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.

5 Ways B2B Companies Can Take Advantage of Facebook

b2b-facebookFacebook 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?

B2B Marketers Must Balance Organic and Paid on Facebook

b2b-facebook-earn-itJim 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.

Two Examples of Stellar B2B Facebook Pages

Facebook is a huge topic of interest to B2B marketers, so we wanted to share two examples of stellar B2B Facebook Pages, as a follow-up to How to Build a Great B2B Community on Facebook. That post was the first part of a MarketingProfs B2B Forum presentation and here are the case studies from the second part.

Examples of Interaction on Facebook

B2B-Facebook-MarketingProfs
Corey O’Loughlin is a community manager for MarketingProfs. She shared the interaction and impact of their Facebook initiatives (go ahead and like them if you haven’t already!).

At a high level, Corey outlined the following goals for their Facebook initiatives:

  • Map goals – MarketingProfs does engage in sales via Facebook but had examples for effective integration throughout the presentation
  • Create content
  • Get feedback
  • Drive membership
  • Show personality

Corey shared a series of examples from the MarketingProfs Facebook page, walking the audience from Facebook update through impact in overall content marketing initiative.

Example: 15 Marketing Buzzwords to Stop Using
A question, discussion, and response from this update, poking fun at marketing buzzwords turned into a Slideshare presentation, blog post, and follow up series.

The presentation hit the hot spot on Slideshare three different times and could be traced back to 500 new members.

Example: 8 Misconceptions About a Remote Workforce
Newsjacking Yahoo’s announcement eliminating their remote workforce, MarketingProfs (who’s workforce is completely remote) used a similar strategy, leveraging the actively participated in Facebook discussion to generate a presentation, which now has over 80,000 views on Slideshare.

A few other ideas to consider:

  • Fill-in-the-blanks are great for developing discussion
  • Negative updates tend to do better than positive ones, but use them judiciously
  • Updates can be great for getting feedback for challenges or issues (Corey cited an example of understanding their lack of pickup on mobile marketing events even though broader interests seemed so high)
  • Doodles and images work and MarketingProfs is lucky to have such a talented artist on their team

From a sales perspective, Corey showed an example of a creative brand-based selling action / promotion. The key is to be creative in communication and execution. The end result was that even though the update itself had very little engagement, they still sold five passes to this event.

Content Makes Your Boring B2B Business Less Boring

B2B-Facebook-Constant-Contact
Kristen Curtiss is the social media specialist who takes on the daily challenge of making sure Constant Contact customers stay engaged with the business through social media. Believe it or not, email is not very exciting without a bit of valuable content to keep things moving.

High level results of Constant Contact’s Facebook initiatives:

  • Over 91,000 Facebook Likes
  • 59,000+ fans (likes) gained in a two year period
  • 13% of fans have connected (interacted) with the page

Constant Contact uses a mixture of posts and updates to develop reach and engagement. Some of their best practices include:

  • Custom images work – they started by just using photos but found that adding “thought bubbles” and other customizations worked better for engagement
  • Remember marketing objective – Constant Contact consistently queries their audience to find out what they are most concerned with
  • Text only posts tend to get more reach from fans; even more so than images. Constant Contact uses a 50/50 mix of image and text updates to keep things balanced
  • They only post links to the site once a week because they get the least engagement (as opposed to images and text)
  • Constant Contact uses Facebook chats. They created a custom image that points to a chat on Facebook, which in turn helps develop customer understanding
  • Customer feedback is very important – Facebook is an important tool for them to message customers about issues / service and feedback on new functionality and development
  • Kristen recommends running social campaigns via tabs on Facebook and make certain to cross pollinate efforts (for example, their Facebook initiatives are embedded through other marketing channels like email distribution)

Lastly and most importantly, HAVE FUN! Remember that the key to getting good engagement rates is to keep things lively and conversational.

How to Build a Great B2B Community on Facebook

b2b-facebookWe know you (yes, you B2B marketer) are skeptical. The social network of choice for many B2B marketers is LinkedIn. Even though Facebook is the largest social network by far (and one of the most trafficked websites overall), B2B marketers remain skeptical of Facebook’s viability for marketing impact.

