputation. In fact, a well-managed crisis can not only help you retain customers, but it can lead to new customers and additional deals.
Following are six tips for effectively managing a B2B crisis using social media.1. Develop a Strategy
Crises emerge without notice and leave little time to do much more than react. To respond in a way that is best for your business and your customers, you must develop a crisis management strategy for social media before issues arise. Take the following steps to develop your plan:
- Gather your key team members and brainstorm the best strategy for responding in times of crisis using social media.
- Assign someone to draft the various communications that will be required, and determine what additional review and approval will be needed before they post to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or other channels.
- Establish parameters for follow up posts, including how frequently your team will post or tweet updates.
- Consider using email and your blog to deliver updates.
- Document your plan.
By the time the meeting is over, your team should fully understand the plan that will be set into motion at the first sign of trouble.2. Acknowledge the Crisis When it Occurs
At the first sign of a crisis that impacts your customers, quickly gather an understanding of what is happening and set your plan into motion. In your early messages to your audience on traditional and social channels, make sure to communicate what steps you will be taking to resolve the issues, and confirm how frequently they can expect updates.3. Be Honest and Explicit
Don’t sugarcoat the problems at hand or address them in vague terms. Be honest and explicit, and stand accountable. Social media has ushered in an era of transparency and it is one of the most important values in a crisis. If you receive questions or feedback from customers, respond in a calm, calculated manner to ensure they are aware that you are putting them first and that you understand their needs. All responses in social channels are considered public statements and can easily be shared. Another reason honesty really is the best policy.4. Keep the Information Flowing
Keep the information flowing, and strive to provide meaningful social media updates according to the schedule and on the platforms that you have established. If there is no new information to report, let your audience know. However, make sure they understand the steps that are being taken. By communicating frequently, and in multiple places, your audience will be confident that you are working as hard as you can to resolve the problems.5. Apologize and Close the Loop
Once the crisis passes, complete the due diligence needed to understand what caused the problems and create a plan for avoiding similar issues in the future. Once you have this information, craft an apology email or blog post to your customers that provides a full picture of what happened, why it happened, and how you will prevent this from happening in the future. Speak candidly and be direct. This is the stage of the process where you reaffirm your commitment to your customers and the relationships you have with them.6. Prevent the Same Crisis from Occurring Again
Simply put, don’t make the same mistake again. If you do, you will drive away any of the goodwill that you created through previous crisis management efforts and further damage your credibility. This can prove troubling for existing clients and those considering engaging with your company.
Social media can be your company’s best friend during a crisis, and if used effectively, it can help you provide assurance to existing customers while building your reputation in a way that impresses prospective customers.
What best practices do you use to manage crises through social media?
B2B marketing can often be dry, stuffy, and an overall snooze fest when not done correctly. Businesses are slowly but surely learning that business-to-business marketing doesn’t have to be all direct mail and incentive promotions. Some companies are actually producing really creative B2B marketing.
So, which companies have totally got this B2B marketing thing down? Let’s take a look.Salesforce
Salesforce is one of the most well-known B2B products on the market and since part of their business is actually providing social analytics to customers they’d better be good at social themselves. Fortunately, Salesforce really excels on social, particularly on Facebook where they consistently using their header image to promote upcoming events. They also use Facebook to prominently display links to everything from infographics to blog posts.
Demandbase does a really great job of providing (and sponsoring) educational content for B2B readers. Typically using a mixture of slides, white papers, blog posts, and even microsites, Demandbase racks up leads and pipeline every time it releases a new informational program. Their oft-downloaded and entertaining series of webinars doesn’t hurt.Microsoft
Microsoft has gotten a lot of flack lately for its aggressive marketing in the wake of the disastrous Windows 8 platform, but what they’re really, really good at is bridging the gap between B2B marketing and customer-facing campaigns. For example, the “Children of the 90s” campaign spoke to every millennial who saw it, from consumers to in-house developers at big firms. Reaching the target audience is half the battle and Microsoft’s doing it right.
Sungard provides software and IT solutions for a wide variety of situations…kind of boring, yes. But Sungard hit on one of the biggest trends of the year with their “Zombie Apocalypse” campaign that linked their services with the risk of an impending zombie surge. Using an infographic, social campaign, and even an e-book, Sungard made a totally boring concept totally viral. Genius.
Atlas Copco is a producer of industrial equipment and they’re revolutionizing the way B2B companies use apps. Utilizing smart phone apps, Atlas offers at-a-touch technical specs, hazardous workplace information, and informational videos for customers to access anytime. The company didn’t just create the content and leave it there – they’re already on the 5th version of the iTunes app because they like to reevaluate and add new content often.Clippard
You’ve probably never heard of Clippard and that’s because they’re a medical device company specializing in pneumatic actuators. They mixed up the boring trade show booth by creating an actual guitar made out of actuator valves that’s played by air. Get it? An air guitar! Their booth is now the must-see stop of any medical device tradeshow and they get to show off their product while engaging potential customers. That’s what good B2B marketing is all about.
In 2014, B2B marketing will evolve to be more strategy-focused, much like traditional marketing. Companies will have to work harder to cut through the clutter and they’ll increasingly find ways to utilize social media marketing for business-to-business interaction.
When social media first started gaining traction, CMOs and other B2B marketing heads saw the value of the new marketing channels. Since that time, social media marketing budgets have increased substantially, yet a majority of businesses fail to deliver a quantifiable return on their investment.
