10 Keys for Starting a B2B LinkedIn Group to Generate Leads

b2b-LinkedIn-LogoMy friend Tom Skotidas and I recently talked about the keys to starting a LinkedIn Group as a means to generate leads for B2B companies. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation. This is part of an ongoing series of conversations about the intersection of sales and marketing, well as social selling.

1. Start with your Product or Service in Mind

The first thing you need to do is create a group that is connected to your product or service. This may be related to the product category or your specific industry, but general enough that the right people will find the group relevant and interesting. Choose a group name that reflects the topic and will be meaningful to your prospects.

2. Determine the Most Likely Buyer

Since we are looking at this group through the lens of lead generation, make sure you take into account your most likely buyers. The group should be targeted to them. As you are planning the group make sure to develop a targeted persona so you know who should be in the group.

3. Never Mention the Product

Even though you have the product in mind, the point of the group is not to sell the product. Market trends and solutions related to the product and services are what is important to the group.

4. Create a Closed Group

You can create a closed group or an open group on LinkedIn. Start out with a closed group as you are building it up. This way only people you invite can join the group. As it grows and develops some traction, you may want to make it an open group to take advantage of search and sharing benefits of things posted in the group. While an open group is visible to all, you can still moderate members and comments.

5. Manage it like a Community

The LinkedIn group you build is a community and it needs community management. That means you, or someone on your team, must be a manager of the group. This person must have the personality to interact with group members on a regular basis, reach out to them publicly or privately to ask questions or elicit comments, and generally keep the conversation interesting and flowing. A number of different people can serve in this role.

6. Build it like a 3-Layer Cake

Start the first layer by getting your staff to join the group so it has a bit of a head start. The second layer includes your closest business partners and some existing customers. Let them know the purpose of the group and that their interaction is encouraged. Once the group has that lived in feeling, invite some targeted prospects to join the group. This is the top of the cake. They are the ones to focus on, and it helps that they are joining an active, growing group.

7. Know What Content to Share

The purpose of this group is to provide value to the community, and especially the prospects, so they begin to build a relationship with you. You can do that through content. You can use third-party content related to the theme of the group or even conversation starters, which are just what they sound like. Comments and questions that get people talking.

8. Engage the Group

The community managers need to continuous engage the group members to keep the conversation going. That may include messaging someone with a specific and relevant post and asking them to provide their thoughts in the group.

9. Practice Both Inbound and Outbound Lead Generation

You can use this group to manage both inbound and outbound leads. Sharing content in the group that provides links back to your blog, website and landing pages encourages clicks and shares to drive more people to those pages. As you build relationships with your targeted prospects in the group, you can coordinate with the sales team to reach out to them. And this is no longer a cold call.

10. Remember Marketing Led, Sales Fed

Finally, keep in mind that social selling initiatives like this are run by the marketing team, but ultimately they support sales. You are generating leads for sales.

Are there other best practices you have developed in using LinkedIn groups to generate leads?

20 Most Important Stats from the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Report

The Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs released their annual benchmark report on B2B content marketing. It is based on surveys of 1820 North American B2B Marketers across all industries and company sizes. This is the fifth year that they have released this report, and it continues to improve each year. The entire report is embedded at the end of this post.

The first, and most notable stat in this report is that number of B2B marketers using content marketing has gone down from 93% last year to 86% this year. That is because they changed the definition of content marketing to “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” Apparently this helped some respondents realize that there is a difference between content marketing and just creating content.

This is a benchmark study, so it gives you something you can compare yourself to. The study also examines the habits and activities of the most effective B2B content marketers, so you can see how you are doing against those who report that content marketing is meeting their goals and driving business value.

