4 Ways the New Apple iPhone Can Benefit B2B Marketers

Even though many B2B companies, especially corporate and enterprise level companies, prefer Blackberries as their smart phone of choice, if you are in the social media space, a new iPhone is still news and you wonder if this is the time to make the switch. Each generation of iPhone improves its corporate compatibility, and this one is no exception. The new iPhone 4 supports Exchange Server 2010. It also has improved data protection, device management, and VPN support, all things that could make a corporate IT manager more comfortable with the device. But the real question is why do you, a B2B marketer and the person responsible for implementing social media in your company need one. Here are four new features that might convince you:

Facetime Video Conferencing
This is the feature that everyone is talking about on the new iPhone4 and mobile video conferencing, called Facetime, even though it’s just over wifi, is a great feature. Also both parties need the iPhone 4 for this work. Video call your office from a client site and don’t just talk, but show your face. Switch to the back camera and show your product engineer how the client is using your product and the service issues they are experiencing. Share printed documents or photos in real time while you talk about them. And communicating with your office with your face, and not just your voice, is a stronger way to get your message across.

Mobile Video Editing
Another benefit of the iPhone 4 is the continued expansion of mobile video. Not only are the quality and features of video better than the previous generation of iPhone, but it includes a mobile version of iMovie, Apple’s easy to use video editing software. Now those short trade show videos and customer testimonials can be edited and uploaded before you even return to the office.

Better Organization
Rather than a random display of apps (or chronological or alphabetical), the new iPhone 4 allows you to organize apps in folders. These can be organized by topic, or can be customized. You can put your business or productivity apps together and keep your games or other leisure apps in another folder. You can also keep all your social media tools together for easy access.

Multi-tasking
This is one of those updates that is a long time coming in the operating system, but helpful for the marketer on the go. Switch between tasks easily and the apps remember your place, whether it’s viewing documents while writing emails, or checking your CRM system, while updating Twitter and listening to your favorite station on Pandora.

What are the features of the new iPhone 4 that would make you consider getting one?

B2B Users Rejoice! LinkedIn Finally Gets A Real iPhone App…Almost

LinkedIn is still the most popular social network that is solely focused on business use. It is widely used by professionals in B2B industries to hire employees, find vendors and generate leads. One of my biggest complaints this past year was how terrible the LinkedIn iPhone app was to use. I spend much of my social networking time on my iPhone. However, the LinkedIn app was basically not usable. It was so bad that you could not accept new connection in the app. You had to go to the web interface to do that. For most of 2009 the LinkedIn application was easily one of the worst applications on my iPhone and as a result, didn’t get much use.

As we are about to start 2010 LinkedIn as released a major update to is iPhone application, version 3.0. As you can tell from the screenshot at the top of this post, it as an entire new look and user interface. This new design looks a lot like the Facebook iPhone application.

The Facebook iPhone app is very well done and very easy to use, so I can’t really blame LinkedIn for moving to this type of design.

What Is New In 3.0

Version 3.0 of the LinkedIn iPhone brings a lot of changes to the design, but also adds some new features. One of the most interesting additions to the application is the “IN Person” feature.

The new feature allows people to connect on LinkedIn and share contact information when they meet, using the iPhone’s built in Bluetooth wireless technology. This feature can help save a lot of follow up time for those who dig back through cards and then manually send out LinkedIn invitations.

Additionally, you can now select profiles to mark as favorites, so you can add them directly to your application home screen. This can be very handy if you have some contacts that you need to monitor closely while on the go. It also makes it easy to download contact information from LinkedIn directly to your iPhone. This information can then be synced with CRM systems, which is a big step in the right direction.

Closer But Still Not There
While this upgrade is a huge improvement from the first versions of this application and has useful features for B2B users, there is still so much that it doesn’t do. The app still focuses on connections and doesn’t get to some of LinkedIn’s other features. The biggest feature missing is the lack of LinkedIn’s Answer platform. The ability to quickly look up answers and conversations from LinkedIn while in a meeting or on the road would be huge, not to mention having the ability to contribute answers when you have a few spare moments while traveling.

The new version of the app also does not include Groups or Events. The Groups function is where the major discussions happen on LinkedIn, not within status updates (which show up in the app under the discussions tab if they get comments). While some groups are more spammy and self-promotional, this is one of the prime sources of lead generation within LinkedIn. And the best use of the Events function is to connect with people while at an event. This is something that would be enhanced by its access on a mobile device, rather than on your laptop back at your hotel.