What can marketers do to ensure their efforts are generating a true and effective ROI? They can take these seven steps:1. Know your why and set a goal
This is the critical first step that is needed to explain why an initiative is important enough to spend money on in the first place. State upfront what you are trying to accomplish and why you’re doing it. It’s important to outline clear deliverables such as increasing the number of leads from a source or securing a specific number of email sign ups from a certain initiative, and communicate why it’s important.2. Identify and target the right audience
Without knowing who the key customers will be, you run the risk of a scattered approach that may dilute your message and drastically increase your costs. Some sample questions to ask yourself to help: who in your current customer base is the right fit for your product or service? Who buys the most and why do they buy? What have they purchased from you before? Do their purchasing patterns suggest they might be a good target?3. Develop specific content for the audience and determine the correct outlet or channel
Determine the best avenue and media format to communicate your content to an engaging audience. The answer is not typically a one-size-fits all approach. Will video communication work better than written content to better showcase your product? Should you write a 600 word blog post or are 140 character tweets more logical? Do status updates on Facebook make more sense?4. Allow the product to market itself
Many businesses don’t yet realize it, but providing a great product experience allows customers to determine if your product really fits their needs. One simple way to do this is to offer customers the opportunity to experience the product for free. The freemium strategy of the 21st century has created billions of users and spawned tremendous new business opportunities.5. Generate brand advocacy
Creating and amplifying advocates should be front and center on every marketer’s agenda. The blueprint for how to turn advocates and owned media into a powerful marketing force is the key. Get your brand on customers’ pages in social media channels and have them share information with their networks about the product or service. This generates word of mouth marketing, which is one of the most effective kinds of marketing.6. Engage with people on social networks
Too many businesses lack this step too. If your product or service is mentioned on a customer’s social media page, engage with that person. Start a conversation directly with customers – it will make a huge impact of their perception of your product or brand. Engaging with customers on social media is one of the fastest and most effective ways to create brand advocates.7. Track and analyze your success
Defining and determining a technology solution to track important metrics must be done proactively. You need to know what data you need to show, how to go get it, and then show it simply. There are a variety of services that can help you proactively gauge the impact of your strategy, so that in the end you have a tangible ROI that is defensible in front of any CMO or CEO.
Social media marketing is the biggest opportunity to marketers since the web, and it’s now time to develop a clear strategy, create advocates, and generate leads and sales.
Next time you have to justify your budget to implement a successful social media campaign and provide a tangible ROI, rely on these seven steps to get you there.
Facebook is a platform used by brands to reach millions of consumers, but don’t discount it for B2B companies. The most commonly used social networking site for many B2B companies is LinkedIn, but Facebook is an easy-to-use option as well.1. Develop a Strategy
The first way to take advantage of Facebook is to create a content strategy. Instead of planning out how your company will market itself on Facebook, you can plan how you will market across all types of traditional and online marketing, then work Facebook into that plan. This creates marketing materials that are more consistent with the brand image that you want, and also gains more exposure throughout various media, which allows you to reach more people.2. Keep Things Visual
When prospects look at your company’s Facebook page, your cover photo and the images you share will stand out. The more photographs and other graphics that are on a page, the more scannable it becomes. You can accompany the images with creative captions since prospects are more likely to read a caption on an image versus reading plain text. If your business participates in community events or charity initiatives, consider sharing photos of those on your B2B company Facebook page.3. Generate Buzz
With Facebook you can build an audience of fans that follow your business and you can try to activate them to take additional action. Some companies spotlight their fans to help them feel more appreciated. Hosting giveaways and offering free or discounted items also helps promote your page and gain more followers. Getting fans to engage with your posts, especially sharing, can get your content in front of their friends.4. Connect with Your Partners
If any of your partners have Facebook pages, make sure to like their page and ask them to like yours. You might share relevant content or link to their blog posts or other content. This can help build the connection between your business and theirs, and fans of their Facebook page can view your company’s page because of the shared content.5. Mobile Access
If someone posts a question to your Facebook page on a Friday evening and your staff won’t be back in the office until Monday morning, you may lose a potential customer in the interim. Staying connected during hours that you are closed is crucial in maintaining the constant connection that people have come to expect. Purchase a tablet and assign a staff member to check in regularly. This also improves your company’s customer service, which is a key part of a successful business strategy. With so many avenues for disgruntled customers to voice their opinions, it is best to try to support a good relationship with all of your online fans.
Using Facebook for your B2B relationships is very beneficial to growing and activating your network of customers and prospects. How has your B2B company utilized Facebook?
For the past four years we have shared our predictions about where B2B social media would go in the coming year, but this year I am not going to do it. You can stomp your feet, hold your breath and even throw things in my general direction, but I am just not doing it. When I look back over the predictions for 2010, 2011, 2012 and even 2013 they all pretty much say the same thing: more B2B companies are going to adopt social media practices for their businesses.
Sure, there is more nuance to them than that, but that’s the basic idea. There have been specific predictions over the years that focus on the importance of mobile, social websites, blogging, better metrics, visual content and marketing automation, but at its core, all of the predictions are about greater adoption of social media.
Has this been happening? Yes. Will it continue to happen? Yes.
There are lots of statistics that point to growth in social media spending and commitment towards both content marketing and social media, but there’s nothing surprising or shocking about those statistics. No marketing manager is going to get fired for wanting to spend more of their budget on social media. And it does nobody any good for me to predict that this will happen. We all know it will happen.
The real problem with B2B companies adopting social media is the quality of their results. Many are still in such early stages of activity that signing up for a Twitter account and tweeting press releases allows them to convince someone that they are using social media. This makes it really easy to check a box on a survey to skew the results of adoption. But you, your boss and the executive team at your company will be disappointed in the results from this effort. That’s because there won’t be any results. You might pick up a few followers, but they will be of limited value.
So rather than regurgitate the same feel-good predictions about growing social media adoption, whether based on inaccurate survey data or anecdotal reviews of social media activity of real B2B companies, I would rather provide you, the B2B marketer, with helpful advice. If you need statistics or predictions to make your case, click the links, but if you would rather have some advice on how to be truly successful with social media lead generation for your B2B company, here are a few questions to get you thinking:
- Who are your prospects?
- What are their biggest pain points in their business?
- Can you provide advice to help them solve their business issues?
- Where do they spend their time online?
- What are they talking about on line?
- Who do they respect, follow and retweet?
- What are the goals and objectives of your company?
- How does the rest of marketing measure success?
- Can you align your metrics with other marketing and company activities?