Mike Lewis, Chief Marketing Officer of Peoplefluent kicked things off his session at MarketingProfs B2B Forum with a few important statistics courtesy of a recent Hubspot report about Facebook:

  • 750 million monthly visitors
  • 51% more likely to make a purchase after they “liked” a brand on Facebook
  • 41% of B2Bs surveyed indicated they have acquired customers through Facebook

Here are three examples of B2B Facebook pages worth reviewing:

Mike also showed a business page he worked on – Awareness Social Media Best Practices – and the key is / was content and communication (and literally, “best practices”). The page went from 0 – 10k likes in 2011 and more importantly the organization could track 22% of leads back to a first interaction on this Facebook page.

What makes these examples outstanding?

  • Audience engagement
  • Compelling and relevant conversations
  • Encouraging the share
  • No selling (direct selling at least)

6 Keys to effective B2B Facebook page development:

  • Paying Attention
  • Interaction
  • Content
  • Presence
  • Management
  • Measurement

On paying attention: listen to people and their actions and behaviors. This is the heart of a Facebook strategy but more importantly (taking a phrase from Chris Brogan – paraphrasing) ”It’s not what you say, it’s about what you hear.”

  • Why are you listening?
  • Where are you going to listen?
  • What are you going to pay attention to?

Silo your attention based on brand, keywords, buying signals, etc. Understand the market landscape, brand, competition, customers, influencers, buying intent phrases (situational, problems, etc), and of course, what’s happening on the page itself.

If attention is the yin, interaction is the yang. Mike outlined how to understand your extended audience, since your direct competition is not necessarily your competition on Facebook. You’re also competing with other brands, a person’s friends, family, network, etc.

At a high level, here is your extended audience and the basis for how to communicate with them:

  • Broad Extended Audience – share photos and videos
  • Passive – ask questions
  • Moderate – consistency is key
  • Active – make them champions
  • Influential – guest post opportunities

Considerations for improving and developing presence:

  • Use milestones
  • Star and highlight important information
  • Connect other channels
  • Use custom tabs within your Facebook page
  • Maintain consistent branding across Facebook page

All in all great examples and ideas that hopefully can sway a skeptical B2B market audience to do more with Facebook.

What B2B Marketers Need to Know About Facebook News Feed Changes

Facebook provided new insight into their news feed algorithm, as well as announced a subtle change to its functionality. This is critical information for B2B marketers who use Facebook to connect with customers and prospects.

According to a recent study by Forrester, 39% of B2B decision makers use Facebook for business purposes. They participated in the following activities on the platform:

  • 71% connected with people they knew
  • 57% liked a brand or vendor on Facebook
  • 51% clicked on an ad or sponsored post
  • 51% posted on a brand or vendor’s page

If your customers and potential customers are on Facebook, as many are, they are participating in the activities that will drive your posts into their news feed.

Facebook estimates that the average users’ feed could contain up to 1500 items every time the news feed loads. The algorithm selects about 20% of those potential items to show in any individual’s feed.

The following signals influence what appears in a person’s feed:

  • How often that person interacts with the friend, Page, or public figure
  • The number of likes, shares and comments a post receives in general and from that person’s friends
  • How much that person has interacted with this type of post in the past
  • Whether or not that person and other people across Facebook are hiding or reporting a given post

The recent change announced to the news feed algorithm involves older posts that were not seen. “Now organic stories that people did not scroll down far enough to see can reappear near the top of News Feed if the stories are still getting lots of likes and comments.” This means that popular posts missed by people who normally see your posts will pop to the top of their news feed. In a small test Facebook found an 8% increase in likes, comments and shares on these posts.