I think LinkedIn did a nice job on these updates, but a few more features are still needed to make this the killer B2B mobile application that it can be.

Do you agree? Do you like the new design?

6 iPhone Apps For Your B2B Sales Team

A lot of talk is happening around the importance of mobile in the future of B2B sales and marketing. The future is great of course, but today I wanted to share some mobile applications that are available today. We all know that it is critical that B2B sales teams have the tools and information they need to succeed. Because of this, many organizations are switching to the iPhone as the device of choice for its sales teams.

One of the great things about the iPhone platform is the huge diversity in applications available. However, that is also its biggest problem. Busy sales people do not have the time to comb through the app store and see which applications could help them. Today, I share with you 6 B2B iPhone applications that could help make your sales team’s life a little easier and I encourage you to share this post with them. This list spans from mobile CRM apps to simple tools that may make sales travel a little easier.

Please note that all the links below connect to the application page within iTunes and you will need to have it downloaded to see the full application details.

Milebug icon
1. MileBug Mileage log
Price: $3.99
When you are a sales person constantly on the road, it is the little things that can drive you nuts. One of these is keeping track of your mileage and separating personal and business travel. The MileBug application helps solve this problem by making it simple to keep track of business and personal miles while traveling.

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2. Sales & Commissions
Price: $1.99
Keeping track of sales and commissions is critical, especially for small businesses. This straight-forward application aims to do just that, by helping you record and track sales across a sales team. While large sales organization likely have their own system for this, the Sales & Commissions application could be ideal for independent sales people and small business owners.

sales and commision screen shot

Oracle Icon
3. Oracle Mobile Sales Assistant
Price: Free
Many large B2B organizations use enterprise level CRM systems to help manage sale sand prospect data. If your business uses Oracle, then using this mobile application is an extension of the work you are already doing. Oracle packs the features of its CRM software into a mobile application that can help make sure sales can enter and access data from the CRM system.

oracle screen shot

radio finder icon
4. Local Radio Finder
Price $.99
Ever travel across multiple states in a car? Many sales people do it every week. One annoying thing is not knowing what radio frequencies are in the current town you are in. The Local Radio Finder app is simple and makes it easy to see all of the FM and AM stations in a town so that you can quickly find the station playing the music or news you want, while you’re on the road.

radio finder icon-1

airline icon
5. Airline Seat Guide
Price: $1.99
While sales people travel a lot, it is impossible to remember every airplane on every airline in the world. Knowing your airplane allows you to pick the right seat. As we all know the right seat can make or break a long flight. The Airline Seat Guide shows you the seats on every airline around the world so that you can quickly know where your ideal seats are located on each plane.

airline screen shot

Salesforce.com iphone app
6. Salesforce.com
From talking to many B2B businesses, Salesforce.com seems to be the choice for CRM system of choice for many small, medium and large businesses. If you are a current Salesforce.com customer, then using their free iPhone application is a natural next step. As mentioned with the Oracle application, mobile CRM applications that can make the user experience easier can help increase the amount of data that is put into the system and then used to help generate sales.

salesforce.com screen shot

What other iPhone applications do you or your sale teams use to make life easier? Is your organization making the switch to the iPhone?

3 B2B Mobile Trends To Watch In 2010

Recently Gartner, the respected analyst organization, released their predictions about Mobile Consumer Applications In 2012. While I agree with most of Gartner’s consumer predictions, I wanted to talk about the impact of mobile on B2B organizations in the next year. Planning for 2012 is great, but it is important to understand what is actionable this year.

The difficult issue when discussing mobile is that it really addresses a wide variety of communication methods including: people finders, schedule organizers, text alerts, wake-up calls, mobile web sites, mobile coupons, voting, and Bluetooth. Another issue to keep in mind is that BlackBerry is still out selling Apple’s iPhone at a rate of more than 2 to 1. However, looking at application downloads and activity on both platforms shows that the iPhone has a higher level of user engagement and a more mature application store.

The important thing to remember is that most of the business world is still on BlackBerry devices, while the iPhone is currently a more consumer focused device. This is changing but when planning mobile strategies for 2010 it is critical to have a clear picture of the device adoption rate within your current and potential customer base.