If you are not even to the place where you can ask these questions to begin your social media efforts, here are some B2B social media myths and objections that can get you closer to your own adoption of social media.
Photo credit: Flickr
The best way for me to wrap up the year is to share what B2B social media posts resonated most with readers this year. Since I did not limit this list just to posts published this year I have included the year published after the post title. Half of these top posts were published in 2013, including the top three.
The posts are listed in reverse order, with the top post of the year at the end of this post.10. 20 LinkedIn Tips for B2B Social Media Success (2012)
B2B marketers are looking for ways to improve their social media marketing results, and one of the platforms that helps with that is LinkedIn. Many B2B companies have seen success on the professional social network by getting employees to represent the company in addition to their own experiences, managing company pages and even running industry groups. Read more9. 10 B2B Social Media Predictions for 2013 (2012)
It is that time of year again where we look forward and try to predict the future of social media for B2B companies. This is not a shot-in-the-dark exercise, but one based on observing how B2B companies have adopted social media over the past year. When we look back at 2013, we will not see a banner year with explosive growth in B2B social media. In many areas there will be continued gradual growth started in 2012 or earlier. If you have your own predictions or you disagree with ours, please let us know. Read more8. 10 Ideas to Make Boring B2B Social Media Posts Captivating (2013)
Many B2B marketers are still trying to figure out social media for their companies. Years of product marketing driven writing, or content as we now call it, has honed their skills on features-based marketing. No matter how exciting your products and services are, this kind of marketing is boring. And it is not going to work in a social media context. Read more7. Top 10 B2B Companies on Twitter (2011)
[Editor's Note] Rather than include the opening paragraph of this post, I wanted to mention that I created a methodology for this list 3 years ago that took into account things other than follower counts and some of the tools I used do not exist any more. This is an old post that still attracts traffic, and the list may be out of date. All these company accounts have grown much bigger since then, so you can still get an idea of some of the most successful accounts. Read more6. The Difference Between B2B and B2C Digital Marketing (2013)
I was tempted to write a list of seven or so ideas on the differences between B2B and B2C marketing. Traditionally there’ve been several, but in 2013 (and soon 2014) I think there’s only one, albeit with seven or more consequences and considerations. Read more5. Generate More Leads with B2B Social Media [Infographic] (2012)
Our friends at Inside View created this awesome infographic that gathers together many statistics, ideas and examples about using social media to help drive leads and sales for B2B companies. You can look through the stats yourself, but here are some to consider Read more4. 5 Ways to Get More LinkedIn Company Followers (2011)
B2B companies now have the ability to share updates with their followers on LinkedIn. This is the first company page functionality that LinkedIn added that would be more effective with additional followers. Based on executive remarks, more functions are coming to company pages. To make sure you are ready, here are five ways to increase the number of followers of your company on LinkedIn. Read more3. 7 Examples of Innovative B2B Content Marketing (2013)
At Content Marketing World, my good friend Ann Handley, coauthor of Content Rules and Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, presented a number of innovative examples of content marketing. The following are some of the B2B examples she shared in her presentation. Any metrics or results came from Ann’s presentation or published information. These examples are meant to inspire B2B marketers to think bigger than just basic written or video content. And bigger doesn’t mean spending more money. Read more2. 21 Unbelievable B2B Content Marketing Statistics (2013)
B2B companies continue to be interested in content marketing as a means to connect with their prospects and customers, as a first step to generate leads with content and social media. Here’s a recent grassroots study from the 50,000 member strong B2B Technology Marketing community on LinkedIn. Here are some key statistics from the study. Read more1. 4 Reasons Why Google+ is a Killer B2B Social Media Platform (2013)
Most of our B2B clients have staked a claim on Google+, but they don’t invest in it. Why? Because they consider it a ghost town. They say Google+ is irrelevant. They invest in Facebook and Twitter and (more and more) in LinkedIn. But you know what? Recent studies indicate that, while many companies were asleep at the switch, Google+ has emerged as the killer platform for B2B social media marketing. Read more/a>
For B2B marketers, Twitter can a very powerful tool to build relationships and drive traffic to your blog. But most business marketers still don’t get it.
How can you cut through the noise? How can you get your tweets seen and even clicked through on this massive site?
Influence marketing is getting your industry social influencers to share your content to their Twitter followers. 92% of us trust peer recommendations for product choices and brand preferences. Use prominent influencers in your sector to gain reach, trust, and drive traffic to your website.
Here are 10 ways to act on it:1. Find your influencers
Do a Twitter search to find your industry leaders, and influential customers. Your customers are some of your most powerful influencers these days. They can be the most passionate about your brand, and can easily spread the word about you through Twitter. Check out popular niche hashtags to find top tweeters of your keywords. Follow them.2. Make influencer lists
Once you’ve found your influencers on Twitter, make Lists to follow your their updates on the site. You could make a few influencer lists, such as:
- Industry leaders
- Influential partners
- Influential customers
Share your people’s tweets, when they post valuable content for your own followers. Retweet inspirational quotes and images, with links. Especially retweet content to their blog.4. Use @mentions
@mentions get your tweets seen by your influencers. They’re the tweets that most busy tweeters check, and they’re much more effective than a Direct Message. Connect directly by showing your influencers you value their insights – ask a question in their area of expertise, or share good news about them.
Show that you read your leading influencer articles – and that you appreciate their knowledge. @mention when you do, with your own positive comments, to build a more personal relationship.6. Favorite tweets
You can also Favorite influencer tweets, to develop relationships, and show that you read what they’re tweeting. They’ll notice when you’ve engaged with a like of their content.