Marketing Takeaways

  1. Grow your Facebook fan base by reminding customers and prospects of your Facebook presence on all communications. And don’t just say you are on Facebook, but include the address.
  2. Share a mix of engaging posts to connect with fans, as well as posts that drive traffic back to your blog or website. Gratuitous posts about kittens and puppies should be used sparingly, unless you are a pet supply house.
  3. These changes do not affect advertising on Facebook, but you can consider promoting posts to increase the engagement around them to make sure they surface later.
  4. Measure your success from Facebook to make sure your goals are being met. Growing your fan base and increasing your reach are tactics that can lead to your business goals, like increasing leads or improving customer service.

What are the most successful tactics you have used on your B2B Facebook page? Did they drive engagement on the post or traffic and conversions back to your website?

Improve Your B2B Social Media Planning

Everything in business starts with planning. B2B social media is no different. Even as companies mature and incorporate (or infiltrate, depending on your point of view) social media into other parts of their business besides marketing, the planning stages are key. Below are some posts that resonated with followers this past week that are all related to planning, whether directly or indirectly.

We start with a bold call to action for B2B marketers, followed by a very tactical list of planning questions, and then we go up a notch to planning theory and how to apply it. Next is an article that questions whether a new Facebook tool is right for B2B? Yes, I’m quoted in the article, but it too is about how you plan to test a new function to determine its success. And finally we present a list of top B2B influencers on Twitter by Michael Brenner. Okay, so I’m on this list too, but if you are looking for influencers in your industry, looking for content to share with your followers or just looking for example of B2B companies and people doing a good job on Twitter, they are all here on this list.

What else have you seen recently that has helped you in your B2B social media planning. Your own posts, or even interviews with you, are okay, because clearly it didn’t stop me.

B2B Marketers Need To Get Real About Social Media and Customer Engagement
from Enterprise Irregulars
B2B marketers need to get more focused on how fast their prospects and customers are changing as a result of social media. It’s time to question long-held assumptions and look to social media as a means to connect with prospects and customers more effectively.
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25 Questions To Ask When Executing B2B Content Marketing Campaigns
from Search Engine Land
With the new year upon us, search engine marketers are focused on putting the foundation together for campaign execution throughout 2013. Central among the strategies meant to deliver B2B SEO results will be content marketing.
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The Planning Fallacy: Why B2B Marketers are prone to exaggeration
from Earnest Agency
As a marketer, you’re now under more pressure than ever to prove your worth – and demonstrate ROI. Your budget is under scrutiny – and no doubt, you need to put forward a strong case to justify your spend. So what do you do? Be bullish about the potential return – ever optimistic about your ability to deliver the goods, but knowing it’s the only way you’ll get go-ahead.
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Is Facebook’s new messaging feature good for b2b?
from BtoB Magazine
In recent months Facebook Inc. has been quietly testing a new revenue-raising feature: paid messaging. So far, the service is aimed at individual users, but b2b marketers have been watching the tests and wondering if paid Facebook messaging would work for them.
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Top 50 B2B Marketing Influencers On Twitter
from B2B Marketing Insider
Who are the top B2B Marketing influencers on twitter? To answer this question, I looked at a variety of factors including twitter followers, profiles that included “B2B marketing,” the focus of their tweets including the hashtag #B2BMarketing, as well as a variety of social scoring tools using the keyword.
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Photo: Flickr

Top 10 B2B Social Media Posts of 2012

As each year passes the growth of social media for B2B companies continues. Looking at the top posts of the year is a good way to see what resonates with B2B marketers. How to more effectively use Facebook and LinkedIn, especially for generating leads and sales seems to be a running theme. Practical versus theoretical definitely rules the day (or year). Check out the top 10 below. If you have any other favorite B2B social media articles from this year, let us know in the comments below. Posts from other sites are okay too.

1. 10 of the Best B2B Facebook Timeline Cover Photos
Hope you didn’t oversleep this morning, because if you manage a Facebook Business or Brand Page for your B2B company today is the day that the timeline goes live, whether you are ready or not. One month ago, Facebook announced the Page changes, and you had the whole month to get your Page in line. And you were able to launch the update any time during the past month.

2. 12 Revealing Stats About B2B Social Media Marketing
Articles about B2B social media marketing adoption often paint a rosy picture of the current landscape, but when you dig in deeper, there are many challenges in effectiveness and understanding the results. In a recent survey of 5,000 B2B marketers from all industries, Penton Marketing Services found some pretty revealing statistics.