B2B Mobile trends To Watch


1. Location-Based Integration With All Mobile Applications
– Integrating location-based functionality into B2B mobile applications in 2010 will begin to set a trend that will become standard in years to follow. I will be writing a more in depth post solely about the implications of location-based applications soon. Meanwhile, in the B2B space we continue to hear about consumer location-based applications like Foursquare and Brightkite. While these applications clearly add a valuable layer of experience to social networking, the true power of location-based applications sits with B2B.

Social media connects people online, but adding location-based applications to mobile devices helps to foster online relationships offline. On this blog we have talked a lot about the power of relationships for B2B. If your organization values relationships, then location-based is a logical step in cultivating digital customer relationships.

Location-based functionality will become common place in CRM applications, B2B social networks and other applications. I don’t think wide adoption will occur in 2010 but it will certainly be the start.

2. Multifaceted Customer Service Applications
– For years now B2B customer service, a critical customer retention and acquisition tool has been relegated to a 1-800 number and an e-mail address. Recently things like real-time chat and user groups have surfaced as an extension of customer service. In 2010 B2B customer service will begin to go mobile in a significant way.

Not only will customer service begin to go mobile, but it will also create new customer touch points in the form of mobile applications, text messaging, mobile chat and more. In the coming year it will not be uncommon to have a distributor use a mobile application, not just to check on the status of his order from the manufacturer, but to get push notifications about shipping or production delays, to ask a customer service rep a question via mobile chat, or see the top questions about a product in a user-forum.

3. Integrating Mobile Into Tradeshows - Industry tradeshows are not going away anytime soon in the B2B space. They are a staple cost in most annual budgets for B2B organizations. However, what has already started to change is the increased focused on maximizing cost of event sponsorships and employee travel, while at tradeshow events. Mobile is a major catalyst in helping to boot this ROI. In 2010 B2B organizations will begin to use mobile communications tools, like text messaging to spread word-of-mouth about tradeshow parties and events while building new opt-in databases for mobile marketing.

Do you agree? How is your organization handling the opportunity of mobile?

The New B2B Social Media Marketer Tool Belt

Strategy is critical. Applications facilitate communication. Something we have never talked about here, until today, is that the actually physical tools and devices that B2B marketers use are changing.

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Briefcases are quickly turning into backpacks that hold the tools to enable connection to and creation of content for the social web. The notepad and pen are getting replaced by a new set of items that help content generators capture and publish text, images, audio and video. These tools to are becoming essential everyday tools, as well as must haves while at conferences.

So what does this digital tool-belt look like? What cost does it come at? That is the issue for individuals and businesses looking to engage customers and become online publishers. The few dollars needed for paper and ink has now been replaced with thousands of dollars in highly connected technology.

Today’s B2B Marketers Digital Tool-Belt

Backpack – Sadly, for many B2B marketers going digital has not lightened the load, but instead added more items to always have on hand. Because of this we are seeing a shift to durable packs from companies like Timbuk 2, Patagonia, and Targus.

Smartphone - This is the most important item on the list. You can get by without some of the other items as long as you have the right smartphone. Smartphones enable more than phone calls. They allow for connection to social applications like Twitter, can help manage blog posts, capture images and video for publishing online, as well as many other uses. Obviously, the most popular smartphones right now are the iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre and the just released Droid. I have an iPhone and love it, but all smartphones come with their pros and cons. The important thing to do is think about what type of content creation and engagement you plan on doing with the phone and then gett one to fit those needs.

Laptop or Netbook – If you work for a company or organization, they have most likely provided you with a laptop. However, every laptop is not created equal. Battery life is an important issue when you are trying to live blog an event or are constantly creating content on the go. Additionally, built in web cams are becoming a standard for video conference calls, as well as live streaming from tradeshows. The bigger issue is often mobility – how portable is the laptop you use. Because of the portability issue, many marketers are turning to ultra portable netbooks from makers like Acer, Asus, and Dell. These ultra light weight computers have great battery life, are light weight and cost only about $300 on average.

Digital Camera – This is one that is not an essential, because many smartphones can take good pictures. That being said, photos are big on the web. Flickr is probably the most underrated social network out of the major ones. By using a good point and shoot, or even a digital SLR camera (one with interchangeable lenses), you can can capture better images for blog posts. Higher quality images are also likely to be used by others in blogs posts and even trade publication articles. Many options are available for point and shoot cameras, while Nikon and Canon are the leaders in the dSLR space. Point and shoot cameras fit in your pocket, while a dSLR adds to the growing weight of your toolkit.