When an influencer, customer (or anyone) mentions you on Twitter, respond. Keep the dialogue going to network with your connections.8. Write great blog content
As a business, you need to write blog articles – and they should be good quality content. The better your content, and more relevant to your market, the more likely your blog will be tweeted by your influencers. Getting your blog tweeted by influencers drives traffic to your site.9. Write about influencers on your blog
Give a shout-out to your influential customers and industry leaders. You could:
- Write about customer success stories
- Quote tips, inspirations, or product reviews of leaders
- Crowdsource your content by asking industry leaders for their views on a subject – then compile a list of the best responses
Source your influencers in your article, by giving them links back to their site. Then tweet it to them. They’ll likely share it with their followers – with a link back to your site.10. Network for guest blogging opportunities
Guest blogging can drive traffic to your site. Network with influential bloggers in your niche. Use Twitter to develop your relationships, and share your previous articles. Ask to submit an article for their blog. They’ll likely tweet your post to their followers – and their readers might too!
I’ve found Twitter to be an incredibly cool way to meet my industry influencers – around the world. I hope you’ll act on these tips to get your business better connected too!
Do you have any more ways that you connect with influencers on Twitter? Let me know in the comments below.
After asking the B2B experts the difference between social media and content marketing, I asked them if they thought content marketing would ever replace social media.
This question was part of my original line of thinking. As more B2B marketers talk about content marketing instead of social media, it causes their social activities to be less siloed, less special. Content marketing feels more like marketing, and not an outsider art or mystical endeavor. With this in mind, I wondered if this change would shift the balance between the two. Read on to see if the experts think content marketing will replace social media. Share your own thoughts below in the comments.
The more likely scenario is that “content marketing” just becomes “marketing.”
In terms of a business activity, I think content marketing as a discipline will continue to rise and marketing budgets are definitely streaming in that direction. Some of that budget is being drawn from social media too.
Will marketing budgets towards content-focused marketing initiatives potentially exceed those for social media marketing? I think that’s entirely possible, especially for organizations that see social networks and media sites more as content distribution and engagement channels than purely as communities.
But with companies that operate socially across departments (marketing, sales, customer service, public relations, HR talent acquisition, legal, operations, etc) both internally and externally, overall social media investment could easily dwarf anything spent on content marketing.
In no way will content marketing overtake social media in any corner of the universe with the possible exception of professional marketers. Social media is the new telephone. Content marketing is the new brochure. That doesn’t make it unimportant – hell, I just published a best-selling book about doing content right. Keep in mind that my mom uses social media every day. My mom could care less about content marketing, although she of course consumes content routinely. Social media envelops us like air. Content marketing is a place we (mostly marketers) can go visit, like a sparkling lake stocked with trout.
Content marketing is being leveraged by companies everywhere to fuel their social media content. For the companies that allow content marketing to take over social media, they’ll ultimately have less return than those who don’t. Pumping content without the social element — engaging, responding, interacting — is hollow. We have that today. It’s called regular media. The social behavior, valuing your consumers, caring for them … that will always be the kicker that takes good content marketing efforts into the realm of noticeable outstanding marketing.
Joe Chernov (@jchernov)
Newly Acquired VP of Content at Hubspot
I too have seen that same shift beginning to occur, and frankly we’re not the only ones. Venture capitalists are increasingly investing in content marketing startups. Within marketing tech, content is absolutely the hot sector. I think the two — content and social — will remain separate for the next few years. Content platforms are just so new that the space will need to shake out a bit more. But in time, I can see a convergence. Content marketing solutions will converge with either demand generation systems or social media management systems, depending on where content finds its “center of gravity” in large organizations.
Content marketing will not replace social media by any means; they are and will continue to be two very different things with two very different functions. Social media channels are the tentacles from which your content extends its reach while opening up a direct line of communication with your customers and prospects. In addition, what were once known as “social media vanity metrics” (shares, plus ones, Likes, retweets, and comments) are now playing a much bigger role in how your content ranks within search engines and the social platforms themselves. At the end of the day, content and social will be broken out of their respective silos and pulled together as an essential part of an overall integrated marketing strategy.
I see lots of social media experts and agencies furiously rebranding themselves as content marketing experts and agencies. I don’t see many content marketing experts and agencies going the other way.
I don’t think content marketing will replace social media marketing because they’re very different things. But I do think it will become more important, more central and more strategic than social media marketing — because it is!
But content marketing will one day dissolve into marketing, too. (Try to imagine ‘content-free marketing’). And the next hot term will come along and replace it.
The discipline won’t go away – it’s just way too fundamental to what good marketing is – but the term and its attendant buzzwords will.
Content marketing will never take the place of social media and probably will never outrank the term. Everyone is using social media. A few actually get it right. Being smart with the content you’re producing will help grow your business. Then you actually have something worth sharing.
The irony of it all is that content marketing allows us to be more successful with web, email and social media.
No, I think they are a natural partners when it comes to online marketing, and especially in B2B, depth of information is critical in social media marketing as we know information is crucial right throughout the decision making process. The long term question for me is more whether marketing inately becomes more content and socially focused, effectively rendering both specialities obsolete.
This is not possible, because they are interrelated, symbiotic concepts. Social media refers to websites and internet-based applications that are used for social networking between users of these websites or applications. Content marketing uses content in the form of dialogue or information – shared within social media – to drive effective networking between users. This networking allows B2B marketers to use social media to activate relationships, build brand, grow demand and generate leads. Wherever personal brand and person-to-person relationships are key (e.g. in social selling), content – and its use for marketing purposes – serves as the lifeblood of B2B marketers.
Photo credit: Flickr
Many B2B marketing conversations have been focused on content marketing lately, rather than social media and I wanted to understand if this was a real trend and what it might mean. The graph below shows worldwide Google searches for the terms social media and content marketing. The comparison for November 2013 shows 33 times the average search volume for social media versus content marketing. This means that social media is still what people are looking for, compared to content marketing.
With such a large disparity in search interest, and one that doesn’t seem to be changing on a global level, I asked several experts about the difference between social media and content marketing. Below are their answers to this question. The experts also weighed in on if they thought content marketing would ever replace social media.
I see content marketing as the larger umbrella under which social media lives. I explain how social fits into a content publishing strategy here. (Along with a handy DIY-drawn chart!)
I don’t think social media and content marketing are an apples to apples comparison. Even so, in terms of Google Trends, I think the difference between the phrases “content marketing” and “social media” is that content marketing is entirely a business term.