1. 86% of B2B Marketers are using content marketing

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2. Only 38% of B2B Marketers rate their content marketing as effective

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3. 47% of B2B Marketers have dedicated content marketing groups

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4. 69% of the most effective B2B Marketers have dedicated content marketing groups

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5. Only 35% of B2B Marketers have a documented content marketing strategy

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6. 54% of the most effective B2B Marketers have a documented content marketing strategy

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7. 55% of B2B Marketers plan to increase their content marketing spending in the next year

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8. The top goal for B2B content marketing is brand awareness

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9. 83% of B2B marketers use content marketing for lead generation

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10. 81% of B2B marketers use content marketing for engagement

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11. 70% of B2B Marketers have created more content in the last year

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12. 63% of B2B Marketers use website traffic as their metric of content marketing success

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13. 94% of B2B Marketers use Linkedin to distribute their content

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14. 88% of B2B Marketers use Twitter to distribute their content

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15. 84% of B2B Marketers use Facebook to distribute their content

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16. 54% of B2B Marketers see producing engaging content as their biggest content marketing challenge

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17. 50% of B2B Marketers see producing content consistently as their biggest content marketing challenge

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18. 49% of B2B Marketers see measuring content effectiveness as their biggest content marketing challenge

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19. 54% of the most effective B2B Marketers publish content daily or multiple times per week

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20. 37% of the total marketing budget of the most effective B2B Marketers goes to content marketing

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Professors Share Observations on the State of B2B Marketing

b2b-marketing-ebookI recently participated in a project with the Oracle Marketing Cloud where they interviewed marketing professors about the state of B2B marketing and how they are using that knowledge to develop curriculum to train the marketers of the future. It was an esteemed panel of professors, including:

  • Barbara Kahn, Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
  • Josh Murdock, Professor of Educational Technology & Social Networking, Valencia College
  • Mark Schaefer, Marketing Consultant, College Educator and Author, Rutgers University
  • Peter Fader, Professor of Marketing, Co-Director of Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
  • Eric Bradlow, K.P. Chao Professor of Marketing, Statistics, and Education, The Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania
  • Jessica Rogers, Graduate Social Media and Marketing, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Jeffrey L. Cohen, Distinguished Lecturer of Marketing Analytics and Social Media, Ball State University (hey, that’s me!)

Download the entire ebook here (registration required), but in the meantime, here are my answers to the questions.

1. What is the number one thing marketers may have lost sight of?
Too many marketing activities are siloed from the top-level business objectives of a company, and are not measured against metrics that others in the company care about. If your executives follow daily, weekly or monthly numbers related to things like sales, customer retention, cost savings and customer satisfaction, then reporting softer marketing numbers will not win any points with those executives. Marketers need to find ways to tie their efforts to those business metrics.

2. What are your observations with respect to the nuances of the B2B and B2C marketing disciplines?
As a lifelong B2B marketer, and co-author of The B2B Social Media Book, B2B marketing makes sense to me. No matter what techniques you use, you are ultimately driving prospects into a buying process where you can track where they came from. While selling through a distribution network can complicate things, a company sales rep, or someone no more than a couple steps removed away from the company, handles B2B purchases, making tracking possible. I have never understood how Coca-Cola marketers can track their efforts to sell a bottle of Coke at the grocery store or convenience store. This action is too far removed from their brand marketing and advertising to attribute action to particular campaigns.

3. What do you think a B2B marketer can learn from B2C or vice versa?
B2B marketers can learn creativity, creating an emotional response and storytelling from the B2C pros, and B2C marketers can learn more about calls-to-action, attribution and leading a buyer through a journey from their B2B brethren.

4. Can you compare and contrast the curriculum that you’re teaching and the current roles and responsibilities of today’s marketers?
I am teaching students about the importance of their public, online presence and how to keep up with a constant flow of information in their industry. This would not be an explicit part of their marketing role, but an understanding of this will make them stronger marketers. Traditionally, it has been social media savvy folks on the team who really understand how to build a personal presence and follow all the right sources in a manageable way, but these skills are important as a solid foundation for all marketers.

Students learn how to create and analyze social media marketing campaigns that resonate with customers, B2B and B2C, and are based on solid marketing and business principles. Proper goal setting and how to review analytics to understand success are also a key part of my learning objectives. This fits in with the skills and requirements of marketers in the field. Marketers create campaigns, analyze competitors’ campaigns and review the success of their own efforts.

5. What will you teach my future employees this year?
I start by explaining the difference between personal social media, which is what most college students do, and professional social media. They need to understand the importance of a professional profile, not just on LinkedIn, but on all social platforms, if they are going into marketing. This is part of the transition to the working world. I tie social media to business results and the basic principles of marketing, so students understand the value of social media to an organization. I go though major and minor social platforms, looking at current examples and best practices, so students have an understanding of what is happening right now in social media marketing.