Pocket HD Video Camera and Tripod – One tool that has become a staple in the B2B marketers’ bags, and didn’t even exist two years ago, is the pocket HD video camera. These were originally made popular by Pure Digital with its Flip Camera product line, but recently Kodak has become a competitor with its Zi8 camera. The thing to know about these cameras are that they are not for high end video production, however they are perfect for creating video for the web, for things like client or internal team interviews. The other thing to know is that you will need a portable tripod as well. My favorite is the Gorilla Pod, but their are many other good options as well. These cameras are also more budget friendly than traditional camcorders at between $150 and $200.

E-book Reader – With all of this content and information available on the Internet today, I would argue that it is important now more than ever to read books. Internet content is brief by design. Books provide the true depth that we need to help drive business results. While you don’t need an e-book reader, you will soon find that building a book shelf is expensive and those thick business book like Good To Great are hard to fit in to a backpack. E-book readers can save a lot of space and cut the prices of books by more than 50 percent. I personally like the Kindle from Amazon, but the new Nook is getting good reviews as well.

Backup Batteries – The other problem of living in a digital age is that all of these things listed are digital and need power to work. You can only depend so much on the battery that comes with the device. That is why it pays to have extra batteries, or better yet a backup battery pack that can charge a wide variety of you devices. You will soon realize that backup battery backs are the secret edge in the battle to engaging in an always on world.

Do you need all of this stuff? No. However, look around at your peers and these are the devices that you will begin seeing appear in the hands of B2B marketers everywhere. To me a good smartphone is far and away the most important. We are living in a changing world and these are the new tools of communications.

The important thing to do is look at your workflow. What are the communications tactics you need to enable on a daily basis and then ask yourself what tools do you need to help make that work a reality.

I hope you enjoyed my change of direction into the world of gadgets for the day. Do you think I left anything off this list?

B2B Apps for the iPhone

Yesterday we joked that there is not an iphone app to help with influencer marketing in the B2B space, so that got us thinking about what iphone applications there are for B2B. While the Blackberry is still the smart phone of choice in larger organizations, the iphone is making inroads into corporate America. The number of available business apps is one major component that will help that growth.

1. The Obvious


Twitter Apps: There are a slew of Twitter apps including Tweetie, Twitterific and even Tweetdeck for the iphone. While I am looking forward to the new version of Tweetie, which should be released any day now, there are small differences between these apps. Each one handles things a bit differently, so you just need to find the one that works for you. Many people stick with their first Twitter app, but you can ask others what they use. Ask them what they like about it.

Social Networking Apps: We have already covered the Facebook app in depth, so what about LinkedIn. This app is mainly focused on your connections, rather than bringing the LinkedIn experience to the iphone. It shows you Network updates, connections and status. You can view your profile, but you don’t have the ability to edit it. The only interactive functions are the ability to update your status, send an invite and a limited search function. The social side of LinkedIn – Groups, Answers, Events – are missing from the app. Hopefully a new version of this app is in development with more functionality.

2. The Enterprise and CRM


The biggest enterprise software companies, Oracle and SAP, both offer iphone apps that feature a small window into the data housed on your corporate network. According to this post, Oracle displays business performance reports, analytics and access to their CRM module, while SAP displays contacts and account information. These are primarily viewers and provide limited interaction with the main system, but that is changing. As the iphone becomes more ingrained in the corporate computing world, mobile employees will have the more ability to update the home office from their smart phones. If your company uses either of these enterprise solutions, explore these mobile platforms with trial versions and start talking up the importance of mobile data.

The leading standalone CRM solution, Salesforce.com has an iphone app that connects to your version of Salesforce.com. Create new leads, convert them, log phone calls, all from a native iphone app that syncs with the cloud version. This free app is a must for all mobile employees using Salesforce to track their business. While “Leads” is featured on the bottom navigation menu, selecting “More” brings up contacts, opportunities, tasks, events, cases, solutions, and dashboards to fully manage all functions from the iphone. A free 30 day trial of Salesforce is available, so you can try out the app and see how it syncs to the web.

3. The Marketplace


Many B2B companies around the world use trading sites, like Alibaba.com, to find products, manufacturers, import and export partners. There is an iphone app called World Trade Center, which calls itself a B2B hub with one-click access to top sites, B2B facilitators, and products. It costs $2.99, so I have not downloaded it to see how it works. It does not look very elegant, and may be not much more than the links shown on the front screen. If your business regularly uses sites of this nature, this mobile app may be of value to you. As more people go mobile, this is sure to be a growing category of apps that interact with online trading partners. If you have used this app, or something like it, please let us know below.