3. 20 LinkedIn Tips for B2B Social Media Success
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.

4. 5 Ways to Generate Leads from a LinkedIn B2B Company Page
Many B2B companies have been successful at generating leads from LinkedIn, but there are features of a company page that B2B marketers are just not aware of. Most B2B companies have company pages on LinkedIn where they include a keyword-stuffed paragraph or two of marketing-speak. It also shows the employees who work at the company. This is the most basic option for LinkedIn.

5. Generate More Leads with B2B Social Media
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

6. 5 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Facebook Timeline
Facebook rolled out its new timeline for B2B Business Pages, so these Pages now have a similar look to personal profiles where content is organized and viewable by date. It is becoming a more visual platform and they continue to promote the idea that photos and videos create stronger connections with customers, prospects, fans and likers. B2B companies who want to succeed on Facebook must now develop and share content that doesn’t just provide value, but that catches peoples’ eyes. A recent study has already shown that many large brands don’t get that much fan engagement on Facebook, so this can be even more challenging for many B2B companies.

7. 10 Reasons Why B2B Companies Are Failing With Social Media
Too many B2B companies are flat out failing at social media marketing. It isn’t their fault. This isn’t an attack on the companies. Heck, they are at least brave enough to give it a shot. Instead this is an explanation for why a new marketing channel has been slow to grow in the B2B space. This shouldn’t be news to anyone though. Email marketing has been around for decades and many companies still don’t have that mystery figured out yet.

8. 4 Reasons For B2B Marketers To Explore Pinterest
Pinterest has made a big splash on the social media scene, by quickly earning passionate users who log multiple hours per day on the site. Pinterest saw a 4,000% increase in site traffic from June to December of last year, and many consumer-facing and female-centric brands are already using it well. While Nordstrom pins its latest shoes and fashions by boards organized by department, Whole Foods uses the site to pin kitchen design inspiration and recycling projects in addition to recipes using its foods.

9. 4 Ways to Use Storytelling for B2B Social Media
B2B companies who embrace social media to connect with prospects and customers need to understand storytelling as a means for communication. No one wants to hear about your products. They want to hear about solutions to their problems. One way to get there is by sharing compelling stories. As many B2B marketers still struggle with this change in marketing focus to a customer-centric model, we offer the following suggestions for storytelling ideas. Keep in mind that each of these story types can be told in words, images, audio and video, depending on their use.

10. 5 Ridiculous B2B Social Media Marketing Myths
B2B social media is gaining wider adoption. We are past arguing if B2B companies can use social media like we did in the early days of this blog. With the gradual adoption of social media marketing for B2B companies, some misconceptions and myths about B2B social media have been born. That’s okay, because myths are a part of change in any aspect of life. Heck, when people started using microwaves one of the big myths was that they leaked electromagnetic radiation. Change and myths go hand-in-hand. Let’s squash some of the most ridiculous B2B social myths now before they spread any further!

SAP Brands B2B Social Media Profiles as Part of Global Campaign

Earlier this year B2B company SAP launched their “Run Like Never Before” campaign with television, print, digital and mobile ads in the U.S., Brazil and Germany, according to this press release. There is no lesson in the fact that the enterprise software company launched an ad campaign, but it is instructive to look at how they supported it with social media.

Social media profiles of B2B companies frequently use default backgrounds or designs, and this campaign shows how SAP leveraged all the options available to further promote their campaign message through its graphic look. Another thing that B2B companies don’t often do is dedicate resources to building and promoting their brand image. It is usually their products, services and generally company culture and attitude that creates a sense of brand for their customers and prospects. Using some of these ideas below, with the necessary resources of course, you can start to build some of that brand image.

YouTube


SAP produced a television commercial as a core part of the campaign and shared it on YouTube. There’s nothing new or magical here, but B2B companies produce videos all the time, and forget to share them on their YouTube profiles. It’s a way to get an additional audience for videos that you are making anyway. In SAP’s case both the video and the video description have links to drive traffic to the campaign landing page.