Please download the ebook here to learn what the rest of the panel thinks about the state of B2B marketing and how education feeds into it (registration required).

5 Ways to Use Your LinkedIn Profile to Attract Inbound B2B Leads

b2b-LinkedIn-LogoMy friend Tom Skotidas and I are at it again and this time we talked about how anyone, but especially B2B sales pros, can use their LinkedIn profile to attract inbound leads. Tom calls this inbound social selling. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation. We have been talking about the intersection of sales and content marketing for B2B companies. A lot of people call this social selling, but there is more to it than just that.

1. Re-Think the Purpose of Your Profile

Rather than just create a profile that shows your job history and qualifications, create a profile that shows how you can solve your target audience’s problems and serve their needs. Think of your profile as a piece content that reflects your company’s capabilities, rather than your resume.

2. Use the Right Keywords

Throughout your LinkedIn profile you should use keywords that are related to your products and services. Not just any keywords, but ones that your prospects commonly use. One way to determine those keywords is by using Google’s Keyword Ad Planner Tool. It is designed to help determine keywords for Google ads, so you need an AdWords account (connected to a regular Google account), but you don’t need to place any ads to use the tool.

3. View Your LinkedIn Profile as a Web Page to be Indexed

As you are re-thinking about your LinkedIn profile and using the appropriate keywords, remember that this is a web page that is indexed by Google and other search engines. LinkedIn is a high-ranking domain and can show up as a top result in searches for your keywords.

4. Don’t Forget About LinkedIn Search

Active LinkedIn users use the search functions within LinkedIn to find what they are looking for, beyond people’s names and companies.

5. Optimize These 9 Fields in Your LinkedIn Profile

Once you have your keywords to attract your prospects, what do you do with them? There are several fields in your LinkedIn profile that Tom identified as the most relevant.

  • Headline: The default is your current job at your current company. This is the most important thing to change to appeal to prospects.
  • Contact Information: This should include the best ways to contact you, plus a website or landing page that includes information to your target prospects
  • Summary: This is where you can really speak to the prospect about how you and your company can solve their business problems, using a good selection of keywords.
  • Experience: What you do in your job is another opportunity to tell the story of your success helping customers solve problems.
  • Marketing Assets: Work with your marketing team to get Powerpoints and PDFs to add to your LinkedIn profile and use your keywords in the title of the pieces.
  • Skills & Endorsements: Have others endorse you for skills that are most relevant to your target prospects. You have the ability to edit your list of skils.
  • Publications: Relevant blog posts, ebooks or articles quoting you can be listed here. If you don’t have any, this is a good time see if you can collaborate with someone to create some things to list.
  • Recommendations: Ask your customers for recommendations. They will use the terms that others in your industry use, and they will also validate your position as someone who is helpful.
  • Groups Joined: The Groups you join show on your profile, so make sure you join relevant Groups with names that look and sound good.

What have you done on your LinkedIn profile to attract B2B prospects?

Do B2B Companies Really Need to Be on Facebook?

b2b-facebookMany B2B companies start their social media efforts by gravitating to the large, common platforms and setting up profiles. Step 1: Twitter. Step 2: Facebook. Step 3: LinkedIn. And once these boxes are checked, they struggle to find the right content to post to each of these platforms. And marketers wonder if they should even be on all these platforms, especially Facebook, as organic reach has deteriorated.

This approach ignores several important marketing questions that B2B marketers should be asking about Facebook.

1. What are you trying to accomplish with social media?

B2B companies need to use these social media platforms to achieve higher level business goals that others in the organization are tracking and supporting. Note that I said business goals, not social media goals. Getting more followers is not a business goal. Increasing sales is a business goal. Increasing the number of leads from online sources, especially social media, is a way to track success against that goal. Make sure you have properly framed social media in a business context to evaluate Facebook as an appropriate platform.