4. Resources


And finally, if you are looking for information and ideas about B2B marketing and social media, Marketing Profs has an iphone app with a B2B marketing section under the More menu item. These articles provide summaries of posts on the Marketing Profs site and other sites. While every post includes an upsell to Marketing Profs membership options, this app provides good content that is easily consumed on the go.

And finally, I used this post as an opportunity to add a Word Press plugin called WPTouch, that optimizes this blog for the iphone, and other touch screen smart phones, so you can more easily read SocialMediaB2B.com on your iphone.

So if there are other iphone apps that you have found indispensable in your B2B world, whether to manage Social Media, Marketing, or Business in general, share those with our readers below.

5 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Facebook’s New iPhone App

While we still owe our readers a Facebook Fan Pages primer for B2B, I will assume that you have already set up a Fan Page for your company and you are interacting with your fans. Or you are at least planning on doing so. Facebook’s new iphone app was just released in the iphone store and, in addition to a much better interface that matches some of the functionality of the web site, it now lets you update Facebook Fan Pages. Here are five ways the iphone app helps B2B companies manage customer and prospect engagement through Facebook Fan Pages. This article also assumes that you have an iphone, the de rigueur device of social media types, but not the smart phone of choice in the corporate world.

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After updating the Facebook app on your iphone, you will see a new home page on your device. From the Facebook home page, click the plus sign in the upper left to bring up the Add a Favorite menu. Click Pages at the bottom right to bring up the pages you manage. It will also list the pages that you are a fan of. Tap the page you wish to add and it will add it to a second screen of the Facebook home page. Tap the image to view the page. From here you can do the following five things on the list below.

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1. Mobile Updates

Since you have already set up your Facebook fan page and you have probably already linked your blog to the notes function, there is already a stream of content on your fan page. By using the iphone app, now you can post updates away from the office. Many companies use their Facebook pages to show the human side of a company. While it is not necessary to tell your fans what you are having for lunch, you could report from the floor of a trade show, update on new innovations in the lab, or even discuss new products in action live from the field. Think about topics that would engage your customer base and encourage them to leave comments and ask questions.

2. Mobile Engagement

Now that you are updating your page with compelling content, fans will want to engage and comment on your updates. The new app will let you respond to those comments directly from your iphone. Since the goal with these types of social media sites is to engage customers and prospects, this is one of the biggest advantages to the new application.

3. Mobile Photos

They say a picture speaks a thousand words and now you can fill you Facebook page with all of them. Mobile pictures are a great addition to customer interaction. Now you can tour your factory and post pictures of the manufacturing process. Visit client sites and highlight unique ways they are using your products. You can even show your trade show display to those that cannot make it to the show. If you plan to post pictures from the company picnic or office parties because you think it humanizes a company, do so sparingly.

4. Mobile Connections

As you build up a fan base on Facebook, you may decide to friend some of these people. The way Facebook Fan Pages currently work, and the iphone app is no exception, is that you can only interact with people you are personally friends with. You cannot see details about your fans if they have their privacy settings to only show those details to friends. This is a common way for people to set their profiles. So after engaging with fans on your page, you may consider friending them. This will let you interact with them directly from your iphone. A good example of this is a customer evangelist or industry influencer that you might want to message privately, rather than on the wall.

5. Mobile Video

And finally, if you have a new, shiny iphone 3Gs, which shoots video, you can upload those videos directly to your Facebook page. Interview the VP of Sales about the quarterly sales numbers. Talk to customer service reps about common, yet easily solved issues. Talk to industry leaders at the next conference.

Bonus: Post to Twitter

Since I know you have already read this post about the value of linking your Facebook Fan Page to Twitter, I will assume that you have done so. In my initial testing of these mobile posts to Facebook Fan Pages, they did not post to Twitter. It is not documented whether this should work or not, but I will assume that it not working is a function of a first release and that it will be fixed before too long. Because of that, I can’t call this a sixth way.

So as Facebook continues to grow among the general population and more and more businesses begin using it to connect with customers and prospects, this mobile app allows you to add compelling content from anywhere. And just because you know have to ability to share anything doesn’t mean that you should. Please leave a comment below about some innovative ways you have used, or are planning to use, Facebook Fan Pages for your B2B company.