Your neighbor isn’t going to talk to you about those darn teenagers and their content marketing. But there’s plenty of discussion by businesses and citizens alike about social media. From business publications to gossip magazines, the phrase social media is ubiquitous because it’s part of everyday language for any internet connected human being. Therefore, when it comes to tracking services like Google trends, there’s little chance of content marketing surpassing social media as a popular expression.
Content marketing is a device used by companies to educate, inform or entertain customers or prospects by creating attention or causing behavior that results in leads, sales or advocacy. Social media is used by customers and prospects to communicate among themselves, and occasionally with companies. This communication can result in leads, sales or advocacy, but is often less structured and conversational, and can be reactive too, as social media is increasingly used as a customer support channel.
From the company perspective, the goal of content marketing is consumption, then behavior. The goal of social media is participation, then behavior.
The confusing thing today is that as social media expands, brands need to create content to populate these channels. Further, many content repositories have rich social media overlays (the new G+ fueled comments on YouTube, for example).
[Jay was inspired by this question and wrote the following post: Here’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Social Media.]
Content marketing is creating content for communications channels (blogs, newsletters, social posts, press releases, videos, photographs, interactive media, etc.) that persuade an audience. Social media are some of those channels and are defined by gathering points of an audience that allows open communications to, from and between its members. For businesses, and tactically, social media marketing is leveraging online gathering points and conversations with participants, to persuade an audience.
[Jason was inspired by this question and wrote the following post: Content Marketing Alone will Fail.]
The difference between content marketing and social media is huge. Social media is a new channel. And it competes with other media channels like TV, radio, print and all the digital channels available to us.
Content marketing and storytelling are as old as human beings. We have always needed to find ways to convey important information in useful and entertaining ways. Social media is just the latest evolution in the way we can tell the stories. I think soon we will drop the “social” and go back to calling it plain old “media.”
In the early stages of a new phenomenon, people need to know all about it. Everyone’s on the steepest part of the collective learning curve. But that curve starts to flatten out over time, as the new discipline kind of dissolves into the wider discipline (of marketing itself in this case).
Social hit the big time before the new incarnation of content marketing did. Its curve is starting to flatten out.
For me, social media marketing is almost a complete subset of content marketing. You can do content marketing without ever logging in to a social site (your programs would suffer for it, but you could do it).
But to try social media marketing without content… and you become that crazy guy with the megaphone on the street corner. Or the people who post ‘Positive, inspiring quotes every day!” (Even these, are arguably content — just annoying content).
Content marketing is sharing your expertise to help your prospects do their jobs (or live their lives). Social media marketing is using social channels to listen, engage with people, build communities and participate in conversations relevant to your brands.
Social is one of the most important places your content can make an impact. But it’s not the only one. It’s also a powerful source of insight for your content. But it’s not the only one.
You’re definitely right about the trends. But, content marketing stretches across everything. Traditionally, it hasn’t been as sexy or desirable as social media. As individuals, we’re much more concerned with our presences on social networks than our content marketing strategy. Much of that perception has stalled the adoption of successful content marketing execution.
Many marketers focus exclusively on web (websites, blogs, landing pages, optimization, etc.), email and social media. Since Facebook launched, social media has been the most desirable niche for jobs and day-to-day tasks. But, as Marcus Nelson wrote recently – social media missed out on what it was created to do…build and strengthen connections. While we were all busy sharing away, most of us forgot to take a step back and strategically plan out our content marketing strategy. By the way, content is needed for all areas of marketing. Regardless of the execution or distribution channel, you need the right content. That’s the big difference. At the end of the day, social is a distribution channel and a method of communication. It is distributing the content that we need to have a strategy around. We also need lots of it to fulfill the promise of 1:1 personalized marketing.
There is clear distinction for me. Content, simplistically is the fuel for social media marketing. There are a variety of surveys and data sets (from companies like Hubspot) which point to the majority of relevant social media updates actually containing a clickable link. For social media to engage, these updates and links need to be relevant and action oriented. That’s where content comes in. Content is a way of repacking and republishing content previously created for a sole or different purpose, but with a focus on being helpful to customers (and potentially lead generative for the creator). Consider news releases, blogs, sales presenters, brochures, video, audio etc and think about how with a little work and a calendar, this can be reused. Everyone is talking content, but just try finding good b2b examples.
The term social media refers to websites and internet-based applications that are used for social networking between users of these websites or applications. For effective social networking to take place, a content exchange is required; that is, the sharing of thoughts and information. So they are interrelated, symbiotic concepts. In the B2B space, content marketing refers to content exchange in which the key objectives are relationship building, brand building, demand generation, and lead generation. Content marketing can benefit either the personal brand, the organisational brand, or both.
Jim Tobin is the president and founder of Ignite Social Media and the author of the new book, Earn It. Don’t Buy It. The CMO’s Guide to Social Media Marketing in a Post Facebook World. I recently had the chance to sit down with him and talk about the book.What are the big ideas behind the book?
I’ve been a little frustrated over the past few years. In the early days of social media you couldn’t buy social media coverage. We were all social media marketers. How did we get people to care about our content? There weren’t even fan pages. How did you get people to care about this brand and talk about it online? That was the most challenging marketing ever. The traditional advertising that I used to do seems painfully easy compared to that. And in the past couple of years we’ve gone from zero to six billion dollars in advertising on Facebook and half a billion on Twitter. And it’s supposed to grow a billion dollars next year.
If you think about who controls these budgets, it’s people who are used to spending money on ads. They’ve gotten away from who cares and who is this going to resonate with and they are just throwing money at impressions and exposure. I’ve seen enough with my clients to know that organic exposure drives better business results. Measurably better business results. It goes back to discovery, the momentum effect and how people feel when they discover something. We are better off if we get back to being social media marketers, not social media advertisers. Not that there is no place for advertising, but maybe the ad budgets should have been three billion, not six billion. That other three billion into great content would have driven huge dividends.