2. Are your customers on Facebook?

This is a critical question in evaluating the platform, but you have to do so in a business context. Even though 71% of online adults are on Facebook, many B2B buyers may not use Facebook during the day or like Business Pages. While there are B2B companies that have large followings on Facebook and have generated traffic and leads, if you are struggling to build an audience there, you may be chasing shadows. And even if you do get people to like your Page, if they don’t engage with your content, Facebook is less likely to display it in their newsfeed.

3. Are you able to provide value to customers and prospects through your content?

If you are creating content to educate, inform and entertain customers and prospects, that is the first step. If you see that your content is being downloaded and shared on any platform, then you know that the content is appropriate for your audience. At any point during this evaluation process, you can ask select customers or prospects about the value of your content. It is easy to make a list of the topics you think would connect with your audience and would drive action, but without direct feedback, it’s possible to miss the mark. And don’t survey them, ask them.

4. How do you reach them without advertising?

Facebook only shows the most interesting posts in the newsfeed, as determined by its algorithm. Interesting is defined as posts that people will interact with (like, comment, share, click). You need to use as many off-Facebook techniques to get people to interact with your content so Facebook will show them more of it. If you get good engagement on Twitter, then post exclusive content on Facebook and use Twitter to drive traffic to it. People need to know what’s there and to like it so they will see future posts. And don’t forget email signatures, newsletters and phone conversations. “We just posted this really fun picture of the sales team on our Facebook Page. You should like it.”

5. Can a B2B company quit Facebook?

And now the biggest question of all. What if your customers really are not on Facebook in a business context, those that are don’t engage with your content, Facebook doesn’t show your updates to many people who like your Page, and you just can’t justify advertising to increase reach, can you really delete your Page and leave Facebook altogether? Do your customers expect you to be on Facebook? Is there a stigma attached to not being on Facebook? If Twitter or LinkedIn are working for you, driving traffic and leads, and otherwise serving your business and its goals, and Facebook is not, it is time to leave. If you have tried everything and it’s only getting worse, you can go. There is more of an expectation for B2B companies to be on Twitter than Facebook. And when you leave Facebook, write a blog post about all your efforts and share the numbers of your lack of success. Nobody will fault you for dedicating your resources to platforms that have business value. One final thing to consider before leaving: It makes some sense to keep the Page alive, but not active, to keep the custom Facebook URL. If you do this, post a note on the Page where people can find you and your current content.

If you have Facebook success stories about your B2B company, please share it in the comments below, especially if you have turned around a low-performing page.

B2B Sales Teams Can Use Content Marketing to Generate Leads

b2b-social-selling-content-marketingMy friend Tom Skotidas and I talked about what can finally bridge the gap between sales and marketing. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation. We have been talking about the intersection of sales and content marketing for B2B companies. A lot of people call this social selling, but we talked about a situation where the sales team can actually generate leads with content marketing.

Some of the highlights of our conversation:

  • How to use content within a LinkedIn profile to generate leads
  • What happens when B2B sales teams start to understand what content converts
  • How sharing content through individuals targets audience segments
  • And the sharing of this content is trackable. You will know which of your B2B salespeople have results.

Photo credit: Flickr

9 B2B Marketing Lessons from Judging Online Campaigns

b2b-marketing-contest-judgingI recently judged the online marketing category of an internal marketing competition for a B2B company. The marketers chose their best online marketing campaigns and submitted the details of their strategies, activities, creative work and metrics of success. There were a lot of great ideas and great effort on the part of the marketers. The following lessons are derived from my feedback to the entrants and some reminders for all marketers that occurred to me as I reviewed their entries.

1. Marketing Goals Must Align with Business Goals

Marketing cannot exist in a silo. This is one of the biggest issues that marketers, especially social media marketers, have. They create their own set of goals that are not important to anyone else in the company. While those goals may be important to the marketing team, you also need goals that relate to the high level business goals. These are the things that executives care about. These are the things that you must report on. These are the things that have material impact on the business.

2. Tactics without Strategy Will Only Get You So Far

It is easy for marketers to do things to look effective, and maybe on small levels, they are effective. But unless those small tactics add up to the overall strategy, you will never truly grow the business. Can you get more people to like your Facebook? Sure, but how does it relate to growing sales or improving the customer experience? You need to make sure you understand how to leverage that larger audience to meet the strategic goals. Grow your audience for the sake of having a bigger audience is not going to win any points with anyone. And if your boss wants a bigger online audience just so the numbers look bigger, tell them they are wrong. It’s about more than that.