Twitter


SAP updated their Twitter background with images from the campaign. If your B2B company has the resources to develop a compelling look and feel for your company, make sure to extend that to your Twitter background. SAP was also able to leverage Twitter’s enhanced profile pages. This is currently only available to select Twitter accounts (advertisers), but if it rolls out broadly, your should take advantage of it for your B2B company. SAP added an extra banner (835 x 90 pixels) at the top of their Twitter stream and pin a single tweet at the top as part of their enhanced profile. They wisely choose a tweet that contains the Run campaign video. This promoted tweet is always shown in the expanded mode, so the embedded media (photo or video) is always visible.

Facebook


SAP updated their Facebook Timeline cover photo with a graphic image from the campaign. This makes a big statement about what message they want to convey to visitors. B2B companies should think of the cover photo as their first impression on Facebook. Most people will come to your Facebook Page one time, and if they like what they see, they will like the Page. Future updates are seen in their newsfeed. And that is more likely if you can get some engagement with them, as Facebook’s algorithm determines what shows in fans’ newsfeed.



When you update your cover photo, it shows as an activity in your Timeline. You will notice that SAP added some descriptive text and a link to the landing page with this photo. This also means that whenever anyone clicks on the photo they will see this description and link. This update can be pinned to the top, which SAP did not do, so that visitors to the page can learn more about the campaign and have the opportunity to click the link.

Linkedin


SAP also extended the look of the campaign to their LinkedIn product page, which lets you create free banners (640 x 220 pixels) that can link to a landing page. This follows the theme of all these profiles we’ve been looking at. Create a compelling graphical look, brand your social profiles with that look and send people to a landing page for more information.

Google+


By adding a cover photo to their Google+ page, SAP tied this additional social network to their campaign. Thanks for the heads-up on this one Bill.

Slideshare


Customize Slideshare when you pay for the pro edition. It also includes private uploads, lead capture and video uploads. SAP made it look like their other social profiles, so when people download their presentations, they saw the message again. Kevin added this one below, so I moved it into the post.

Landing Page


And that brings us to the landing page, which SAP has made consistent with the rest of the campaign. The most important thing they did was embed a tag in all the links that drove here from their social profiles that identified that traffic as coming from social. This lets them track the success of their social activity against other activities. If you want a little more background on the SAP Run Like Never Before campaign, here’s a post by SAP marketer Michael Brenner.

This example was meant to inspire you to raise the level of your social media marketing and learn some simple things to do to create a larger branding impression, even if you are not supporting a global marketing campaign. Let us know you thoughts, inspirations, other examples and how you have implemented any of these ideas in a campaign oriented manner.

Facebook and Pinterest Lead Top B2B Social Media Posts in 2012

It is halfway through 2012 and it is always interesting to see what B2B social media posts generated the most interest from our readers. This list was compiled based on page views in Google Analytics.

It is no real surprise that the top posts relate to Facebook’s Timeline, current statistics, Pinterest, LinkedIn, generating leads and measurement. These are things that are most on B2B marketers’ minds. It is also notable that 9 of the 10 posts feature a number in the headline. In both of these cases, content and numbered headlines, this may be more about what we write about and how we structure posts, than about popularity of certain kinds of posts.

If you missed any of these posts, this is a great chance to read them and share them. Are there any other posts that resonated with you that would be in your top ten? Let us know in the comments below.

1. 10 of the Best B2B Facebook Timeline Cover Photos

2. 12 Revealing Stats About B2B Social Media Marketing

3. 5 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Facebook Timeline

4. 4 Reasons For B2B Marketers To Explore Pinterest

5. 5 Ridiculous B2B Social Media Marketing Myths

6. 4 Ways to Use Storytelling for B2B Social Media

7. 5 Ways to Generate Leads from a LinkedIn B2B Company Page

8. 12 Compelling B2B Social Media Slideshare Presentations

9. Generate More Leads with B2B Social Media [Infographic]

10. 5 Ways to Measure Results of B2B Social Media

Photo: Flickr