The second point is illustrated by the subtitle: The CMO’s guide to social media marketing in a post-Facebook world. We’ve gotten into this feeling over the past couple of years that social media marketing is Facebook and social media marketing is content in the stream. It’s Oreo. It’s funny memes. And that’s just such a fraction of what social media marketing is. I amassed this data just by paying attention to the fact that Facebook has huge problems. My teenagers aren’t on there anymore. Everyone I talk to says that it is less interesting than it was six months ago. As marketers, what does that mean? We need to prepare for a multi-channel, multi-social world and a lot of people are not doing that.How do you reconcile the need for organic interaction with Facebook’s stance that paid advertising is the only way to get in front of people in their streams.
I don’t know if Facebook has realized it yet, but they have only one choice, and that’s to loosen up the feed [and show more content]. They have tightened it twice, first in September/October last year and again early this year. The satisfaction among users has plunged. Facebook is boring. In part because I see the same stories. This story bumping they introduced a couple of months ago is horrific. I’m seeing the same story over and over again. And marketers are angry. A lot of my clients have really big Facebook budgets. Advertising budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And they are really upset with how little coverage they get organically. So you have the brands that pay the bills upset and you have users who are saying this isn’t interesting.
On the side you have Twitter who was asleep for four years suddenly doing great things and being really interesting. Facebook says they have five times the content of tv. You wouldn’t know it. They’re doing a good job hiding it from everybody. There’s this battle now that Twitter is winning, and Facebook can only win if they loosen up the newsfeed. They’ve also said that they are only going to show an ad for 1 in 20 updates. If you tighten up the newsfeed, you restrict your own revenue. The best way to increase it, without getting off that 1 in 20 is to show more content. So it helps the user. It helps the brands, who are less angry about spending, because they are seeing some organic stuff on the channel. If they don’t do that, in three years they are dead.Where does Facebook sit on a CMO’s radar?
Picture the CMO has a grid of things he or she has to think about. There’s a ton of stuff in that grid. The 4Ps [price, product, promotion and place] are there. In one corner, probably big enough to take a quadrant, is digital marketing. And a quadrant of that is social media marketing. And a sub quadrant of that is Facebook marketing. So it’s a medium to large sized dot in the corner.
The reason I am talking to the CMO is because they are the ones who think they have solved it by allocating budget to it. You should allocate budget to social media, but the mix is wrong. It should go much more toward content, toward feeding really good fans, rather than amassing 18 million fans, of which 2 million are good.
There’s data in the book from one of our clients. We map their interaction rate and their reach percentage for the four months before they ran a large fan acquisition buy. And then we map it after. They lost two-thirds of their engagement and 60% of their reach. They killed their own page. There’s no point in having a fan that you can’t activate. They’re making huge mistakes to brag about hitting a number of fans, whether it’s one million, five million, ten million fans, whatever the next milestone is. A few of my clients have started to come around. They don’t care about how many fans they have anymore. They care about activating them. And that’s really what it’s about. If you can’t get them to share content or come to your website or give you their email address or put your product in their shopping cart there’s no point in having them. That’s a message that hasn’t gone up to the C-suite.So how does this relate specifically to B2B companies trying to use Facebook for social media marketing?
With the way the sales cycle works, and that your buyers are 60-70% of the way through the sales cycle before contacting you, your content has to do so much more work in building authority and trust. As an agency, I am a B2B marketer. We spend a lot of time on our blog creating content that is not link bait. We’re not copying Buzzfeed. We want the small amount of the right people to read our content and decide that we are smart. You can’t do that with ads. When the book came out my marketing team wanted to buy ads. That would be ironic at best.
Jay Baer, author of Youtility, who wrote the forward, talks about how do you add value. Because of the nature of B2B marketing (long sales cycle, committee decision making, etc), I will never be in a position to know when someone is looking for a social media agency. I can’t do a calling program to convince them that they need one or that they need to change. They need to determine those things on their own. But we put a lot into our content and earning shares in the right places where the right people will see it, including LinkedIn.
Every week we track top of the funnel traffic, total visitors, leads and pitches. And we see where it all comes from. We’ve gotten posts on the front page of Reddit and they drive a quarter of a million views, but they are of no value. While we track the top of the funnel, that’s not the big goal. It is important because a percentage is going to qualify. If you look at the trend data, you would think we need to get on Reddit again. But that’s not the right audience. We need people to value our content and to believe we know what we’re talking about. And Facebook is often the wrong platform for B2B. Good B2B marketers have been thinking beyond it since the beginning.
You’ve got to remember why you need page views. Buzzfeed needs page views because they are serving up ads. But we’re not. We need page views because the people need to conclude that we are really smart. So if you hook them in and you stop at 300 words when you’ve got 1200 words of really good information on that topic, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Your content has to be good enough to change minds over time, not just to drive traffic.
Yesterday my cell phone rang and it was a Raleigh NC number that I didn’t recognize. I often get calls from numbers that I don’t recognize, but since I live in the Raleigh area, I answered this call.
“Hello, this is Linda from [company name]. I like to tee up a 10-15 minute call with [name], our CEO.”
“Can you say all that again? I didn’t understand any of that.”
“I calling from [company name] and I want to tee up a call with our CEO. It will only take about 10-15 minutes of your time.”
Since my number is out in the world from business cards, email signatures and contact databases, I was not surprised to get this random call on my cell phone. I also get calls from PR people pitching me on irrelevant stories for this blog. It was not clear to me which this call was, so I asked her.
“Is this a PR call or a sales call? What is the point of this call?”
She then proceeded to the next line of the script and briefly described what the call would entail. It had something to do with targeted leads and prospects. She did a terrible job explaining the product and phone call demo she was trying to schedule.
I still didn’t know the name of the company. I still didn’t know if this was a sales pitch or a PR pitch. Since neither of them were relevant to me, I told her thank you, but I was not interested. I hung up before she could respond. This is how I have always dealt with cold calling sales people that do not quickly demonstrate their relevance to me.What was Wrong with this Call?
1. Linda was so unenthusiastic that I did not even understand her when she told me what company she was representing.
2. Her do-over was no better than the first time, and I still did not catch the company name or the CEO’s name. Because I didn’t recognize either name after two attempts, this was clearly a cold call.
3. She provided no context for the call. Not for how they got my name or what company they thought I represented. Did I sign up for something on a website? Did I meet them at a trade show? Did I drop my business card in a fishbowl at a restaurant? Did they buy my name from a list where I expressed an interest?
4. She was trying to schedule a call with no statement of benefit for me.
5. When I asked is this was a sales call or a PR call, she couldn’t answer me. All she could do was resort to phase two of the script, which apparently is where she provides some context for the call if I don’t automatically agree to talk to the CEO.
6. It is not common to arrange sales calls for the CEO. That’s more common with PR pitches.Ways to Improve this Call
1. Linda needs to stop acting like she is reading from a script and get excited about her calls.
2. The script needs to change to incorporate a description of the company in the opening. Since this is a cold call, and I probably haven’t heard of the company, I can remain engaged in the conversation is I know what they do.
3. Add a mention of my company or position so we can determine if I am the right person to talk to.
4. Add a benefit to me. If this is a lead prospecting tool, let me know that companies similar to mine have increased their pipeline by 50% using their product, tool, service.
5. If they want me to talk to the CEO, which automatically makes me think the company is small, sell me on the experience and influence of the CEO so that I want to talk to him.
6. Unless they bought a list, or just mined some data from a list, let me know why they are calling me. Again, this is a way to engage me in the conversation. If the call is because I downloaded a content resource or registered for something at a trade show, share that context with me and I am more likely to accept the appointment.Ways to Make this Call Social
1. Search for me on Google, Twitter and LinkedIn before calling me. My name on my business cards is the same as all my social profiles, so I am pretty easy to find. Learn a little bit about me so you can add context to the conversation that is relevant to me.
2. If you have one job, setting appointments, you need to come prepared to engage me in conversation. There are lots of things that I can talk about that you can learn from my social profiles. This makes me more receptive to your message.
3. Confirm that I fit your target personas by looking at my latest position. This did not seem like a product for marketers, but if she could make a connection with me as a way into my company, that is a step in the right direction. Very often you are selling to wrong people at the right company.
4. It is called social selling for a reason. Yes, it is about using social media, but it is also about being social. If you are engaging and friendly on this interruptive call, I will respond the same way. An attitude of “I can’t be bothered” presents that as the attitude of the company. And my response is that I can’t be bothered.
Have you responded to a cold call to set an appointment? What made you engage with the company, and what there any use of social media to help that engagement?
LinkedIn announced showcase pages as an expansion of company pages. B2B companies can now create “dedicated pages for their more prominent brands, businesses and initiatives.” These new pages can be individually followed and feature their own stream of status updates, or content. Adobe, Cisco, HP and Microsoft launched the showcase pages first and we will look at some examples of what they have done.
Prior to the launch of the showcase pages, if you wanted to highlight your products, you added all of your products or services to the Product tab and each one looked like this. It had a brief product overview, some additional elements on the right hand side like contact information and a video, but the main function of this page was to gather recommendations for the product. Note that Adobe has 45 product pages like this.
Now Adobe, and you, can create a dynamic page with a 974 pixel wide by 330 pixel high hero image at the top, and people can follow this page to receive your updates. Adobe has focused on their highest level products for their showcase pages: Marketing Cloud and Creative Cloud. That means they are now managing a content feed for two products, not 45.
How does one find these showcase pages? Look in the right hand side of a company page, and there will be branch diagram like this if the company has created the showcase pages.
But notice that you only see three showcase pages in the sidebar. When you click “See more,” you see a window like this. You only see four pages and you have to scroll to see more. The number of followers beyond the first three pages drops off significantly, so make sure you have a plan and a need for more than three or four pages before you create them. LinkedIn will let you create up to 10.
Cisco has taken a different approach to their showcase pages, and rather than create them around products, they created them around topic areas that include many different products. This way they can encourage people to follow the topic and they can share updates with them about the topic.
Here are some things to notice about these showcase pages. There is a standard size logo in lower left with the page name in white type. When the header section is expanded you can see other showcase pages that are connected to the company. And there is a prominent “Follow” button in the lower right of the hero image with a number of followers. And Cisco, with only five showcase pages, has already broken branding consistency with their hero image design. Some have collages, and others have a single image. One even has a tagline on the image. And this one below has a band at the top that says Internet of Things.
The HP image has a URL as part of it. These images are not able to link to destination, although images at the top of the traditional product page can. This image is in the same style as others on the HP Cloud website destination, but this specific image doesn’t appear. And the free trial landing page doesn’t have an image at all. It would be nice if there were some visual reference to this showcase page, although this gentleman does appear on their Twitter background. This makes me think he is part of a larger campaign.
And finally, Microsoft has created two showcase pages, one for Office and one for Dynamics, shown here. This image appears on both Twitter and Facebook, so this page is branded consistently with Dynamics’ other social channels. This is a product focused showcase page, and the updates are all about the product, rather than a larger idea. Since it is going to take some work to get people to follow these showcase pages, there is some logic behind sharing content that is much further along in the buying cycle, rather than trying to attract brand new prospects.
And two final points to note:
- Showcase page updates can be targeted and sponsored so they will appear in the newsfeed of non-followers
- Showcase page updates can be managed with social media management tools that connect to company pages
Do these showcase pages seem to be all about big brands and not relevant to smaller B2B companies, or do these give you ideas about how to segment your LinkedIn company updates? Let us know in the comments below.
It has been hard to avoid articles and stories about Twitter since last week’s IPO, but nothing about their stock offering has helped B2B marketers improve their use of the social network to connect with customers and prospects, amplify their content and maximize the use of the latest feature updates. Below are several articles that provide some in-depth coverage of these features, as well as a video explaining why B2B companies should be using Twitter and a Slideshare deck with best practices from leading Tweeters.
If you have come across other great Twitter resources, please add them in the comments below.
7 Big, Recent Twitter Changes you Should Know About to Optimize Your Tweeting
Wow, it’s really not a small task these days to keep up with all the recent changes to Social Media. As Twitter continues to grow, the company is making big changes more often and they’re easy to miss. In case you didn’t catch them, I collected seven of the most recent Twitter changes to get you up to speed.
A/B Test Finds 55% Increase in Leads When Images Added to Tweets [New Data]
Does Twitter look a little different for you lately? Maybe a little more like Facebook or Instagram? That’s because on October 29, the social networking site announced that it will start automatically showing images in your stream (without you even clicking).
As a social media marketer, you can imagine how excited I was to test this out for HubSpot. All I saw was a gold mine of opportunities for sharing our blog posts, ebooks, templates, webinars, and other expert resources in a visually appealing way.
How Twitter Custom Timelines May Boost Twitter’s Reach Into The Web
Twitter has a new way to allow people to curate tweets — Twitter Custom Timelines. Why does it need this when it already had another long-standing tool for tweet curation, Twitter Lists? The new system may allow brands to make better use of embedded tweets than lists allow, which in turn may further extend Twitter’s reach into the Web.
Twitter for B2B Organizations
B2B marketers understand that one of the keys to their social media success is to create and host a blog on their corporate site. But even with this knowledge, they still have many questions about how to go about it. Below are some common questions that I have been asked about B2B blogging.1. How Do We Get Started Blogging?
Blogging for B2B companies starts with personas. Who are you trying to reach with your marketing and what do you know about them? If you understand their pain points and the struggles they go through in their day, you can begin to think through the kind of content to create for your blog. It must be helpful, compelling and shareable. Once you have some content direction, you need to create and commit to a calendar. If you plan to blog once a week, start by writing four blog posts before publishing. This way you will be 4 weeks ahead. And keep an idea file (digital or analog) so you are never at a loss for specific blog post ideas that will resonate with your audience.2. How Do We Get More People Blogging?
Many blogging efforts start as a solo activity. Getting more people blogging involves lowering the bar for entry for those you identify as potential bloggers. Have them send emails or word docs with their blog posts initially, rather then creating them in the blogging software. This alleviates the technical hurdles (which are pretty low already), but doesn’t deal with the lack of time required to blog. If your industry experts just don’t have time to write a separate post, use what they are already creating for other purposes, like powerpoint decks that can be uploaded to Slideshare or external articles. You can write an intro, summary and conclusion to bracket these. You can also do a series of one question videos that you post over time.3. How Do We Get Less People Blogging?
As a blog gets more successful, or at least gets noticed, there are unqualified people who want to write for the blog. Let’s face it. Everyone is not a great writer. There are people who are not even good writers. If you need to turn people down, you should do so honestly. You can say that it’s not right for the audience. It’s off topic. The tone is just not right. But there will always be someone who is so earnest that they will keep trying. Some of these posts require a great deal of editing time to become publishable, and that is another way to move them along, by saying you just don’t have the time to edit their posts adequately. This conversation gets much harder when the person in question is an executive, or someone on the PR team who wants to publish company news on the blog. These issues must be solved on a one-off basis, but leave room for a future rejection. Say it’s not really right for the blog, but we can post it this time since it is part of our latest corporate initiative.4. How Do We Simplify the Approval Process?
B2B marketers who are used to traditional marketing activities like print collateral, full featured websites and trade show booths are usually saddled with complex approval processes where a number of executives must sign off on the copy, the design and even the layout. Everyone operates in an environment where they are scared that the wrong thing will be produced, and in public companies the wrong thing affects the stock price. Blogging needs to be a lightweight process. While you are writing those early posts to get ahead is the time to establish this simple approval process. Share the plan with executives, which should include targets, topics, tone and even a sample article. And let them know that standard approval process will not be happening. It’s just not practical for a blogging program. And if you still need mutliple levels of approval, you are at least working 4 weeks ahead.5. How Can We Drive More Traffic To Our Blog?
This is a huge question, because some B2B marketers get disappointed that social media is not an “if you build it they will come” activity. Once you start creating complelling content that your prospects and customers would respond to, you need to let them know about it. Social channels work for amplification, but so do internal newsletters, external newsletters and links in email signatures. You need to leverage all available channels and communication touchpoints to let people know about your blog in general and even specific relevant posts.6. Is it Okay to Ghostblog for Our Executives?
There are many ways to ghostblog, but the most important thing is that these posts represent the thoughts and opinions of the executive. And they need to read them before they are published. The worst position you can put an executive in is to have someone ask them about a particular post and they are not familiar with the ideas.7. Do We Need Calls-To-Action on Our Blog?
Yes. A blog that does not give a visitor the opportunity to raise their hand and let you know that they are interested in what you have to say is missing the point.8. Should We Have a Separate Blog for Each of Our Target Industries?
From a managment of resources perspective, you should have one blog and separate the industries using different categories. Make sure visitors can subscribe to the blog by category. That means each one needs its own RSS feed.9. How Do We Keep Blogging?
Once you get in the groove of blogging and you start to see some results, it is easier to keep going. With other writers on board, it is also easier to keep going. The only reason to ask this question is if your B2B company is not getting any results from your blogging efforts. That means you need to step back and examine what you are doing to make sure you understand the blog’s shortcomings so you can make some changes.10. What Metrics Should We Track?
There two kinds of metrics you should look at: optimization metrics and success metrics. Optimization metrics are the ones that are only reported within your team, while the success metrics are the ones reported up to the executive level and are the metrics that others in the company care about. These are high level metrics like blog traffic, click-through rate of calls to action and form completes. But if your team wants to understand how your content resonates with your audience to improve on that, you can look at blog traffic as a percentage of overall website traffic; percent of traffic from search, social or other specific sources; and even social shares of specific posts as a relative number compared to other posts, not as an absolute number.
If you have more questions about B2B blogging, please ask them in the comments below.
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