3. SMART Goals are the Best Way Ensure Solid Marketing

Make your marketing goals:
Specific
Measurable
Actionable
Relevant
Timely

4. Great Results Don’t Count if They’re Not Against Your Goals

Every so often fantastic things happen as a result of a marketing campaign. Maybe you achieved a big bump in sales that you weren’t counting on. Whether or not you can attribute this to your marketing efforts, or it just occurred in the measured time period, you cannot take credit for this success if it wasn’t one of your goals. The point of goals are to plan what is going to happen and what success looks like. So that success can become repeatable. Happy accidents are not repeatable. Your boss might be happy with the extra sales, but if you don’t know how to make them happen again, they are not one of the success points of the campaign.

5. Present the Context of Your Success

Measurement is a key to understanding your success. Did you meet your goals? Did you grow your business? Did you drive traffic back to your website in significant numbers to make the effort worth it? Just like marketing doesn’t work in a silo, neither do metrics. How do your increases compare to a similar period? That could be the previous period or the same one last year. This context is required to understand the success of your marketing. And if you are doing something new, look to industry averages as your baseline. Even if a click-through-rate sounds good to your gut, you need to compare it an industry benchmark to know if it really is good.

6. Let Your Customers Tell You What They Want

Your customers are your marketing audience. Even if you are trying reach new prospects, they are like your current customers. Make sure you know what things are important to them. And not just as they relate to your products and services, but in the running of their business. What are their typical business problems? How do they like to receive information? And how do they communicate back with you? Thankfully we have stopped using fax machines to communicate.

7. If You Can’t Explain the Value of Your Efforts to Your Boss, What Are You Doing?

One of the more interesting evaluation elements of the marketing contest was to view the submission from the perspective of a company executive. This is very different from looking at it from a marketing perspective. Does your boss understand what you are doing? Do they understand the value of it to the business. If not, there could be one of two main problems. There could be a communication problem. You are just not explaining it very well. The other is that your efforts just don’t have real value to the business. This happens when you are chasing the wrong things. The ones that don’t have enough business impact, or they don’t lead to something with business impact.

8. Focus on One Core Campaign for the Best Results

Sometimes marketers get caught up in big, complicated campaigns with lots of moving parts. Not only are these expensive, but they are harder to measure. Marketing campaigns should have a core strategy and all the elements pointing in one direction. Successful campaigns should have multiple elements, but they’ll be more successful if they are ultimately trying to do the same thing.

9. Don’t Get Left Behind Best Practices

Today’s marketers need to keep up with trends in the marketplace. This means paying attention to their own industry verticals, but also marketing trends in general. Social media practices have evolved over the last 5 years and what made sense then no longer makes sense. For example, merely growing your social media followers as an end goal is one of those activities. Nobody cares how many people like your Facebook page. But if you are growing your audience on Facebook and other platforms as a means better serve your customers and drive prospect traffic to your website, that makes sense. As overloaded everyone is, you need to make a little time in your day to dip into some of the top marketing blogs. You will get a better sense of what other marketers are doing and where they are finding success.

Photo credit: Flickr

Give Your B2B Customers Clear Calls-To-Action on Social Media

b2b-social-media-call-to-action2Sometimes B2B marketers focus all their efforts on creating the best content, the ultimate customer experience, the perfectly nuanced status update to drive traffic back to their website or blog, but they forget to provide a clear call-to-action for the visitor.

The other extreme is to create a complex series of Rube Goldberg-inspired steps to get a visitor to the right place that is very nearly personalized for their interests, industry and stage in the buying cycle. This is not a bad idea in theory, but an overcomplicated process confuses prospects and they may never convert to a customer.

I was on vacation in Alaska for the past week and stopped at Meier’s Lake Roadhouse to get gas (click the picture above to enlarge it). This remote roadside stop understands the difference between just telling their customers something and providing clear instructions what action they would like them to take.

“Meiers Lake Roadhouse is now on Facebook,” reads a simple printed sign (shown below).

As a traveler passing through, and unlikely to ever return, I would not gain much value from liking their Facebook page. But maybe it was the perfect spot in this remote area to get gas before running out. Or maybe I ate at their restaurant, stayed in a cabin or bought the perfect souvenir to remember my trip. Maybe I just enjoyed my interactions with this Alaskan independent businessman.

“We appreciate your reviews,” was the second and only other thing on this sign.

Liking their Facebook page is not the action they want you to take. It is just a means to get to the call-to-action. They are asking you to leave a review. If this was a good place for you to stop, then it might be a good place for others. And the owner of Meier’s Lake Roadhouse wants you to let others know about your experience. It is a simple ask, and it is very clear.

There is no need to beat this idea into the ground, especially since I am just back from vacation. Here are the two social media lessons from this Alaskan roadside business:

1. Make sure you give prospects, customers and visitors an obvious call-to-action, by telling them what you want them to do.

2. Make it simple and clear.

And even though these are lessons for social media and online activities, they definitely apply for physical interactions.

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B2B Sales Pros Need to Create Demand with Content Marketing

b2b-demand-generationI recorded another video conversation with my friend Tom Skotidas. He is the founder of Skotidas, Asia Pacific’s leader in B2B Social Media Lead Generation. We have been talking about the intersection of sales and content marketing for B2B companies. A lot of people call this social selling, but that really oversimplifies the process.

Today’s conversation is about demand generation. Tom smartly points out that no matter how much content you create or share, if you are not creating demand for your product or service, nobody will want to buy it.

Highlights of the Conversation:

  • Without demand, there are no buyers.
  • Use authoritative third-party content to create demand for your products or services.
  • Create hybrid content that “wraps” your own content in someone else’s authority.
  • Speak the language of your prospects and customers.

How are your sales teams using content to drive demand for your B2B products or services?

Photo credit: Flickr

YouTube Insights for B2B from the Frozen Food Master

b2b-youtube-freezerburnsGregory Ng is the CMO of Brooks Bell, an optimization firm focused on enterprise-level A/B split testing, targeting and optimization services. But at night he opens the freezer, cranks up the microwave and transforms into the Frozen Food Master. Greg has been reviewing frozen food on Freezerburns since 2008. In that time he has learned quite a bit about YouTube. Combining that with his understanding of B2B marketing and optimization, he shared his insights for B2B companies in the interview below.

Most of the biggest YouTube channels are run by individuals, not corporate brands. It seems that the promise of “anyone can be a publisher” really has taken hold on this platform. Does this make YouTube different from other social platforms?

I believe that most of the big YouTube channels are run by individuals because they don’t have the politics or red tape to publish like corporations have. YouTubers like honest messaging. They like genuine interaction and raw emotion. They tend to dislike brand marketing messages and paid endorsement material. If you want to create a beautiful brand anthem spot, definitely publish it on YouTube. But don’t expect the same type of engagement you would get by publishing on video sites like Vimeo that celebrate the art of video and have a community that appreciates video as an art form. The promise of “anyone can be a publisher” really took off when Blogger made a free blog platform. But while this allowed people to publish thoughts, the written word did not have the cache and sexiness of making you feel like a TV or movie star. YouTube provided a free way for people to publish a movie or a music video or a video diary for all to see. It is the promise of celebrity that inspires people to push out content on this platform.

Corporate brands could totally leverage the audience of this platform but typically they approach it in one of two ways, which are both ineffectual to this audience:

1. The Brand Advertising Method: They post every one of their commercials on YouTube and hope they go viral. While consumers expect to find those ad campaigns online, they do not engage with the channel, but they engage with the specific video. That’s why you will see well-known brands have videos with millions of views but only thousands of subscribers. This is not leveraging the platform correctly.

2. The “No Value to Anyone But the Sales Team” Method: They post product demos and video brochures. Again, this does not welcome community engagement and it is nether entertaining nor is it useful content.

So the reason why the biggest YouTube channels are run by individuals is because those individuals interact with their audience and their content is engaging.

You have built an audience on YouTube by focusing on one niche and consistently publishing videos. Would the same strategy work for a B2B company? Is there a business audience there?

No question YouTube has an audience large enough for whatever business you are in! In fact, YouTube has a big enough audience to support every single niche you can think of! If you are passionate about something (no matter how specific) there is bound to be a couple hundred thousand people in this world that are equally passionate. Consistently publishing videos in that niche is how those hundred thousand people find you. But growing audiences and creating awareness does not come from owning a niche and publishing consistently. Staying true to your niche simply helps you own the category so competitors can’t jump in. Consistently publishing simply keeps your content relevant and current.

The real key to building an audience is to provide value to your viewer. For me, this means reviewing food so customers are informed before buying something. This works for me because I do not own or work for any of the products that I review. For B2B it is a bit trickier. YouTubers do not like to be sold to. So the way to reach an audience is to provide value. For example, if you sell marketing automation software you won’t have much of an audience for tons of videos talking about the features of your product. But there is a huge audience for a web series highlighting success stories from your customers using your software. Jay Baer’s book, YOUtility covers this idea at great length and it is worth a read when creating your YouTube presence.

How can B2B marketers use video to support their overall content marketing efforts?

Uploading video content on YouTube can have multiple benefits towards your content marketing efforts. Video can capture a moment like no other medium can. You can use video to capture customer testimonials that mean a whole lot more than just a quote written in text. You can document an event or interview a team member. You can produce video demos or explain an FAQ using video. In all of these examples you can give a prospect, a customer, and investor a better idea of what your company is all about and instill more trust and confidence in the messages you are producing.

From a tactical standpoint uploading a video to YouTube means you can cultivate a new audience on the YouTube platform as well as embed the content on your website, blog and other social networks.

Does a YouTube channel let B2B companies tell their stories in a different way, or does it let them reach a whole new audience segment?

YouTube definitely allows B2B marketers to communicate a message in a more personal way. Instead of a message coming from a press release, it could be the same message delivered by the CMO. Have an endorsement from a partner vendor? Instead of dropping in a text testimonial, how about having their CEO put it on camera? There is potential for a whole new audience segment in YouTube, but it requires focus and commitment to realize that potential. There are 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute! The only way to stand out is to put in as much as you expect to receive from the platform. Like Twitter, it requires engagement and community management in addition to quality focused content.

What are the analytics you focus on for your YouTube channel, and would B2B marketers focus on the same ones?

Fortunately YouTube has been making great strides in the analytics they provide (for free) for YouTube channels. My primary metric is engagement per video. This means out of the total number of people that see the video, how long into the video do they watch until they bounce. Also, do they Like, Comment, add to playlist, or subscribe as a result of that video. My secondary metric is the time of day that my video is watched. This is important to me because I have an international audience and it helps me strategize when in the day to publish my videos. This also helps when I schedule live video events and decide on the start and end times of contests and promotions.

My advice to B2B marketers is to think about what your primary goal is for your YouTube channel and then report on the metrics that influence that goal. Like Google Analytics you can gain insight into different metrics through your YouTube Analytics dashboard. But just because you can measure it, doesn’t mean it matters to you. And just because it is important to one channel doesn’t mean it matters to others.

It can be overwhelming to sit down in front of a camera and start talking. What are some tips you can provide for getting started with video content?

For some people, putting yourself on camera is easy. For others it is the most terrifying thing imaginable. But video content doesn’t have to just be someone talking into a camera! You can be very successful using voiceover over a product demo. Or you can get even more creative (and still be professional if used correctly) using animation, whiteboard drawings, and even puppets. The key is to find a method that is on brand, cost-effective to execute and something you believe in enough to commit to!

And can you really shoot good quality video with a smartphone, provided you turn it horizontally and you stabilize it by setting it down on a table?

Five years ago I wouldn’t have been able to say this, but yes, you can shoot perfectly fine, professional quality video with your phone. In fact, full movies have been shot using just an iPhone camera! The key is to use a tripod or a steady cam rig, and make sure your sound is great. People would much rather tolerate a low definition video if the sound is clear and the video isn’t shaky.

If you want some frozen food advice from Greg to go along with his YouTube advice, here is his list of the 50 Best Frozen Foods in 60 seconds: